December 5, 2016
by Matthew Langford
We’re well into our hot, stormy months.
The hot weather and afternoon storm buildups are bringing on some awesome opportunities for big bass and yellowbelly.
If you’re an avid troller, from now through to February is the best time to dust off the deep divers and head to the South Burnett’s dams to get amongst some great native trolling action.
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The water temps on Boondooma have been rising since the onset of the warmer weather.
When it’s hot, the yellowbelly and bass like to sit in a zone called the thermocline, or comfortable water, which is generally a depth of 15 to 25 feet. This zone or column of water is the water that the fish find the most comfortable, where the temperature is just right to sit in while it’s hot upstairs.
With the majority of the fish sitting in this zone throughout the dam, it opens up the doors for some fantastic fishing opportunities.
If I’m out chasing bass, the first places I’ll look are the deep water off any prominent points. I’ll use my sounder to sound the fish sitting in that optimal depth.
When I’m happy that I’ve found a good concentration of fish, I will pull up and begin casting 3” to 4” soft plastics rigged with a 1/2 ounce or 5/8 ounce head. With a big long cast over the areas where I found the fish, I will let the jig head sink 7 to 10 seconds and begin a slow retrieve back to the boat with a couple of twitches mixed in.
The same can be done with a 12 gram Nories spoon.
Continue this technique until you start to feel a few taps on the plastic or spoon.
When you feel a tap it’s important to keep that slow wind going until you feel weight on the line, slowly lift the rod tip until you feel the weight of the fish.
At this point, the fish will know it’s hooked and make some great runs back down into the deeper water. Keep your drag fairly loose so that the hook doesn’t pull on the way back to the boat.
Using this method over the holiday period will account for some big bass on Boondooma.
The timbered arms are holding good numbers of bass and yellow belly. In the arms, they are holding very close to structure and you’ll need to get your lures in as close as you can to get a bite.
Look for spindly timber, or big trees out in the middle of the arms. Lures of choice for this scenario are 5/8 or 3/8 Bassman Spinner baits, 1/2 ounce jig head rigged with a 3” soft plastic and any sinking lipless crank bait.
Give your lure up to five seconds to sink down and start a slow wind. It’s important to make sure that you have a lure retriever with you as you will get snagged on the trees occasionally but if you’re getting snagged you know you’re in the thick of it.
Keep moving from tree to tree or structure to structure and persist as your lure WILL be eaten eventually by a hungry fish. Leader sizes are important in these scenarios because it’s the difference between the fish of a lifetime or a broken heart.
Fishing close to structure, I use 14 to 20 pound leaders so I have a chance if a fish rubs the line through trees. Otherwise, if I’m in open water I’ll decrease my leader size to 6 to 10 pound as I’m less concerned about a fish dragging me through trees or any structure.
Trollers are picking up some great bass and yellowbelly trolling around the deeper sections of the dam, targeting those suspended fish.
Make sure to have plenty of deep divers handy, and some 5/8 Bassman Spinnerbaits or any lures that dive 15 to 20 feet. These will be the ones that get you on to consistent fish.
Bait fisherman are consistently getting amongst a mixed bag of fish up in the timbered arms of the dam using worms and fresh shrimp.
It may even pay to move to the main basin and let your bait suspend under the boat in that 15 to 25 foot range. Drifting with the wind is a great way to cover water with your bait under the boat. Eventually it will cross paths with a hungry fish or two.
Redclaw numbers are also starting to pick up with the hot weather, so make sure your pack the opera houses if you’re coming out for a day or two.
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With a similar pattern to that of Boondooma, Lake Barambah is producing some great fishing as well.
The fish are sitting in that 15 to 20 foot range and are very willing to take anything that is placed in front of them. Because Barambah is a shallower dam, you can target more areas and use a bigger variety of lures to catch a few natives.
Bass are responding well to 3” soft plastics, 1/4 blades and 3/8 and 5/8 spinnerbaits. Some likely areas to target are the large flat area in front of the main dam wall, the Quarry and wide off Bass Point.
In a recent fishing session, I targeted the lake’s bass with a 1/2 jig head rigged with a 3″ soft plastic and caught dozens of bass and yellowbelly.
I targeted areas that were 15 to 20 feet and had timber or a drop off adjacent to them.
I found that the bigger fish were tight to the timber in that depth or they were sitting on the down side to the drop offs and waiting for bait to swim over.
Areas like this are prime ambush positions for native fish so don’t forget to give areas like this a go next time you’re out.
To finish off the session, we put on a couple 5/8 Bassman spinnerbaits and trolled around the edges of the creek beds in the middle of the dam.
Because a majority of the fish are suspended in the thermocline at present, the Spinnerbait was a great lure to get down into that zone and attract plenty of attention.
So if you’re not an avid caster make sure you have a few Spinnerbaits in your box, preferably heavier 1/2 to 5/8, next time you come out for a visit.
Trolling is a great way to catch plenty of bass this time of year.
Bait fisherman are consistently catching good numbers of yellowbelly and bass, fishing in the trees at the top of the dam.
Best baits have been fresh shrimp and worms.
Remember to tie up to the trees along the edge of the old creek bed and you’re sure to get amongst some fish.
Redclaw are patchy but I have heard of some good numbers coming from the dam.
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The fish stocking for both dams is still very much alive and well with another massive stock of bass put into Bjelke-Petersen Dam this weekend – 52,000 Australian bass and 70,000 yellowbelly were released into BP Dam; 20,000 silver perch will follow when fingerlings become available.
Boondooma Stocking Association will be releasing their fingerlings next weekend, so it’s a great boost for fishing in the South Burnett.
It’s great to see our stocking associations working hard to make this happen because without them we don’t get to catch the fish that we really love chasing.
The dam levels are reasonably low at present, with Boondooma at 41 per cent and BP at 33 per cent.
Just because the dams are low doesn’t mean the fish aren’t biting, if anything they’re biting as good as they ever have and there’s still plenty of water to get around on.
Don’t forget to book your site for the New Year’s celebrations at Boondooma Dam. This year’s fireworks display will be the biggest and best ever. And to top it off you get to enjoy your holiday with great fishing, water sports and beautiful sunsets.
I reckon you would be mad not to come out and enjoy your break.
Until next time, tight lines and bent rods!
[Photos: Matthew Langford]