As I slipped the net under another fiesty Bass, and released him at the
side of the boat, I couldn't help admiring the scenery of this beautiful
little dam. I could just make out a group of Deer drinking from the shallows,
and the reflection of the surrounding mountains on the still water gave
the effect of an upside-down environment.
Cressbrook Dam is located a little over 100 kilometres from Brisbane,
on the scenic rim of the Darling Downs. With a very comfortable camping
ground with clean amenities, it is perfect for a quiet weekend. The healthy
population of Bass can be difficult to find, but with the help of a good
depthsounder, and a downrigger, you are almost assured of a quality catch.
I first fished Cressbrook soon after its opening in 1995, and although
the catch rates have declined since those early days, there are still
plenty of bass to be found.
Fishing at dawn or dusk, surface lures and flies can account for quite
a few fish, however if you are not camping overnight, the ramp is not
accessible before dawn.
This trip was to be a short one, as I didn't leave Brisbane until 6.00am.
The weather was perfect on the drive through Esk, with the fog just lifting
off the top of the range as I reached the turnoff to Cressbrook at the
With the boat launched, and gear readied, I had my first hookup within
5 minutes of starting. The water depth was 85 feet, and the fish hit the
lure at 40 feet. The Lowrance was showing a distinct thermocline at about
60 feet, and the fish could be seen rising to the lure. While this may
sound far fetched to some of you, those who have fished thermoclines will
know how easy it is to sight fish at a depth of 40 feet. The photo here
shows the sounder screen, and the image that was quite common on that
morning at Cressbrook.
The first fish took my favorite downrigging lure, a Pink and Silver Lively
Lures Micro Mullet. As this trip had been planned as an experimental experience,
I had decided that I would change lure colour after landing every fish.
The Pink Micro was removed, and a Rainbow Trout coloured Micro was attached
to the Bill Norman Speed Clip. With the line twisted through the release
clip, the bomb was lowered to 40 feet again. With one eye glued to the
sounder screen, I set the electric motor speed to 6 and started my next
Soon, a telltale line appeared on the sounder, and changed to an arch
as the fish homed in on the brightly coloured bomb. It obviously couldn't
resist the temptation of the little Micro Mullet following closely behind
the bomb, as line started peeling off the spool of the little Abu before
I could take a photograph of the screen image. I slowly brought the
fish to the surface, and again netted a Bass of approximately 35cm.
As I released him, he kicked strongly away from the surface, obviously
heading back to the comfortable water conditions in the Thermocline.
Another lure change saw a Bleeding Mullet coloured Micro attached and
despatched to the deep. After another 3 fish, I had reached an area which
has proved productive with fly, and with an experimental pattern on board
I decided on a break from trolling. The downrigger bomb was cranked to
the surface, and the flat line I had been trolling was wound in.
I moved the boat into 16 feet of water, within what should have been
an easy casting distance to the bank. Those who have seen me fly fish
will probably tell you that the only way I can cast to the bank is by
parking the boat on the ground, however this morning proved to be a
surprise to even myself. With no audience, I was casting like a true
expert, and while the spinner bait fly pattern I was using was probably
too bulky for the little 5 weight rod, some quite acceptable casts were
made. OK, I'll admit that I still successfully wrapped the fly line
around the lean seat, depth sounder, electric foot control and my own
Watching guys like Lefty Kreh, and our own Rod (Harro) Harrison, cast
a fly rod always gives me a sense of awe. I never see them standing
on the coils of line at their feet, or smacking themselves in the back
of the head with a fly.
I keep promising that I'll call Harro, and arrange for some lessons up
at Bribie, but I'm sure by the time I learn to cast like him, I won't
be able to load my walking frame into the boat.
After 15 minutes of ungraceful flailing of the fly rod, I finally had
a strike, and managed to land a small Bass on the prototype spinnerbait
fly. Having fulfilled my obligation to Des Welch at Scotties Flies, by
catching and photographing a fish on his fly, I gratefully packed up the
devil's weapon and returned to the comfort of trolling.