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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 summit.

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 run.

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 feet.

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.

Continued...

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