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Timing is the key
  |  First Published: June 2011



Timing your trips for best rewards is very important now because the days are short and the water in the dams is dropping to around 15°, with the predictable westerly winds chilling off the surface layers – and anglers!

It is now illegal to possess bass on the rivers until August 31.

Fishing on the lakes in June can quite often be very slow so it can help your results if you pay a lot of attention to weather patterns, in particular the barometer and the wind.

The ideal situation is to have a constant or rising barometer of around 1020hpa and light wind.

Fortunately for those who like to sleep in, the best time in June is usually from around 10am to about 4pm. This appears to be when the water and air temperatures are greatest and the barometer at its highest.

Although the numbers of fish caught might not be great, the quality is usually very good.

I have found over many years of impoundment bass fishing in Winter that they can be found in either deep water, or in shallow areas adjacent to banks and structure.

The influences that make for the different areas to target the bass are less obvious than one might imagine.

Lower water temperatures are expected and immediately apparent when launching your boat. You’ll also note a lack of or decreased aquatic vegetation and often very clear water.

But a hydrological change in the Winter lakes that has a very significant effect on fish behaviour is not as apparent and can often be overlooked – the stratification of the water.

Prior to Winter there is a definite thermocline, is usually around 5m down, and this is usually where the favoured dissolved oxygen levels are present for both bass and their food sources.

In Winter, the thermocline ceases to exist and the lakes become isothermal, sometimes called a ‘roll-over,’ which makes the entire water column roughly the same temperature.

This means that the entire water column now has the correct dissolved oxygen to hold bass and goldens.

So our target fish are no longer active in comparatively shallow water.

The bass will roam throughout the water column, following their chosen food sources. In Glenbawn and St Clair these are the freshwater hardyheads and firetail gudgeons, which can be found in open water.

These bait schools can be found in the open water with the large numbers of rotifers and copepods and appear on a good sonar screen as suspended clouds.

This month the bass can be seen feeding on these schools of bait and appear on a good sounder screen as distinct fish arches.

These schools can be down around 10m so it is important to adjust your sounder settings to zoom in at this depth.

Once the fish have been located, it can be quite slow and painful to get them to bite but with the advent of so many different lures and techniques it can still be very intriguing.

Some of the techniques available are deep lures, lipless crankbaits, ice jigs, blades, plastics and even bait.

PROTECTED BAYS

At Lake St Clair, where the water is just touching 15°, the Fallbrook Arm will fish really well with cast and trolled lures because it has a fair amount of protection from the westerly winds.

At the dam’s present level there are a few schools of bass holding up in 10m to 12m areas.

Up the Carrowbrook Arm there is some good timber along the river channel for jigging and bait fishing and fly fishing around the flats is a very good option from the bank.

Up either arm it is worth working the edges with topwater lures early and then moving to deep crankbaits and spinnerbaits, especially after strong winds have been blowing.

St Clair turns over very easily after strong wind so suspended school bass and goldens are very prominent in Winter.

If they are down around 10m they can be targeted trolling very deep crankbaits and heavy blades, usually out in the Broadwater area.

If vertically jigging these school fish and it is windy I like to use a buoy to mark the fish and drift across them with a sea anchor slowing my drift. Once I know the depth the fish are holding I like to turn off my sounder and electric motor, which can quite often put off the fish.

All you need to do is mark your line with a texta at the correct depth.

Another trick I have been using over recent seasons is to downsize my plastics and to soak them in really warm water before dropping them down. It seems to work as it gives the plastic a lot more action – and warms your hands!

GLENBAWN

Lake Glenbawn continues to receive plenty of pressure from anglers all over the east coast, with many coming up from Victoria and south from Queensland.

The fishing can be very slow because this dam really suffers from the freezing cold westerlies that blow off the Barrington Tops but there are still some quality fish to be taken.

The better areas to target are right up the back, unless some snowmelt comes down, and around some of the sheltered little bays off the middle sections. The water there is usually a little bit warmer.

The bays around Cemetery Point are popular in Winter for suspended bass.

Methods are similar to St Clair although worms fished around the banks or at the bases of some of the larger trees in 10m.

Both of these dams are very enjoyable to fish in Winter if you plan your trip to coincide with the optimal weather.

I recently assisted with the golden perch stockings from I&I Narrandera Hatchery at Lake St Clair and Glenbawn. Although the numbers were a bit lower than originally expected, any stocking is worthwhile.

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