On top or in the weeds
  |  First Published: November 2011

This month appears to be a little different than last November, with the water still a little cooler than normal and insect activity also a bit behind.

However, it is still worth using surface lures for those adrenalin-rush topwater hits. There is a plethora of surface lures available but my favourites are fizzers and poppers.

My favourite fizzer is the renowned Heddon Tiny Torpedo and the poppers are led by the Jackal SK Pop, Megabass Siglett and Arbogast Hocus Locust.

The best times to use these lures is after sunset to around 10pm, but definitely the prime time is about half an hour sunrise to an hour after. Around the new moon is prime time of the month.

Surface lures produce some nice fish during the day if it is a bit cloudy, wind is blowing onto the banks and there’s plenty of insect activity, especially grasshoppers and crickets.

The Paterson and Williams rivers are all producing some nice bass, especially around the tidal zones. The Hunter is very discoloured due to water releases farther up the valley but once these clean up I am sure the bass will come back on the bite.

In the rivers, begin by working lures around cover, especially at high tide, and as the sun rises and the tide falls, switch to small spinnerbaits, 40mm crankbaits and small blades.

Trolling is also a good option, especially in the Williams and lower Hunter, to help locate the fish. At this time of year they move upstream and down quite a lot as they are feeding quite aggressively.

Trolling minnow lures is the norm but casting small blades and spinnerbaits is also worth a try.

Up at the Barrington Tops the trout are in really good numbers with some nice fish being taken on bait, fly and lure. This should continue over the next couple of months as there is plenty of food and very good water flows.


Lake St Clair is nearly full and has had some algae problems over recent weeks, along with some fish kills, but from now on it should be OK because these problems usually occur only at the beginning of Spring.

There is not much weed around the banks; the old growth is around 30m out in depths around 10m. This weed is growing up to 2m to 3m from the surface and this is where the bass are holding.

There are also some good schools in the deeper sections in 10m to 15m around the Broadwater, Carrowbrook and Fallbrook reaches.

This month a thermocline should appear around 7m to 8m and this is where the baitfish and nutrients will thrive, along with the bass, goldens and silvers.

Now that the water temperature is above 18° a mass of firetail gudgeons will appear and this is when they hatch and school up.

Also this month there will be schools of smelt hatching, along with the occasional shrimp.

With the dam at its present height there are plenty of good areas to target for bass, in particular, but trolling and using a good sounder can be quite helpful if you have not been here for a while. The fish travel around the dam a lot, looking for food and their comfort zone.

I suggest working lures along the deeper weed in 10m, especially lipless crankbaits, blades and spinnerbaits. Then cast plastics between the bank and the deep weed with patterns that match the gudgeons and smelt.

Off the banks yabbies and worms can be very productive and there are plenty of large catties appearing this Spring.


Glenbawn continues to fish well, but has been a little slow as there have been quite a few water releases, which can slow things up. And the vast numbers of competitions held here can have an effect.

One day the bass bite their heads off and the next they shut down, so it pays to be patient and move from area to area.

Surface lures have been accounting for some nice bass around the timber in 5m to 7m depths, especially around banks in the middle reaches that have had some wind blowing on them.

Because there is not much weed adjacent to the banks, most of the bass are coming from 7m to 8m depths off the banks using lures, spinnerbaits and blades.

There are still some good schools of bass up the back of the dam and because they are feeding on gudgeons and smelt, they are best targeted using plastics and blades.

When I fish these dams for bass I always remember an interesting article I read a few years ago that said 90% of impoundment fish congregate in the 10% of the area which provides the optimum environment, structure and food.

So to maximise your catch you need to put yourself in that area and the main tool to use is a very good sounder and plenty of experience using it.

I have just helped Fisheries officers distribute 70,000 bass fingerlings into Glenbawn, with St Clair and Lostock dams to follow. This was the culmination of three months of hard work from the guys at Port Stephens Hatchery.

This month I will help stocking St Clair and Glenbawn with more bass fingerlings from the dollar-for-dollar from money donated by Australian Bass Tournaments.

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