This is my favourite time of the year for chasing fish, especially in the dams. The mornings are usually foggy, followed by enjoyable balmy days full of active fish.
We did not see any real Summer weather this year but received plenty of rain and mild weather. The only drawback has been very dirty rivers that have been hard to fish in the lower reaches.
During April the river bass start heading downstream, feeding on the way as they prepare for spawning. They travel down the systems until they find the correct conditions, salinity and temperature are the main ones, where they school up over the next couple of months and spawning begins.
If the rivers remain clear these fish will nail virtually any type of presentation while in this feeding cycle.
You need to cover plenty of water to find the fish, with the more likely areas rock walls, feeder creeks, deep river gutters close to native trees and rock bars.
There are plenty of lures that run from shallow to around 2m – spinnerbaits of 1/4oz or 3/8oz with gold Colorado blades and lipless crankbaits around 50mm long.
Beetle Spins on 1/4oz jigs with plastic grubs are also good, as are 6g blades in the deeper areas. Last season I had a lot of success using the Koolabung prawn pattern in gold.
A full Lake St Clair has been fishing well with most fish coming from the banks. The trollers have been struggling to handle the deep weed, as have the deep bait fishos because there is not a real lot of timber to tie up to.
The bass have been in very good condition and feeding on the big schools of gudgeons.
The water temperature has been changing week by week, dropping a couple of degrees and then a week later rising again. The bite goes off as the water cools and returns when the temp comes back up.
During mid-Autumn the oxygen levels decline at the bottom of the water column, usually around 10m, so bass should be sitting just below the thermocline down around 4m to 5m.
They hold around the thermocline in the day and move to the banks in low light. Working the banks at these times with surface lures and shallow lures, especially suspending ones, is always very rewarding and adrenalin pumping.
My favourite lures for this are the Lucky Craft Sammy for the surface and the Jackall Squirrel suspending jerkbait. With the water very clear I make long casts and use only a short leader, about 40cm, of 12lb mono.
When the water is very clear and flat at this time of day I can see the fish moving along the edges of the weed or timber on my Lowrance Structure Scan without going in and disturbing them.
There are plenty of good early morning areas around the Broadwater and both islands, along with the entries to the Carrowbrook and Fallbrook arms.
As the day progresses and the fish move wider, lipless crankbaits around 60mm in solid patterns like brown dog/gold are good, as are 3/8oz to 1/2 oz spinnerbaits with willow blades and solid coloured skirts in purple/black.
I have found that ‘burner’ ratio reels (7:1) are very handy because the bass react to the faster retrieve speeds.
Blades around 6g can also be an option out off the weed, use slow pauses and fast lifts to put a lot of vibration through the water.
The bass can also shut down on some of the very still days this month. This is when they will be holding quite deep and can be seen on the sounder. These fish are best targeted using a finesse approach of light line, jig heads and plastics.
Trolling can be very helpful in finding fish but the weed out in 10m depths has been a nuisance. Good lures are from the Viking, Halco and Stuckey range, with dark, solid colours productive. I have not had a chance to try the new ultra-deep Jackall Chubby but it has a tight action and plenty of vibration.
Worms, yabbies and shrimp fishing will be good baits around the banks at the camping area but usually over Easter this area is full of skiers.
Lake Glenbawn has been fishing well in recent weeks and should continue so this month.
You can fish the lower end of the dam or motor up to the back because there are fish in any area.
Trollers have been doing well using deep lures, Feral Catts in particular, especially in dark colours. The dam wall up to Boat Harbour and around Cemetery Point has been good, as has up around the Panhandle and Eagles Nest.
Worms and yabbies will also be very productive around Golden Point, Boat Harbour and the Sunken Cabins in the lower reaches and also up around New House Bay on the western side and further up around the Dogleg and the rock wall on the western side.
There is plenty of deep weed out off the banks and this is where there are good schools of bait, including gudgeons.
Working the banks early in the day using topwaters, spinnerbaits and crankbaits will allow you to cover a lot of water and locate the fish. Once you get a few you can slow up and work the area thoroughly with different methods. I like to use jerkbaits and slow-rolled plastics.
The bass will also be out in 10m depths in calm conditions and are best targeted with plastics and blades.
This dam can be like St Clair in that temps and bite patterns can change dramatically so adjust accordingly and use your sounder to its utmost. Where you caught fish yesterday, today can be quite different but a general rule as the water temp is starting to fall the points, creeks, river channels and drop-offs are the big producers, especially if there is some cover in the vicinity.
If the authorities are releasing water then I like to fish the northern section of the points and banks – this is where the current will be flowing.Reads: 1596