Bass food begins to breed
  |  First Published: September 2012

Let’s hope we have seen the last of those rotten cold westerly winds that can put an end to a nice fishing session.

The days now start to get longer and warmer and eventually the water temperature should follow.

Towards the end of Winter the water in the dams is usually down around 12°-13° but with some nice Spring days and little wind the dams should hit 16°-17°. When the water hits this temperature it starts the breeding cycle of two of the bass’ favourite food sources in Glenbawn and St Clair.

The first is the firetail gudgeon, which is a small native fish. The body is generally grey to bronze with black scale margins. During the breeding season males can be almost black with orange-red fins. Female firetails grow to 4cm and the males to 5.5cm and both feed on aquatic invertebrates.

Firetails can usually be found in the shallower areas around the edges and can easily be seen swimming among the weed.

The second food fish is the Australian smelt, a pelagic species that grows to 75mm but in our impoundments is usually around 50mm. It is often found in schools of several thousand individuals.

Smelt feed on a variety of plankton, micro-crustaceans and small aquatic insects. These fish usually present as dark clouds on the screen of a good sounder.

If you locate these baitfish, the bass won’t be far away and you now have an idea on lure colour and choice.

In recent weeks the fishing has been fairly ordinary with cold water and strong winds that hit around mid-morning. A few fish have come from the edges, mainly on small lures and plastics.


After the end of the closed season in the rivers it will be great to get out and check out the new snags; all the rivers have had good flushes over Winter.

In early Spring bass are always very active and in prime condition after spawning and they will attack almost any lure run past them.

I like to use spinnerbaits, blades and crankbaits at this time, especially those in bright colours with plenty of vibration.

Lake St Clair should fish better this month than in recent weeks, if we see the water climb to around 16° and the baitfish appear.

With the water very clear and some good weed starting to appear off the banks, there will be some good fishing in close, either from the banks or casting from the boat.

Get out the surface lures around sunrise and sunset, especially around the moonrise and moonset a couple of days either side of the full moon.

As the sun rises you can then go to the shallow runners or wake baits, especially along the banks where there are still some shadows on the water.

These lures resemble swimming frogs or mice. I like to cast them and let the water settle before a slow retrieve with plenty of pauses.

Neutrally buoyant jerkbaits also work very well around the banks over the new weed, where they can be paused before quite often being engulfed when you resume. My favourite lure for this is the Jackall Squirrel 61 in NF ayu pattern; this closely resembles the smelt in this dam.

St Clair remains full and there are plenty of good banks with weed adjacent around the Broadwater and the start of the Fallbrook Arm.

In Spring bass tend to move around the dam in search of favourable conditions so you must be prepared to do a lot of sounding and checking water temperatures. It is always quite helpful if you can tow a few lures that run down around 5m to help you locate fish.


Glenbawn is very clear, especially down around the Main Basin, which usually means that the fish will be in close to the underwater timber.

Up the back, where there has been quite an influx of water from the Barrington Tops, the water is a little more coloured and the fish are holding more out in the open, down around 6m-8m.

This dam can take a little longer for the water to warm up. Try spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits in warmer water near long, sloping banks but if the water is still cool, you may have to go back plastics and Beetle Spins.

There will be some school bass up the back of the dam in 10m-15m; they are best targeted with ice jigs, blades and plastics.

Bass and goldens can be up the back of the dam in the shallower, warmer water, especially on the banks that face north. Target them using surface lures and shallow runners early and then progress to deeper lures, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

I like to dip the tails of plastics in pink Spike-It and when using crankbaits I like lures with a lot of red in them; they can resemble the fire tail gudgeons.

A good colour for lipless crankbaits this month is the black red belly and for spinnerbaits the red and black, colour 42 in the Bassman.

Trolling will also be productive this month in 5m-6m depths adjacent to timber along the banks and up the back of the dam along the old river bed.

Last year there was a massive algae bloom at St Clair that wiped out a lot of catties but I have seen plenty around over the Winter

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