The weather becomes more tolerable towards the end of Summer but in saying that, last year we still had some 42°-44° days.
With the holidays over, the boat traffic and the ramps will be a lot less congested, making for easier launching, especially up at the dams.
The Hunter River has been fishing really well for bass right up to Aberdeen, while the Paterson has also been producing up to Lostock.
Surface lures at the low light periods have been the best producers, while hardbodies and spinnerbaits are best as the day opens up.
There are plenty of surface lures to choose from with my favourites, the Megabass Siglett and Smith Bisen, rather expensive. The Jackall frog and the Marz topwater are less expensive performers.
When targeting heavy cover along the banks in these rivers I like to concentrate on the native trees more than the willows. These trees hold more insects and especially spiders, which form a big part of a bass’s diet.
In the lower tidal sections of the rivers, especially on the ebb tide, it’s productive to cast or troll along the steep banks and drop-offs with lures that run down around 2m-3m.
The Williams River had a lot of boat traffic over the break, which put the fish off, but this month they will begin to fire again down around Seaham and Glenoak. The bass in this system tend to hold up in reasonable numbers in small areas for long periods.
Put in very accurate casts to the structure and when they hit, they really give you a good fight. The Jackall Chubby, both shallow and deep, are excellent for this accurate casting and have a very good hook-up rate.
Bait fishos in all these rivers cannot go past a live prawn, black cricket or garden worm, which will also take the occasional bream and flathead.
Lostock Dam has also been producing some really nice fish over recent weeks, with quality bass coming from the banks on spinnerbaits, blades and crankbaits. These fish are always really healthy and the dam is regularly stocked by Hunter Native fish.
Lake St Clair is still falling slowly but will continue to fish well, especially now there’s less angling pressure and the water is around 24°. There have not been too many catfish caught but there are plenty of bass and the occasional silver and golden perch.
The bass have been moving around the dam a lot. One day they are taking lures along the bank and a couple of days later have moved to deeper water with plenty of cover and will take only a slow-rolled plastic.
I think it relates to the schools of firetail gudgeons that the bass feed on. These move around a lot, especially looking for weed and the cover that is not very prevalent on the dam at its current level.
A good sounder can help, especially using Structure Scan which virtually covers the entire water column and can save you so much time.
Surface lures are good very early in the day and especially after dark, with a bit of moon to help.
Prior to the sun going down, I like to sound out some of the areas I intend to fish after dark to see if the bass are holding out wide in 6m-10m.
Along with various surface lures, I have found suspending jerkbaits very productive, with my favourites the Jackall Squirrel and Soul Shad.
The deeper banks and scattered weed edges in the Fallbrook and Carrowbrook reaches, especially those that have had wind blowing on them, will fish well with lipless cranks and spinnerbaits.
There are a couple of good trolling runs this month for deep lures, especially from the Marz and Stuckey range. Try along the eastern side of Lieberg Ridge from Rockys Bay and Moore Bay up to Richards Point, especially if the usual south-east winds have been blowing.
Bait, especially live shrimps, has been good in the Broadwater along some of the banks where there is weed out deep.
The Singleton Fly Fishing Club, with the help of the Fisheries dollar-for-dollar scheme, stocked around 8000 bass fingerlings into St Clair in December.
Lake Glenbawn produced some nice bass and the odd golden and silver, with bait fishos doing well with crickets and grasshoppers.
The dam has dropped slightly but there are still plenty of areas to fish with lots of weed and cover around the banks and timber out in 6m-8m.
The bass are holding in one area for prolonged periods now, so the fishing should be a bit more consistent.
From the Panhandle upstream will produce well casting and trolling, while jigging around the timber in the deeper will also account for fish.
When jigging around timber in 10m-plus, I like to drop down a lipless crank first because this seems to get the fish active and can usually be seen on the sounder. I run my Structurescan around the perimeter of the trees and can easily identify the fish among the branches.
Another very good area for casting and jigging is around the points of the bays in the middle section of the dam, north and south of the Narrows and around Yellow Buoy Bay.
This is probably the last month for a good surface bite as the water begins to cool, so head out in those low-light periods, especially if there is some breeze on the water.
Trolling can also be very productive as there are some big schools of gudgeons moving around the dam and they can be down around 5m-7m, so trolling a lure that runs at that depth is a very good option. Two lures good for come from Feralcatt and Stuckey; as they are small in profile and easily run at that depth.
Down around the lower part of the dam bait can be rewarding, with the timbered western shore and down around Cemetery Point good with worms, grasshoppers and crickets.
Aberdeen Fishing Club and ABT, under the Fisheries dollar-for-dollar scheme, put around 8000 bass fingerlings in Glenbawn. Any other clubs or organisations who wish to help with this stocking in 2013 should let me know before the end of March.Reads: 1215