This month the weather should become a lot more pleasant and hopefully more predictable but because Summer turned up about a month late, it also might be a few more weeks before we enjoy milder weather.
The dams and rivers have been fishing reasonably well and milder weather will prolong the bite window.
The lower Hunter, Paterson and Williams rivers all have good flow and there have been good catches of mullet and bass.
The Hunter around Morpeth has produced a couple of nice early morning bass of 50cm-plus for local lure maker Maurie Marsden on his Botfly lure. The Paterson has been producing some nice bass on Jackall Chubbies up around Woodville and Tocal.
Towards the end of this month usually marks the end of the surface bite as insect activity drops off and it’s time for the bass to head down river for spawning.
There are plenty of good surface lures available these days but the more traditional Jitterbugs and Tiny Torpedoes still account for plenty of fish.
As the water begins to cool and the rivers become a little discoloured if we get the usual Autumn rain, small spinnerbaits and lipless cranks are very good choices in and around the deeper holes.
I have not heard any reports from up the Barrington Tops over recent weeks but normally this month and leading up to Easter there is very good trout action on bait and lures.
Lostock Dam has been fishing well and should continue this month with better bass coming from the edges on spinnerbaits, blades and hardbodies. Deep-divers are good for casting and trolling out in 5m-6m.
Some nice bass can be caught just below the dam on blades and small lures and the surface is worth a try after dark.
Glenbawn and St Clair have both dropped a lot over Summer, with St Clair falling the most. Many of the banks that had reasonable weed are now uncovered.
St Clair has been fishing pretty well with the majority of the bass in 6m-10m feeding on the big schools of bait, which show as black clouds on the sounder.
The surface bite towards the end of Summer was not as good as in previous years, possibly because the dam dropped about 10%, making the fish travel around a lot. They also tend to stay deeper where the water is about 2° cooler and more oxygenated.
With the lower water, bass and goldens have moved down from the upper parts of the arms to the deeper areas of around Redhead Corner to Fenwick Bay in the Fallbrook Reach and Adam Point to Perkins Point in the Carrowbrook Arm.
Around the Broadwater there are plenty of school fish in 10m-plus around the island – there is only one now – and Richards Point up to Moore Bay.
Targeting these fish is best done by trolling deep lures and jigging plastics, ice jigs and blades.
Using blades, I have found that after a few fish are caught they can just disappear so I tend to use blades to find the fish and then use plastics.
Bait fishing from the banks at St Clair has all but gone but the timber in the Carrowbrook Arm along the river bed in 10m-15m is good for catties, goldens and the odd silver. Worms and shrimp are the prime baits.
This is the prime month to target the giant Glenbawn golden perch and the large schools of silver perch around timber in 10m. Yabbies are the prime bait for the goldens while garden worms are ideal for the silvers.
Silvers also take small minnow lures and are excellent fun to catch with the kids. It is not unusual to catch 10 or more at one tree. Target trees that have a fair covering of green growth below the surface and berley to bring on the silvers with handfuls of fine dirt.
Some prime timber to try is in New House Bay, Boat Harbour and around the main basin up near the North Run.
Although the goldens have declined over recent years they appear to be still in relatively good numbers, possibly due to more aggressive stocking by Fisheries.
Trollers can have a ball with goldens in Autumn. All you need is a good sounder and some 6m-plus lures in purple or black.
Work along the back of the dam amid the timber in around 10m. Feralcatt lures have always been top lures for goldens and are available at the kiosk.
Those targeting bass can do it a little hard. The schools can be anywhere, depending on the amount of incoming and outgoing water, its temperature and clarity.
The bass start to move around this month because this is when they feel the spawning urge.
There is a huge area of water to search but sometimes instinct, local knowledge and a lot of sounder work can reap rewards.
With the water level falling, my records over the past 20 years indicate that the best catches have come from around the Dogleg, Yellow Buoy Bay and the Main Basin.
The bass like to hold up in 10m, where the water temperature is starting to get down around 18°-20° – their comfort zone.
Although the fish hold up in these depths they are usually suspended mid-way in the water column. Use vertical presentations such as ice jigs, blades and plastics.
A good sounder can easily pick up these suspended bass. It usually shows a dark cloud or ball of microscopic bait and the bass not too far away.
Trolling very deep lures is a good option to help locate these deep bass. Or you can use smaller lures on a downrigger or use trolling sinkers.
At this depth bass can see mainly black and so dark lures are best. UV paint might help brighten the lure. Lake Police have been using this on some of their TN and Chubby lures for a few years. You can use a black light to find which ones have it.
This can be the most enjoyable time of the year to fish this dam with the nice cool mornings and days so you can spend all day out on the water.
CUT THE NOISE
If the bite becomes very fickle on plastics I turn off all sounders, scale back to 3-4lb line and use plastics, down to 1.5” and fine wire hooks. Before I turn off my sounders I check the depth the fish are holding and mark my line with a texta. I then put out a couple of marker buoys so I do not need to use the electric as much.
At Glenbawn about five years ago a diver was working near the main outlet. I asked him about the noise from my sounder at the depth he was working, 10m. He said it was quite disturbing and it was constant. That is when I realised it could be an issue with shy suspending bass.
A recent article from a noted US underwater filmmaker mentioned a study several years ago on how trolling motor noises affected bass. He said the bass held in open water until the boats passed by with their trolling motors running. ”When that sound got in there, the fish disappeared back towards cover of logs”, he wrote.
He noticed the fish spooked mainly when the motor was turned on and off, so he recommended running it constantly at a low speed, which he noticed did not spook them as much.
His diving experience has also given him some insight on the negative impact sonar pings have on bass. “If you get underwater and listen to the sonar, it sounds like a stun gun – zap, zap, zap,” he said. “That noise is something that fish can avoid and when it is around, they don’t bite.”
Many boats these days have two sounders so this can be a real issue.