Bass moving in rivers and dams
  |  First Published: May 2013

Autumn weather patterns tend to be very consistent with several days of high pressure, but there can also be some relatively strong westerly winds.

The fishing in the dams has been a bit fickle over recent weeks, as St Clair and Glenbawn are up around 100% capacity.

In early March when all the local rivers received a big flush-out, fishing was impossible and there was a considerable fish kill in the Hunter and lower Williams rivers around Raymond Terrace with eels, carp and mullet the majority of fish affected.

Above this area there appeared to be no real issues. I have spoken to several fishers who checked out the kill and they said they did not see many dead bass, which is possibly because at this time of the year they usually migrate up to the top of the systems in time of rises.

Some of the carp that were seen floating belly-up were around 1m long and would have weighed about 18kg.

This month and into June, the bass in the rivers migrate downstream until they reach suitable water conditions for spawning. They become very aggressive feeders as they gain condition before their breeding cycle begins.

In the Williams, Paterson and Hunter rivers, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and blades work best. They tend to like lures around 50mm long in yellow/brown, 1/4oz willow-blade spinnerbaits in green or white and vibrating blades around 6g with a lot of silver.

If the water is still a little dirty then fluoro pink or green are good colours.

Areas to target these moving fish are what I call ‘motel stops’; sections of river with some obstruction to flow – rock walls or points. Also check creek inlets and drains.


When Lake St Clair first reached 100% there were some really good bass coming from the banks but over recent weeks they have moved back to deeper areas because there is almost no weed along the edges.

The bass are holding in 10-15m along gullies and around structure that runs off the banks into the deeper water and the old river bed.

With the water temperature falling to the high teens, it should be quite a good month ahead if we get the high-pressure systems in our favour.

It is absolutely the prime month to get out on the water. Usually a foggy morning is followed by sun and little wind, making for a near-perfect day for fishing.

While deep jigging in 15m plus for schooling bass can be very productive, I like to focus on the bass and goldens that are relating to cover and structure changes around the banks. These fish are usually larger and are in these areas chasing baitfish.

If there is any sort of chop on the water in the low-light periods, jerkbaits or wake lures are very handy

St Clair has been very popular over recent weeks but now that the school holidays are over the fishos should have the water to themselves.

The thermocline should be forming around 5m-6m down and the fish will be holding just below that, especially during the day. But the bottom could be 20m down and the fish suspending just below the thermocline.

With the dam at this level it makes a lot of sense to spend time sounding out the different areas in search of the fish, which are usually very scattered.

Around the Broadwater there are some good sections for trolling lures or spinnerbaits that get down around 5m – Swannys Bay, Alcorn Island and Rockys Bay.

Up the Carrowbrook Arm it is always worth a try from Adams Point down to Walkers Bay, while up the Fallbrook Arm, try from Eurella Point down to Carnells Corner or from Wood Bay around to Andrews Point.

Locally made lures from the Stuckey and Marz range are good trolling lures for St Clair.

A new technique started last year to target the deeper bass is long-lining or ‘strolling’ Deep Chubbies and Stuckeys on 12lb fluorocarbon along the deeper banks and drops. With this technique these lures will get down around 7m.

Bait fishing can be a little slow but up around Gindigah Point has been producing some nice catties off the bank on worms. There are some trees about mid-way up the Carrowbrook along the old river bed that should be good for a few silvers and catties.


With the dam full, Glenbawn is looking picture-perfect this Autumn, but the fishing over recent weeks has been very fickle. The only consistent catches have come from the very deep sections around the Narrows and the main basin.

During late Autumn the bass and goldens move around in search of warmer water and good food before the water temperature drops and their metabolism slows.

Fishos must travel over a lot of water using the sounder to its max in search of the fish. I frequently use my Lowrance’s ‘log sonar data’ feature while I am searching for spots and I then go home and download the info to my PC, where I can check every little section of water, quite often finding certain cover or structure that I missed during the day.

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