July is probably the hardest month to catch fish in our local impoundments.
The water temperature is dropping to its lowest – usually down to around 11° – and with those strong westerly winds the days can be quite cold.
However, if you can manage to get three or four days of high pressure, with foggy mornings and clear sunny days, then it can be very enjoyable out on the water.
Over the past month catches at St Clair and Glenbawn have been quite good but once the first frosts appeared, the fish really went off the bite. Some fairly ordinary weather and wind kept them quiet.
Most of the bass in St Clair came from 4m-5m along the banks on hardbodies and blades while up the valley at Glenbawn, the bass were deeper in 10m-15m and were targeted with jigs and plastics.
Winter bass fishing in this area is generally a tough proposition at best.
But I still like to fish for them, especially on some of those nice days when the weather isn’t too bad.
You have to measure success with a different yardstick during Winter.
A successful day might not produce a lot of fish but those you catch might be in prime condition, and quite often not the smaller school fish.
Winter success can first of all take a serious attitude adjustment. With the cold water comes a slowdown in the basses’ metabolism. The strike zone shrinks with every degree the water temperature drops.
The key ingredient for a successful day is to fish slowly but still put in a lot of effort.
A Winter bass won’t move very far to strike and you need to keep the lure in the strike zone longer to increase your chances. Some anglers do not have the patience but it is definitely worth the effort.
In St Clair and Glenbawn over past years the Winter bass tend to head for the deeper water. Steep drop-offs with vertical structure are good places to look for these bass.
St Clair is pretty clear this month and is holding around 98% with good weed out in 5m off the banks.
Working along the banks and into the backs of bays is always quite productive. Cast lipless crankbaits, small hardbodies and blades adjacent to the weed line.
This is a good option if the bank has had quite a bit of wind blowing onto it.
There are some good areas to try are up towards the back of the Fallbrook Arm from Redhead Corner up to Richards Reach.
In the Carrowbrook you can try around Perkins Point into Gindigah Point and also around Loder Point and Walker Bay.
In the Broadwater area, the bays to the east of Alcorn Island always hold a few fish.
The deeper school bass appear in 10m-15m not too far from Redhead Corner in the Fallbrook and in the Carrowbrook near the 8-knot signs and up the reach in 10m-15m near the standing timber before Adams Point.
Some years they can also be found down around St Clair Island and Connell Inlet.
These deeper bass usually like to hit small plastics and ice jigs.
Fly-fishing the bank or casting crankbaits should also be worthwhile.
Trollers can also grab a few fish if they spend time working the deeper water off the points and keep an eye on the sounder for the schools of bait. Good lures to try are the deep Halcos, Stuckeys and Vikings.
Bait is worth a try but again can be a bit slow. Tie up to a tree and drop plenty of live yabbies or worms down in close.
Glenbawn is picture-perfect and up near 100% but it can get awfully cold if the winds blow off the snowy Barrington Tops.
The best option is to head to the back of the dam, from the Dogleg up to the Ruins, and fish in close to the timber and steep banks, especially those that face north.
Dropping lures or plastics into the timber is a good plan. Use heaps of scent and move from tree to tree to find the fish. These trees could be underwater, so a good sounder is required.
There are usually some school bass out in the more open areas holding in 10m-14m. These are best targeted with ice jigs and slow-rolled plastics.
Trollers and bait fishers can enjoy themselves up the back of the dam towing Feralcatts and Stuckeys or soaking worms.
Another very good option for the trollers is to tow Jackall TN60s in the old river channel up near the Panhandle.