Bass hunker down
  |  First Published: August 2013

August can be a very enjoyable month for fishing the dams. The days are now getting longer and with nice foggy mornings followed by relatively warm days, and possibly a high barometer, the fishing can be very enjoyable.

In saying that, this can be the month that we can get the very strong and cold westerlies that kick in around lunchtime. The water temperature is now down around 12-13°C in Glenbawn and St Clair, which usually sends the fish scattering.

Over recent weeks Glenbawn has been fishing fairly well. The better areas have been up near the Panhandle and Boot, with the bass out in 10-15m of water and taking ice jigs. Lake St Clair has been very quiet; the bass there have been very scattered and the bites have been very timid.

The water temperature is usually at its lowest in August, around 12°C, and the fishing can be quite different from other months. As the fishing can be very tough, I like to measure success with a different yardstick – a successful day might be a couple of nice bass or goldens.

It takes a serious attitude change to go fishing during winter. With the very cold water temperature comes a slow-down in the bass’ metabolism and a shrinking of the strike zone. This means fish are very reluctant to feed and are also not prepared to travel far to feed. This can be true for both vertical fishing and fishing along cover and structure. The key ingredient for success is to fish slowly; the fish will not move very far, and success improves the longer the lure is in the strike zone. This can really try your patience.

The bass this month tend to prefer deep water, be it out in 20-30m where they can hold at 10-15m, or adjacent to steep drop-offs or banks close to deep water. These areas allow the bass to easily move up and down the water column, depending upon the weather, without using too much energy.

Vertical fishing is best using ice jigs and even plastics slow rolled. If you’re fishing the banks and cover, plastics on relatively light jigs and 40mm blades work best. When working the banks or structure with plastics or blades you can use them anywhere from the top to the bottom, either swimming, hopping or jerkbait style. Just remember to use relatively long pauses.

Keep in mind that the fish are scattered and slow to react. You should try to fish a lot of different areas, from open banks adjacent to creek beds to banks with a lot of cover.

Over the years I have noticed that during August the bass tend to stay in one area for weeks. It is worth the time it takes to locate them. This can mean a lot of sounding, but I find that using logging sonar on my Lowrance sounder makes this job easier because I can download it at home and view it on my PC.

Fish locations can vary between Glenbawn and St Clair, so it is handy to remember the three main factors for bass to hold up: water temperature and quality, available food sources, and cover.

Last season at Glenbawn the surface temperature of the water was 13.3°C, at 13m it was 11.5°C and down at 18m it was less than 9°C. Lake St Clair has been fairly ordinary over recent weeks, which is normal for this time of year. Still, if the weather pattern changes we could get some really decent days.

The Fallbrook from Redhead Corner up to the back is worth working with plastics and crankbaits around the cover, and blades around the banks and the creek gullies that flow into the old river. In the deeper drops near the corner, try jigging ice jigs and plastics.

The Carrowbrook should fish OK this month, especially along the banks where they open into deeper water. Fishing gullies with blades is also a very good option. At the start of Carrowbrook there are usually some good schools of bass in the 10-15m areas, especially off Perkins and Gindigah points, and they will take ice jigs and plastics. The Broadwater has some bass down around St Clair Island and out off Alcorn Island.

At Glenbawn there have been some pretty cold windy days but hopefully that should begin to improve soon. The better fishing this month usually comes from around the back of the dam, up near the Soil Con Shed and Panhandle. The bass tend to hold up in the deeper water and are best targeted with deep jigs.

The other very good area to fish this month is around the lower sections of the dam, especially along the heavily timbered banks – ideally the ones that face north. Use a stealth approach, with small but strong jigs and plastics. Work along the cover very slowly, as quite often the water is very clear and the fish are easily spooked. After you hook a fish, try moving away and coming back later when the fish return to the timber, or even move a little deeper and look for more cover or different structure.

For the trollers, use very deep lures, especially blacks and purples. Troll along the more heavily timbered banks, especially the main basin and even up around the narrows.

Baitfishing should start to improve this month, especially if you can find some nice yabbies or garden worms and work along the outside timber along the shores of the main basin.

Ebor Trout Hatchery

The Ebor Trout Hatchery staff have had quite a lot of repair work to do after the floods that occurred there earlier in the year. The flood was the second biggest flood recorded in the area. The flood did not interfere with the wild stocks in the rivers around the hatchery, luckily.

One of the major problems the hatchery is dealing with at the moment is the black shags, which are in plague proportions. Unfortunately, culling is not the solution. One incident that illustrates the seriousness of the problem was that of 1370 fish put into a separate tank for the breeding stock, and only 130 surviving.

The hatchery staff are looking at putting nets over all the tanks and ponds to try to stop this problem. This will be a major project requiring some outside assistance, and the Barrington Gloucester Fishing Club has offered to help.

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