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Zeroing in on the bass
  |  First Published: March 2014



This month we should see the weather become a lot more enjoyable for fishing and, because this is the beginning of autumn, the bass can change their eating habits as both the water and air temperatures start to fall. During this time of the season the fish can stay on the bite for longer, which can account for a greater number of fish being caught.

The lower sections of the Hunter and Paterson rivers have been fishing really well with bass up at the top of the tidal zone and bream and flathead down in the zone.

The bass have been taking surface lures during the low light times and hardbodies just before dark and after sunrise, especially around the tide changes. Two good lures worth a try are the locally made Marz Bot-Fly and the Jackall Chubby.

Further up these rivers, good fish have been coming in the deeper sections using small hardbodies, blades and live bait.

The Williams River has also been producing some good numbers of bass, both up from Clarencetown and down to the no-go zone before the weir. Small hardbodies are a good option in this system as the bass are not big fish but are present in good numbers. Betts Spins and 1/8-1/4oz spinnerbaits are very handy in close to the reeds and in the deeper holes. Another option I’m trying at the moment is the new 40mm Jackall Chubby Vibration. It really suits the size of the fish at present and it also has a slow sink rate.

This is a really good time to fish the lower sections of the rivers as in some recent years, with the correct conditions, the bass have started to migrate downstream to begin their spawning phases.

I have not heard any reports coming from up the Tops but normally this month and leading up to Easter the trout action is pretty good.

Lostock has been fishing pretty well and should do so over next couple of weeks, with the bass taking lures on the troll and spinnerbaits and crankbaits off the banks. Live shrimp will also account for plenty of nice bass in the deeper areas.

Water levels at Glenbawn and St Clair fell considerably during summer and this has made for some very tough fishing. There is not much weed at all around the edges in either dam and some of the previous good spots to fish the banks are now non existent. With the fall in water temps this month (it usually drops to around 24°C), the bass will be on the move looking for food and the correct conditions in the water column.

It is during early autumn that complete stratification of the dam’s water column appears. This means that the top layer, down to around 10m, contains reasonable oxygen levels. The next level below is the thermocline, down to 15-20m, which also contains reasonable levels of oxygen. The bottom layer, the hypolimnion, contains little to no oxygen which makes it unappealing to fish and bait.

St Clair

The fishing at St Clair has been fairly ordinary over recent weeks. The majority of the bass have been coming from 6-10m where they have been feeding on big schools of bait. These bait schools appear on the sounder as large, dark clouds, and are often seen holding off points or changes in the bottom contours. If you have the benefit of using Lowrance’s Insight Genesis you can easily find these areas.

There hasn’t been a good surface bite this summer, due to falling levels. However, a strong change coming through with rain and wind could bring the fish back onto the edges. This scenario is ideal for jerkbaits and poppers along with plastics on very light jigs.

With the lower water levels and cooling temps, the bass and goldens have moved down from the upper parts of the arms to the deeper areas around Redhead Corner, Fenwick and Wood bays in the Falbrook reach.

Up the Carrowbrook they have moved down to around Walker Bay, Perkins Point along Thunderbolts Run and around Gindigah Point.

Around the main Broadwater they tend to like around Swannys Bay, Jeannie Miller Bay and Connells Inlet. The deeper area off Moore Bay along the edge of the river is also another good holding spot.

You can target these deep fish with plastics, blades, trolling deep lures or long-lining small deep diving lures.

Over the years I’ve found that the bass can easily dissipate if you catch too many on blades. I prefer to use blades only to find the fish, then I switch to other methods such as plastics or lures.

Baitfishing can now be a bit hard off the banks. However, using live shrimp or worms around the deep timber up both arms will get you a feed, especially catties.

Glenbawn

This is the prime part of the season to target some of the other species that are present in this dam, namely golden perch and silver perch. Both of these species are excellent fun to catch on both bait and lures. Yabbies are the prime bait for the goldens and worms are best for silvers.

Silvers can also be caught using small minnow-style lures and are an excellent fish for kids to target. You need to locate trees in around 10m, and there needs to be a good covering of fine green weed on the branches. Trees that are out by themselves seem to hold more fish. A good berley to use is just small handfuls of dirt.

Some areas worth a try are around the Boat Harbour entrance, New House bay, The Narrows and the northeastern side of the main basin.

Trollers can have a run up around the back of the dam from One Tree up to the Ruins using deep lures in dark patterns. There are plenty to choose from in the AC Invaders, Feralcatts and Oar Gee ranges.

Those targeting bass can do it a little hard this month. With the falling water level and drop in water temp the bass are on the move.

IT is this month that instinct, local knowledge and good sounder work and covering plenty of water will help get results.

With the level at present the better areas to try have been up around the Dogleg, Narrows, Castle Rock and around the main basin if they are letting water out.

The bass like to suspend in the 10-14m part of the water column, just around the thermocline, where the water temperature is around 20°C and in their comfort zone. The actual water depth can vary, often up to 30m. A good sounder can pick up the suspended bass, especially if you’re using a function like Lowrance Downscan and you set the depth on manual. Using vertical presentations such as blades, ice jigs and plastics is the best way to target these fish.

Trolling very deep lures is another option if the bass are not too deep. At this depth very dark colours are the right choice, even with the help of some UV paint.

I find that autumn is the most enjoyable season for fishing in our dams as we get consistent good weather patterns and quite often the fish are accommodating. When you locate the fish in autumn, you’ll often find they’ll hold there until spring.

At the end of January the DPI boys from Narrandera Hatchery did the annual golden perch stockings into both Glenbawn (70,000) and St Clair (30,000).

Finally, I have been testing a new power pack product from Lusty Industries called a Go Puck. This product is as small as the palm of your hand and it can power your GoPros, iPhones, iPads and suchlike all day long. It only costs around $110, which was surprising.

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