Invisible changes
  |  First Published: June 2014

Now that the rivers are closed for bass fishing and the trout season also closes this month you will have to concentrate on fishing the dams to get your bass fix. This is the beginning of the winter months so timing your trips for best rewards is very important because the days are short and the water temperature in the dams is dropping to around 15-16°C. This month we also usually see the very cold westerlies hit, which chill off the surface layers along with the anglers.

Fishing on the lakes in June can quite often be very slow so it can help your results if you pay a lot of attention to weather pattern, in particular the barometer and the wind. The ideal situation is to have a constant or rising barometer of around 1020hpa and light wind four to five days prior to your trip.

Fortunately this month is kind to sleep in as the best bite seems to be from around 10am through to late afternoon. This appears to be when the water temperature is increasing but more importantly when the barometer is at its highest for the day.

Although the numbers of bass or goldens caught might not be high in numbers, they are usually very good in quality. I have found over the 24 years I have been fishing Glenbawn and St Clair that in winter the fishing can be in either deep water, or in shallow areas adjacent to cover and changes in structure.

The influences that determine where the bass will be are less obvious than you might imagine. The more obvious changes you notice when you are launching your boat are that the water temperature has dropped, there’s less aquatic vegetation and often very clear water. The change you can’t see is the hydrological change, which has a very significant effect on the fish behaviour, and can often be overlooked-the stratification of the water column.

In previous months there is a definite thermocline, usually down around 5m, but it can be quite thick and go down to around 15m, especially at Glenbawn. This is where the favoured dissolved oxygen levels are present for both the bass and their food sources.

In winter, the thermocline ceases to exist and the lakes become isothermal, sometimes called a ‘rollover’, which makes the entire water column roughly the same temperature. This means that the entire top 15-20m now has the correct dissolved oxygen to support the fish and bait, so we have to target our fish over a much wider spectrum. The bass will roam throughout this depth, following their chosen food source. In Glenbawn that’s hardiheads and firetail gudgeons, whilst in St Clair it is mainly just the gudgeons. These schools of bait can easily be seen on a good sounder; they look similar to dark clouds, feeding on the large number of rotifers ad copepods. On a sounder shot you will often see the bass holding under these dork clouds and are very active.

Once these deeper fish are located, it can be quite slow and painful to get them to bite but with the various finesse techniques now available, patience can bring rewards. Some of the techniques available are trolling deep lures, jigging lipless crankbaits, ice jigs, blades, plastics and bait.

Lake st Clair

At Lake St Clair, where the water temp is just touching 15°C, the fishing has been very tough. On some days it can yield you a few fish while on other days it’s frustratingly quiet.

I have found that the Fallbrook reach can be the better arm to fish if the westerlies have been blowing as it offers better protection and usually the water is a touch warmer. Up the back of the Fallbrook there are a few trees to target with bait or jigs for goldens and bass along with the odd catfish.

Trolling along the old river channel from Richards Reach down to around Redhead Corner with deep Stucky, Marz or Feralcatt lures is a very good option. Working the deeper banks with beetle spins and blades is also worth a try, letting them sink down to the bottom. Off Redhead Corner and also Andrews Point out in 12-15m there are usually some deep bass holding and they are best targeted using ice jigs or plastics.

Up the Carrowbrook arm trolling can also be a good option using deep lures, especially from Wilkinson Cove up to the Footcrossing and also from Perkins Point across to Loder point and up into Walker Bay. These areas can also be very productive deep jigging in the 10m areas with plastics and ice jigs.

On the Broadwater, Gindigah Point and around Reedy Cove are good areas to cast lipless cranks and spinnerbaits if there has been a lot of wind leading up to your trip.

This is also another area to try ‘long lining’ deep lures, such as Chubbys and Stuckys out in 5-7m with the bright colour patterns. Down around the Island and Connell Inlet can also hold deep bass in 15m and these are usually best targeted using plastics and ice jigs, with my favourite the Jackall black.

Another spot to troll is along Thunderbolts Run, especially if those westerlies have been around. Remember that this dam can get very rough easily when those winds hit.

Lake Glenbawn

Lake Glenbawn can be a hot or cold fishery this month, and a lot depends on those winds. Over recent weeks the bass have been coming from both the back of the dam up near the Panhandle deep jigging and also down around the main basin in amongst the timber. Some of my best quality catches of golden perch have come this month, mainly from up the back of the dam down around 5-7m on lures and lipless crankbaits.

If trolling is your option you cannot go past the Feralcatts in purple or black. If you’re fishing the main basin, the timbered banks are the best option, working right from the bank through the timber and then out into the deeper areas where you let the lure run across the top of the sunken timber. You will need a very good leader and strong jigs for this as you need to have a fairly tight drag. Some good plastics to use are Z-man 2.5” GrubZ, Gulps and Sliders cut down.

Up off the Dogleg and around the Panhandle there are usually schools of bass down deep. They are usually feeding on gudgeons this month so ice jigs and slow rolled plastics are the go in dark patterns. I have found that if deep jigging plastics on those really cold days a good idea is to pre-heat them in warm water on the boat as it will give them more action and softness.

Another warning about the westerlies on this dam in winter – they can get very strong and cold and usually hit at about 11am.

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