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Scoring schooled fish
  |  First Published: July 2014



July can be the hardest month to catch fish in our local impoundments as the water temperature starts to bottom out in the low teens. Winter fishing for bass in this area is generally a tough proposition but I still like to fish for them, especially on some of those nice days when there is little wind.

Towards the beginning of winter we experienced some very warm days, and the water temperature in the dams didn’t fall very much. On some days the surface layer was actually warmer. This can make locating the fish very hard but from past years I would suggest fishing around heavy timber. You should also do a lot of sounding, as the bass in particular could be still out on the sheltered flats in around 10m of water. I would expect to see a definite thermocline around this depth and probably about 5m wide. This is where you should target the open schools of fish.

There have been some reasonable catches of bass and the odd golden coming from both St Clair and Glenbawn. These fish were caught using live bait dropped down around the timber, and also ice jigs and plastics in amongst the schools out in the open around 10-15m. A successful day might not produce a lot of fish but those you catch might be in prime condition, especially the goldens.

You need to make an adjustment to your methods during winter and the low water temperatures. The strike zone of the fish has now greatly diminished with the reduction of their metabolism. A key ingredient for a successful day is to fish slowly but still put in a lot of effort. A winter bass or golden will not venture too far to strike the lure so you need to keep it in their strike zone longer to achieve a better result.

St Clair

This dam is very clear at present and at its current depth there is very little cover along the banks. It can still be a good option to work along these banks if they have received some onshore wind using lipless crankbaits or hardbodies. I like to use neutral buoyancy lures or jerkbaits as they can be worked very slowly.

Some good areas to try are around Gindigah Point, Perkins Point and Wallaroo Point if there have been some westerlies blowing. Another area is down around Alcorn and St Clair islands.

The deeper school bass appear more often up the arms, for example the hump off Redhead corner in 10-15m in the Fallbrook. Up the Carrowbrook they usually appear around that depth in the Carrowbrook at the 8knt zone and up around the timber off Walker Bay in the river channel.

This month flyfishing and walking the banks can be very productive casting small hardbodies and Betts Spins. Trollers can grab a few fish working deep lures along the deeper water that follows the river, especially up the Carrowbrook. Some good lures are Stuckeys, Halcos, Feralcatts and the locally produced Marz Lures. Go for a dark pattern with stripes. Bait fishers can have some success dropping worms or yabbies along the side of the bigger timber.

Glenbawn

Glenbawn is still holding plenty of water, and when the winds hit it can get very cold out on the water. Up the back of the dam is the best option in July. Fish in tight to the timber and also the walls and banks that face north.

Drop lures or plastics into the timber, along with plenty of scent, and move from tree to tree to find the fish. A good sounder with Downscan and Sidescan is an ideal way to find the fish in amongst the trees.

There are usually some schooled fish holding up the back in the 15-20m areas adjacent to the old river channel, and these are best targeted using ice jigs, blades and plastics. Bait fishers and trollers can also have some success up the back.

Another option to try up along the edge of the Panhandle and along to the Ruins is to troll Jackall TN60s with the occasional pause.

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