Bass move as water cools
  |  First Published: May 2007

While the rivers down around the lower Hunter need a good flush-out, the fishing should be quite good this month as the bass move down to reach the correct salinity level in preparation for spawning. They are very aggressive during this period as they search for food to gain condition before breeding.

To target these fish in the Williams, Hunter and Paterson rivers, lures from 40mm to 50mm in very contrasting colours that swim down to around a metre will suffice. Spinnerbaits of around 1/4oz with a single copper Colorado blade in a clear shad or purple skirt colour will also do the trick.

Beetle Spins with 1/4oz heads and 3” Bass Minnow plastics also produced some nice bass last Autumn along with the Jackall deep and shallow Chubby in black/gold. These Japanese lures, along with other brands, have rattles so they can be worked very slowly around cover, enticing a bass out of its hide.

As with a lot of other impoundments, Lake St Clair is in dire straits and needs plenty of water to cover some of the barren ground. The ramp is inoperative so before heading up there, the caretaker or Ross at Mackaway Tackle a call.

Because it is quite shallow, water cools quickly in this little impoundment but as it cools there should be an increase in oxygen. This makes the bait and fish more active, especially down about 6m, where the thermocline usually forms.

The result is some good crankbait and spinnerbait action, along with baitfishing around the banks and trolling in the shallower sections.

This month marks the end of the effectiveness of surface lures. I have found that they work best from February to end of April.

Some good crankbaits for this time of year are the Jackall TN60 in doragon and HL black, Stuckey minnows in yellow/green and Ferralcatts in black/silver. Spinnerbaits of 3/8oz to 1/2oz are very good with double willow blades and pearl shad skirts. See what the fish want; some days they like a fast retrieve with a short pause and on others they like a slow, constant retrieve.

If the dam receives an influx of water or is discoloured from strong winds and it is overcast, white blades on spinnerbaits are a very good option, I just use a white marker, which you can remove with turps later. The bone or suji shrimp Jackalls also work very well in this scenario.

Baitfishing is also good this month. Walk the banks and use worms. But we will all have to walk the banks and cast lures, bait or flies.


Lake Glenbawn is still falling and is continuing to produce some good fishing, although it is really getting a lot of angling pressure. Because the dam is so low, there is virtually no fishing past Pelican Point. Some of the lower areas are getting a lot of attention and so it is wise to try many different approaches and methods to entice that bite.

Around the middle to upper end, the water is a little dirty and lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits will work well there around the timber. Trolling deep lures, especially with rattles, along the river bed all the way down to Yellow Buoy Bay will also take fish.

This is a particularly good time for giant golden perch, which will take lures but prefer a yabby or worm dropped down around some of the bigger solitary trees in around 10m.

Because this is a transitional period for the bass, they can take some locating and every year and season is different. The variables include are water temperature (this season is later and so it is 2° warmer ) water depth (rising or falling) and, most importantly, wind speed and direction.

Last year the bass were predominant around the back of the dam, the year before they were spread around the main basin, so a good sounder and its water temperature readings is very important.

As a rule, at this time of year the bass will be down around 10m to 18m so they need to be targeted with plastics on 1/2oz jigs, Jackall Masks jigged or hopped along through the schools or ice jigs dropped among the fish.

The Autumn westerly winds can cause the water in the main basin to turn over and so the bass tend to move to a different location.

In early Autumn, the epilimnion, the top layer of water, and the next layer down, the thermocline, each contain plenty of oxygen to support good food and bass habitat. The lower level, the hypolimnion, contains virtually zero oxygen. In late Autumn and early Winter, this can change if we get these very cold westerlies. These winds mix up these three layers and we end up with virtually two. The top layer down to around 15m should hold all the oxygen and below it is a small band with little or none.

As it can be seen, there are a lot of factors in locating the fish in Autumn and Winter but some time spent cruising around looking at the sounder can be very pleasant on a nice sunny day.

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