Mid-autumn can be the most enjoyable and rewarding time of the year, especially if you are chasing bass and golden perch.
Over the past weeks there has been a reasonable amount of rain, which has helped the dams, but made the river fishing a bit harder with all the dirty water. This season seems quite different from the last, with more rainfall and not as many hot days. The weed has never really taken any growth this year, so maybe we should all take a bag of fertiliser with us every time we go fishing!
At this part of the season the water temperature begins to fall, which is a trigger for the bass in particular to gorge on bait in readiness for winter. In the rivers, it usually triggers their migration downstream to start the spawning cycle. They travel down to where the salinity and water temperature is correct, and can hold there for extended periods of time until optimum conditions occur.
This month, bass in the rivers will nail almost any type of lure while in this aggressive feeding mood, but I find that you will need to cover a lot of water to find them. Small to medium spinnerbaits from ¼-3/8oz are very good, along with 40-50mm crankbaits, as you can cover a lot of ground fairly quickly. As the water is fairly stained or even muddy at times, I like to use fluoro patterns in the hardbodies, and Colorado blades on the spinnerbaits as they displace a lot of water and thus vibration.
Lipless crankbaits and blades can also be very useful, especially in the deeper areas and adjacent to rocky banks and areas where creeks and drains empty into the river.
St Clair has been fishing very well and should be really good around Easter, as the recent rain has got the fish on the bite. There is not much weed around the edges, but the bass can still be tempted to hit lures rigged on light leaders that are cast parallel to the banks.
The best bite time has been very early or late in the day, as the water is very clear.
Trollers have been accounting for bass and goldens in the 5-7m depth range, especially when using the Stuckey and Ferralcatts, with the bass in prime condition as they have been feeding on schools of gudgeons.
St Clair really fires up in April as the water falls to the low 20s, elevating the oxygen levels and raising the fishes’ metabolism, making them more active.
In April, with the water column beginning to cool, the bass and goldens come up to around the thermocline, which is usually at the 4-5m mark, as the oxygen levels in the deeper water of around 20m begin to fall. This means you can target the fish at these levels virtually anywhere in the dam, with the prime spots not too far from the deeper areas and close to points and gulleys.
These fish can be targeted using plastics, Beetlespins, blades and crankbaits. Around cover such as small brush, a small jerkbait worked aggressively works very well.
This month we will see the fish move around the dam in search of good conditions and food, and so the use of a sounder can be gold in helping you locate them. Side scan is very helpful, as you can locate areas without actually running your boat over it in the process and spooking the fish. Another very helpful tool from Lowrance is Insight Genesis to find these areas.
The mid sections of both the Fallbrook and Carrowbrook arms are some areas to target, along with the points along the eastern side of the Broadwater.
Bait fishing from the banks has been a bit slow, but a few nice fish have come from some of the trees out in the 20m area on live yabbies.
Lake Glenbawn has been fishing very well, with nice goldens on lures and bait, and bass on plastics and ice jigs. The fish have been coming from around the entire dam, around the wall, the Narrows, and up around the Panhandle. Black seems to be the best colour in both ice jigs and plastics down deep around 15-20m, especially near timber and deep drops.
There’s not much weed around the edges, but very early and late in the day the bass will take surface lures and hardbody jerkbaits, especially if you have a nor’ easterly blowing.
With the water temperature beginning to fall, the bass will be moving around this month and into the next prior to holing up over winter, so a lot of sounding about and past records are very helpful. Again, the use of Lowrance’s Insight Genesis to find possible locations at the correct depth is very helpful.
The fish can be very unpredictable at this time of year; where you catch them today, you can go back tomorrow and they have moved on, especially if a front moves through or a late afternoon storm hits. Trollers and baitfishos could do okay working the timbered areas around the Narrows and bottom of the dam on the western side.
During February, the DPI boys from Narrandera, along with the Aberdeen Fishing Club, put 60,000 goldens into Glenbawn and 20,000 into St Clair, which is your licence money at work.
A Lake St Clair bass that fell to a Deep Chubby.
Brad Harrison from DPI with an unwelcome bycatch at Glenbawn.
An Insight Genesis screenshot of a bass-producing point.
This Insight Genesis screenshot shows history of days at St Clair during April. It’s a very handy tool for working out fish movement and behaviour patterns.Reads: 400