Tough times on the lakes
  |  First Published: July 2015

July is probably the hardest and most demanding month to catch fish in our impoundments in the Hunter. The 2 main factors are the cold westerly winds and the water temperature dropping to its lowest of around 11 degrees. However, if you can manage to get 3-4 days of consistent high pressure with very little wind, then head out as it can be quite enjoyable on the water.

Over the past month there has been some reasonably good catches coming from Glenbawn and St Clair — both from the banks in the early part of the day, and then later the school bass out in 40’. There has also been some nice goldens coming from Glenbawn on bait as well as trolling.

Lostock is another dam that can fish quite well in winter, with the bass there usually in prime condition and taking lures as well as bait.

In winter I usually measure success by a different yardstick. A successful day might not produce a lot of fish, but the ones you usually catch are in prime condition and quite often not the smaller school fish. Winter success needs a serious adjustment to the way you target them though. You need to remember that with the very cool water temperatures, a fish’s metabolism slows dramatically, and this means that they do not need to feed as often nor eat as much.

With the fall in temperature, the strike zone for the fish to feed in diminishes dramatically with every degree of change. The key ingredient for success and a successful day is to keep your presentation in the zone for as long as possible, which quite often means slowing down the retrieve, but it also might mean changing jig or lure weights to keep it at the correct depth on the retrieve.

This is another reason for this cold water fishing to sometimes require 2 approaches; firstly, you can choose some really strong reaction lures like lipless crankbaits that really wake the fish up, or you can go for the neutrally buoyant hardbodies, especially jerkbaits, and also very lightly weighted plastics.

Over past years at both St Clair and Glenbawn in winter, the bass have appeared in the deeper water around good vertical structure and deep dropoffs along the river channels. These areas can now be easily seen on the Lowrance Insight Genesis maps.

Lake St Clair

The dam is very clear, with some small pockets of weed on the northern sides of the points, which are the prime areas to target very early in the day (when it is freezing cold!), using light plastics, jerkbaits and small blades. There are some good areas to try up the Fallbrook Arm, as it not only faces north, but also offers protection from the wind.

There can also be some school bass holding in the deep area up around Redhead Corner. From Redhead up to Richards Point is a good area for trolling, especially if chasing goldens as well as bass.

Another very good area to target is Wood Bay, as this is where the bass tend to hold up and also offers quite a bit of protection and is good for both trolling and casting the banks. The northern bank is also very good to walk and cast lures and fly, especially if there is a slight westerly blowing.

The Carrowbrook and Broadwater are worth a try, especially around Perkins Point, up Gindigah Bay and Reedy Cove, where there is quite often some school bass holding out in 40’.

Trollers have a really good chance of picking up some nice bass and goldens working along the 20-30’ areas along the fronts of bays and grassy banks on the Thunderbolts Run, and also around St Clair Island on the eastern side.

Lake Glenbawn

The dam is looking perfect in the early morning fog, but it is very cold in both air and water temperature.

This month you usually don’t have to travel right up the back to get a few fish, with some of the more productive locations around the Dogleg, Narrows and the main basin area.

If you wish to target the bigger fish, then you will need to get out fairly early and work along the steeper banks where there is plenty of structure, and in out of the sunrise where it is bloody cold. These areas are ideal for very light weedless-rigged plastics as well as jerkbaits, with my favourite being the Jackall Squirrel. If you can afford to lose a few lures, then sometimes the Jackall TN 60 can trigger a bite along with spinnerbaits.

If using plastics at this time of year, I recommend you add heaps of scent, and with some of the harder plastics preheat them in warm water. Some plastics that are working are the Keitechs and the Slider in Muscadine.

The open water school bass are also in the 40-50’ areas and are usually hold in the same spot every year, especially around the main basin. These are best targeted with ice jigs and plastics, using both the lighter and heavier versions, with the predominant colour having some black or red in it.

The trollers can also have a good run at this time of the year, as the lures can stay in the strike zone for a very long time, giving the bass or goldens time to strike. The option of trolling Jackall TNs and spinnerbaits should not be overlooked.

I was nearly going to report that Carol and Pete from the Glenbawn Kiosk were moving back to Queensland, but they have had a change of heart and are staying, with Pete expanding his online store to sell fishermen the latest and best tackle for the area.

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