Let’s hope we’ve seen the end to the strong, cold winds so the water in the rivers and dams can warm from the 11° we’ve seen recently.
This is the time to hook into some of the trophy-size goldens, bass and silvers and the longer days allow us to spend more time on the water chasing them.
Lake St Clair is holding up pretty well after the Winter rain but it could certainly do with plenty more. The water is very clear and it should not be long before it begins to warm up to around 17°, bringing the bass, goldens and silvers on the bite. The catfish like it a little warmer.
When the top metre of water starts to warm, the shrimp become very active around the banks, making for some excellent fishing. My preferred method is walking the banks casting lures and spinnerbaits above the weed.
The latest lures from Japan are good for this because they cast very well and have rattles so they can be worked very slowly yet still put a fish-attracting vibration.
During this part of the season the brighter colours in lures and spinnerbaits seem to work the best.
Both the Carrowbrook and Fallbrook arms fish really well in early Spring because they warm up quickly. Fly fishing around the banks with plenty of vegetation is also effective.
Bait fishing will also be very rewarding, especially with shrimp around the banks and up the backs of some of the bays where the feeder creeks run in.
Trolling along the western bank in the Main Basin is also very productive. Use lures that run down around 2m to 3m; my favourites are the Stuckey in yellow with green dots or the Koolabung in the same pattern.
At Glenbawn, the water will be a little slower to warm because there has been considerable snow up at the Barrington Tops, which will melt and run into the Hunter that feeds the top of Glenbawn.
This dam does not usually begin to fish well until the water reaches around 18°, usually around the end of this month, but there is still some good fishing to be had as the dam rises slowly.
The best action often seems to be around the back of the dam, where the water is generally a bit warmer and where it covers new ground.
Glenbawn fishes well with lures and spinnerbaits, especially high contrast colours, worked along the banks and also out among the timber that lines the river channel up towards the back around New House Bay.
Yabbies and worms fished off the banks also account for some good fish this month.
I have found in the past that downsizing lures can increase catch rates dramatically in Glenbawn because the general size of the bass has dropped from around 45cm to 50cm three years ago to around 35cm to 40cm in more recent times.
Down around the lower Hunter, the rivers have all had a good flush-out and there should be some really good fishing as post-spawn bass are ready to build up condition.
These fish will take spinnerbaits and lures. Some of the lures in the 40mm range to use are the Jackall, Ecogear Bassday and the locally-made Marz.
These lures need to run down to around 1.5m and some of the really bright shades of green and yellow seem to work the best in the early part of the season.
Spinnerbaits of 1/4oz to 3/8 oz with single willow blades of gold or silver and chartreuse or pearl skirts also work well. Reputable brands include Secret Creek, AusSpin and Bassman.
Beetle Spins and Bass Spins also work very well up close to the willows with 1/4oz heads and 2” to 3” tails or grubs. Brighter colours are a good starting point.
Last season I had some good results using Action Discs on my jigs, working them parallel to the deeper banks and rock walls in the Paterson and Hunter.
I have been trying some new products from my sponsors lately and here are my thoughts.
The new Ugly Fish polycarbonate polarised sunglasses with the anti-reflective coating stop the light hitting the back of the lens and bouncing into my eyes. This is an improvement that I noticed on the first couple of days.
I have also been using is the 520 series of sounders from Lowrance and some of their new features make finding fish even easier. The 480 x 480-pixel display provides incredible target detail and superb readability in direct sunlight and I can easily see it from the back of the boat. The different colour display mode choices help to reveal fish targets often hidden by surface clutter, weed beds, thermoclines and other types of underwater cover.
I have received some draft stocking figures from DPI for some of our local impoundments but the deciding factor will the water quality and storage status of the impoundments. Along with these stockings Australian Bass Tournaments, Singleton Fly Fishing Club and Hunter Native Fish also stock through the dollar-for-dollar scheme.
Through the DPI Lake Glenbawn will receive 120,000 golden perch, 50,000 silver perch and 50,000 bass. St Clair will receive 50,000 golden perch, 30,000 silver perch and 50,000 bass, while Lostock Dam is to get 30,000 bass.
Although these numbers seem high you have to realise that in a good season there is only a survival rate of around 8%.Reads: 556