With warm weather and some rain, the fishing in the rivers in the lower Hunter and the dams up the valley is really firing.
The bass in the rivers have been really smashing surface lures in the very early mornings and then again in the afternoons. I like to use surface lures under bankside cover so the bottom of the tide is the best option. At full tide I work them over the top of the weed along the banks.
I still like to use some of my old favourites, like Tiny Torpedoes and Jitterbugs, but some of the new lures from Jackall, Megabass, Bassday and Owner are certainly worth paying the money for.
Once beyond the morning surface bite the bass tend to go deeper and for cover so hard lures about 40mm long that run down to around a metre suffice. In Summer I have found those in bright green or gold work best.
Spinnerbaits are always excellent around the tight cover with bright green/pearl in 3/8oz single Colorado copper blades my first option. Beetle Spins and Bass Spins are always worth a try, especially if the barometer is low or falling and the bass are not really attacking the lures. I work them right on the bottom or close to deep, vertical banks.
This month is also a good time to hit the mullet with the many traditional dough recipes or fresh bread.
At Lake St Clair the fishing will pick up further although it has been quite good. It has been holding at a relatively steady level which allows the weed to grow around the banks for a good shallow bite early and late in the day.
The shrimp and baitfish are starting to appear in reasonable numbers along the weed so working the banks with crankbaits and spinnerbaits in 1m or 2m is a good option early.
As the day progresses, move to the deeper drop-offs and around the timber, especially up the Fallbrook and Carrowbrook reaches where the water is around 4m deep. Lipless crankbaits or spinnerbaits around 1/2oz do the trick with bright colours best. Work them close to or on the bottom where the fish are looking for shrimps.
On some of those hot, still days, drop a plastic or a shrimp, yabby or worm around the bases of trees in 10m for goldens, bass, silvers or catfish.
Trolling can also be a very good option on these hot days. With a good sounder you can see the fish out in 4m to 8m and target them with hardbodies that run to that depth.
Try to pick a day when the barometer is steady or on the rise. One December not long ago Chris Ingle and I caught and released more than 100 bass using Jackall and Ecogear lipless crankbaits in eight hours in such conditions.
Lake Glenbawn will live up to its reputation this month and although there is still a lot of pressure from the vast number of anglers who now visit, it still manages to produce some good catches although the average size of the fish has declined.
This month the water temperature begins to peak and the schools of gudgeons and smelt are very abundant and can be seen along some of the weed edges, especially early in the day.
I always try to make a note of these spots if I am working these banks early with surface lures. Later in the day I like to target the deeper water or cover to where these schools move to.
Because the dam has maintaining its height for the past month or so, the weed has had time to establish so hit the weedy areas with surface lures early and then move deeper with crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
The lower section of the dam, especially the main basin and little wall areas, are worth a troll with lures that run down to 4m for some of the large goldens patrolling this area. The purple deep Ferralcatts and AC Invaders are excellent.
The area from Yellow Buoy Bay to the Lost Island is the best bass area. Work along the banks with crankbaits and spinnerbaits and troll out wider. This is also a good area to troll your more expensive lipless crankbaits because there is not too much lure-grabbing timber.
December is excellent for casting yabbies off the banks for catfish, goldens and the odd bass.
Karl Shearman, 16, of Muswellbrook, went to Glenbawn for a fish off the bank with yabbies with his mate, Clinton Blenman of Aberdeen. After a couple of hours Karl hooked up to a decent fish on his 14lb line and after an hour fighting this fish a massive Murray cod surfaced. Clinton walked into the shallows to help land the fish when the 1/0 hook broke but luckily he grabbed the fish it and they both dragged it onto the bank.
They summoned help and weighed the cod at a staggering 30.6kg. The fish then swam away in good condition, leaving the lads to appreciate how much the 2km trek through thick scrub was worth the effort.Reads: 1500