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Ice jigs are cool for the lakes
  |  First Published: September 2016



This month is a time of change for the fishing in Hunter Valley. You’ll find the fishing very different from the start of the month compared to the end. The local impoundment bass will transition from their winter gorge on small baitfish, lose all their roe and make their way into spring patterns. The river bass season opens as well and most of the larger bass will be downstream finishing the spawn, ready to make their way back up river.

Glenbawn was on fire last month. Bass fed ferociously on plastics and ice jigs, anything that resembled a small baitfish was getting eaten. The start of September will be very similar to last month. You’ll be able to catch bass throughout the whole lake on a jighead rigged plastic, either swimbait or grub in the 2-3” size range.

Typical Glenbawn bass are very light orientated. On low light and cloudy days, fish shallower water, and in bright sun target deeper water. A 1/4oz jighead with your favourite plastic cast towards the edge, focusing on bottom contact will catch you some bass. Similar to a flathead retrieve, this has fooled countless fish. Bass bite when the plastic falls.

This technique can be troublesome for anglers new to plastic fishing. With Glenbawn’s abundant tree population, I suggest making your way further up the dam, past the Narrows. Fish the upper end of the lake, as the barren banks there will hold plenty of fish. Focus on points and bays that are easy to fish. You can keep your plastic close to the bottom without any hassle of snags. Targeting bass with ice jigs will still catch plenty of fish this time of year.

Keep an eye on your electronics. This will show plenty of schooled bass beneath the boat, off points and around trees. It shouldn’t take much effort to get a response out of these fish. Drop down straight to them and work the ice jig with a constant hop. If you get no response after a few minutes, try moving on to fresh fish. Sometimes they’ll only react in the first couple of drops.

Golden perch will fire up as the water warms. They can sometimes outnumber the bass catches this time of year. They love anything with vibration, so small blades or lipless crankbaits hopped down banks work well. They won’t turn their nose up at a plastic fished for bass. Near the end of the month, the water should be close to 17-18°C. We’ll start to see a more typical spring pattern, where reaction style lures come into play and even some top water.

Lake St Clair followed a similar pattern to Glenbawn, it was just in front by a couple of weeks. Bass have been devouring baitfish. This month, abundant weed beds will thicken after their winter die-down. This will get the fish up nice and shallow again. A jerk bait and top water lure will work wonders in the low light periods. As the sun gets up, try moving to where the weed edge drops into deeper water. Fish hold here during the bright daylight hours, before making their way shallow at sunset. A slow rolled plastic will catch fish along this weed drop off. Keep in contact with the weed the whole way through your retrieve, and a upward twitch of the rod will pop your plastic free of the weed when it gets caught up. This will hopefully bring a strike.

Nearing the end of the month, reaction style lures like spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits or a Bassman Mumbler will be awesome. Lake St Clair has a very good population of fish and you don’t have to go far to locate some. The whole lake has weed around the edges. Any bank you pick will have fish within casting distance. September denotes the start of the river bass fishing season. In the Hunter River and all its tributaries, a large number of spawning bass will still be downstream, making their way back up.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t fish to be caught throughout the whole river system. A lot of bass, smaller fish, will hang around upstream. A top water lure is one of the funniest and easiest ways to tell if there’s fish in the area. Backing this up with a small spinnerbait or crankbait cast tight to structure and worked slowly back will turn some scales. A skirted jig with a plastic craw trailer, deep into some snags and worked back slowly with dragging and small hops, will surprise the most devoted river bass fishers with how well they work.

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Keep an eye on your electronics. This will show plenty of schooled bass beneath the boat, off points and around trees.

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Here’s a perfect example of an ice jig reaction bite – the lure made it to the bottom with one hop and brought up a quality Glenbawn fish.

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Mitchell Cone with a Glenbawn plastic fish. Expect to see chunky size bass this month.

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The author with a St Clair bass caught on a top water popper.

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