Fish spreading out and swimming shallower water
  |  First Published: April 2017

April is a time of change in the Hunter Valley. The weather will be cooling down, which will start to bring the surface water temperatures down. Hopefully it will be kind to us this year and bring some cooling rains to replenish the drying ground water from the hot summer we had. April can also be a tough time for the lure anglers out there as the fish start to spread out between deep and shallow patterns.

The recent hot weather and dropping water levels will have killed off some of St Clair’s weed beds. As bad as it sounds, this won’t really hurt the fishing there. Over the last 12-18 months the lake has been on a slow, constant rise. With the clear water and rising levels, the weed beds have grown to an enormous size. Some were as deep as 20ft, spanning out nearly 100m from the bank.

This weed made it very hard to locate the fish, as they could be anywhere amongst it. The dropping levels will hopefully create more of a defined edge for the fish to hunt along and make it easier to fish. The fish will be split fairly evenly between deep and shallow at this time of year. The deeper fish will eat a slow rolled plastic, hopped blade or tail spinner and even a dressed blade. Low light is the key as always for shallow fish at St Clair.

A jerkbait is good choice for covering water and bringing a reaction bite from fish feeding in the weed. Work them along the edge of the weed and into any holes with a few hard rips and a 2-3 second pause. The OSP i-Waver is another great lure for getting bites that other lures miss. The super slow sink and subtle action of these lures draw ferocious strikes. Work these into holes nice and slow with long pauses and little twitches.

Once the sun gets up, try a skirted jig like the Pros Factory Equip or Motion jigs. The shape of these jigs comes through the weed nice and easy, compared to a traditional football jig. A craw trailer gives the jig added action and more of a life-like profile. Target the weed edges and holes with a slow dragging and shaking action. Topwater is still worth a try at this time of year, especially if you have a foggy morning.

Lake Glenbawn’s weed beds unfortunately didn’t survive very well over the past six months. Last winter we had the best weed growth I have seen there for years, but the water level rose too quickly in spring and the weed couldn’t keep up. Followed by dropping water levels over summer, it hasn’t had a chance. There will still be small patches found throughout the lake though and these will definitely hold fish at this time of year.

Similar to St Clair, the fish will be deep and starting to transition into shallower water. When the fish start to get shallow in Glenbawn they have a tendency to sit in 20ft of water. Low light is key for catching these fish up on the edge as they move freely away from structure looking for food. A jerkbait and paddle-tail plastic cast up into the shallows and brought back down into 15-20ft of water will catch some fish.

Glenbawn’s steep banks are great for extending the low light bite. As the sun gets up, they cast a shadow onto the water, so you can chase these shadows late into the morning. Once that sun is up, targeting deeper fish will allow you to continue catching fish. Slow rolling a plastic or hopping a 1/4oz blade through the fish in 20ft of water will work, but they can be temperamental to catch without low light.

Moving out even deeper into 40-60ft there will be schools moving around. The fish will spread throughout the whole lake off major points and flats. Glenbawn is also renowned for a massive school that forms at this time of year up in the 8-knot zone. An ice jig and vertical grub are your best bets for catching these deep fish.

April can be tough for the lure anglers out there. Bait anglers can reap the rewards this month. If you can get hold of some live freshwater shrimp, you can almost guarantee some fish. Tying up to the tops of trees along steep banks in water around 30-40ft deep is a good method. Lightly weighted and hooked just through the tail, sink these slowly down the tree. Any fish in the area should not take too long to find your bait. If you can’t get hold of any shrimp, crickets can also work, whether they are black crickets or pet shop bought ones.

In the local rivers, the fish will be starting to spread out through the whole system now. The best fishing will still be mainly upstream. The rivers have also suffered from the hot dry summer and are in need of rain to get them flowing again. Local reports have told me that blades and lipless crankbaits have been working in the deep holes and on the surface after dark.

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