Freshwater due to be best in June
  |  First Published: June 2017

June marks the start of one of my favourite season to be out on one of the Hunter’s local lakes. The rivers and creeks are under the bass closed season and while fishing for bass in the rivers is not banned, the bag limit is zero. Some anglers prefer not to target them and let them do their business for the future stocks.

Winter is a great time of year to make your way to the impoundments. Even though the dam bass don’t breed they feed up in readiness for spawning. Big fat bellies full of roe and mouths full of baitfish as they hit the deck – this month and July can have the best fishing you’ll see all year. Autumn was kind to us and we had some good rains at the start. This helped give a level rise to both lakes and replenish some ground water for the rivers.

Both Glenbawn and St Clair will fish similarly this month. The water will be cold and should be 16°C or lower. Smelt, gudgeons, minnows, fry, or other baitfish are the main source of food at this time of year. Leave your big reaction lures at home, June will be dominated by finesse techniques. Smaller less aggressive sized lures that represent a baitfish are what you’re aiming to imitate.

A jerk bait is a great shallow water structure lure. Anywhere you can see some cover, whether it’s weed, rock or timber, chances are there will be fish close by. A jerk bait worked nice and close to the structure with a good hard 2-3 twitches and a pause will work. This style of fishing is very visual as you can sometimes see you lure disappear behind a dark flash as your slack line rips off the water’s surface. It feels like they line your jerk bait up from 6ft away before slamming it. This is good way of working out if the fish in the area are active and up feeding shallow.

A jighead rigged plastic like a paddle-tail or grub is going to be your main producer this month. Rig them on a 1/16oz head and work them shallow over cover right the way through down to a 3/8oz and fish them deeper. They are the most versatile lure you can throw as you can fish them anywhere in the water column. Little twitches in your retrieve can turn lookers into biters.

Keep the colours nice and basic. On sunny days I like to use natural greens and browns and in low light or overcast days I like whites and chartreuse. You can use plastic dyes like Spike It to give your natural colours some added spice, though you should be more focused on where and what you’re doing with your plastic than what colour it is. When casting to an edge, concentrate on keeping your plastic close to the structure and follow the contour all the way back to the boat.

If you’re lucky they might be up high and eating throughout the water column. The closer you can be to the weed, rock, or timber, the more fish you will catch. Dropping your plastic down to fish on the sounder will work as well. Both lakes have plenty of fish in them and your sounder should be constantly seeing fish come through. Slow roll, burn, twitch or hop your plastic in front of these fish, if the ones on the edge aren’t biting.

An ice jig is an effective lure for getting deep water fish to bite in the winter months. Moulded from lead with wings on the tails, these quickly sink down in front of the fish’s face. Small sharp hops send them darting around in circles looking like an escaping baitfish. Mix up your retrieves on any day, as they might want it slightly different.

Constant hopping, or hop-pause-hop and even sharp hops then dead sticking will work. I like to stay mobile with ice jig fishing, always slowly moving around looking for active fish. Sometimes if it is tough staying put and waiting for the fish to bite is the only way. A small profile that’s not too heavy is the key, so look at an ice jig under 60mm long.

Colours can be another debate with ice jigs as everyone has their favourites that they swear by. I prefer lighter colours like white, silver, fluorescents and even UV colours, but don’t stress too much. As with most of your freshwater fishing, concentrate on what you’re doing with the lure more than what colour it is.

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