High times on rivers and dams
  |  First Published: April 2006

This is usually the most enjoyable and rewarding month for bass fishing and other freshwater species.

Yes, it’s the last month before Winter with the letter ‘R’ in it, it is when the fish feed up before Winter and spawning season.

In the rivers down around Maitland the bass become very active as they feed up and move into spawning mood to travel down to the lower reaches where the salinity level is suitable for breeding. As the water temperature begins to fall their metabolism increases and they try to gain as much condition as possible to get them through the spawning season ahead.

If the rivers will remain quite clear the bass will nail 40mm to 50mm lures worked along the banks. Some good lures to try include Marz models, Deception Shrimp and Mann’s 5+. I recently have been trying the Jackall Chubby for some excellent catches.

If, however, we get some much-needed rain and the rivers dirty up, 50mm lipless crankbaits and 1/4oz to 3/8oz spinnerbaits with copper Colorado blades will be the answer especially with gold or purple skirts.

The Williams River fires up exceptionally well this month with the same tackle as above. Because it is non-tidal, plastics and Beetle Spins work well here along with the new 7g Squidgy spinnerbaits with rainbow trout or Gary Glitter tails.


Lake St Clair really fires up this month as the water temperature falls to 22° and the oxygen levels begin to rise. Oxygen especially rises in the upper water column where it is easier to target bass and goldens as they feed closer to the banks and the surface as the schools of bait rise. On my Eagle Seachamp 2000 colour sounder I can easily see where the big clouds of zooplankton and micro-organisms are present. The bass and goldens swim just below the clouds and if they are very active, you can see them swimming through it right near the surface.

Watching the sounder is very important, especially for those trolling, as they can see exactly what depth lure they will require to target these fish and then experiment with colour. My favourite colour for this time of year is black with silver tiger stripes.

Because the fish are very active they can travel a lot around the dam, being on the points one day and later moving out into the open water. So covering a lot of area is sometimes the only way to find them.

Then use any of the reaction type lures or spinnerbaits ,with the lipless crankbait being the most popular. If you find fish in open water where trolling is the preferred method, try hopping a Jackall Mask along under the bait clouds.

Bait fishing also hits top gear this month with live shrimp and yabbies working on the bass and goldens with worms accounting for some plate-size silvers and catties around the timber in around nine metres.

At the time of writing the dam was very low and the ramp not very good for larger boats. There were plenty of solid trees just starting to appear so be very careful when negotiating the upper reaches.


Lake Glenbawn was continuing to fall so be very careful when boating there, too. This dam fishes really well this month but the bass can school up anywhere there food, from Pelican Point down to the lower reaches.

A quality sounder and time spent on the water searching for fish is so important. Trolling around can be very productive in finding these fish without it becoming too boring. Lures worth tying include the deep AC Invaders, Ferralcatts and Stuckeys or you could even troll Jackall TN 60s or TN70s.

Schooling bass are best targeted with 5/8oz jig heads with Sliders, Bass Minnows or Ecogear Grass Minnows, jigged Jackall Masks or ice jigs.

Bait fishing is also worth trying this month with grasshoppers, yabbies or worms jigged around trees in around 12 metres and through the timber around the back of the dam. Some good goldens and bass should take 1/2oz spinnerbaits with willow blades and shad-coloured skirts around the timber. Also work Jackall TNs outside the timber line.

Remember that these dams are very low and there is a lot of boat-damaging structure beginning to appear. Be alert.

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