This can be one of the most enjoyable times to be out on the dams: The foggy mornings are usually followed by nice, warm days – unless the westerly winds kick in and ruin things.
There shouldn’t be a lot of other boats out on the water and although the fishing might be a little tough, the fish are usually in prime condition.
A benefit of this time of the season is that the fish seem to bite the best from around 10am to 3pm, when the water temp, air temp and barometer are at their highest. The water temp will still be down around 12° so the metabolism of the bass, goldens and silvers is going to be very slow. They’ll be very reluctant to bite for long periods and not too often.
I find it’s best to use a slow presentation and put the lure or bait in the fishes’ immediate strike zone. This is where neutrally-buoyant lures, jerkbaits and delicately presented plastics are all worth trying.
With these low water temps I have found that the tighter the lure’s action or wobble, the better. And the larger the plastic, the better and this is where shad patterns are often more effective than minnow styles. Don’t forget plenty of scent.
I find it very important to use what I term the’ deflection factor’ when using lures around some of the timber in St Clair and Glenbawn. Around 90% of strikes seem to occur when the lure or bait bounces off something or has a sudden change in direction.
Another reason for fishing in tight to the timber is that the trees tend to transfer heat into the water so the bait and the fish will be holding in close.
Jackalls are ideal for this type of fishing as they can be worked very slowly and have a very tight action. Go up in size to the 70mm if the fish are not taking the 60mm. In conventional crankbaits there is a good range in the Stuckeys, AC Invaders and plenty more. I have found to be the brighter the colour the better with chartreuse and green good colours to begin trying in the cold water.
Locating the fish this month can usually take time as they can move around, depending on the wind ,water temp and water oxygen level. With the use of a good sounder that shows water temp you can usually find a bay that has been sheltered and the water might be a few degrees warmer. Or if you see fish out in the open holding at 4m you will know that they will be anywhere in that bay at that depth because they do not move vertically too much but travel around at that depth. So I like to fish the structure at that depth.
At Lake St Clair there will be small schools of juvenile bass holding in the bays in the main basin around 9m. These can be targeted with plastics on 3/8 oz jigs rigged with Berkley Gulps or other plastics, with lipless crankbaits or by trolling some deep lures.
Up the Carrowbrook Arm it is still quite shallow but using shrimps or yabbies or working around the timber with lures or spinnerbaits will account for some goldens, bass and silvers. There are usually some good goldens and bass in the Fallbrook Arm using the same techniques.
This dam, like all others locally, is really suffering from lack of rain and the fish are not in the numbers or size of previous years.
At Glenbawn the water is still really cold, around 13°, and the westerlies have really stirred up the dam and usually the better fishing will come from up the back. Worms are a really good option along the river section or you could troll lures with a tight action that run just above the bottom .
For those who wish to use lures or plastics, the methods outlined for St Clair will work. The middle section of the dam and around Yellow Buoy Bay are some of the better spots and also can provide shelter if the winds arrive.
Both dams are in dire need of a good top-up, which would make for some improved Spring fishing. The fish seem to be suffering from the continuing drop in water level but we can only hope that some decent rainfall comes.
These dams are very open so it is very important to keep an eye on the weather. These waterways can be very intimidating when a 40-knot wind hits, as it usually does around lunch time, making it virtually impossible to retrieve your boat at the ramp.
It will be good when the new ramp is in action at Glenbawn because it is more sheltered up in the bay.Reads: 500