Plan on an early start
  |  First Published: December 2003

THE DAYS are long now and usually very hot, so plan on early starts to get out of the hot midday sun.

All the rivers down around Maitland will fish really well this month, especially after the recent rain that gave the systems a good flush and got the fish on the move. January is good for minnow lures and spinnerbaits, with dark colours early and late in the day and the brighter traditional greens and yellows in the middle of the day.

This month I like to fish for bass in the rivers using surface lures around dusk and dawn – it’s also a lot cooler. My tackle consists of a 6’ spin rod with a small threadline spooled with 6lb Fireline and a leader of 6lb mono about a metre long. My favourite lures are the Heddon Teeny or Tiny Torpedos and the Rapala Skitter Pop. Although with surface lures the hook-up ratio is lower it is certainly worth the try because when you do hook up, it gives a good adrenalin rush. Give it a try because it will work even during the day.

During a recent Basscatch on the Williams River by Native Fish Australia there were about 380 fish caught and released by the small group, which shows how well that system is. Longest fish was about 40cm.

There is not much to report from the Barrington Tops as they have not been getting the rainfall that has occurred on the coast, but I will be up there shortly so I hope to have a better idea next month.

Lake St Clair has not risen much and is still holding at about 65% and there is not much weed forming, as it normally would this month, but the fishing will still be quite reasonable and the water skiers will be out in force so hit the water early.

This is one dam where the bass and goldens will take a plastic worked around the edges at dawn and dusk, especially up around the top ends of the Carrowbrook and Fallbrook reaches. As the day progresses you will have to target the fish out in the deeper water to eight metres by trolling deep lures or slow-rolling 1/2oz spinnerbaits along the bottom. Try using Catch Scent on the skirts but be careful as it can soften the band that holds the skirts on. Colours that have worked for me are purple and green shad.

Working plastics along the edges of the drop-offs into the old river bed up the arms is also very productive, with 1/2oz cobra-head jigs and shad patterns in green and black doing the job.

Lake Glenbawn has been fishing really well and should continue this month but has not been able to raise its level after the recent rain so be careful when getting around the dam as there is a lot of timber beginning to appear. Bait-fishing is the norm this month with good catfish around the muddy banks on worms and also some giant silvers around the trees on worms or yabbies.

Surface lures are very productive around dawn and dusk with my favourite the black Jitterbug and the River 2 Sea Cicada. If there is any wind at all, fish these in close to where the wind can blow cicadas into the water, Spinnerbaits and shallow crankbaits worked near the surface are also good options.

As the day progresses, the bass and goldens tend to move out into the deeper water, making trolling and working heavy spinnerbaits and plastics further options. A good depth to troll is around nine metres with any of the points and deeper banks worth a look with the new AC Minnows or Invaders in metallic colours.

Spinnerbaiting around the deeper water in the more heavily timbered spots is sure to work on those giant bass this dam is famous for. The double willow blade with a purple shad skirt is a good starting point.

Plastics will also work well this month but I have found in recent years that the reaction bait tends to get the larger of the fish.

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