THIS is usually a very good time for fishing for Hunter bass – it is the middle of Autumn and it is the last month with an ‘R’ in it before Winter.
The fish seem to start to feed up as the water temperature drops and the oxygen level rises, which makes for an increase in the fishes’ metabolism rates. The ‘R Factor’ was pointed out to me years ago by an old fisherman who told me that the best time for fishing for bass and goldens was any month with an R in it.
Down around the Hunter and Paterson rivers, the bass will be very active as they move back down the rivers preparing to spawn. They also like feed up to gain condition before the water cools. This is the most productive time to use small lures, around 45mm, in yellow, red or brown. Marz, Koolabung and AC make some good examples to try.
The Williams River also fishes well, be it above the weir or below. Good results can be expected with small spinnerbaits and lures worked along the banks, especially where there is timber or reeds. The spinnerbait combination I find best is a purple skirt with a single willow copper blade of about 1/4 oz.
Lake St Clair will really fire well this month. As the water temperature falls, the fish will become very active, moving around the dam seeking the schools of baitfish to gorge on before Winter. To those who follow the ABT tournaments, it was two years ago this month that Craig Simmons won the grand final here with that bag of six bass for 12kg, all on spinnerbaits cast around the banks.
Good locations to begin searching are around the points along the Fallbrook and Carrowbrook reaches and also opposite the camping area. After fishing the points, work back into the bays and gullies that feed into the dam as it is not unusual to see the goldens and sometimes the bass stacked up in the deeper water.
Work crankbaits very slowly in these spots but if the water is a bit discoloured from recent rain, spinnerbaits with copper Colorado blades and gold skirts will be the better option. I think that this pattern resembles juvenile carp on which the fish can feed. Good colours for the crankbaits are dark purple, red and yellow/brown. Bait-fishing is also very productive, with worms being the pick for excellent catches for silvers, catties and goldens.
Lake Glenbawn has been fishing well and will continue to as the water cools and there is a steady rise in its level. Bait-fishing in close to the banks using worms and yabbies around the bottom of the dam will be very rewarding with giant silvers, catties, goldens and bass.
Trolling along the wall area and around the eastern foreshore with deep-diving crankbaits has also proven to be very productive. Some good lures to try are Feralcats, AC Invaders and the new Koolabungs that Eddy Studman has developed for here. Any of the darker colours work.
Sound around to locate the fish. Sometimes they might be down too deep for minnows so the other option is to jig for them with soft plastics or ice jigs. But if the fish are coming up from really deep water, you will have to release them very quickly or needle their bladders or they will not survive.
As the water temp drops to around 18°, the bass and goldens tend to migrate around the dam and can hold up around some of the points that feed into the bays, such as Yellow Buoy Bay. Schooling is part of their spawning cycle but, sadly, that is as far as the cycle can go because these fish need brackish water to breed.
Targeting these fish is best done with reaction baits, be they spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Lipless crankbaits can also be very good, as they can be dropped down among the schools. Over recent years I have found that if the bass are reluctant to take smaller crankbaits around 60mm, going up to 70mm can make the difference.
At a recent meeting with NSW Fisheries it was explained to me that the regulation relating to rigged rods was being enforced. It is illegal to troll with more than two rods per person and you cannot have any more than two rods rigged and ready in the boat. It is the same for lures, spinnerbaits and plastics, whereby only two rods per person are permitted to be rigged with hooks or lures with hooks. The penalties are not light, with the starting point being confiscation of fishing tackle and a fine from $300 up to $11000. There have already been fishermen caught.
The way avoid prosecution is to have any other rods rigged with a clip on the end or just loose line, ready to have a lure tied or clipped on when it needs to be used. Remember, though, to remove the lure or hook on the other rig so as not to exceed that limit of two rigged rods.
This eel was caught at Glenbawn by English visitor Barry McConnell. Barry and a mate travel the world eel fishing and are members of a club that also has its own magazine. The eel weighed 13.6kg and was released. It was the largest that they have ever caught; in England the average weight is usually 3kg. How would you like to be holding onto it alive?
NSWFMLithgow-Oberon writer Glen Stewart and son Murray trolled up a nice Glenbawn golden on an AC Invader.
Duncan Rees of Gerringong with a nice bass lured up in late afternoon on Lake Glenbawn.Reads: 1412