THIS is the most enjoyable month to be out on the dams because the mornings are quite brisk, with the usual fog, followed by a nice, warm day.
This is the last month of Winter so the boat ramps will not be very busy and, although the fishing might be tough, the fish that can be caught are usually in prime condition.
The benefit of fishing this month is that the best session seems to be from around 10am to3pm, when the barometer, the water and air temperatures are at their highest.
Because the water temperature is down around 12°, the metabolism of the bass and goldens is slowed right down, making them very reluctant to feed.
To target them you will need to slow your presentations down and virtually put your lure or bait right in their faces.
I like to use crankbaits when the fish are in this low-metabolism state because you can cover an immense amount of water in search of the fish and can elicit a reaction strike from inactive bass and goldens.
When the water temperature is very low – probably the coldest that it will get – the tighter the action or wobble, the better. Colours to use are shad, brown, yellow and red. Last August I had a lot of success with the Jackal TN60 and, more recently, the new Mask Vibe 60. Other lures that work very well include the Stuckey, Tilsan Bass and the AC Minnow.
I have had to use either larger front trebles or SuspendDots on some of these to take some of the buoyancy out of the lure to keep it down in the zone longer.
I have also found that a very important part of using crankbaits in these cool conditions is what I term the ‘deflection factor’. Around 90 % of the strikes usually occur when the bait bounces off something or has a sudden change of direction.
I have found for this cold-water fishing that the action of the rod is also critical. I like to use a rod with a very slow action because it is helpful in slowing down your response time and helping you land more fish.
I use a 7’ Loomis CBR843 and, around tight cover, the 6’6” CBR783, both of which have a slow, soft action that allows the lure to work perfectly while still allowing the fish to inhale the bait. Both are light, responsive and sensitive.
Working that sounder is the other factor to catching fish in cold water. The fish will not do a lot of travelling to look for food and will hold up where the water temperature is the most comfortable. This often corresponds to where there is also food.
The high pixel count on my Lowrance LMS480 combo makes it easy to see the black shadows of bait in both Glenbawn and Lake St Clair. On some days the bait is around eight metres down in the vicinity of the old river channels.
At lake St Clair there will be small schools of juvenile bass holding in some of the more open bays and down in the main basin around nine metres. These can be targeted using plastics and very light line, preferably 2kg to 3kg fluorocarbon with 1/4oz jig heads. The Berkley Bass Minnow in smelt colour or the Slider grub in baby bass colour will do the job.
These schools are also around the timber and some of the deeper banks up the arms and it’s better to fish for them is in the afternoons using the same method. You can also slow-roll 3/8oz or 1/2oz spinnerbaits in light purple/clear /silver.
The goldens are very slow at this time also but can be caught around some of the backs of bays, where the water temperature may be 1° warmer. They will take a slowly-worked lure or plastic.
Bait-fishing can be rewarding for catties, bass and goldens, with worms jigged around the trees being the best method.
At Lake Glenbawn the water is really cold because the westerlies have been blowing for days. There is considerable snow on the Barrington Tops but in Spring the snow melts and will help to top up the dam – it certainly needs it.
The better fishing always comes from the back section of Glenbawn during August, with bait-fishing with worms the best option.
Trolling along the river bed with lures with a tight wobble that run down to about five metres will also be worth trying. Good lures for this include the AC Invader Deep and the FeralCatt.
While trolling along, put the engine out of gear and just pause for a few moments every now and then as this can sometimes entice a strike .
For the angler who wants to cast to the trees or snags, you may have to do it several times and from different angles to entice a hit.
On August 14 and 15 ABT will hold the final round of the Bass Pro at Lake St Clair – if you’re interested, give Simon a ring on 07 3268 3992Reads: 431