Work the depths slowly
  |  First Published: August 2005

August is the most enjoyable time of the year to be out on the water and although it is the last month of Winter, the usually brisk, foggy mornings are followed by clear, warm days.

Although the fishing can be quite tough the fish are really in prime condition, especially the golden perch, with some of my largest ones caught in august.

The prime time seems to be from about 11am to 4pm as this is when the barometer, water temperature and air temperature are at their highest. Because the water is down around 12° the fishes’ metabolisms have slowed right down and it is not unusual that their food intake goes down by about as much as 90%.

Consequently they become reluctant to feed and to target them you will need to put your presentations right in their faces for as long as possible.

Good sections of our dams in which to locate fish in this cold-water scenario are adjacent to points, ridges, ledges or timber at a specific depth. The fish will be concentrating usually about the mid-water depth so if the water is 10 metres, concentrate your lures, plastics or other baits at half that depth. Remember that the fish will be moving horizontally at this depth as it usually has the correct oxygen level and temperature for their comfort zone.

With the use of a good sounder you can quite often locate these fish out in the open and then you know just how deep around the structure that you have to put your lure.

It is then a matter of counting down your lure to that depth and working it along the structure or through the water column.

Once you get your bait to the perfect depth, you have to keep it there. With a slowly- falling bait, your retrieve speed has to be slower than anything you’ve ever tried .

Just because you have your bait where the fish are doesn’t mean they’ll strike; they are not in an aggressive, feeding mood.

For this form of fishing I find a plastic grub on a very light jig or a neutrally-buoyant lure the best. You might have to change your mindset for this style of fishing but the plan is to bring the rig through at the exact depth the fish are.

If you have the bait rigged for perfect buoyancy, a very slow retrieve will keep it at that perfect depth where the fish are holding.


A lot of people have trouble slowing this retrieve down so if you can get your hands on a threadline or baitcaster reel that has a line recovery of about 22” to 24” makes it a lot easier.

Although many anglers have a tough time with the slow-down method, you will find on a Winter afternoon that your catch rate might increase with this technique.

At Lake St Clare there will be some good bass around the points and structure and some smaller bass around the more open bays and adjacent to the weed.

These fish can be targeted using plastics and very light line, preferably 2kg to 3kg fluorocarbon with 1/4oz jig heads. Try using Berkley Bass minnows in smelt or Sliders in baby bass.

For those who want to spin, drop back to 1/4oz spinnerbaits or neutrally-buoyant crankbaits. If your lures are positively buoyant you can make them suspend by changing to heavier split rings and hooks or adding weight by using SuspendDots from your local tackle shop.

For the cold water I like to use lures with very tight wobbles. I like to begin with pearl, white or silver spinnerbaits and lures and if these are not working, I move to browns, oranges, blacks or blues. The St Clair golden perch have always been fond of purple Deception Shrimp lures.

The bait fishing here is a little slow in August but a worm or shrimp might do the trick.

At Lake Glenbawn the water is really cold and clear, thanks to some really good snowfalls up at the Barrington Tops. In Spring when the snow melts there should be a good influx of water into the dam.

The better fishing always comes from the back section of Glenbawn during the tail end of Winter, especially for bait anglers using worms.

Trolling along the old river bed in the upper dam using lures such as Ferralcatts and AC Invaders, and even 1/2oz spinnerbaits, is a good option. Every couple of minutes, put the engine in neutral and you’ll quite often get a hit as you take off again.

Working some of the structure using the slow methods outlined above in the upper reaches is also very productive, especially if there has been recent rain.

This month it is common to get extremely bad westerly winds, as occurred last year, forcing the cancellation of the ABT BASS round at Lake St Clair. So be very careful; these winds tend to start blowing around 10am.

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