THERE’S no doubting Glenbawn’s claim to fame is its population of big Australian bass. They are what draw most anglers to this wonderful fishery, but there are other species of interest to anglers of all persuasions.
To point out particular hotspots to catch bass could be difficult, and with the density of fish in Glenbawn it’s perhaps unnecessary. Just look for particular structure above and below the waterline. Watching the sounder when moving is a must, as water levels fluctuate so the marine environment changes. As light penetrates new ground, weed beds form and grow. Fish can congregate in seemingly clear open water, with no structure. Fish are where you find them! They move according to the seasons and place themselves in the best position to feed and grow.
The front sections of the many bays are great locations for casting hard-bodied lures and spinnerbaits. Any submerged structure should be thoroughly combed with casts. I have caught more bass on spinnerbaits in Glenbawn than on hard-bodies, but hard-bodied lures have had their days and you would be foolish not to have some in your kit.
Spinnerbait colours are quite interesting, with black and red, black and blue, black and purple and silver or white skirt. Chartreuse spinnerbaits are worth a throw too.
Casting lures for eastern and western native fish is typically traditional stuff – work the structure and cover the ground! Don’t forget the weed beds though. Some of the shoreline has little in the way of hard structure but has lush weed beds that fringe deeper water. Lurecasters should work these locations thoroughly. Feeding fish roam these areas in search of small fish and crustaceans.
Whenever I’m lure casting in Glenbawn I’m constantly aware of what could be coming my way. These bass can pull! Stiff drags are a must in tiger country (heavy timber) and angler reaction time can mean the difference between success and failure. The thick weed beds can be equally frustrating. The bass power straight into this dense salad and quickly bring things to a standstill.
I prefer to fish with an overhead outfit when lure casting for bass. A fast actioned rod in the 3-4kg range is ideal; one that you can trust to lean on hard if the need arises. Couple this with a quality baitcaster filled with 10kg braid and 10kg fluorocarbon leader. It sounds a little barbaric, but experience dictates such equipment.
The deeper weed beds are the hot property for big bass in big schools at the moment. Drifting and static fishing are productive over deep weed beds. To find these areas it’s important to be able to use your sounder properly and understand it. There’s a lot of open ground out there so you need to be able to distinguish fish from other images.
With this technique, a range of tackle has been developed that allows small, lightly weighted soft plastic worms to travel to over 15m straight down. Most successful anglers use a light spin rod with a fast and responsive action, coupled with a quality spin reel filled with 2kg or 3kg braid with a fluorocarbon leader. Braid gives a better feel and responsiveness than any monofilament at these depths.
Sometimes the fish are on the bottom but not always. If the fish are hugging the bottom, simply drop the rig all the way to the bottom and begin to work the lure. If the fish are up off the bottom you can mark your braid with a felt pen to ensure accurate lure placement, but a countdown system is needed for best results. By learning how fast your lure drops through the water and by knowing how far down the fish are, most anglers can count their lures down to within a metre of where the fish are. The countdown technique allows you to accurately return the lure to the same depth each time.
It’s not hard to see why these soft plastics work so well – they have a very lifelike action that can be imparted by little more than the boat movement. It’s worth watching the action of your lure in shallow water as this will give you a better idea of what’s happening to the lure down deep where the fish are. You should expect a few missed strikes because the single hook in most plastics is usually well away from the wriggling end, where the bass can strike. A missed strike doesn’t put the fish off, however, because these lures feel so ‘real’ that fish often attack them repeatedly.
This is finesse fishing, and flyfishing can easily be slotted alongside this style of angling. Using express or high-density fly lines, large flies can be taken down to lure these fish into taking an artificial. These fish really play up on light tackle, and quality rods, reels and lines make a difference to the results simply by the angler being able to place and manipulate the artificial accurately and with control.
It’s not just bass that attract anglers to Glenbawn. Many other native species are available and you can expect to bump into a few on your travels around the lake. Murray cod, golden perch, silver perch and catfish are the desirables. Carp and monster eels can also turn up, especially when baitfishing.
Golden perch are a western drainage native but liberations in this eastern drainage reservoir still occur. From an angling point of view, golden perch are great. I have caught plenty of them in my time, and none pull as hard as the Glenbawn fish do. I have regularly called the fish for a bass when the hues of a golden perch suddenly flicker just beneath. Few anglers would be disappointed with the performance of a golden perch on the end of a line, especially when fishing tight to structure.
It’s interesting to note that Glenbawn’s golden perch have an affinity for spinnerbaits, more so than I have experienced in other locations.
Trolling along the wall at Glenbawn has turned up high numbers of golden perch, and by staggering your lures at different depths there is a good chance of catching one. Deep diving lures seem to dominate the trolling in Glenbawn. When trolling along the wall, lures that troll deeper than 5m get the most attention.
Silver perch are an infrequent capture on lures but bait anglers catch their share. Similarly, the eel-tailed catfish seldom snap at lures but they eat bait with zeal.
Murray cod are the phantoms of the lake. Their captures are talked about with excitement but the number of encounters keeps their mystery intact. One area that has produced cod is the dam wall.
Carp have become a fact of life in nearly all dams, and Glenbawn is no exception. Large schools of carp can be seen cruising the surface in quiet bays during the warmer months. They sometimes take cast and trolled lures but generally they don’t interfere with the fishing.
Baitfishing with livebait is a very productive method during the cooler months when the fish are a little more choosy about feeding. Also, when unfavourable weather cools the bite during Summer, livebait can salvage what would be a fishless day with lures. The only problem with baitfishing is that the less desirable species turn up more regularly.
As an angling location Glenbawn offers several short-stay options. On the eastern side of the wall there is a State Park camping area with full kiosk facilities, including fuel. A good, steep, public boat ramp adjoins the camping area adjacent to the wall.
On the western side there is another State Park that caters for visitors with caravans, or you can stay in one of their comfortable villas. Whenever I visit Glenbawn I stay at the Lake Glenbawn Holliday Village in one of the spacious three-bedroom lodges. Manicured surrounds with BBQ and outdoor eating facilities for those balmy Summer evening gatherings are also a feature.
The angling opportunities at this healthy and diverse freshwater fishery are a year-round option, with peak times for lure fishing from Spring through to late Autumn. If you want to put some excitement back into your freshwater fishing, try your luck at Glenbawn. Just make sure you hang on tight to your rod!
Hard-bodied Glenbawn lures
Custom Crafted Scud
Knol’s Small Deep Native
1. Not a big bass but a welcome catch, Chris Hickson’s first Glenbawn bass. Fish of this size punctuate catches regularly. Their size is a good indication that stockings are still successful and fish are still growing and food is plentiful.
2. Glenbawn’s golden perch have an unusual power to weight ratio. Their performance on the end of a rod in Glenbawn is quite surprising.
3. Fish caught on a spinnerbait’s single hook are quicker, cleaner and easier to release. Handling fish is also easier without several sets of trebles to worry about.
4. Working shallow structure close to the shore is traditional stuff but don’t forget to work some of the deeper snags too.
5. Aaron Mulldoon with a thumping 50cm+ bass. Trophy fish like this get caught with surprising regularity at Glenbawn.
6. Typical of Glenbawn bass, this fish was fit and fat – just the requirements for a fun fishing target.