Dams and rivers are firing
  |  First Published: December 2003

NOW THAT SUMMER has really kicked in, the fishing in the rivers in the lower Hunter and the impoundments up the valley is really firing.

The bass and estuary perch have been attacking everything that has been put in front of them lately in the Hunter and Paterson rivers and although a lot of these fish are only small, there are some really good fish over 40cm. Any of the smaller lures in natural colours of yellow, brown or green that run down to about a metre will catch these fish. The locally-made Marz lures will give some good results and the Mann’s 5+ range has also been working very well, especially in black and silver.

Smaller spinnerbaits will also give good results, with the purple, green and white /silver skirts in 1/4oz and 3/8oz with single silver willow blades good combinations. AusSpin and Bassman make these spinnerbaits, along with the local Secret Creek models made by Mick Butcher.

The Williams River will also produce some excellent fish this month with my favourite lures being the Heddon Teeny Torpedo and the larger Tiny Torpedo. The Beetle Spin also works very well in this river when mounted with a jig carrying a 2” grub in pumpkinseed or pearl.

Up at the Barrington Tops, there is very little water and not much in the way of fish, so hopefully we might get some rain to help the fish get established and to survive into next season.


Farther up the valley, both the dams will be firing well this month but be careful of the mid-afternoon south-easterly wind that make these impoundments very dangerous, especially for the smaller boats.

Lake St Clair will be good to the bait-fishers and trollers this month. Now the water is warm, the baitfish are in reasonable numbers, making the catfish, bass and goldens very active. Using worms and yabbies around the timber in the Falbrook or Carrowbrook reaches will hook you up to some nice fish. Another good section to try bait-fishing is around the bays on the eastern shore in amongst the timber.

Because the water level is low, there has not been a lot of weed forming around the banks so, as the day progresses, the fish will tend to drop back to the deeper water. This makes it good for the trollers and those working deep spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits. A starting point to try is to use a lure that will troll down to about six metres and let it bounce along the bottom occasionally. Use a dark colour like purple, black or green. Select a lure that gives a nice, tight action and plenty of vibration, such as an AC Minnow or Feralcatt.

Spinnerbaits will also give some good results, especially the heavier 5/8oz tandem blades in light green/silver or white/silver skirts. When using these heavier baits, work them in short bursts and keep them close to the bottom and sometimes let them stop for a couple of seconds.

Plastics will also work very well with the 3” Berkley Drop Shot Minnow on 3/8oz jigs a good starting point. Concentrate around the banks and adjacent to any weed that has formed.


Lake Glenbawn should live up to its expectations this month as the warm water will bring out the big schools of smelt and gudgeons all around the dam. As the level is low, there is not a lot of weed around the edges so the fish will have to be located with a good sounder.

This month is a good time to target the silver perch, which are good to catch, reasonable to eat and in good numbers. A method that I have used to catch these fish is to use a No 4 Tru Turn hook with a worm and then come up the line about a metre and use a cork or float. Good spots to try are around the trees that you can see that have a lot of green weed growing off the branches. A good berley is just small handfuls of dirt. When the silvers come on the bite you can then switch to spinning, using small lures or Celtas.

This month is probably the best for trolling and bait-fishing as the fish can be spread throughout the dam. Catfish are always in good numbers with the better spot being around the eastern foreshore. They will take a worm or yabby. Bass and goldens will also take these baits bobbed around the timber and in around 10 metres of water.

For the trollers, the back of the dam will be the best place to chase the bass and goldens working along the old river bed. Farther down the dam, around the points that have grassy banks, the lures will need to get down to about eight metres, with green/yellow and brown/yellow good colours to begin with.

Something that worked for me last season was trolling 3/4oz Greenfish spinnerbaits in green. Troll them right in among the timber and bounce them around the trees – but use diving minnows at the same time. I think the spinnerbait got the fish going and the minnow accounted for a lot of the fish.

Working spinnerbaits. lipless crankbaits and diving minnows around the banks early in the morning and late afternoon is very rewarding. Use light colours and then move out to deeper water as the day progresses, switching to darker colours.

Soft plastics will also work extremely well but the schooled fish that a lot of anglers target are usually small, with the larger fish coming from individual spots. These are best targeted by working along long points that protrude into deep water . I have been using some of AusSpin skirt-tail jigs and have been getting some excellent bass fishing them along the banks and jigging among the trees.

Finally, don’t forget the south-easters that hit the Glenbawn valley and then funnel in from every direction – they’re potentially dangerous. And don’t forget the sunscreen!

• I have recently sold my business at Maitland so if anyone needs to get in touch, send me an email.

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