Dams, rivers alive
  |  First Published: December 2004

The fishing in the rivers in the Hunter district and the impoundments up the valley is really firing.

The bass and, to a lesser extent, estuary perch have been attacking everything that has been put in front of them lately in the Hunter and Paterson rivers and I think this could be a result of the rain at the end of October.

Although a lot of these fish are only small there are some really good specimens over 40cm. Any of the smaller lures in natural colours of brown, yellow or green that run down to about a metre will catch these fish. The locally made Marz lures, along with 40mm Koolabung and the Mann’s 5+, will give good. The Mann’s rattle helps and the silver/black is a good colour.

Along with the crankbaits, smaller spinnerbaits and Beetle spins will also entice strikes. The locally made Secret Creek spinnerbaits in black/green gave excellent results last season.

The Williams River will also produce some excellent fish during December but it is also very popular with the water skiers, so it is worthwhile getting out on the water very early to beat them. The same lures and spinnerbaits will work here but surface lures are also well worth trying, my favourites being the Heddon Teeny Torpedo and Tiny Torpedo.

Up at the Barrington Tops, although there was some decent rainfall earlier the trout are still a little hard to find and are very small, so we hope for some better fishing later in the season.


Up the valley, both the dams are still producing some good fish but be aware that at this time of the year the dreaded south-easterlies blow late in the afternoon.

Lake St Clair will be good to the bait fishers and trollers this month but it can be awfully hot out there in the middle of the day, especially for those throwing lures and spinnerbaits.

Now that 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 Fallbrook and Carrowbrook reaches will hook you up to some decent fish. Dropping shrimp around some of the weed beds is also worth trying.

Because the water level is still low there is not a lot of the good weed beds adjacent to the banks so, as the day progresses, the fish tend to drop back to the deeper water. This makes it good for the trollers and those working deep spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits.

These bass can be seen on a good sounder to be holding near the bottom around 10 metres. They are good targets with deep lures such as the AC Ultra Deep Invader.

As a starting point, try a lure that runs down to about six metres and then troll around with your eyes on the sounder until you see fish. From there you may have to try different colours or lures with a different action, or even some with rattles such as the Mann’s.

Spinnerbaits can also be trolled, with 5/8oz single willow blades worth a try. You can cast these heavier baits to deep fish by using short bursts and then letting them sink to the bottom for a few seconds before cranking again.

Plastics will also work well during these hot days but, again, they need to be kept close to the bottom so 3/8oz or even 1/2oz jig heads are often required.


Lake Glenbawn will live up to its reputation this month and although recently there have been a lot of smaller fish being caught, there are still some good ones there.

As the water temperature has just about peaked, there is an abundance of schools of gudgeons and smelt, making for some excellent fishing. But it can also be very hot in the middle of the day so you may have to restrict your fishing to the early morning and later in the afternoon.

Because the dam is still very low, not a lot of weed has formed around the edges so the fish will have to be located in the deeper parts with a good sounder. I like to run the sensitivity up at 87% on my Lowrance LMS 480. Once these fish are located they can be targeted by trolling or dropping spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits or soft plastics.

This month is also good for the giant silver perch in here. They are reasonably good to eat and are in large numbers. I have used No 4 Tru-Turn hook with a worm and then come up the line about a metre to a cork or float to catch silvers here. This is also very good to keep the kids entertained.

Try around some of the trees with green weed hanging off the branches just under the water.

This month is probably the best for trolling and bait fishing as the fish tend to be out in the deeper sections and around the trees to get out of the bright sun.

Catfish are always in good numbers and the better spots are around the foreshore on the eastern side. Best baits are worms and yabbies. Bass and goldens also like a worm or yabby bobbed around timber in about 10 metres.

For those wishing to troll or spin, the back of the dam will still be firing, with the river bed and adjacent timber prime spots. You should also try around the grassy points.

The lures here will need to get down to around eight metres in colours like green/yellow, purple/white or dark brown.

During these hot days, trolling a 3/4oz purple shad Greenfish spinnerbait with a single willow blade has worked for me. These can be trolled very close to the trees and are very good in dirty water.

Working spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits (Jackall TN60 or TN 70) and crankbaits around the banks early mornings and late afternoons is very rewarding. In the hotter part of the day troll in the deeper sections, especially down around the main basin. Then it’s a short run home if the south-easter blows up.

Lake Glenbawn and Lake St Clair have some excellent facilities for those who wish to spend time there but if you intend doing so, book early because the accommodation is usually in great demand.

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