Hot action in the shallows
  |  First Published: December 2004


Summer on the north coast of New South Wales is an exciting time. Regardless of the wind conditions, Clarrie Hall dam always has somewhere that’s protected, and the only thing that will stop you here this month is a flat battery or an electrical storm.

The best opportunities for luring the dam are early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The gates open at 7am, and there is a dirt road beginning at the gate that will take you past the caretaker’s house, the toilet blocks, the sheltered areas with tables for picnics and lots of shade and plenty of space for the kids to run around.

The first glimpse of the dam is spectacular, with innumerable little pockets of open water surrounded by lily pads ablaze with purple flowers. There is so much good looking water here it’s hard to decide where to start, but the main boat ramp is as good a place as any to begin your fishing.

I love casting when I fish this dam. The clear channels through the lilies are wide enough to cast either side of the boat, and for that I use a light spin outfit with braided line and a leader of about 3-6kg. If you have a couple of outfits, rig one with a small surface lure such as a popper, a fizzer or a soft plastic rigged weedless. These lures are best fished into pockets of the weed, to the leading points or as far back as possible into the holes in the weed. Other lures that should do well are shallow diving lures such as crawdads and minnow-style lures that stay in the top metre of water.

The dam has had a big increase in water level into mid-December, with the heavy rainfall in the area. Foreshores that have been inundated with water often see the bass well up into the shallows, where the insects, worms and mosquito fish are most abundant. When this is accompanied by hot, stormy summer conditions, it’s an ideal time to target bass in this dam.

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