THE RAINS have filled Clarrie Hall to nearly 70% capacity, so no more launching off the side of the old road into sludge! The ramp is in working order again, with boats being launched into deep water without fear of damage.
Doon Doon Creek is the main supply of the dam’s water, running in the from the southern end. When the creek flows with flooding water it generally runs relatively clear, so the dam’s water quality hasn’t suffered much discolouration. Its usual deep green/tannin colour remains, reflecting the dam’s usual weed growth in the shallows. The broken sections of lotus pads along the shoreline of the upper reaches are already growing roots, and before autumn is they should be well established.
At Clarrie Hall I prefer to cast and retrieve lures rather than troll. A point or section of bank can be better worked over by casting lures, particularly when the fish are holding to a particular location.
There should be some good surface action this month, especially if the water keeps rising. The new flooded ground is holding bass right up in the shallows, readily taking any food that presents itself. Good surface fishing ingredients are sultry days and plenty of insect life.
The best results have come from the cover tight to the shoreline. Any flooded leafy-looking bank with a gap to cast to is a likely location, and a slightly sloping shoreline with a weed covered bottom is ideal. Make your cast as close as possible and retrieve the lure so as to make it kick up water and bubbles in short bursts. This makes the most noise and will attract fish close by. Keep the lure in the strike zone for as long as possible to maximise your chances.
Surface strikes are impressive but the bass frequently roll on a lure, often missing the trebles. I try not to strike, instead waiting until the weight comes onto the line. If you don’t hook up after three or four goes, cast into the same spot and try again – you may yet get lucky.
The best surface lures have been the Pop R 65s, Tiny Torpedoes and the Zara Spook style of lure. Remember that surface fishing is effective if you want to release your fish because most are hooked outside the mouth.
The bass have also been taking crankbaits, which should continue in April, and my preference is for small shads and minnows in natural tones that dive to 2–2.5m. Smaller crawdad patterns also work well.
Flyfishing should produce plenty of fish this month on surface flies such as bass poppers. On a floating line or an intermediate line a Bass Vampire type fly is suitable for fishing the first metre or so.
The many sheltered bays on the dam are not dissimilar to fishing a river, and you’ll always find places around the dam out of the wind and with plenty of fish to cast to. Last May I watched George Voysey, one of the region’s champion fly fishers, fish the dam for bass. His approach was much the same as a lure caster – lots of casts to the banks, a small profile fly, and he continually moved in search of schools, concentrating on locations where he caught a few.
Remember that Clarrie Hall requires a NSW fishing permit, has a bag limit of two fish per person per day and allows only electric and paddle power. The best place to launch at present is at the Crams Farm end of the dam.
1) The flooded ground is holding bass in the shallows, making for good surface fishing.Reads: 660