Top bassers battle it out
  |  First Published: May 2004

THE AUSTRALIAN Bass Association’s Bass Classic will be held on Clarrie Hall Dam on May 1 and 2. It’s a great event where people involved in the fishing industry compete not for prizes, but for the title of Bassmaster.

There are some great anglers who compete in the event each year, but above all it is the camaraderie that makes this a great event.

The dam is like no other in that it fishes more like a well-stocked river than an impoundment. It’s also one of the most picturesque dams on the east coast.

All techniques have won this event. Fly has featured in the winners’ circle for years, as have soft plastics and hard bodies. I nearly took it out on surface lures a couple of years ago but was pipped by the Beetle Spin. It’s more about locating fish and offering them something they want to eat.

This year the dam will produce fish from shoreline structure, predominantly lily pads and timber. I believe this year’s winner could come from the fly sector or from those casting spinnerbaits or crankbaits. Come to think of it, a Senko-style plastic lobbed into the openings among the lily pads has produced some better fish over the years.

I’ll be fishing crankbaits close to the pad fringe. The selection of lure depth is important, so a bibbed lure that works to a metre or two is desirable. Bibless minnows have also picked up some great fish. There are plenty of these on the market so the choice is yours – $5 or $35. Colours for the month are greens, reds, gold and a bit of black to accent the colours. Some of my more favoured hues fall in the natural colour range.

Spinnerbaits are fishing well in the timber if fish can be located, with the same colours working best. Frame size is more important than weight at the moment, with a compact frame suiting the Clarrie fish. The Venom range of spinnerbaits is locally made by guys who know what they’re doing. These lures are hard to get but well worth the effort.

Never fish this dam without surface lures in your box. Clarrie Hall can produce surface fishing better than anywhere.

The surrounding catchment has received recent substantial rains and the dam and the rivers and creeks should fish extremely well.


Toonumbar has been in the grip of drought for many years. Recent rains have overfilled the dam, which will host the ABT BASS Electric tournament on May 18. Fishing has been hot and cold. My information comes via the famous Top and Bottom pub comps that are often held there when possible. Word is that one week there are bass to burn, the next not so easy.

Young saplings have grown along the shoreline in recent years along with many grasses. By rights these newly inundated areas should have plenty of fish on them. However, a slight drop in the dam can see the fish in locations that are unusual, to say the least, or feeding on baits rather than lures.

Either way, the dam is looking great for the BASS Electric tournament. I would approach Toonumbar Dam as I have written up Clarrie Hall, with crankbaits that get down a couple of metres the pick of the techniques.

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