Topwater temptations
  |  First Published: July 2004

THIS MONTH bass in Clarrie Hall Dam will be right up in the lily pads waiting for any tasty morsel to venture into their field of vision.

Any quiet area with good pad growth on a point or an entrance to a backwater is a great place to try. It’s a great time for weedless flies and suitably rigged soft plastics. Work them slowly and repeatedly cast into the same area to wake a fish that may be lethargic.

There is also a better chance of a bigger fish using this method. Shallow-diving crankbaits around the fringes will also score well early and late in the day but my first choice at this time of year would always be a topwater lure.

The upper end is still the better section of the dam to fish, the water being somewhat less turbid. The lily pad growth is more abundant and the schools of baitfish are everywhere.

The reaches below the spillway have become the focus of attention after last year’s deliberate overkill by a number of anglers. These guys allegedly walked away with large eskies full of bass. The council has installed gates that are closed late in the afternoon but it appears that NSW Fisheries may look at a submission to close the top couple of pools to all forms of fishing.

Toonumbar Dam will host a round of the BASS Electric series shortly. The number of fish killed there when the dam rolled over have been estimated from 4000 to 12,000. A disaster, yes, but not all would have died.

The best places to look will be in the backwaters away from the main basin. This dam fishes similarly to Clarrie Hall and has many similar features and structure.

Crankbaits and plastics will work in the deeper gullies where there is up to 6m of water with shallow fringes.

If we get any rain, the small creek inflows will be ideal locations to throw a topwater lure, plastic or crankbait. Look for discoloured water and fish the fringes of it.

The bass in the creeks have also fished well on everything from shallow crankbaits to soft plastics rigged for the surface. A canoe or small boat with an electric motor will give you a much better chance at success. With the quiet approach there is less of a chance of spooking wary fish.

The reaches above and below the Brae Park weir are a great places to start. With plenty of suitable structure for bass, the area offers plenty of luring opportunities.

Every year anglers fish this area, often exceeding the bag limits. Bass are one of this state’s great freshwater sportfish and deserve to at least be treated according to the regulations.

If the annual breeding cycle of the bass is put under threat by a minority who get a thrill out of taking more than their share, there could be a real chance of closure of these areas in the future.

1) Shallow-diving crankbaits worked around the fringes are productive early and late in the day.

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