The dams and rivers will continue to fish very well this month and as Autumn kicks in the weather will become a lot more pleasant and, hopefully, predictable. The fishing will be more enjoyable as the fish stay on the bite for longer periods.
The local rivers have had plenty of flushes for some months, usually just as the fish were coming back on the bite, but they should now be able to settle down for the next couple of months.
The Hunter and Paterson rivers produce a good variety of species this time of year with the lower reaches accounting for flathead and bream and the upper reaches bass and mullet.
This month should provide the last of the surface bites so it is still worth using topwater lures early and late in the day. Because the rivers are still quite dirty spinnerbaits with Colorado blades, and crankbaits, especially with rattles, are good options. The solid colours like black and purple are good starting points.
The Williams River above the weir at Seaham cleans up pretty quickly and can produce some nice mullet and bass. This is a good system for trolling adjacent to the banks or casting to cover with lures and spinnerbaits.
The bass in this river like the smaller lures around 40mm. I like 1/4oz to 3/8oz spinnerbaits and Jackall, Megabass and Ecogear 40mm hardbodies. In this non-tidal water I find you may have to put in six casts to the one piece of structure to entice a strike. You could also change lures and colours.
I have heard of some nice trout being caught up at the Barrington Tops with one brown around 60cm, so things up there are looking good after all the recent rain and successful stockings.
The impoundments have also been receiving some nice inflows, with Lostock continually over 100% and Glenbawn now back to its height of 12 months ago. The new ramp up in the back bay is now operational. Lake St Clair is back up to its height of last June.
Because Lake St Clair has been rising slowly there has not been enough time for the weed off the banks to keep growing but there is enough cover adjacent to the banks to produce some excellent bank fishing with bait or lures.
Last March the days were quite warm and the water was up around 22° to 24°, keeping the bass very active. They can still be down around 10m deep in the middle part of the day.
Golden and silver perch, bass and catfish will always be tempted by a nice worm or yabby fished around the banks, especially by the camping area or up among the timber in the Fallbrook and Carrowbrook reaches.
Trollers need to work in 5m depths early and then out in 10m as the day progresses with lures running down to those depths. The other day at St Clair I ran into a Maitland local Ron King who had a couple of nice bass around 50cm he trolled up on a red and black Strike Zone Squirt . He was working his way along an open bank with very little timber or cover.
In this likely last month for the surface bites work the lures 4m to 6m adjacent to the banks in both arms and around the Broadwater. Spinnerbaits around 1/2oz, lipless crankbaits and deep-diving lures will also work.
It is very important to have a very good sounder to locate these fish because they can move around this impoundment looking for favourable water temperatures and baitfish. This is the last month for the shrimp and smelt before they tend to shut down.
I do not look for actual fish on the sounder but check for big balls of bait that resemble dark clouds on my Lowrance LMS 520c. Sometimes I can see the bass below the balls.
Lake Glenbawn is really looking good and with regular water influx from the Barrington Tops, things are promising all the way into Spring.
During March the goldens seem to like to hold in the timber in around 8m to 10m. Numbers of goldens appear to have declined over recent years but a yabby or worm dropped among this timber should entice a bite. Sometimes dropping down a lipless crankbait – not a $25 one –around the timber first or even bumping into the tree will get them on the go.
This is also a time for some good catties around the eastern foreshore on worms and yabbies and for silvers on worms, small lures and even small surface lures. If fishing around the timber for silvers I always like to chuck out some handfuls of soil every now and then as berley.
For those chasing bass this month can be a little harder but a good sounder can make the difference. In past years I have seen bass in large numbers in the Main Basin in 10m to 30m but some years they’ll be up the back of the dam a similar depth.
If water is being let out of the dam, this puts a reverse flow up the dam which can be quite evident, especially around The Narrows.
It is still worth giving surface lures a try and to work the banks with crankbaits and lipless lures. Because the dam is rising there is a lot of new cover for the fish to relate to and in which the baitfish can seek cover.
If the bass are holding in 10m you can troll dark deep-diving lures and spinnerbaits. Trolling can sometimes break up the schools so vertically jigging can be better.
This requires jigs of around 1/2oz to 5/8oz. I like the new Nitro range and use 3” Gulps or Bass Minnows with about 4m of 10lb fluorocarbon leader tied to 10lb to 15lb braid.
You will have to use your sounder to get down to the correct depth and work around the school. Once it reaches the right depth I mark my line with a marker pen so I don’t then have to look at the sounder all the time.
Jigging options include the Jackall Mask, which was designed for this technique, and the ice jigs from Rapala.
The only problem you can strike with this deep jigging is that the fish will come up with inflated swim bladders so I suggest you release them in the water as soon as possible so they can swim away. Do not keep them in livewells.
It is common for these school fish to go off the bite quite easily so I like to keep moving away and coming back regularly, especially if I’m releasing fish.
During late January, the Singleton Fly Fishing Club released 13,500 bass into Lake St Clair through the DPI Fisheries dollar for dollar scheme and Hunter Native Fish released 3,000 bass into Lostock with finance raised through the Australian Bass Tournaments stocking fund which was matched by Fisheries.Reads: 1954