I RECENTLY reported the disturbing taking of large numbers of bass from the pools below the Clarrie Hall Dam spillway. The local council acted quickly to halt vandalism of the facilities, and to stop greedy anglers exploiting trapped fish, by installing gates that are locked at night.
The water flowing over the spillway stopped at the beginning of October and the pools below were soon starved of oxygen. Calls to key members of the Australian Bass Association sparked a quick reaction. They arrived the following day to see around 300 dead or dying fish. With a NSW Fisheries permit they were able to catch another 800 fish, which were liberated back into the dam. The efforts of council workers at the dam were outstanding and in a short time they installed a siphon to continue flow into the bass-laden pools. It highlights the tireless work that dedicated anglers are willing to put in for the betterment of fishing.
This month the water will start to warm and we can look forward to the start of the cicada invasion. Bass love cicadas and nothing gets them spilling out of the trees quicker than the strong northerly winds of November. This is the beginning of the surface fishing season at the dam so anywhere that has good weed growth and timber should be a prime location. If you’ve never caught a fish on a surface lure, the dam and surrounding creeks are the places to be this month.
Many types of lures work well there. Fizzers are right up there, as are small poppers. The key to success is to cast to likely-looking cover, mostly around the edges of the dam, and use a slow retrieve with short jerks of the rod tip, followed by a pause. If the bass misses, and they often do, a repeat cast to the same spot may be rewarded with a hook-up.
I cannot emphasise the importance of a slow retrieve. If I spot a fish rise and I can get a cast to where it has been, I will move the rod tip only enough to create a little movement, keeping the lure in the strike zone longer. If the fish is close by it won’t take much to get it to strike.
The best times to fish the surface are early and late in the day but the dam has had days this year when the fish have been on the surface almost all the time. If I fish the dam I always have a rod rigged for the surface just in case.
The other area that has provided a lot of fun has been the top end, where there is a great deal of tangled weed. A weedless-rigged soft plastic is dynamite where no other lure can be cast – into clearings among the masses of weed. Bass lurk in the openings and the bait is silhouetted against the sky, and the hook-ups are dynamite and the fish are usually of better quality. Getting them out is a different matter, depending on how far back into the weed you cast. The only tip I can give is to go as hard as you possibly can until they come out or are caught up in the weed, in which case I go in after them.
The other lures that will produce fish this month are spinnerbaits and beetlespins rigged with a jighead and soft tail. I have found over the years that a spinnerbait slow rolled from the bank so that it drops into deeper water produces the best results. The small beetlespins are great. You can change the size of the jig and tail to suit the depth or descent rate. Fished around the edges of heavy weed, they are the best method for this time of year, especially in the middle of the day.
Those who search out fish in canoes will have fun next month. The bass become aggressive on poppers, small spinnerbaits and soft plastics in the heads of pools, along weed-lined shores or beneath overhanging trees that provide cover and shade. The rocky areas and fallen timber also produce good fish. I have spent hours throwing lures at just such locations, only to find the fish congregated in one particular spot.Reads: 696