February will see the kids back to school and the real hot days become a little milder, which mean quieter boat traffic and a more enjoyable climate.
The Hunter systems always fish well this month, as there are still plenty of grasshoppers and crickets around the rivers. I like to concentrate my river fishing to the periods around the moon quarters, as there is less water movement making it a lot clearer. The bass in particular seem to get away from some of the tight cover, which creates some excellent casting and trolling.
Begin at first light with surface lures or shallow crankbaits in solid dark colours around the willows as the tide drops. Then move into the deeper water using lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Trolling can also be very productive in the clearer water, try using lures from Jackall, Ecogear and the locally produced Marz.
If you find that the bass are just hitting the lures, but not hooking up, try a different colour and even sometimes a different size, which might be going from a 50mm to a 60mm or vice versa.
When using surface lures I have found it important to wait until the fish actually turns its head before setting the hook. Likewise, use floating or mono leader as it stays on the surface. Fluorocarbon is too dense and will sink and inhibit the lures action.
There are certainly a good selection of lures available these days, from the expensive imported Japanese to the more cost effective China models, which all seem to catch fish.
Spinnerbaits can be very effective early in the low light. Keep your rod tip up high and let the blade break the surface, much like the sound of a fizzer.
Plastics can also be a very good option around the tidal areas of the Hunter, especially as they resemble the prawns that are in the system and a favourite in the bass’ diet. These are best used in conjunction with a beetle spin and a 1/4oz jig. A good one to start with is the Berkley minnow or shrimp.
There are still plenty of mullet around, which are fun to catch with a float and some dough or very fresh bread. The Williams is a perfect place to use this technique as it has no tidal flow.
At the Barringtons there has been some nice trout coming from around the junction on bait, lures and fly by some of the local Scone anglers.
Lake St Clair is still producing some good numbers of bass, silvers, goldens and catties. With the water maintaining its level, there are still some good patches of weed forming but it is out in the 4-5m depth.
While in the past the majority of the catches for the baitfishers consisted of bass, goldens and catties, there is now a good population of silvers in reasonable sizes. They are great fun to catch on worms and are quite good to eat.
Trolling is another good option during this part of the summer season as the fish are holding out in the 6-7m range. This is a very productive area to find the fish and, if you desire, you could then target them with lures, spinnerbaits and plastics. Some of the better areas for trolling are out in the Broadwater as there is less chance of loosing lures. With a good sounder and some lures that get down around 4-5m, the session can be very productive. Also try along the river channel towards the back of both reaches.
Some good trolling lures are the Halco Poltergeist, in purple, Mann’s 15+, chartreuse/black and the Jackal TN60 in gold.
For the early morning and late afternoon anglers, surface lures are a good option. My favourites are the Jackall Water Monitor, SK-Pop and the Lucky Craft Sammy. With the falling A$ these lures are becoming quite expensive, but there are plenty of cheaper ones available from Trollcraft, Hawk and Jaz, just to mention a few. I look for clear patterns for the clear water and bright days, and more solid dark colours for overcast days or dirty water.
There is some reasonable weed forming adjacent to the banks up both the Carrowbrook and Fallbrook reach. They are holding large numbers of fish but not really trophy size. Lipless crankbaits and deep lures are a good option of late, and I have had some real success with blades in the 1/4-3/8oz weight in silver or gold patterns from TT lures, Jackall and Evergreen.
If the barometer is falling, quite common in February, then dropping a bait or soft plastic adjacent to some of the standing timber in around 10m can entice a bite.
Lake Glenbawn will usually see a change of action this month, especially with the bass, as they move around the dam. They tend to like the deeper water of around 10-15m in the mid section of the day after an early morning or late evening bank bite. This is usually caused by the large schools of bait that move with the water temperature and the particularly clear water.
The morning and evening bass are best targeted with surface lures, followed by crankbaits and spinnerbaits. When the schools of bass and goldens are located in the deeper water they are best targeted with jigs, vibes and lures.
The jigs to use are anything from ice jigs to plastics on 3/8-1/2jigheads dropped through the schools and worked back up. The best plastics are anything in a smoke/yellow pattern.
The vast array of vibes available today make it hard to name any specifically, but the most consistent I have found for this style of fishing is the Jackall Mask in either the 60 or 70 mm length and some blades from Evergreen and Jackall.
The best way to use the lures is by trolling, which means you will need a lure that gets down around the 12m+. I like to use the AC Invader or Feralcatt in a green/black pattern. Other lures can be used and if they cannot get down to that depth you can use trolling sinkers or downriggers.
February is also very good for baitfishing. There have been some excellent catches from the main basin bank area using worms, yabbies and black crickets for all the species with giant silvers on the top of the list.Reads: 2144