The rivers down around the lower Hunter Valley had plenty of rain in mid-Autumn which gave them a good flush-out.
This means the bass have to come down further to reach the correct salinity level to complete their breeding cycle.
For the Hunter and Paterson systems, this is normally around Morpeth to Raymond Terrace but it could now mean moving down as far as Hexham.
Targeting these fish around this area is best done with 40mm to 50mm crankbaits and small spinnerbaits of around 1/4oz.
Last season I had some good captures using some of the 1/8oz and 1/4oz vibrating blades. There are a lot of brands on the market that will work.
I found the best place to use these was along some of the sand flats on the top of the tide, where there were still some prawns in the system.
Beetle Spins with 1/4oz heads will also be worth a try rigged with Squidgy Wrigglers or Berkley jigging grubs.
Some of the crankbaits to try include the Jackall Chubby deep in gold and the River 2 Sea Deep Baby Crank in shrimp pattern. These lures give excellent results because they have rattles and a very tight action, enticing a bass out of its hide.
Both Glenbawn and St Clair are holding at around 70% with water temperatures around 20° to 21° but the water starts to drop at around 2° a month.
Although Spring is probably the most productive time for big fish, May can be fairly good with some reasonable numbers achievable.
While deep jigging produces a lot of good fish, I typically focus on the shallows for bass and goldens early and late each day and stay shallow all day if there is a slight breeze or it is cloudy.
This month we usually see prolonged periods of high barometric pressure and I have found it best to head out if you see a drop in the barometer forecast.
Target these shallow bass and goldens in more coloured water, around the bays where there is run-off or up the backs of the dams where the rivers run in.
The stained water is the key; it absorbs more sunlight than clear water so it warms faster and after three or four days of good weather can be several degrees warmer. This is where the baitfish will be holding and the bass hunting.
Lake St Clair has been very popular over the past month with plenty of water skiers and anglers and is looking really good. The water has been quite clear.
Because this is quite a shallow dam, it cools off a lot faster than Glenbawn so finding the warmer water is very important. Use your sounder to find the thermocline, which will give an indication of the depth to target away from the banks.
Every year it is different, but this season seems to be holding on longer than last year, when the thermocline was down around 6m to 7m.
Working the shallow banks early and late is the best option with surface lures or shallow runners as there is very little weed and there are still reaction bites to be had.
Then move out to 6m to 7m sections and use lipless cranks and spinnerbaits.
Gold is probably the best colour for the surface lures if the water is clear, use white if it is dirty.
For crankbaits in clear water I like bright green and clear patterns. For dirty water, try solid colours like purple or black.
If you’re casting spinnerbaits or lipless crankbaits, some days the fish react to a fast retrieve with a pause while other days a slow, constant retrieve is more productive. It’s a matter of trying different approaches until you hit the right one.
The St Clair water level means there are plenty of good areas to target in shallow and deep approaches up both arms, with the Fallbrook being more protected from the winds. The Broadwater also has some good areas around the backs of bays and places to troll lures that run down around 6m. The ultra-deep Halco Poltergeist in purple is worth a try.
While we have these nice days, worms and yabbies are producing some good catches from the banks adjacent to the camping area.
Lake Glenbawn is looking great and it is so good to be able to fish some of the old areas that were kind to me in previous seasons of higher levels.
There are plenty of sections for the fish to move to so it can be quite hard to locate their exact location but a good sounder can be your underwater eyes.
As the water begins to cool there will always be schools of bass form up, especially in the main basin and sometimes up around Pelican Point.
But there will also be bass and goldens moving up the dam around the bays and especially right up to the dirty water past the 8-knot area, so you may have to do quite a bit of motoring to catch a few.
Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are best around the banks. Jig plastics among the school fish in more open water.
Trollers should work around the timber in the back of the dam along the old river channel and around the island in New House Bay.
There have been some good catches from the main basin and around the timber in the mid-section using yabbies and worms.Reads: 1599