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Time your trip for best rewards
  |  First Published: May 2009



The days are now short and the water in the dams drops to around 15° as predictable westerly winds chill off the surface layers and the anglers.

Remember, the rivers are now closed to bass fishing until August 31.

Although the lake fishing in June can be very slow, if you can schedule your trip to coincide with three or four days of barometer readings of around 1020hPa or higher, and very little wind, you could be justly rewarded.

I have found the best time to be out on the lake is between 10am and 4pm, with the best bite around midday when the air is at its warmest, the sun overhead and the barometer tending to peak.

Although the numbers of fish caught might not be high, usually the quality is excellent.

I have found over recent years of fishing at this point of the season that bass can be found in two scenarios, depending on preceding weather patterns.

The fish can be holding in water adjacent to the banks and cover that has been warmed by the sun over a series of calm days.

But if the dam turns over after strong winds, which means the thermocline goes even deeper, then bass in particular will suspend in open water and can be very hard to find and reluctant to bite.

The first scenario is addressed by working along in the shallow sections of the dam, especially if there is plenty of the solid timber which helps transmit temperature into the adjacent water.

I like to start out using surface or very shallow lures, lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits with Colorado blades or even plastics if the water is not too stained.

Although the bass are still eager to attack a lure or bait, I have found that golden perch are usually the most predominant catch when there is a degree or two rise in water temperature.

For this slightly warmer water I look for coloured water adjacent to north-facing banks with some shelter from the westerly winds. This water is usually around the points that lead to the backs of bays.

SUSPENDING

In the second scenario the fish move into open water and suspend 10m to 30m down in water 15m to 50m deep.

The fish suspend at these depths because they are looking for the correct amount of dissolved oxygen in the water and a ‘comfort zone’ of suitable temperature – like sitting in front of a heater on a cold Winter’s night.

And although the fishes’ metabolisms have really slowed due to low water temperatures, they still have to feed and this level is where the small baitfish often school.

The main reason I believe these fish hang where they do is to recover from the traumas and stresses of a radical change in the weather and water conditions – several days of extremely cold westerlies.

With a good sounder, these suspended fish can be located but finding out what they will bite on is the hard part.

Some days they like big lipless crankbaits or vibes, while other days a finessed soft plastic on a light jighead works.

If the bass are in the 10m-plus, the bite can very light, similar to a whiting or bream. If you feel two ‘bites’, you have missed the fish. The first tap was when the fish inhaled the lure and the second was when it spat it out.

This is where a very sensitive rod and light line can really help.

At Lake St Clair I find the Fallbrook Arm to fish best with cast and trolled lures because it can offer protection from the winds. The more heavily timbered Carrowbrook Arm is better for bait fishing.

Up either arm it is always worth working the edges early with lures, working from topwater to the deep stuff. The best colour is definitely something with a lot of gold or silver.

I like to start with 60mm lures and if things are quiet I go back to 50mm. When using these small crankbaits you must use light line which allows the lure better action at slower speeds.

Because the water is very clear at this time of year, plastics can also work very well around the banks, with 1/8oz to 1/4oz heads and Berkley Bass Minnows or Berkley Hollow Bodies my favourites.

Dropping plastics or a live worm down alongside the larger trees up the arms is a very good option, as is fishing off the bank at the camping area.

St Clair turns over very easily with strong westerly winds so suspended bass and goldens are very prominent in Winter.

If they are down around 10m you can target them quite easily by trolling ultra-deep lures.

I have found that by using the wind and a large sea anchor or drogue and marker buoys, I can turn off the sounder once I have located the fish and their depth.

I then drift across the fish, casting lures downwind. If the fish are more than 10m down I use Jackall Masks and Vibes which can easily get down to 20m.

This drogue drift method can also work for jigging and it means you can concentrate on fishing instead of trying to work an electric.

GLENBAWN POPULAR

Glenbawn continues to receive plenty of pressure. Even in Winter, I have run into anglers from Victoria and Queensland who come here every year.

But it can still produce some quality fish at this time of year.

Although the size and numbers are down, since the dam has filled the quality of the bass has improved and some of the fish are in excellent condition.

This dam can really cop the bitterly cold westerlies blowing straight from the Barrington Tops so keep this in mind when you plan your trip.

There are plenty of bays and banks that offer protection where you cast lures or bait or troll.

It is also common to find the bass and goldens suspending at various depths and locations around this dam.

The bays up near Pelican Point, New House and the main basin at Cemetery Point are popular staging points for suspended fish.

These fish can best be targeted as at St Clair or you can even break out the downrigger because there is no timber in the locations mentioned above.

Both these dams are very enjoyable to fish in Winter but it is really worth the effort to wait for the right days and weather patterns before you set out.

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