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Tough conditions ease
  |  First Published: January 2010



The fishing should be a little more enjoyable as the weather becomes more tolerable but, in saying that, last year in February we still had some 42° to 44° days.

With the holidays over, the boat traffic is not as heavy, the ramps are easier to access and the days are more comfortable.

The Hunter and Paterson rivers have been fishing well with surface and diving lures around the neap tides, especially in low-light periods.

Begin at first light with surface lures or shallow crankbaits around the bases of trees, especially native trees, then work out into the deeper water using crankbaits, blades or spinnerbaits.

If the tide is falling I find it best to work into the tide, whether you are trolling or casting. Spend plenty of time around any sudden drop-offs or submerged logs.

Because they sink reasonably slowly with plenty of vibration and action, these are productive areas to use 1/4oz blades or Jackall TN50s around the deeper sections.

The solid patterns and colours tend to work best in the stained water but if you find the bass are just hitting the lure but not hooking up, a change of colour or size can work.

I have been recording some excellent catches in recent weeks using the Megabass Siglett surface lure in the aburazemi colour, along with the Smith Bisen in dark green. Although these lures are quite expensive, sometimes they can be worth it when everything else fails.

The Williams River is producing good numbers of bass and mullet, with the occasional trophy bass. This system has a lot of boat traffic over the holidays and tends to put the fish off but in a couple of weeks it will begin to fire again.

The Williams bass do not move up and down the river much because it is not tidal above Seaham, so they hold real tight to the cover.

You will need to put in plenty of very accurate casts in tight and hang on as they hit the lures pretty hard.

Surface lures, very shallow runners and spinnerbaits are the best options with the Jackall Chubby hand-painted in black my favourite.

Although the Williams bass are mostly small, they can be caught in relatively large numbers, which makes for a really good day.

Bait fishos in the Hunter, Paterson and Williams cannot go past live prawns, followed by black crickets and garden worms. Do not be surprised to catch the occasional bream or flathead in the lower reaches.

ST CLAIR

Lake St Clair is still producing some nice bass and goldens on lures and some quality catties are coming from around the timber up the arms and from the bank adjacent to the camping area.

This month can be still quite hot and this is when the bass become very touchy. They can really try your patience, especially on those days when the barometer is low or falling, it is very still and the water temperature is up around 27°.

Very early mornings and late afternoons are definitely the more comfortable times in these conditions and surface presentations are the best option.

I still like to use the Lucky Craft Sammy or a popper and recently some trophy bass have really hammered the Megabass Grand Siglett. I found them to work best when there is some breeze on the water adjacent to timber up the dam arms, where they resemble the cicada prevalent at St Clair.

If the bass are reluctant to take the shallow presentations after a while, I like to switch to jerkbaits worked very slowly, especially around cover in 2m to 3m. There are plenty of lures available for this but my favourite is the Jackall Squirrel in ghost ayu.

As the day progresses, trolling the 10m-plus sections or jigging the deep, cooler water is the next option.

Trolling is a very effective way to locate deep bass and goldens with plenty of lures from the AC, Viking, Halco or Stuckey range in any dark pattern the best option. I have had plenty of good catches using lures with purple and red.

Jigging the deep fish can be quite slow but can produce results with plastics, Sliders, Berkley Drop Shot Minnows or Atomic Jerk Minnows on jig heads from 1/4oz to 1/2oz and very light leaders, sometimes as light as 2kg.

Other options for this deep jigging are ice jigs, Jackall Masks and blades. Again quite light, long leaders work best.

The usual worms, shrimp and yabbies will work for bass, silvers, goldens and the catties.

GLENBAWN

Lake Glenbawn has also been fishing really well over the past month but there have been days when the fish won’t bite, be it on bait or lures.

This dam always undergoes a definite change towards the end of Summer with the bass and silvers moving around and the goldens seeking out the heavily timbered middle reaches.

A really good sounder can be your saviour in finding these fish, along with your own intuition and talking to other anglers.

Especially if there is the usual rain this month, the bass can be down around the main basin if the dam is rising. Other years, they can hold up around the upper middle section from New House Bay to the Dogleg.

This is probably the last month for the low light surface bite but it is always worth giving it a try, especially adjacent to deep water and plenty of cover in the middle sections.

While the goldens and silvers tend to be adjacent to structure, bass can hold up virtually anywhere but they tend to like the water around 10m to 20m down. The surface temperature can be as high as 27°.

Bass and goldens can be targeted with lipless or diving crankbaits cast to the banks and cover or by using deeper lures out in open water.

The deeper bass are best targeted using 1/2oz jigs and 3” plastics, especially minnow styles. Other methods for these deeper fish include lipless crankbaits (soft or hard), blades from 3/8oz to 1/2oz and ice jigs.

There are always some nice catties on the eastern foreshore, along with goldens and silvers, that will take a yabby, black cricket or even a cooked prawn.

There is also some good bait fishing around the back of the dam in among the timber along the old riverbed up to the ruins.

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