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Winter patterns kick in
  |  First Published: May 2010



This month Winter patterns start to kick in with the water temperature beginning to fall to around 15° and the westerlies beginning to blow – but, as last year, the season appears to be about a month later than usual.

Some nice fish have been coming from lakes Glenbawn and St Clair but not surprisingly, they are being caught on live bait, with yabbies and crickets best.

Up at the Barrington Tops there were also some quality trout caught this season, which will end on June 14.

After producing some numbers of bass and some large fish from the lower Hunter and Williams rivers, the local rivers are now closed to assist in the spawning cycle and the sustainability of local fish stocks.

On the dams, which are still open for business, June fishing can be quite slow but if you can elude the winds and get out after three or four days of constant high pressure, it can be quite rewarding.

It’s best to fish from around 10am to 4pm, when the air temperature and barometer are at their peaks.

Topwater lures can be quite productive on foggy mornings but do not persist for too long if you don’t see much surface activity.

If possible, I like to run my sounder along a bank I am planning to fish with surface lures the following morning, just to see if the water is a little warmer than out in the deeper water.

I use my Lowrance Structure Scan to mark underwater structure that could be holding fish.

If they do not go for the surface lures I then run very shallow ‘wake bait’ lures or even very light spinnerbaits, working them over and around the hidden structure.

I find poppers, especially if they have a rattle, are best if the water is really clear with a slight chop. If the water is slightly discoloured the fizzers are definitely better, especially if there is a lot of shallow weed or brush.

The addition of scent to the lures can sometimes be very helpful, as can the addition of a feathered rear treble.

For really clear days and clear water, use translucent lures.

If it is quite overcast or the water is dirty, which can happen after a windy day, go for solid darker patterns.

I thoroughly recommend a mono leader when using surface lures because it is more buoyant than fluorocarbon and will not sink when you pause the lure.

WORK SLOWLY

Mono’s increased stretch also helps reduce pulling the hooks and the same stretch also delays the strike, which can minimise missed hook-ups.

The big advantage with these styles of lures is that you can plop them precisely into specific zones or very close to cover without disturbing the fish much.

They can also be worked very slowly, allowing fish plenty of time to strike. With low water temperatures, bass can be very lethargic.

I even have had a lot of success in water up to around 6m, especially if it is very clear.

Surface lures are also very productive when walking the banks around the backs of the bays.

At Lake St Clair, the fishing around the timber up the Fallbrook and Carrowbrook arms is good for casting lures along the banks and out into the deeper 6m sections.

Around the timber in 10m depths it is good for dropping a live bait, especially a worm. There are usually some nice goldens , catties and silvers to be hooked in tight to the trees.

Soft plastics can also be used around the timber with the 3” Gulp Minnows or grubs on very light jigs worth a try, especially when rigged weedless.

Or you could troll some deep lures with tight actions but don’t go too big, around 50mm is sufficient. I like the Halco Poltergeist and the Vikings.

Spinning the banks with shallow runners, surface lures, lipless crankbaits and compact spinnerbaits can be rewarding.

Over recent years the average size of the St Clair bass has decreased, with most nowadays around 30cm to 36cm, so downsizing your offerings is important.

SUSPEND BELIEF

Another good option for the very still days when the barometer is hovering around 1024hPa is to use hard or soft suspending jerkbaits around bait schools.

You can identify the schools with a good sounder or just work over structure.

I like to work the jerkbait very aggressively in this colder water, more than in Spring, by using short, sharp jerks. This yields a more erratic action, followed by short pauses between the jerks.

My preferred soft bait is the Berkley Hollowbody Split Tail in Tennessee shad pattern. It is important to use the correct weight and style of jig head so that it makes the presentation virtually neutral in weight with a darting action on the jerk.

Because St Clair is shallower than Lake Glenbawn it tends to cool off a lot quicker and can get very rough when the westerlies hit.

Glenbawn continues to receive a lot of fishing pressure in Winter. I have talked to anglers venturing north from Victoria and also quite a few coming over from out west.

This dam is very open to the cold westerlies, which often dictate where you can fish. Generallythe more protected bays around the middle to the back of the dam are good for trolling and casting lures while around the main basin is best for trolling and bait fishing.

DEEP FISH

Working around the timber up the back of the dam is best using crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits.

If the dam is rising bait fishers should use yabbies and worms for silvers, goldens and bass.

It is common to find schools of bass holding up in the 10m open depths around the middle reaches and around the main basin but you can have a lot of trouble enticing them to bite.

When they go on the chew it is only for a very short period, usually around midday, so I might go away and come back to them every couple of hours and hope I am there at the bite time.

These schooled fish are best approached with long, very light leaders and sensitive rods with plastics, hard or soft vibes and blades.

During those nice warm Winter days I spend a lot of time sounding and marking waypoints for Spring, so all is not lost if the fish are not on the bite.

A couple of weeks ago Fisheries staff stocked Lake St Clair and Glenbawn with silver perch and goldens. There were 80,000 goldens and 20,000 silvers put into Glenbawn while Lake St Clair received 30,000 goldens and 20,000 silvers.

These stockings followed the hard work over the past couple of months by hatchery manager Stephen Thurstan and assistant manager Mathew McLellan.

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