I’d always wanted to fish Glenbawn Dam. There is just something about a big bass dam that has always excited me, even way back when I was a young fisho living in Canberra where there are no bass within a hundred kilometres.
I finally got the chance over the Easter long weekend and my hands were shaking as I peddled out into the middle of the dam. What I found was an incredibly exciting impoundment to fish, because there are so many different areas to explore and so many different angling puzzles to solve.
Glenbawn Dam is located near the town of Scone is in the Hunter region of NSW. The town has all the usual amenities including petrol stations, restaurants, cafes and a good tackle shop.
At the dam itself, you will find a small shop that sells basic camping and food supplies along with a decent selection of lures. You can also get fuel at the shop and the place is always a hub of activity where the savvy angler can pick up a few hints as to where the fish are biting and what on from locals and staff.
There are also powered and non-powered camping spots at the dam along with cabins and excellent places to launch your yak right around the perimeter caravan park.
Make sure you bring all your own safety gear including a life jacket and beacon. Glenbawn is a huge dam and though there is phone reception at certain points around the dam, it’s patchy at best.
Pack plenty of food and water. This is especially important if you get caught in rough weather (a distinct possibility) and have to pull up in one of the quieter bays for a few hours.
Glenbawn Dam is filled with Australian bass, golden perch, carp, catfish and a couple giant Murray cod. Most anglers target the bass, but there is a growing number of anglers who also fish hard for the resident yellowbelly who fight well on light spin gear.
I focused on two simple techniques during my visit and four lures to tempt the bass from their snags. Both techniques produced action. Certainly one outstripped the other in terms of fish hooked and landed.
I used a slow roll when fishing blades (Ecogear ZX) and vibes (Jackall TN50 in brown dog). First, I would cast towards a likely snag and then allow the lure to sink before simply retrieving towards my kayak. This method produced both yella and bass strikes, provided I put the lure 30cm or so from the snag.
I found that plastics (Squidgie 80mm wriggler in Gary Glitter) and small divers (Ecogear SX 48) were by far the most effective lures to use when fishing the smaller bays that I was able to reach in my yak. I twitched plastics close to timber and over the top of long weed beds and picked up several bass. Long pauses inserted after the twitch resulted in better strikes and more solid hook-ups. When I used the same twitch/pause with divers, the bass hit just as hard.
I fished lures in natural colours and always have for bass. I’ve heard that a lot of anglers have success using bright/fluoro colours. I think it comes down to personal preference and there is no right answer. Just fish a colour you are confident with.
I used my Native Propel 13 and it handled the rough conditions well. Boat traffic and strong winds made for an interesting peddle back, but I was never close to tipping. This kayak has plenty of storage for food and water and an angler can stand and cast, which is handy when drifting the bays. A peddle or paddle kayak is fine provided it is large, especially if heading out into the middle of the dam in search of schools of bass.
I didn’t use a sounder as I was only on the dam for a few hours. A good sounder would make fishing the dam a lot easier. That said, it isn’t a necessity.
If you are new to the dam, I recommend sticking to the bays and inlets near the caravan park. These areas form part of the main basin and offer a lot of different fishing options including trolling, casting and jigging.
However, if you are up for a paddle, head towards the middle of dam and Yellow Buoy Bay where you can jig and cast for bass sitting deep.
I fished Glenbawn at Easter and it was fantastic. There were lots of fish, plenty of hits and I got dusted a few times in heavy snags – all this despite the fact that it was packed with water skiers and speed boats. Also, the water was pretty cold and the bass were still on.
Though I caught plenty of fish, I would recommend fishing the dam during periods where it hasn’t seen heavy boat traffic for a while like late winter or early spring. Avoid the crowds and the fish I’m sure will be even more receptive, especially when you sneak up on them from a kayak.
For working plastics, I used a Daiwa Gen Black V2 1-3kg rod matched to a Daiwa Gen Black 2000 spin reel. This 6’4 stick has plenty of power in the butt, which is why I like to use it in big dams. It also has enough finesse in the tip to work plastics over weedbeds. I used 10lb braid and leader because the bass in the dam are big and run hard. It’s important to have some stopping power. Also, if a cod did turn up, I wanted to be in with a chance!
I used a Daiwa Harrier baitcaster 2-5kg rod matched to a Daiwa Pixy reel spooled with 10lb braid for working blades and vibes. I like using baitcasters with these types of lures as the improved casting accuracy ensures I don’t get as many snags and I have more control over the fish when it tries to brick me in the timber.
Glenbawn Dam is an intimidating waterway for the kayak angler. Paddling out from the caravan park is daunting but it is definitely worth a crack as the fishing is unreal. The key is to focus on a few bays and work the entire bay thoroughly with a small selection of lures. Don’t overthink it, keep it simple and you will be blown away by the power and size of the bass in this beautiful dam.Reads: 2045