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Ryan Dixon

(One from a little while back where Ryan takes us targeting yellowbelly on blades using techniques that can be applied anywhere in the country where this species is available)

Over the last few months my boat has been gathering leaves and my rods dust, due to the fact that I have been renovating a house that I recently purchased.  Early starts and late nights has meant that time to go fishing has been non-existent and seeing photos continuously posted on Facebook has been a constant tease, with all sorts of different species being caught in good numbers over the Christmas break.

A text message from mate, Will Lee, became a good reason to hang up the hammer and dust of my rods as he was heading to Somerset Dam to chase Australian bass and yellowbelly.  This turned out to be the perfect opportunity for a well deserved break from the house and also a good chance to hear my first screaming drag for the New Year.

Myself, Will and good mate Ben arrived at the dam around 630am on a scorching Sunday summer's morning.  With ski boats and holiday makers quickly filling the dam and the sounder reading a water temperature of 31 degrees, we knew the fishing wouldn't be easy. Not knowing where to start, or where fish had been getting caught, we headed for the most popular spots we knew of, being Bay 13, Pelican Point and Eagles Nest. It didn't take long to locate good numbers of fish on the sounder in both Bay 13 and Eagles Nest. They were holding in fairly deep water, ranging from 25-35 feet. Although there were good shows of fish they didn't seem very active, holding very tight to the bottom of the dam.

Not knowing what the fish had been eating or if they were even going to eat, considering the amount of traffic on the dam, we thought the best thing to do was all fish a different presentation and hammer the hell out of them until we finally got a bite. With this in mind I tied on a plastic, Will a Switchblade and Ben a plastic fitted with one of TT's Jig Spinners.

The sounder was still showing good numbers of fish sitting on the bottom and we concentrated on keeping our lures right in front of their faces.  As the time went by and with no fish, we kept trying different retrieves, lures and lure colours. Finally Will got a bite and after a short fight a healthy yellowbelly was landed on the 3/8oz TT Switchblade. Following in Will's footsteps both Ben and I tied on a Switchblade, as we were both keen to get in on the act, and that we did as the yella's started hitting the deck thick and fast.

The retrieve that we found worked best was as subtle as possible. We were lifting our Switchblades no more than two feet off the bottom (just enough to feel the vibration in the rod tip) with one hop and a long pause. The bites we were receiving resembled the bite of a new born winter whiting, but once we set the hooks the weight was immediately there. We all fished 4lb line and had no trouble landing any of the yellowbelly, as the fish weren't holding on any structure. 

Taking a good variety of lures on any fishing trip is imperative when fishing dams, as the fish could be holding in different depths or might only want to eat a certain type of lure on any given day. Try different retrieves and if you are with other people, everyone fish a different lure until you work out what the fish are interested in. Don't forget that most dams require you to purchase a stocked impoundment permit or fishing license (which can be found online) and sometimes also a boating permit. Also, when fishing dams with high water temperature, as we did, the temperature will be significantly different deep down compared to the surface, so keeping deep caught fish that you intend to release in a live well is not the best idea. 

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