Guided Bass fishing – Success!
Well up for it!
I was really looking forward to this session with Ron, an experienced angler in his own right who has lived in South Devon for many years. Having previously enjoyed success by catching Bass on bait (lugworm) from local estuaries and perch and pike on lures from the rivers, he was extremely enthusiastic about the possibility of hooking into a Bass on lures from the shore. Moreover, the fact he is used to walking 5 miles everyday, in addition to knowing how to handle a lure rod, made for a very pleasurable afternoon’s guiding.
With the weather forecast predicting drizzle, low cloud/mist and a strengthening SW wind, I was confident that with a flooding spring tide, we would see some action. Upon reaching the cliff top it was apparent that although the wind was relatively light, there was still enough of a swell to create some lovely white water conditions around the rocks and immediate shoreline. From our vantage point, I revealed to Ron the first two marks that we would be fishing for the first 2 hours of the tide – but if he was put off by the slippery descent and 1/4 mile hike he was about to endure, he certainly didn’t show it!
Once we had made our way down on to the beach and out across the rocks to our first mark, as it was slack water, I decided to demonstrate how each of the lure types we would be using react in the water to various twitches on the rod tip and retrieve rates.
Perched above a sheltered inlet to the main rocks, I lobbed a Slug-Go out into the clear 8 ft ‘pool’ and proceeded to work it back towards me…. Ron could hardly believe how life-like the soft plastic looked in the water and correctly summarised that it looked like a ‘dying’ launce.
Next up was a Do-Live stick just flicked and floated around to his astonishment, followed by a surface lure in the form of a Storm Chugbug – with Ron again asking all the right questions like ‘So does this lure work well in breaking waves or in a calm sea?’ It was the final type of lure on display that really had Ron champing at the bit though, and again, really taken aback by the ‘action’ of the Maria sub-surface lure.
With his sound, accurate casting technique perfected, we clambered over the next rock to find what I would describe as near perfect conditions, albeit slightly calmer than I would liked, however with the tide just about to turn I was sure it would ‘rough up’ a little more.
Ron casting a surface lure
Ron’s first lure caught Bass!
I instructed Ron to cast and work the Chugbug between two car sized, nearly submerged rocks about 15 yards apart into 10 ft of water; thinking that a Bass may use this natural passage to the nearby rocky beach on the (very quickly) rising tide. With no ‘rises’ after about 10 minutes and confident that he would be safe on the end of this particular promontory I changed his lure to a paddletail 15g HTO Artic Eel (that you can buy from Veals here.
I explained to Ron that the correct technique here was to cast the lure between a submerged reef and an exposed car sized rock, where the sea bed is pure sand and 12 ft below the surface. Once the lure hits the water, then allow it to sink and ‘feel’ for the 15 g head of the lure hitting the bottom (the rod tip will bounce back slightly). From here just raise the rod upwards by 1 foot at a time, and then follow the rod tip down by winding in the slack (sink and draw style), ensuring a constant contact with the lure. I asked him to lower the rod tip and ‘straight retrieve’ the lure slowly once it was about 10 yards away from his stance, while I stood on ‘look out’ with the net at the ready….
First cast, all quiet…. second cast, about 4 or 5 turns into the straight retrieve as the lure was presumably moving off of the seabed Ron was hit pretty hard by a marauding Bass. Having caught numerous perch and pike on lures previously, Ron superbly steered the Bass into my waiting net… “Phew, well I’m definitely converted to this way of catching them was Ron’s response”
Ron’s lure caught Bass of around 3lb
A Wrasse, then time to move on
Next cast a lively Wrasse of around 1lb snatched at the lure, again on the straight retrieve but this time directly beneath Ron’s feet. Very quickly however, some larger waves signalled it was unfortunately time to move off of this particular venue.
Once we had crossed a small sandy gully that was now about 1 ft deep, I highlighted to Ron the frankly evil looking ground now in front of us – a myriad of kelp, shallow rocks, pools and sandy patches (that is heaven to a feeding Bass) and how to fish it effectively with either very shallow diving lures, surface lures or weedless soft plastics.
As the drizzle turned into near torrential rain, the climb to the next mark wasn’t exactly fun, however, with success still fresh in our minds Ron was soon winging out the Chugbug again; this time within close proximity of a reef that drops off into a sandy gully.
Ron working the surface lure on mark number two
Time to re-evaluate
Now even though I have absolute faith in this particular mark – I’ve had some decent Bass from it this season including the 4+ pounder back in July here I had a decision to make. Remain on it as long as possible and fish it at the opportune time, but risk not getting onto the next mark (one of my favourites) vs moving early, and hiking half a mile to ensure we were onto the next mark in time to fish it…With nothing doing here and with both of us requiring a snack and a drink, the decision was made to hike to the next venue, whilst I pointed out some more ‘Bassy’ looking ground on the way – Ron still flabbergasted at the type of ground and shallow water that attracts these beautiful fish.
Upon arrival, a nice cup of coffee regenerated our enthusiasm to the extent that we forgot all about the heavy rain and our drowned rat demeanour…. Now this next mark has fond memories for me, as it was one of the first marks I ever ‘researched’ and subsequently found to hold decent Bass. I pointed out where the reef started as the waves were breaking over it, and also highlighted the ‘pool’ to cast into once the tide had risen a little more.
It was with a fair degree of confidence that I handed Ron one of my Xorus Patchinko Frosty II’s (bought from Veals here, unfortunately, after 30 minutes of tantalising expectation I then watched it sail double the distance it normally would (and that is usually a long way!) into the English Channel when the lure clip failed… Nevermind 😀 one to offset the tax bill with I thought!
Ron expertly ‘working’ the lures
With the spring tide rising quickly and with me conscious of the fact that we had to cross a knee-deep pebbly gully in about an hour’s time, on went a Maria Fake Bait see here for a good dunking. Ron consistently cast and worked this and similar minnow type lures (small sandeel imitations) through the ‘hotspot’ but with the clouds now beginning to break, the sun peaking through and the forecast increasing wind doing the exact opposite we retreated from our ‘island’ onto the nearby beach – just as the back edge of the weather front moved across the bay.
When the rain finally stopped…
A lot learned in a short space of time
In addition to catching his first ever lure caught Bass and Wrasse, Ron had commented on many occasions throughout the session that ‘he’d learnt a great deal about where and how to target Bass from the shore’ so much so that he couldn’t resist a few more casts with the surface lures along the beach… Good on you mate.
Sun tan time!
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Thanks for reading.