Guided Bass Fishing – The wind’s in the East… go catch a Beast!
A stunning morning in South Devon
A crisp, autumnal morning
It was with real excitement that I met up with Reg on this particular morning. Even though the wind had been hammering up the channel from the less than desirable direction (the East) for the best part of a week, I was confident that he would catch a Bass… and that his faith in my guiding skills would be realised!
It was a beautiful crisp autumnal morning in South Devon and as we trudged along the coastal path for about half a mile, the morning chill soon gave way to a full on sweat – especially on my part as I was carrying the rod, a net and my rucksack containing 4 x lure boxes, the First Aid kit, 30m of rope, drinks, plus the most important thing – 2 x steak Pasties from Ashby’s!!
Looking for ‘flow’
As you can see from the two pictures above, Reg was effectively casting his lure between a rocky headland and an ‘island’ some 60 – 70 yds offshore. My thought process (and previous notes) suggested that these conditions (a strong Easterly wind and a very small neap high tide) required fishing somewhere were the tide/current was forced to ‘speed up’ through a causeway. With the waves/wind working in complete contrast to the way the tide was flowing, it was creating a lovely ‘choppy’ zone of water – indeed, I had caught Bass on this mark (and many similar) when the elements were very similar.
I had considered taking Reg to fish a nearby estuary mouth, but considering he was up for catching a Bass, Wrasse or Pollack, I decided the open coast was probably the best bet for catching something on a lure if the Bass failed to show. Furthermore, the forecast was for the cloud to break up later in the morning meaning the brighter conditions would also lend themselves well to a spot of Wrasse lure fishing – something I should probably do a little more of perhaps?
The ‘Island’ looks like a submarine! (not a very secret mark)
Bass on the surface lure
Now when it comes to lures, it may surprise some people to know that I allow my clients to use the actual lures from my own lure box – not cheaper versions, imitation models or £1.25 rip offs… Therefore, with the tide now 3 hours into the flood, I instructed Reg to cast my Xorus Frosty II (in the 500g pattern) as far as he could into the wind, out into the flow, between the structure and ourselves.
Following on from our previous session together, he tapped the rod tip away and was soon working the small ‘Patch’ in exactly the manner in which it was designed – with that snaking, slithering across the surface action that has accounted for a fair few Bass this season. It was difficult to see in the bright sunshine that was trying its hardest to break through, but he was doing a great job of working it back towards his stance.
On around the 10th or 11th cast, after about 5 or 6 turns of the reel, there was a nice swirl and a very positive take on the lure. I have previously taken Pollack on this surface lure (which is slightly unusual in South Devon in my own experience, but I know it does happen) but I was confident of the fishes identity – a Bass!
After a few seconds it became apparent that although it was indeed a Bass, it wasn’t a monster – but it was Reg’s first on a lure all the same. As you can see in the picture below, he didn’t really care about the size and was well chuffed!
What he had now achieved more than anything else was confidence that a method or idea works – something so important when Bass fishing, particularly with lures. Moreover, it dispels the myth that ‘When the wind’s in the East, the fish bite the least’ or that Bass can indeed be caught in what some anglers might consider are less than perfect conditions… Neap tides when the wind isn’t necessarily blowing from the mostly prevailing Westerly (on this stretch of coastline) direction.
Reg and his first ever lure caught Bass
A loner? But then the ‘Beast’ attacks…
As often happens when you’re out guiding or Bass fishing yourself, you hook one within the first few minutes (or casts) of a session and then you don’t catch anymore! Slightly annoying as your immediate reaction is that it’s going to be a bumper session, and sometimes they are – but not today, so either it was a lone fish or part of a small shoal moving through as suspect was the case.
On this type of mark, you are continually casting, sometimes mixing up the types of lure you are casting, sometimes switching from surface lures to sub-surface minnows or even twitching weightless/weedless soft plastics (SPs) around, but ultimately you’re waiting for the Bass to ‘patrol’ through the area or zone, so to speak.
The ’causeway’ that Reg was casting across/into was about 15ft deep with a mixture of underwater rocky outcrops and weed beds that gently slope onto a sandy strip about halfway between where he was stood and the island. Therefore, after another 30 minutes of fruitless surface action, on went a sinking Savage Gear Sandeel in the natural ‘Green Sandeel’ colour. These lures are very good Bass catchers and their ‘paddletail’ motion is very realistic. Furthermore, they will also attract Wrasse, Pollack, Mackerel and Garfish so we were covering all angles in order to catch another fish, even if it wasn’t a Bass – something that Reg was happy about now that he’d actually caught one.
After 10 minutes or so and with nothing happening and the cloud now breaking up into near blue sky conditions and the wind easing to a gentle breeze, I suggested a mark a couple of hundred yards East that would enable Reg the opportunity to effectively ‘bounce’ the Savage Gear Sandeel and similar lures along the seabed – something that he hadn’t previously considered as an option when out lure fishing. When I say similar, the lure I had in mind was the Fiiish Black Minnow 120 in the Kaki/Silver colour. Now these things are simply ‘lethal’ for Bass but if, again in my experience, they’re fished anywhere near weed/rocks, they will also attract Wrasse – but quite often, decent size Wrasse as the picture of this beautifully marked 3 pounder below proves.
A great morning and an even better lunchtime…
The Wrasse above was caught by ‘gently bouncing’ the Fiiish Black Minnow along the seabed back towards his stance, following an accurate cast onto a strip of sand (about 10 yards wide) between two underwater reefs. The interesting thing is that Reg commented just before the ‘full on take’ that he was getting small ‘bites’ as he was winding in – proof enough that a Wrasse will indeed venture a fair way out of its lair in order to chase (as many authors suggest) a small fish away…? The fish appeared to put up a really good scrap on my 15 – 56g Daiwa Airity lure rod that Reg was using for the session, and for a brief moment I did think it was a nice Bass.
The next Wrasse was slighter smaller (at around 2lb) but this time the fish grabbed at the same lure as it was being wound/lifted from the seabed, something that Bass will very often do also. The successful method was to cast the lure out 30 – 40 yards but to only ‘bounce’ the lure along the seabed for the first 20 yards or halfway in with rod up at a 45 degree angle, and then lower the rod tip right down and steadily retrieve the lure all the way back to the rod tip.
This Wrasse took just as the lure was ‘lifted’ from the seabed
With high tide nearly upon us and with sun-screen applied (yes it was that warm!) we retired to a nearby outcrop to enjoy a pasty apiece. I was very content in relation to the decision made about the open coast marks and Reg was a very happy client.
He had caught a Bass and had also learned and successfully applied another method of lure fishing from the shore (bouncing paddletails) – something I have no doubt, will stand him in good stead in his pursuit of Bass in the future.
Is there a better venue to eat lunch than this?
Thanks for reading.