Bass marks in South Devon – testing conditions…
Quite an apt title really, in that I have indeed been testing out some new marks, but I’ve also been completing it during the recent spell of continual North or East winds. As 85% of my marks face West, South West or South these ‘offshore’ winds have effectively flattened out the sea, creating extremely clear water conditions.
If the wind isn’t onshore, creating that wind in your face, waves crashing against the rocks kind of conditions that the Bass (and a lot Bass fisherman) love, then you have two choices: find a mark that does face the wind, or see it as an opportunity to try something different – you might be surprised what you learn.
With a sunrise like this, it just had to be a good day out…
To be a guide…
Bass obviously need to feed to survive – more often being very opportunistic in their nature. Where they choose to feed depends on any number of factors including sea temperature, bait fish distribution and inshore sea conditions to name just a few. Many, many Bass fisherman will only venture out when the waves are smashing the shoreline but as a guide, if a client is only available on a certain day (or part of that day for that matter) then it is my job to do everything I can to place them in areas that can produce Bass, in the weather and tidal conditions we are faced with on the respective day.
Now I’m not a magician, but by using past experiences, my knowledge of the South Devon coastline and by fishing myself in as many differing conditions (not the more obvious overcast, onshore wind , rough seas, flooding tide scenario) as possible I believe, makes me a more resourceful and credible Bass fishing guide. Below is a quick account of a recent day out I had along the stunning coast that I call home.
Headlands vs Stalking
Watching the weather forecast the evening before, I knew I had a choice to make. Stalk the Bass in the afternoon by moving around the reef systems, following the ebbing tide down? Or concentrate on 3 or 4 headlands offering much deeper water but lots of current in the morning, during the flood? I decided the headland was the best bet as the tide was a very small neap.
So on this beautiful morning, down through the lanes I drove just as the sun was rising. As it transpired, I actually had the whole day to myself therefore a little more exploring was also called for – 7 miles walked, 4 new marks fished, shattered from the sea air and 10 hours later was it worth it?
Throughout the day I spent just as much time walking as I did fishing – sometimes you just have to make the most of the time available do you not? To have the opportunity to get out onto marks that I have studied and photographed was extremely satisfying – and it will definitely assist me in the future in relation to my guiding.
Even though I only caught one Bass during the day, the fact that I managed to test out the new marks really enabled me to learn a great deal. In fact, the calm clear seas and bright sky actually did me a favour as it would’ve been dangerous to fish these marks in livelier conditions. Also, to actually be at ground level really does offer a far better perspective of whether a mark is potentially a good one – you get to see how the tide and waves swirl around the rocks, the tidal eddies, where the water becomes more oxygenated and if the patches of reef, weed or sand are really as productive as they look on laptop screen….
A good tactic to employ in these conditions is to try to mimic a wounded bait fish on the surface therefore, 70 – 80% of my actual fishing time was spent blasting out a surface lure into the flow, close to any structure and the other 20 – 30% was spent bouncing soft paddletail lures through sandy gullies.
A very hard-earned Bass
The Bass above smashed an IMA Salt Skimmmer (Bora) at range (50 yds) where the waves were breaking around a ‘just about submerged’ rock the size of a car. Following a few classic head shakes the fish was easily landed and returned to make some other Bass anglers day.
One thing is certain. I will, without doubt be returning to these headlands during the next set of onshore winds and larger tides – so long as it isn’t too rough. However, it just goes to show yet again, that Bass can be caught outside of the generally considered ‘quintessential’ conditions.
The end of an enjoyable (but knackering!) day’s Bass fishing