Client Catches – Warming up nicely!
With the weather about to settle down for the second half of August, I welcomed the first of a number of clients who had ‘booked me’ during this period; including the Bank Holiday weekend.
Phil had driven all the way down from the South East (Kent I believe) and had braved the overnight thunderstorms in his tent (on a local campsite) in order to glean as much information as possible about our target – the beautiful bass.
A very keen fisherman, following today’s session, Phil would be trout fishing on his way home therefore, he was more than fully prepared for a weekend of fishing. Within seconds of meeting him, his HTO lure rod, Daiwa Ninja reel and very inclusive lure collection were transferred from his car to mine, and we were on our way.
Phil had brought along a great selection of lures including a couple of my favourites, such as the Fiiish Black Minnow, Xorus Frosty 100, a couple of big 140mm 25g Patchinko surface lures and the Savage Gear Sandeel and Manic Prey respectively – all of which would be called into action during this 8 hour session.
Murky and Bright
The previous three days had seen some fairly blustery onshore conditions therefore, the scene that greeted us high up on the cliff-tops was as expected – a 2 – 3 ft swell and relatively murky seas… Perfect considering the sun was blazing down.
I pointed to a line of rocks some ¾ mile away and explained to Phil that we would fish there for the final 30 minutes of the ebb and the first hour of the flood, before gradually moving around the coastline to a number of similar marks as the tide continued to flood right up to high tide.
On the mark
Upon arrival on the mark, I pointed out all the features to Phil. This included the reef that lies 10 metres out, the pure sandy seabed that is 8 – 10ft down between his stance and the reef, in addition to the sandy gully that runs parallel to two rock formations. It was the sand we would be targeting with lures that could be either ‘bounced’ on the bottom or fished sink and draw in mid water level without fear of losing them on the numerous large clumps of weed that also occupy this particular area.
This is the sort of mark where bass will often hit a lure on the very first cast therefore, all the practicing of the rod movement and retrieve speed was practised in preparation for that first cast and ‘bump’ along the sand.
With one of Phil’s 12g Fiiish Black Minnows attached to the clip (the perfect lure alongside the 14g Illex Nitro Sprat Shad for this scenario) he eagerly flicked the lure into the frothing sea only 8 yards out. Lift the rod by 12″, then lower it – winding in the line gradually and waiting and feeling for the rod tip to spring back momentarily or the braid to suddenly slacken as the jighead taps the bottom – ultimately creating a little displacement of the sand…
On the drop!
If they aren’t home on this mark on the ebb then essentially, you have to concentrate everything into the remaining hour that you have here before you have to retreat (across a sandy gully). The bass are either hugging the seabed and the submerged fingers of rock or they’re moving through very quickly at mid-water level. It is for this reason that I always instruct my clients to bounce the lure all the way to the base of the rock they’re standing on on one cast, and then straight retrieve the following cast so to search out the entire water column.
A great lure to use for the approach described above is the Savage Gear Sandeel. I like to use the 12.5cm 16g jighead combination as it’s very easy to accurately cast into tight spots and most importantly – it catches bass! And sure enough, 20 minutes into the flood, Phil (as briefed) was busily rotating through the directions in which to cast when he got hit. The take was instantaneous with the lure hitting the surface and just starting to sink therefore, it did take him by surprise somewhat and when it took line against the drag it looked promising… But the fish (a bass we both suspected) managed to use the backwash of a wave to make good its escape – what a pity.
Net to the rescue!
With no more action encountered in the next 30 minutes it was very quickly time to head back along the slender rock platform, cross the sandy gully that was by now knee deep in the increasingly clear water and onto the next mark.
Another long promontory of rock was Phil’s stance for the next hour and with a lovely area of disturbed water (where the waves were being forced through a narrow gully) just within casting distance, onto the lure clip went the big ‘Patch’ or Patchinko. The theory here was that the bass would be waiting for anything being unsuspectingly ‘washed’ through the gully into the beautifully aerated water – I wouldn’t want to be a fish struggling on the surface in that spot that’s for sure!
Just as I was scoffing my chocolate bar and on his second cast Phil shouted ‘Fish on!’ A big splash signalled a fish had grabbed the large surface lure. And although it wasn’t a monster, the rocks to Phil’s right (that I had warned him about should he latch into a bass) were a magnet for the hooked bass, and sure enough that is exactly where it headed… bugger!
How bass instinctively know how to drag line/braid over rocks is quite remarkable and within seconds it had managed to well and truly snag the line across the barnacles of a rock just protruding above the surface. Only minutes earlier, I had exchanged Phil’s 12lb fluorocarbon leader with my slightly stronger 15lb as I was concerned it was too weak – thank goodness I did!
I had a decision to make – there was a line of rocks that were about 2½ ft below the surface that I could safely step onto from our platform and then wade along for just a couple of yards. The plan was to take the net to steady myself, and to ‘poke’ the braid so that it changed the angle we had on the fish – ultimately so that we could release the line from the rock… Guess what – it worked! And within a couple more seconds a bristling bass was swept up in the net – karma I’d say considering all the lost fish I’ve had to endure in recent months!
Once a great mark…
The next mark is a higher platform of rocks where you’re able to cast over a lovely flattish expanse of reef, where a very prominent gorge or gully runs at a 45 degree angle. Over the years this spot has been one of my most consistent places to catch decent bass (over 3lb) yet in the past 18 months it just hasn’t been the same. I really have no idea why, and maybe it will return to form again this autumn but today, in near perfect conditions with 18″ of water clarity, a flooding tide and some lovely white water about it just didn’t produce, despite throwing a variety of lures at it.
The next mark is a hard on the feet to say the least, in that some of the rocks are very sharp, but it does produce bass so it’s worth it in my book! This is what I would describe as an ‘inlet’. It faces the waves and tide, is shallow (4 – 6ft deep) with the seabed a mixture of rocks, weed beds, shingle patches and larger protruding rocks – bass heaven. These inlets are just the type of area that bass love to move into duirng the final 1 – 2 hours of the flood, particularly on the bigger tides, in order to seek out fresh ground.
In Phil’s lure box was a Savage Gear Manic Prey shallow diving minnow. These are smashing little lures that cast brilliantly and have a very, very nice wriggling action. Importantly, they can be ‘worked’ over shallow rocky weedy ground.
I could tell Phil was slightly apprehensive about our chances in such a benign looking spot but I encouragingly asked him to keep casting into the same 3m² as I was confident the a bass would appear in the conditions we were lucky to experience today.
It took about 20 casts (and the subsequent retrieve) but a very firm whack on the rod tip resulted in this small but beautifully formed bass – where is your Mum we both remarked??
The final mark was another inlet, but on a larger scale to the previous one and with a number of different vantage points. The only problem is landing the fish when hooked as there are a number of boulders present here. It was for this reason, and the fact that there was a wonderful swell rolling through that another surface lure, this time the Xorus Frosty (smaller Patchinko) was attached.
High up on my own platform, net in hand, I could see every splash and splutter of these excellent lures as Phil expertly ‘worked’ the lure in around any structure. To me, this is proper rugged bass ground where the fish can be caught practically at your feet, yet I suspect many unsuspecting anglers wouldn’t consider casting a lure here – something that Phil commented upon throughout our session.
Phil was very unlucky on this mark. He hooked two bass, one of which wriggled off the hooks just as he about to lift it out (it was only small) but another larger bass took his leader around a rock… We tried in vane to release the line, which we eventually managed to achieved, but the bass had managed to escape (we got the lure back at least).
The beauty of guiding clients over two 4 hour sessions in the same day, or an 8 hour session in one go is that I’m able to point out very specific areas where my clients and I have caught bass. Indeed, very often, they can actually stand, at low tide, where they will be casting a lure when the tide floods. Or vice versa, in that they can stand where they were casting a lure when the tide has ebbed – I believe many of my previous clients have found this very useful.
Phil was astonished at the types of ground where we had encountered bass during this session and it offered him real food for thought back on his own patch around the Sussex and Kent coastline. Indeed, the overriding theme of the day was Phil commenting, remarking and almost marvelling at the types of ground that bass love to hunt and feed – he really didn’t think bass would be caught form some of the marks therefore, I was really pleased he had a learnt so much.
With his recently acquired knowledge, areas of coastline that he had previously ignored are being re-evaluated for their suitability – I look forward to seeing his catches and also look forward to his return to south Devon in the future. It was a real pleasure guiding you mate.
Thanks for reading.