Client Catches – A 70cm (8lb+) bass for a visiting angler
My client for this session during the very early hours of the 2nd of November was Michal. He had booked me for a 4 hour session in advance of spending 4 days in the south Hams with his family.
For the time of year, the weather had remained remarkably calm and settled. I’d only ventured out myself during darkness for a couple of short sessions – with only a few small fish to show for our (my friends and I) efforts over the very smallest neap tides.
“I’ll let you go with your gut feeling Marc” said Michal the evening before the session. Looking at the sea state (about as calm as it gets), clarity (as clear as it gets) and the tides (an interesting jump in high tide height from a 4.4m to a 4.8m (Salcombe scale) I believed warranted us concentrating on a pure night fishing session – “OK, lets meet at 0150” I said.
The first cold night
You know a client means business when they agree to meeting at such at such a disgraceful hour – but this is the sort of dedication that is required to really enhance your chances.
At 0150 we met up and drove to a mark, very local to me, that has been very consistent two hours either side of high water. It was cold, with the air temperature hovering around 2 °C. Indeed, Michal had commented that there was a slight frost on the top of his car roof when he’d departed Kingsbridge (where he was staying). However, with the sea temperature still at around 14°C I was confident that he would see some action – although I wasn’t expecting lots of bites.
Ace up my sleeve
The amount of ambient light present (from the stars and a full Moon) when we arrived on the beach meant we hardly needed our head-torches on our way around the rocks to the beach I’d chosen. An experienced fisherman, I could tell Michal wasn’t exactly hopeful about his chances… “Is it too bright?” ” Is it too cold” he asked me as he tackled up with a 6″ white senko.
I have caught bass under a full Moon this season therefore, although it isn’t something I’d necessarily hope for – I wouldn’t avoid going lure fishing in darkness for bass because of it. Furthermore, in the back of my mind was the ‘ace up my sleeve’ being the fact that the Moon was due to set at 0425 – pretty much as the tide would also begin to ebb.
3 hours of nothing…
Michal had never visited this part of south Devon before therefore, I took the opportunity to show him some Google Map images of the area saved on my phone – including zoomed in shots of the reef he would be fishing over for the next 4 hours.
By pointing out the pinnacles of rock clearly visible to the left and right of ‘our shingle cove’ Michal was easily able get his bearings in the non-darkness. Moreover, he understood completely, the importance of accurate casting into the deeper gullies, channels and pools present on this mark, that I again presented images for him via actual photographs that I’ve taken over low water of the mark.
The white senko hadn’t received any interest during the first two hours of fishing and with high tide approaching a change was needed. On went an Albie Snax ready for the turn of the tide. And with the Moon now getting lower and lower in the sky, fresh enthusiasm flowed through us both. A further hour of fishing followed and by now, I could sense Michal was beginning to think this possibly wasn’t going to be his night…
Was that a tap on the rod tip?
I admit, it must be difficult for someone who has never caught a fish in the dark, let alone a bass, to comprehend what is going on out in the gloom. Especially when you’ve been stood still (bar a couple of short shuffles along the cove to target specific areas) casting and retrieving away endlessly on a cold old night. I kept encouraging Michal, recounting stories of when the tide had turned, or the Moon has appeared or disappeared and the effect it’d had on the fishing.
30 minutes after the Moon had set and the tide was just beginning to really flow again, I was just willing Michal on, when he received the tiniest of taps on the rod tip… His initial reaction was that he’d wound the leader knot beyond the tip ring – that is how subtle the bite was! But he’d only been retrieving for around 5 seconds following a long cast therefore, it couldn’t have been? With that, the rod pulled over gently and stayed over!
Just glad to get it in!
On went my head-torch – the beam searching out Michal’s braid in what was now, a very dark beach. There! About 8 metres out the fish was lazily splashing around on the surface and well, just not doing very much! I could see it was a very decent bass – but it was difficult to make out just how big…
Michal played the fish perfectly, maintaining pressure on the fish that just swam, on the surface, without any kind of fight/battle all the way to the shingle – where I was waiting patiently to omplete my customary grab of the line.
Wow! “Mate, this is a serious fish” I shouted up to Michal, who by now was 5 metres up the shingle and completely oblivious to the size of the bass on the end of his line. Considering I’d lost a total ‘stream train’ of bass on this mark a few weeks previously, I was just glad that this one had behaved itself!
Happy client – unhappy bass!
As Michal appeared in the light I heard him gasp! “What an amazing fish – Look at that!” He was very happy but the bass was not… It woke up on the shingle and was seriously flapping about – the Albie Snax being spat out and leader and braid somehow wrapping itself around my boots… Unravelling myself, I picked up the bass and passed it to Michal to hold – it was a true moment to savour!
One bite is all it takes
Measuring 70cm, this bass was very well fed! Indeed, I was tempted to weigh this one in my sling, but we both felt it was more important to capture the moment (via photographs and the short release video below) rather than keep this wonderful specimen out of the water for any longer than it needed to be – especially as it was cold and the fish had expended a lot on energy on the beach once it had woken up!
Michal was obviously over the Moon (excuse the pun!) to have caught, held and released what is the biggest bass a client has caught this season. Lee Russell’s 70cm bass here was a fantastic fish, but it was slimmer in comparison to this mid-autumn monster.
It took three hours of searching out the reef but yet again, patience, perseverance and knowing the ground intimately paid off. We’d taken a chance, dragged ourselves away from the comfort of our beds in the dead of night in order to become the hunter – ultimately, one fish, one bite is all it takes.
One more thing. Complete respect to Michal for maintaining his concentration throughout the session – it would have been easy to have become disheartened, or to have lost what is close to a ‘fish of a lifetime’.
Thanks for reading.