Client Catches – A nice way to start!
I’d been waiting for this moment for a while – guiding a client to a very decent bass. Sharing the moment – the excitement of seeing that fish thrashing in the shallows, the euphoria of holding that prize you’ve dreamt of catching and then releasing her back into the clear water is something I love doing so, so much.
My client (John) had only taken up bass lure fishing last Autumn therefore, catching this fish was a special moment for him.
A window of opportunity
Following on from my personal catches in the previous 10 days here I had kept a very close eye on the sea state and wind direction. A swell had moved in, and a brief spell of strong southerly winds (yet again) had really mixed things up. However, with the wind falling light late Friday night and into Saturday morning I contacted John (I’d promised to do so) as I thought everything looked ‘right’ for a raid on a particular mark – with one caveat… It involved a 0200 start!
The more you put in, the more you get out as they say. But as he’d lure fished pretty much throughout the worst winter we’ve experienced in Devon in years, determination and perseverance were attributes he’d already displayed in spades!
As we trudged along the coastal path the almost obligatory owl could he heard in the valley behind us, and we listened further we could make out the roar of the surf – becoming louder as we neared the cove I’d chosen for this night assault.
I wasn’t too concerned by this though, as the tide still had another 3 hours to flood (HW at 0512) therefore, the sea would now be washing over a stretch of reef that has produced some very nice bass to my previous clients and I.
Whether clients want to use my equipment (the use of rod/reel/lures/waders is included in the price when you book a session with me) or not, I always ask them to bring what they would normally use for a good reason – it tells me a lot about why they might not have enjoyed consistent success.
John mentioned that he’d receives quite a few bites on the Albie Snax here at night whilst fishing his own marks, but that the bite-hook up rate is very low. I suspected these were mainly small bass or perhaps pollack hitting the lure, as any bass over a pound will generally annihilate these 5″ lures.
However, upon inspection, I felt the hook size he was using was a little too small and not wide enough in the gape to ensure (as much as can be expected) a more reliable and hopefully increased conversion rate. He did have some larger hooks with him in the form of the excellent Gamakatsu Super Line Spring Lock 6/0 weedless hooks here therefore, we exchanged them and went ‘large’ so to speak.
The swell over the previous days had clearly ripped copious amounts of weed out of the surrounding reef and had dumped it on the shingle over the neap high tides. With these tides now increasing in size each day back up to the ‘springs’ it meant that there were weed fragments floating in the shallows – and at this early stage in the session I was a little concerned that it might spoil things.
Thankfully, one of the many virtues of the Albie Snax is that their rigid body means that they rarely snag on anything, be it rocks or weed, and with only 12-18″ of water now quickly flooding over the reef he made his first casts of what was quite a chilly night for the second week in May (a minimum of 3ºC to be precise).
To the minute
With John’s retrieve speed sorted (I like a consistent slow-medium retrieve at one turn of the handle per second) the Albie Snax was slaloming in nicely and with only the occasional bouts of larger swell ‘turning’ (causing breaking waves) over the shallow water covering a flat expanse of reef he settled into his surroundings.
This particular mark can switch on at any stage of the tide, and in an instant due to the proximity of the nearby tide race (meaning the bass move through quickly), but it is normally more consistent an hour or so either side of high water.
He’d been fishing for well over 1 hour and 40 minutes without a touch, when almost to the minute of their predicted arrival, the rod SLAMMED over in that unmistable fashion! A couple of metres of line where wrenched off the spool and the fish decided to head right (up tide) before turning and splashing a good 30 metres out. My head torch scoured the water in front of us – locking onto the line now zooming right again but getting closer to the shingle. A couple of larger waves appeared (why does this ALWAYS happen!) and a couple of small breakers broke over the reef – placing an agonising amount of pressure on the hook hold as the fish took a further couple of metres of braid against the drag. But John has caught many many bass on bait in the past and knew exactly to do – maintain pressure, but not too much until the fish is beached.
What a bass! At 63cm this had smashed his PB (even on bait) to pieces, so you can imagine how excited he was (and still is even after a couple of days). With my new camera (Sony Cybershot HX90V here) almost mastered I managed to capture a couple of half decent photographs that I’m sure he’ll treasure for a very long time – a huge canvass was mentioned!
He, of course, fished on but this solitary bass was the only bite of the night and I couldn’t help but think that the still very low water temperture for the time of year (11ºC) coupled with the cold air temperature had detered more bass moving into the shallows… who knows though?
Either way, it was mission accomplished and as dawn broke you just couldn’t help but marvel at how stunningly beautiful the surroundings were. “What an experience Marc” he said many times over… “You’re very welcome John” as believe me, guiding clients to bass like that makes me a very happy Man, and I probably get more of a buzz than catching one myself – and that really is saying something!
Thanks for reading
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