My Recent Catches – Putting the time in
With almost relentless southerly Gales pummelling large swathes of my local coastline, I have had to head for more sheltered shores to find both clearer, weed-free water (and the bass) in the past two weeks. However, in some ways this has actually done me a favour, as it has presented me with the opportunity to fish some stretches both new to me and ones that I haven’t fished for some time.
With a little more breathing space in between my guiding, writing and family commitments lately it has enabled me to ‘put some time in’ during both daylight and darkness into one particular stretch, and one that has got me rather excited. Why? Because it has produced bass every time I have fished it – whether that has been in cloudy, sunny, calm, choppy conditions in daylight, in addition to the only time I have managed to fish it in darkness.
Subtle? Or not…?
When faced with calm, clear, shallow water and a bright sky my initial thought is to use a lure that looks (shape, size and colour) and acts (movement) as much like the real thing as possible, or to head down the ‘reaction route’. The weedless and weightless soft plastics I have been using lately are the Fish Arow Flash, the new Doomsday Laggin’ Dragon, OSP DoLive Shad or the old favourite, the OSP DoLive Stick. If I haven’t caught, I’ve then moved onto a small surface slider or popper to provoke a more immediate and positive response – a reaction.
Firstly, the DoLive Stick has done very well for me recently, but only when retrieved in a certain way. After initially letting it descend in a controlled manner and then to rest on the seabed, I have commenced the retrieve very quickly and maintained it, adding the odd twitch of the rod, so that the lure is only 6-12″ under the surface (in water that is around 3ft deep) and so that it is twisting, turning and almost ‘leaping’ around in all directions!
Admittedly, I would normally work this particular lure far slower and with one or two twitches, then allowing it to sink or drift in the tide or within any eddies or faster moving water. Or, sometimes I just retrieve them on nothing more than a steady retrieve often alternating between the two methods on each cast. Either way, whatever the bass think it is (a 6″ fish darting around presumably or a ragworm struggling and being overpowered by the tide?) all I know is that they have been absolutely hammering them over the gravely seabed encompassing wrack beds, and within the laterally running current that is present on this mark.
Note that I haven’t mentioned hard diving minnows… I don’t tend to use them that much nowadays in very bright, clear, calm sea conditions in shallow water, for the reason that far too many fish just ‘follow’ the lure for my liking… Therefore, the choice is relatively simple – go subtle and natural or do the complete opposite, with both having had their moments in the past few sessions.
As mentioned, after utilising the ‘SPs’ without catching I have then moved onto the diminutive top-water lures – the type that create a spitting, bubbling, popping and more restrained slashing motion on the surface, rather than a full blown crash, bang, splash, splash affect that is more likely to scare them within the shallows.
With the small ‘Patch’ I’ve been maintaining a continuous retrieve, whereas with the Pop Walker and Spittin Wire, a pop, pop, slow snaking interspersed with longer pauses (three-four seconds) has accounted for most of the bass.
Although I’ve taken quite a few bass from this new mark none of them have been over 2½lb. But in my experience, if you’re catching lots of bass in that range by day, then there is the distinct possibility that the larger fish will move in and disperse the smaller ones in darkness… I was just waiting for the right tide and weather conditions to give it a go…
For the umpteenth time this year, the weather forecast was completely wrong… But for once it actually worked in my favour, as the southerly 15mph wind that was predicted just didn’t materialise! Yippee. As I stealthily worked my around the rocks to my new favourite spot (for what I’d planned to be the next three hours that turned into five!) within a very serene and perfectly still environment I was surprised at how warm it was, as the hazy crescent Moon gently illuminated my surroundings – everything felt ‘right’ to me…
Attaching a white DoLive Stick here I commenced the session by using it in exactly the same way as I had with the more natural colours during the day. Cast, retrieve, move a few metres. Cast, retrieve move and so on along a stretch encompassing about 60m, each time ensuring I worked the lure right to my feet, conscious of the fact a bass could swipe the lure in those final few centimetres as they have done many times.
After about 45 minutes, it felt to me that the 13.6g lure was being pushed along too quickly in the tide. Therefore, I took a punt and decided to clip on a larger, denser senko that has been hibernating in my lure box all season – the rather aptly named Insane Creations Bass Slayer in the Ghost White pattern.
At 6″ and weighing 18g my initial efforts to let the lure trundle along the seabed in the tide proved fruitless. Therefore, I decided to move a further 40m or so in order to work the lure over a series of gravel/shingle banks that I’d discovered over the low tide period the day before. Rather than bump the lure along the bottom, as the tide was less fierce here I recommenced with a fairly rapid straight retrieve (after letting the lure hit the seabed) so that the lure would glide in around 6-12″ under the surface.
With the Moon just about to set, I’d made my third cast when about 2/3rds of the way in the rod jolted and the lure just stopped, before a huge splash signalled something rather annoyed at finding a 6/0 hook in its supper! The fish dragged three metres of line from the spool, splashed again on the surface and then turned and headed away from me – taking a further ten metres of line! I actually thought I’d hooked into a real beast in those moments and it was bloody brilliant seeing that rod arched over and thumping away against the stars as a backdrop – I couldn’t get to sleep for ages that night reliving it all!
Following that blistering run, the fish then surfaced again, whereby I took the opportunity to quickly slip on my headtorch – but it was at least 90 seconds before I saw the bass properly in the clear water. Once I saw it though I relaxed slightly, as it wasn’t as big as I’d hoped and I could see that it was very well hooked. She it behaved impeccably, apart from a powerful parallel run to my right near the end of the battle, and as I gently guided her into a tiny ‘bay’ between the weed beds I knew it was easily a bass over five pounds, maybe knocking six.
A round and thickset bass that measured 62cm, I imagine she weighed in the region of 5½-5¾lb. To be honest, I’m not bothered about finding out what they weigh when they are this size, as it only delays returning these magical fish. Although I have to admit I do carry a sling and a digital scales in my bag just in case a client or I lands ‘the one’ as personally I would want to know.
Very interestingly, I didn’t get a touch apart from this bass which suggests to me the small ones just weren’t in residence – not on this tide at least. One thing’s for sure, I will be back here for more as soon as these easterlies bugger off!
If you are interested in purchasing my book (that was released on the 8th October) titled ‘The Lure of The Bass’ please see my recent blog post here for details on how to purchase a copy – I currently have limited numbers available as the first 500 have almost sold out!
Thanks for reading
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