My Recent Catches – Bumps in the night…
I mentioned in a recent blog post that I’d managed to catch a number of bass this year by utilising a method that I’d been keen to attempt for some time – catching them on surface lures in darkness!
Now, I completely appreciate that there are many bass lure anglers out there who may not have attempted catching them on on a lure at night yet, let alone attempting it on a surface lure, therefore, it may seem like a leap a little too far. However, I can assure you that it works and in this post I will tell you how I’ve achieved it – along with the proof of course!
I’ve got a very open mind when it comes to lures, how they can be fished, and most importantly, how that translates to attracting and ultimately catching bass. There is no ‘right or wrong way’ as far as I’m concerned. However, every once in a while a lure comes along that makes me sit up and take notice, in addition to me purchasing one and seeing just how good it is for myself… One of these lures is the (often difficult to obtain) Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire here and here.
So is it a magic lure…? Well, from my point of view, all I can say is that it is proving to be an exceptional bass catcher alongside being extremely versatile for a surface lure. Moreover, it has undoubtedly helped me to extract bass from what I’d have previously considered to be ‘difficult’ conditions and situations – very shallow, slow moving (no current to speak of) cloudy water over a seabed varying from sand, mud and reef (rocks/weed). Add in the fact I managed to land a 7lb bass on one in December (read my post here) and that bass are seemingly drawn to it in the dead of night above other top water lures has prompted me to write this post.
I mentioned versatility – which is something I most definitely look for in a lure. Yes, in my box you’ll find tools that do a very specific job, but I do love a lure that can easily be fished or ‘worked’ in a variety of ways to mimic the activity of various prey items. This is where the Spittin Wire simply excels, as it can ‘made’ to splash vigorously (and loudly courtesy of the noisy internal bearings) pop erratically via the tiny dish-shaped snout or my favourite – to just roll from side-to-side in a very subtle zigzagging fashion across the surface layer.
They cast a long way for a lure weighing 15.5g even into a stiff breeze (providing you slow the cast right down) and they perform well in most sea conditions bar very rough. However, where I think they are most suited is in ‘millpond-like’ sea conditions – the type you’ll find in tidal lagoons and very sheltered coves on the open coast.
The latter is where I’ve achieved my most consistent success in the dark – those wonderfully sheltered (from the wind, waves and swell) exceedingly quiet (remote) and shallow (1-6ft) venues where the seabed consists of weedbeds and where the rock formations are a series of ledges. Again though, I’m keeping an open mind here, as I have recently been catching bass (in addition to my clients) in very shallow water in a gentle surf with needlefish – I see no reason why the Spittin Wire won’t have the same affect and it is something I will be experimenting with this summer for sure.
When it comes to lure fishing for bass at night I’m a firm believer that a subtle approach will reap more (or more consistent) rewards than a crash, bang, wallop type strategy. So given my thoughts on this, it seems even more extraordinary that, at times, a lure that is emitting far more noise and overall movement than the four other types of lure that have proved highly reliable both this season and the previous ones (the white senkos, Albie Snax, small shallow diving hard minnows and the exceptionally reliable needlefish). It goes without saying that a surface lure won’t work every single time, and each lure type has its own merits within certain conditions, but I have to say that it does bring a smile to my face when the rod is nearly yanked out of my hands when I’m not even retrieving the lure – especially when I might as well be blindfolded!
Some practice in daylight first may be required first here, but the method that I have been employing, and that has been more effective in very tarnquil sea conditions, but not necessarily when it is crystal clear, is below. Note, that I have tried this with other, and what I would consider to similarly subtle surface lures, but I am yet to hook up. Furthermore, one of my fishing companions did receive a series of ‘bumps’ on the surface lure he has been using (a Z-Claw) yet he hasn’t caught on it despite me fishing within close proximity to him and catching on the Spittin Wire. Pure food for thought that one as I have, without a doubt felt bass ‘nudge’ the lure at times – isn’t it amazing how much ‘feel’ you have when your senses are on overdrive and you have a rod/reel/line set up capable of transmitting this to your hands even the lure is 30-40m out in the gloom.
This is the method that has accounted for a dozen bass, up to just over 4lb, under a starlit sky, cloudy skies and under half and even full Moon conditions – all at night and not twilight I must emphasize:
- Cast the lure out and pre-empt it hitting the water via closing the bail-arm gently as you anticipate the lure landing on the surface – tethering it almost, so not to cause too much of a splash.
- Allow the lure to ‘rest’ on the surface for between 2-10 seconds (I’ve had bass smash into the lure at this stage).
- Wind/retrieve gently onto the lure until you can feel its weight/presence on the rod tip (braid obviously helps due to its directness) and then proceed to tap the rod, no more 6 inches either down, up, or to the side, or however you normally prefer to work a surface lure. At the same time, retrieve very slowly (a quarter to half a turn of the handle per second).
- These actions will cause the lure to ‘rock’ and begin to slide/roll and gently pop/splash in a slithering/zigzagging motion across the surface. Continual this for between 3-5 seconds and then allow the lure to rest for between 5-10 seconds (I’ve had bass nail the lure beyond pauses longer than this too) before recommencing with the tap, tap, tap of the rod whilst retrieving and so on.
- Do this all the way to your feet, as although I haven’t managed to hook one this close to me yet I have had bass swirl and attempt to grab the lure.
Although most the bass caught by this method have been sub-2lb (schoolies in essence and early season fish) the capture of the bass below certainly convinced me that it warranted more exploration! The key, I believe, is to remember those long pauses between sporadically working the lure. Here’s to more ‘bumps’ in the night!
If you are interested in purchasing my book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ (independent reviews including one from the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society and Henry Gilbey can be found here) please either complete the Contact Form via a previous post (describing what is included in each of the book’s chapters) here. Alternatively, it can be purchased by paying directly using PayPal below:
Book – ‘The Lure of The Bass’ by Marc Cowling
A modern approach to catching European Sea Bass on lures by Marc Cowling.
Thanks for reading.