My Recent Catches – A VERY guilty pleasure…
What the title should say is that I felt extremely ‘guilty’ about hooking into and subsequently landing the ‘beast’ in the featured image even though it brought me, and the client I was actually guiding at the time, a lot of pleasure. Yes… you read that correctly – I was guiding a client when I caught it, but let me explain!
As stated on my ‘What I Offer’ Page on my website here, I do not bring my rod/reel along or fish when I am guiding a client. However, what is a fairly regular occurrence, more especially during an 8 hour session, is that I will have a ‘dabble’ with their set up when they decide to have a quick break.
I have a hooked the occasional bass when I have been demonstrating a technique or method in relation to working the lures correctly, and admittedly, last season I landed a near 3lb bass when a client took a break and I wanted to see what his Major Craft Triple Cross rod here was like! What was so annoying about that fish was that my client at the time (Johnny) had been casting and retrieving the same lure in the same area that I hooked it for about three bloody hours! He did catch a number of bass over the subsequent sessions with me that week and he didn’t mind one jot, but I vowed there and then that it wouldn’t happen again…
The lure of the moment is undoubtedly the Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire here which was why I’d asked my client (Alan) to utilise it as the Sun began to set and a shadow appeared across the calm water in front of us during this session. The venue was formation of rocks that level out onto a flat expanse of rock, swept by a laterally running tide and around 10ft of water. It is a very good mark, and one that has produced a fair few 3-6lb bass, mackerel, wrasse and some good-sized pollack over the years.
For nearly four hours Alan had twitched weedless soft plastics around over a shallow reef and walked surface lures in and around the deeper water venues that I’d carefully chosen for him, and that he’d had to walk a long distance across some brutal terrain to access. It was for this reason, as high water was upon us (usually a quiet period on this mark), that I suggested it was a good time to take a break. To have a drink and a bite to eat before recommencing with the same lure, refreshed and ready for the tide turn of the tide and the imminent fading of the light… This was when he uttered those fateful words… “Have a go Marc, see what you think”
His 9′ Nomura lure rod was heavier and a little softer than the 125g Tailwalk EGinn 88M here that I currently use and his Penn Conflict reel a little weightier than the 193g Abu Garcia Revo MGX (see my review here) that I love, but his set up did feel rather nice. First cast and the Spittin Wire sailed out into the tide race and I proceeded to work it slowly back towards me as Alan picked his way over the rocks to his bag 10m behind us.
Second cast and again I worked it back towards my perch whilst taking in the high cliffs surrounding us and just feeling what was going on through the rod. Third cast… The lure plops on the surface and I give it a few taps – but the lure feels like it has a strand of weed attached to the hooks, therefore, I give it a quick pull across the surface (no more than 8″ perhaps) and then leave the lure to lay motionless for five seconds… BOOM!
I saw the fish hit the lure like a torpedo at a range of 35m I’d say, and that same time the rod just wrenched over and stayed there as the bass took off! I’d explained to Alan earlier how I like to set the drag, which was why I knew it was a large and powerful bass almost instantly by the way it tore 5m of line off the spool in a matter of seconds, before shaking its head and thrashing on the surface.
By now I had Alan’s full attention, and I saw him scramble as quickly as he could to grab my net and make his way over to my side. At the same time the bass had decided to swim towards me slowly – gradually powering away to my left in the process… “It’s a big one mate” I said to him, and with that the fish again breeched the surface only 4m out from the ledge we were standing on “Wow! We said, simultaneously!
It was decision time, and with this beast attempting (twice) to dive for the bottom and around the sharp edges of our platform I made the call to utilise the gentle swell, rather ask my client to net her (the fish was longer than the outer rim of the net anyway!) and bring this beauty onto dry land – the relative softness of his lure rod made this easier it has to be said. Success! She was ours!
I was shaking with excitement (bass like this mean a lot) and Alan was congratulating me as he took a couple of fantastic photographs under real pressure, as I was keen to return her after what had been a fairly short but brutal battle. Measuring 68cm I’d guess her weight to have been a minimum of 7lb but most probably around the 7½lb mark – a real cracker!
I felt terrible though and I just kept apologising to him. This should have been HIS bass, not mine – pure and simple. But to his immense credit, Alan was exceptionally philosophical about the entire event and was genuinely happy for me – stating straight away that it just marvellous to have witnessed such a beautiful bass being caught and released.
I encouraged him to take the rod and start fishing again immediately, but typically he didn’t get a touch in the final hour that we remained on that mark. My plan was always to take him to a nearby cove a short drive around the coast, in order to utilise a needlefish in darkness (something that he was eager to experience) and he did indeed land what transpired to be his first two lure caught bass ever from the shore.
For me though that wasn’t enough. And this friendly 70 year old, who’d followed me across a good 2 miles of coastal path and rocks deserved more – which is why I have accredited him with a further 8 hour session for free that he will use later in the year. It’s your turn next time Alan and again, I am so sorry!!!!! Below is a transcript of the email he sent me the next day.
“Marc, many, many thanks again for an excellent day. You taught me much and the locations were stunning. It was also a privilege to see that beautiful 7lb’r caught and released, it will live with me for many days. Thanks again and greatly looking forward to the next time.”
I have just finished off a tube of ibuprofen 🙂
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Book – ‘The Lure of The Bass’ by Marc Cowling
A modern approach to catching European Sea Bass on lures by Marc Cowling.
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