My Recent Catches – A prosperous week!
Oh, how I was looking forward to having a couple days to myself over the half-term holiday. It goes without saying that I happily completed and thoroughly enjoyed spending some time with my family, but once I’d earnt a few ‘brownie points’ I was sharpening the hooks, replacing the braid and scrutinising my charts, notes and the weather forecasts in preparation for a some ‘me time!’ And this is how I got on…
I actually couldn’t believe my luck… I had an evening to myself, it wasn’t peeing down with rain (for a change!) and the wind had dropped out precisely when the forecasters had predicted it to do so! And as I wondered along the shore I took it all in – the sounds, the smell, the excitement and the sense of anticipation that goes with just knowing you’re potentially in for a great session. I won’t lie, as much as I love guiding my clients it was sheer bliss to be out on my own.
It was almost dark (dusk) when I arrived on my chosen mark, therefore, I attached what is becoming my go-to lure when faced with lovely clear, calm, shallow water covering a multitude of seabed types – a black Wave Worm Bamboo Stick. Out it went, I tightened up on it as it sank and started to retrieve it at a moderate pace once I it had touched the seabed.
There was a sharp tap straight away but no hook up! A pity yes, but the good news was that there were clearly fish about and that they were feeding. Ten casts later, and just as I was thinking about swapping the lure for the white version, there was a tremendous THUD on the rod! it was on, and it felt pretty good!
I didn’t really want to whack the headtorch on at this stage, as I could sense there were quite a few bass around I didn’t want to risk them dispersing. Therefore, I tentatively brought the fish up onto the shingle – success! Or rather not! Just as I placed my rod down next to what I estimated to be a 3½lb bass it decided to go berserk – throwing the large 6/0 weedless hook in the process, before wriggling back into the water and darting off at breakneck speed! I wasn’t too upset to be honest though as this was obviously a good start to proceedings!
After re-tying my leader knot by joining the excellent Savage Gear HD8 Silencer 20lb dark green braid (that I have been using for 18 months now) to the 19lb Seaguar fluorocarbon I like, I recommenced with the white Wave Worm from here on, as it was now properly dark. Incidentally, the knot that I’ve been using for a few years now is called an Alberto Knot (below).
Everything just went completely and beautifully silent – except for the gentle lapping of the sea against the rock behind me as the sea level gradually crept up. I remained in the rhythm of casting and retrieving, and my thoughts reverted to moments on this venue when the bass had stealthily moved in and announced themselves via a vicious attack on the lure seemingly out of nowhere.
Just then, as I allowed the lure to sink back to the seabed again in the 7ft of water, and just as I began to turn the handle, the rod bucked and slammed over and the line was concurrently torn off the spool against what I thought was quite a tight drag. What a moment, and one that I haven’t personally experienced enough over the last few months.
Blimey did she take some line! And although I felt in control there was one hairy moment when I felt the fish ‘bump’ into a submered rock that has cost me in the past. But by keeping the rod high and enjoying that powerful ‘nodding’ that a good-sized bass transmits through the carbon, your arm and your wrist I brought her up onto the surface before steering her safely a couple of metres to my right onto the shingle – that felt good!At 62cm I was chuffed to bits, and by my estimation I still had a good two hours of the most opportune part of the tide to fish!
I ended the session with another bass of 54cm and a couple of more in the mid-high 40s, all landed on my ‘mutant’ Major Craft rod comprising the butt section of a Skyroad 862ML and the tip section of 862ML X-Ride (don’t ask!) coupled with a Shimano Stradic Ci4 C3000HG (that I have been extremely happy with) that I purchased from Osborne & Cragg in Plymouth here.
Two days later, I managed to obtain permission from my VERY understanding Wife to head out on an all-day session! But rather than head out on the town (those days are long gone!) I concocted a plan that would involve fishing a long way up a south Devon estuary in daylight, before driving to one of my favourite sheltered coves tucked in out the breeze for an evening/night event – via a pub dinner of course!
With my fishing companion John in tow, we embarked on our fishing epic brimming with confidence of what the day might bring – and we weren’t disappointed! Third cast for John and he hit into a feisty 2½lb bass – what a great start!
But it was a deeper pool that I’ve been eyeing up for months on Google Earth in the final part of ebb what was driving me to test out this brackish lagoon in general. So after a fruitless hour and a half working our matching Spittin Wire lures I decided that it was time to stretch our legs to the tune of a ¾ mile hike over the most slippery and slimy foreshore I have ever had the displeasure of walking on!
It was worth it though! First cast into ‘the pool’ with a surface lure I have come to love – nothing… Second cast, plop, wriggle, roll, splash…. ALMIGHTY SPLASH! as a bass completely obliterated the 95mm and rather ugly piece of plastic! I actually had no idea how big the fish was until it was about 5m away from me in the water, as all it did the whole way in was shake its head angrily and thrash around on the surface! But at 56cm, I think it was just reward for taking a punt on the mark – one that I will definitely return to in the future…
I landed another (small) bass from ‘the pool’ and on our way back John landed second 47cm fish that had whacked the Spittin Wire in a zone of fast moving water on the fresh flood. I had to pull him away (he’s keener than me!) but I was hungry, alongside fancying a pint! Therefore, we drove to a nearby pub for arguably the finest fish and chips in the South Hams, safe in the knowledge that we had a potentially excellent session in darkness to look forward to.
The night shift
We both agreed that it had been a fantastic day already, but the mark we were about to fish can produce some big ones! Therefore, it was with that sense of anticipation yet again that we stepped out onto pebbles and soft shingle for the night shift…
With a bit of ‘chop’ on the surface initially I attached a slightly larger white senko/soft stick-bait called an Insane Creations Bass Slayer. I like this pattern a lot, as they remain below the surface on most retrieve speeds (bar very fast) when the braid is being blown around and a lighter yet similar lure is at risk of being dragged to the surface too quickly. I can’t find any of the ghost white 6″/18g versions in stock presently, but I believe the site here is the most likely to stock them.
As expected, about an hour before high tide things switched on. I felt a sharp ‘dig’ at the lure and a spirited battle commenced, resulting in a plump bass of around 3lb, before it’s twin put in an appearance too. John, who was a further 60m down the beach, latched into one of a similar size, before it all went quiet again…
From experience, I actually like it when this happens – which might appear a little strange! However, I believe that if you’ve been catching and there is a fair chance that bass are feeding avidly around the coastline, that if the bites suddenly cease, then it could mean that a larger stamp of fish (or a seal!) are moving in…
Now that the wind had completely dropped out I decided to switch to the 5″/13g white Wave Worm and began to retrieve it quickly for the first half of the retrieve, allowing it to sink for four or five seconds, and then recommencing with the same retrieve again – the method that had accounted for the 62cm fish a few nights earlier of course.
Furthermore, as I’d been hit many, many times very close to me on this mark (more so than anywhere else) I wanted to keep the lure well under the water all the way back to the rod tip without the use of a belly-weighted hook – ultimate subtlety is the name of the game in these conditions I believe.
Five minutes later, about three turns into the ‘second’ stage of the retrieve, I felt quite possibly the hardest, sharpest and most rod wrenching yank on the rod I have ever experienced as a bass, a good one too, utterly nailed the Wave Worm about 8m from my stance – WOW! I’d had a feeling one of us was going to hook a proper bass, therefore I’d set my drag a little tigther than usual.
But it didn’t make an awful lot of difference, as this fish pulled 4m of line from me on three separate occasions during the battle, before wildly splashing in front of me after swimming directly at me in the final seconds of the scrap. It felt heavy on my makeshift set up throughout, and when I saw its mouth gaping under the beam I knew it was one the largest I’ve caught this season. And as I beached her John came running over “What a beauty Marc! Look at the size of that! Look at her belly! he said.
I was ecstatic as you can imagine! But I have to pay homage to John, as he could easily have congratulated me (which he did of course), turned his back and continued fishing knowing that there were good fish sniffing about. But instead, he remained in order to capture the most perfect photograph (above) on my camera and one that really defines the moment. I was, therefore, really pleased for him when he went on to land two other bass that night, including a chubby 56cm fish. Well done mate!
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