My Recent Catches – Back on form!
November is always a ‘funny’ month when it comes attempting to catch a bass on a lure. If the weather is on your side then the fishing can be spectacularly good, but if it’s wild then it can be soul destroying at times. And herein lies the conundrum… Do you head out and brave what you know and understand from previous experiences perhaps aren’t exactly conducive conditions (such as murky water or a wind direction and/or strength hampering you) or do you just ‘get on with it’ and get out there and give it a try anyway in the hope that you might learn something?
After being out on a gorgeously crisp autumnal morning/early afternoon with a new client of mine (a session in which he landed three small bass from the surf and that he was delighted about) I decided that, after scoffing a pasty, that I should venture to a nearby snaggy cove to fish the late afternoon, dusk and into the early darkness.
As always, I had an ulterior motive – that was on this occasion to ‘test out’ a venue in conditions that I hadn’t fished it in before… It was, after all, an ad-hoc session in which the fishing, overall, had been in the doldrums somewhat – with only small bass landed for my clients and I in the previous week or so. I reasoned therefore, that I had nothing to lose by fishing this mark in relatively murky and less than calm sea conditions – just to see if it would yield anything outside of the very clear and flat calm circumstances that had normally and historically produced here. Why not? I thought…
Usually when I plan to fish in darkness I prefer the wind (if there is any) to be on my back or straight in my face – the reason being that it greatly assists me to retrieve and work the lures more effectively and efficiently, whilst retaining that all important ‘contact’ with them – especially in regards to the weedlesss weightless soft plastics or needlefish lures that I love to use at night.
When I arrived on the mark the wind was bloody howling! What’s more, this wicked wind was travelling parallel to the shoreline in a left to right direction. However, what was even more significant, was that it was blowing in the opposite direction to what the tide would soon be moving in – often a tricky predicament, but more on that later…
After casting and retrieving one of my favourite lures from last season (a small, shallow diving hard minnow – the Daiwa Shoreline Shiner Z97F here ) it was doing a fine job of combatting the wind and swimming in the direction I wanted it to. But… After a period of zero action from a fish perspective, I theorised the bass were more likely to be hunting close to the seabed in these conditions, or lying in wait within the specific depressions that I was targeting (as they usually are on this mark) rather than actively transiting through – due to the fact that it was now getting close to the top of what was, for the time being, a slackening tide.
The Sun had now set, and with dusk upon me I considered a few more options (such as a deeper diving hard minnow or a paddletail chuntering along the rocks) before deciding to change the lure to something that I could retrieve very slowly, and that would by virtue of this retrieve speed, remain very close to, if not practically on the bottom, but without continually snagging up.
On the drop (again)
With the wind just too strong to keep the smaller Wave Worm Bamboo sticks or an OSP DoLive Stick down deep for a suitable length of time (due to the wind picking up and dragging the braid), rather than switching to a belly-weighted version of the Owner Twistlock 5/0 hooks here I clipped on one of the weightless, but slightly heavier (at 18g) Insane Creations Bass Slayers in Ghost White instead.
This is a soft plastic that I have a lot of confidence in (and one that I cannot find in stock anywhere I’m afraid) when the wind and/or tidal conditions dictate its use above the lighter, smaller but ever so slightly more subtle Wave Worms.
I couldn’t say exactly, but I imagine it was on around the tenth cast, and after tightening up on the lure as it plopped on the surface around 35m out (I could still see this as it wasn’t by any means fully dark) and after allowing it to descend for around seven seconds that I felt a solid THUMP through my new rod and reel (more on what I am now using in a future ‘My Recent Catches’ post). Yet again, a bass had grabbed one of these soft stick-baits or senkos on the drop!
I thought I’d set the drag fairly tight – tighter than I had done for some time, primarily because I am still getting used to the softer feel to what is an extremely light, sensitive yet powerful lure rod and because I didn’t want a fish getting the better of me within the numerous snags peppering this venue. This fish did, however, drag 3-4m of line off of me, before I managed to tighten the drag right down and went about ‘bullying’ (for want of a better phrase) this fish up and into the surface layers.
The fish wanted to remain deep though, and when it started to kite to my right I really fought back and turned it – with the rod bent and bucking wildly in the process. But with a big boil on the surface and a couple of slow splashes and headshakes later I found myself more or less stood over the fish – and a rather nice one too.
I measured her quickly and took some rapid photos (as she flipped around on the beach (threatening to damage my new set up!) before holding her up and taking a quick ‘grip and grin’ on the 10 second timer. Placing her back in the water, I enjoyed the moment – watching her meander back just below the surface with her dorsal fin erect – a wonderful sight in the gloom that was being suppressed by the newly risen, and very bright, full Moon.
I fished on full of anticipation well into full darkness (sort of) as the tide began to ebb in the complete opposite direction to the increasing annoying and strengthening wind. If you’d turned up on the mark and had never seen it before, every single component (that was the waves and the overall movement of the top layer of the water being influenced by the wind) would tell you that the water was moving left to right. However (and this is vitally important to your chances when lure fishing for bass) I knew that the tidal flow was now, in actual fact, moving right to left, and that any bass now hitching a ride on the flow would be travelling in this direction.
There was no way that I could cast and retrieve any soft plastic effectively now (even with a belly-weighted hook inserted through it), therefore, I returned to the Shoreline Shiner that would ‘track’ on a steady depth and trajectory and began to utilise the energy of the wind to propel the lure even further than it would already fly, before essentially retrieving it against the movement of the waves, but with the direction of the quickening and ebbing tide. First cast, and BANG! A 2lb bass walloped the lure and was duly landed and returned!
I’d been out all day now and was very happy, albeit cold and hungry, therefore, I called time at this juncture and returned home for a steak and red wine pie! It went down well too with a beer, as I sat and reflected on the pleasing 5lb bass I’d landed in far from ideal conditions based on what I had previously experienced on this mark – all of which has now been added to my fishing diary for future reference…
I hope that this short post highlights a couple of clear examples of when a sub-surface hard minnow type lure is more suitable to utilise, alongside the fact that you should never discount lure fishing in darkness under a ‘big Moon’ – it certainly doesn’t put me off! Above all though, it emphasizes the importance of being ‘in it to win it’ by being out there on the shoreline and giving it a go and fishing a mark in as many differing conditions as possible. And finally (but crucially too), it provided me with the confidence that the south Devon coastline is returning to form again after the bloody awful weather we’ve had to endure!
Thanks for reading.
Nice work Mr C. November is an odd month and usually when I risk it and take a chance the water is like chocolate and I wished I’d stayed at home, one day hey! Lovely looking fish.
Pasty, steak and red wine pie with a beer , sounds like heaven. Could you recommend Mark some good treble salt water hooks to replace ones that are due for replacement.
I’m very lucky here in South Devon with the water clarity. The Owner Stingers are excellent trebles.