My Recent Catches – Inkling pays off…
I briefly mentioned a successful solo session I completed a couple of blog posts ago, that I enjoyed during the first week of December – when the wind, rain and sea state relented enough for me ‘test out’ a new venue…
Now that we’re officially into winter, I have decided to continue with the strategy that served me well last time around – which is to alternate between fishing a completely new mark on one session, and then a proven venue on the next. Yes, I could just keep fishing all the marks that produced for me last December through to early April this year, but the way I see it, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing this.
In reality, there’s absolutely no shame in blanking during the colder months (as you can’t catch what simply isn’t there), and by fishing the marks that I’ve taken a fancy to, even if I don’t catch, I know I will learn a great deal about each new venue, and indeed, a little more about the ones that I might think I already know intimately…
I’d had my eye on this particular venue for almost two years, therefore, once I realised that the sea had cleared enough to warrant fishing it, and that the weather was set calm, I decided to go for it. I’m often asked how I ‘find’ my marks, and the truth is I do initially interrogate Google Earth – the desktop version with the historic imagery. But clearly, it’s not as simple as zooming into the coastline on a screen – you need to know what to look for in the first place of course.
What I tend to look for nowadays is a similar, almost identical, ‘feature’ set within the seabed… It could be anything from a protruding (at high tide) rock that is exposed to the tide/current and that the bass could position themselves around, a fairly obvious depression or standalone structure in the seabed, or even a gully or inlet that I believe bass will patrol through at some stage in the tide. Plus, I do like ‘drop offs’ – ledges and the like, in addition to areas where the tide ‘back eddies’ – more on that in a future post…
Principally, I have a kind of ‘blueprint’ for the types of ground (the topography of the seabed) that I think could produce bass… And once I know exactly what I am scrutinising the coastline for, what I do is search for specific venues/marks that face a multitude of different directions – be it East, West, South, West and everything in between.
So with the above in mind, if I am bass lure guiding or fishing in daylight then, generally speaking, I prefer marks that are exposed to the wind/swell/waves. Whereas conversely, if I am planning to head out in darkness, then I like the wind (if there is any) behind me so that I am safe (as much as I/we possibly can be) and fishing in calm/clear sea conditions – 95% of the time from a beach (of sorts) and into shallow water (sub 8ft) rather than rocks and deep water.
As you’ll have no doubt notice in the photograph above, there is a tasty looking gully that leads directly from the open sea (where there is a pronounced drop off incidentally into very deep water) and into an expanse of reef. This reef is a myriad of clefts, rock pools, seaweed and A4 + A3-sized stones that can easily be overturned – food central basically.
Oddly, although this is happening more and more often on the ‘new marks’ that I am systematically discovering, I haven’t caught a bass here in daylight despite many attempts and in varying sea and tidal conditions. This however, doesn’t bother me in the slightest, as the more I am learning about lure fishing for bass in darkness, the more I am finding (and confirming to a certain extent) that some of more consistent venues seem to only produce at night.
This particular mark is only affected by a minimal amount of laterally running tidal movement, even though it is quite a large beach. My plan of action for this ‘night raid’ was to concentrate solely on casting my white Wave Worm again and again into that red-ringed area, allow it to touch the seabed, and then to retrieve it very slowly (one full turn every two seconds) all the way to the rod tip.
Returning to my blueprint, this is precisely the type of feature that has produced dozens and dozens of bass, primarily at night, to my clients and I. So even though it was the first week of December and, therefore, winter, in addition to the fact that I’d never dangled a lure here in darkness, I felt confident I would catch a bass – even if it was small…
Driving to the mark, even though the Sun had only recently set, the thermometer on my car dashboard was telling my it was already 2ºC – meaning it would be (with a frost forecast) the coldest night I had been out fishing since March. Can you imagine the excitement I was feeling as I traipsed through the soggy fields and then across a large plinth of rock (I do walk on rocks at night, I just don’t tend to fish from them) around to my cove for the evening! These are the moments you live for if you love your fishing!
Blimey it felt cold tonight! I was fishing with the Wave Worm and really, really trying to concentrate on casting into the precise area (I’d arrived on the mark in the final minutes of daylight in order to get my bearings) and sticking religiously to my retrieve rate, when the rod hooped over and I subsequently landed a 50cm bass. Well, well!
I was warming up now alright! And within 15 minutes I found myself attached to a slightly smaller bass that I quickly measured at 47cm – not bad… Then, about 10 minutes later and right at the start of the retrieve, something that I knew instantly was better, hit the lure only 5m of the rod tip – maybe this one had followed the lure all the way in?
After landing this one I unhooked it rapidly – so to capture a few shots on the 10 second timer (with the camera resting on top of my bag!). I then quickly measured and returned the cracking winter bass of 58cm (around 4½lb) above. Literally three casts later and I was in again! This time, the bass (another fish of 50cm) took the lure around ten turns into the retrieve – more or less where the gully narrows in the photograph.
After returning my fourth bass (all landed and safely returned within a 35 minute window) I was absolutely brimming with happiness and confidence! But the bass had now seemingly moved on, as within the next hour or so (and over the high tide period) I didn’t receive any more interest.
Undeterred, on my way back to the car I decided to stand and fish from the rocky plinth that I’d crossed earlier in the session, in order to target a similar looking gully. I was happy to stand on this rock as it was as calm as can be, and I was only fishing into around 4ft of water at this point now that the tide was ebbing. WHACK! On the fifth cast another bass of 48cm decided to jump on the Wave Worm – what a session!
The weather since my visit to this mark has been shockingly bad and the wind/weather conditions that I am looking for just haven’t materialised over the high tide period that is required to fish it – it is annoying, but I guess it is December. Who knows when I’ll be able to return, but I can tell you, that, alongside hunting for similar venues to this one, I will be checking all the forecast weather models daily to see when I can fish here again (or on may of my marks in darkness), with a reasonable chance of connecting with a bass.
I’ve only been out fishing in anger twice (I have ventured out a few times in order to test a new rod however) since this last session due to the weather, but looking back over last winter’s records in my diary, and the catches I achieved in January, February and March on lures, I am very, very excited! I wonder what this winter will bring…?
Having smashed the 1000 book sales barrier back in August, I am pleased to say that in the run up to Christmas I have received a lot of emails from wives and girlfriends asking if they can purchase my book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ for their hubbies. I do have copies in stock, therefore, if you would like to purchase a copy please get in touch via the Contact Form below or you can pay directly via the PayPal button (also 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.