My Recent Catches – Frosty Bass…
After taking a bit of a break from blog writing duties for the past month (it’s always good to recharge your batteries I think) I have a number of posts that I have half-written about lure rods and the lures that I have purchased this winter in readiness for the coming season. Additionally, I have some actual catches to talk about!
My word it has been tough! I don’t think I can recall such a lengthy period of wet n’ windy weather (since mid-September effectively) and it’s almost as if the weather Gods are making up for the lack of south-westerlies over the past few years by delivering low pressure system after low pressure system to our shores – surely the jet stream has got to let up soon!?
There are definitely bass close inshore and feeding here in the South West of England though, but rather frustratingly, the conditions that proved highly conducive to catching them last winter have materialised both sporadically and fleetingly so far this season. Yes, it’s very mild, but personally, I would prefer it to be calm and cold to be honest – as it is these conditions that greatly assisted me to enjoy what was a ‘bumper’ January-March period with the lures this time last year – mostly within the hours of darkness.
Shock to the system
Around two weeks ago however, a potent area of high pressure (topping out at a UK record 1050Mb I believe) meant that, for a few days and nights at least, the sea settled and cleared enough for me to venture out to some of my previous winter ‘hot spots.’ Scrapping ice of the windscreen has been something of a rarity this winter, and when you’re having to complete this task in the evening prior to heading for a ‘night sesh’ it is a shock to the system – as is actually stood fishing on seaweed that has frozen in the minus 3ºC air temperature!
So with some hot chocolate in my belly, four layers draped around me and a nice new warm hat keeping me relatively ‘toasty’ I commenced the session by casting my white Wave Worm Bamboo Stick (here) into an area where I know the ebbing tide causes the water to ‘quicken’ over a shingle bank, interspersed with some patches of weed and rock – the type of ground where bass will hold up, providing the current isn’t too strong, and providing they are even around of course!
I’d been fishing for about an hour when, just as I detected increased pressure on the braid, and through the (absolutely amazing) rod I have been testing via a pulse in the tide, I decided to speed up the retrieve following the next cast. After letting the lure touch the seabed, ten turns in and BANG! I was in! The drag on my exceedingly light and exceptionally smooth Shimano Vanquish C3000HG here (please don’t call me a tackle tart!!!) gave a slight ‘buzz’, but the power of the rod subdued the fish quickly, and after a bout of head shaking I saw the bass just under the surface and only a few metres from my stance in the knee deep water.
It was a decent fish for the final third of January at 50cm – one that was very neatly hooked through the top of the mouth on the 6/0 Owner Twistlock hooks I use here. Bizarrely perhaps, I don’t wear gloves when I am fishing (even when the temperature is sub-zero) which meant I could actually feel the warmth of the water as I quickly returned this very welcome bass – my first of 2020 incidentally.
I fished on, now bristling with enthusiasm, but as time ticked by the thoughts of my warm bed became more and more difficult to resist… Finally, after fishing for nearly five hours, with frost/ice now forming on my bag and with only one further ‘tap’ on the rod tip the reward for my exertions, I decided to call it a night. Below is a short video of my bass being returned.
Bang on high!
A few nights later I was at it again – this time on the mark that had produced five bass to the Wave Worm up to 58m during the settled spell we experienced in early December (you can read this blog post here). Despite it now being the final week of January I was pretty confident I would catch a bass – although I wasn’t expecting any monsters.
I fished hard for the first two hours of this session without any interest whatsoever, but bang on high water, I felt a tap through the rod at a range of about 40m, followed immediately by a good take – seemingly the quicker pace and continuing with the retrieve (and not pausing after the initial hit) had enticed the modest bass above into making a more decisive attack.
Around 15 minutes later, and just as I felt the first pull of the ebbing tide through my set up, I made a cast slightly to my left so to retrieve the lure with the direction of the flow. ‘Plop’, the lure splashed on the calm but slightly rippled surface (there was slight crosswind during this evening) and the rod was pulled down sharply as a bass nailed the soft plastic on the drop – yes! It put up a spirited little battle it has to be said, and I was a tad disappointed when I saw the fish cruising towards me in the now very clear (for the time being at least) water.
What will February bring?
Thereafter the wind and rain has returned, but I have managed to venture out a couple of times in the dark when I could get out of the wind, but have sadly blanked – although I did hook one and lost it only seconds later (it wasn’t big however). I really haven’t been bothering in daylight, as I’m still busy completing DIY at home and I just feel, based on last year’s experiences, that I have a greater chance of connecting with something more substantial at night. That said, an acquaintance of mine recently landed a superb 63cm bass on a small paddle tail lure in daylight – so if I get the chance I might just attempt this tactic in the right environment – weather permitting also of course!
I keep checking the long range forecast weather charts at least twice a day in the hope that at week’s worth of offshore winds, or even better, very little wind develops into February – a time of year when the jet stream often runs out of steam. I won’t just head out in all conditions searching for a lure caught bass however, as I am busy behind the scenes of my South Devon Bass Guide operation at present and will, therefore, only sneak out when I think I really I have a chance of catching – lets see what February brings…
Sea Angler Article
Although it is only available until Wednesday 5th February (before the next issue comes out) I have an article in the current edition (Issue 579) of Sea Angler Magazine depicting how I went about my bass lure fishing, and the techniques related to my catches, last winter. If you miss it, then back copies can be purchased here.
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