Client Catches – Out of the gloom…
If you’re a regular visitor to my blog then you’ll know that I do like a rather ‘apt’ title to my posts… Well this one is no different as it refers to gradually coming out of the ‘COVID gloom’ in regards to commencing my guiding season, in addition to the first of a series of short depictions, based in this instance on part of the reason why I think my client (Scott) managed to land four nice bass (including his first ever on a lure incidentally) during the later stages of his recent session with me.
Firstly, what is with the weather over the past few years? We seem to have gone from the coldest, snowiest, winter for years into the hottest, driest summer in 2018, to the wettest winter in 2019/20, to the sunniest April to what must be the windiest ever June surely in 2020! I won’t lie, these extremes have combined to make life extremely difficult as a guide at times, as I am positive that it affects the prey items that the bass feed upon in terms of their migratory patterns – all of which have a knock-on affect when attempting to locate what can be a capricious species at the best of time!
It was during one of these exceptionally windy periods early this month that I met Scott – a formidable bait fisherman who is usually found slithering around the muddy reefs of the Bristol Channel launching 7oz weights and pennel rigs out into the chocolate-coloured waters for smooth-hound, cod and ray. Well, at least he would be home on the first mark that I chose! Due to the huge sections of the open coast and the associated beaches being littered with either heaps of weed and/or tiny weed fragments, I reasoned that casting a lure out for 8 hours only to spend probably 70-80% of the time picking ‘crap’ off of the line probably wasn’t what my client wanted to achieve!
Up the creek
You guessed it – our initial venue for my client to fish would be a long way up a south Devon river system! Our initial venue served a number of purposes though: firstly, alongside producing good numbers of modest-sized bass over the past few seasons to my clients, I have witnessed some real monsters up what is essentially a stinking, muddy creek! Secondly, it would offer a modicum of shelter from what was a wicked south-westerly wind, and thirdly, it would enable me to teach my client the art of effectively ‘working’ a sliding surface lure – a technique and method that I believe will serve him well during his future ‘bass quests’ along the North Somerset and North Devon coastlines.
Arriving almost midway into the ebbing tide, we would need to wait a further thirty minutes or so for the water level to drop before we could safely access what I considered to be the real ‘hot-spot’ – ample time then for Scott to ‘perfect’ that walk-the-dog, snaking action of a little surface lure that I really like – the Bear King Slim Skimmer. He was a natural – the lightness and the steeliness of the HTO Nebula 270 7-35g and Shimano Stradic Ci4 C3000 MHG combining beautifully to aid that all important feel required to effortlessly work this type of lure without your wrist ‘cramping up’ within minutes!
For three hours Scott worked very hard in what was a swirling wind and swirling tide to tempt a bass onto the hooks, but no amount of variation in speed of retrieve or pauses administered to what are often fabulous lures on this particular mark (the Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire and Xorus Patchinko 100 respectively) was enough in the somewhat coloured water – something that isn’t usually a problem here…
My brain was ticking over the entire time Scott was fishing, and with Plan A, B, C and D flashing across my mind as I watched every cast and retrieve he made, just before dusk I decided on a thirty minute drive to a stretch that I reckoned could be just about fishable out on the coast, but with weedless soft plastics only. It looked and felt good as we got out of our (separate) cars and began the slog to the second venue – we were out of the wind as far as I could tell, plus, from a vantage point quarter-a-mile away from the mark the sea looked pretty calm too.
Hmmm, that water clarity is a bit ‘milky’ I thought to myself as I caught my first proper glimpse of the beach and the sea conditions gently lapping onto it thankfully. From experience of this mark, I know that the bass are often very close in, just waiting in the weedy margins at the bottom of the tide here and ready to pounce… Therefore, with this in mind, alongside wanting to gauge the amount of weed in the water, I asked Scott to attach the Slim Skimmer again.
Back on ‘The Snax’
A swirl first chuck, and then a small bass attempting to nail the surface slider on two separate casts was enough to convince me that we were on the right venue! Further, although the cloudiness to the water and the occasional ‘washing line full of weed’ I was confident that as the tide began to flood immediately into darkness, that my client would catch his first ever lure caught bass…
One other notable consideration tonight was the very bright near Full-Moon that had risen in the late afternoon and that had dominated the evening sky now that the low cloud had fully dispersed. It was due to set in the western sky, now more or less behind us, as dusk rolled into almost full-on darkness – I say ‘almost’ as we could actually see the horizon for the entirety of the session due to the Moon’s brightness.
Attaching what has previously been a very reliable lure on this mark, and one that wouldn’t ‘collect’ too much weed (unlike a needlefish with the hooks protruding it has to be said on this occasion) my old favourite the Albie Snax was dunked and was soon slaloming through the shallows enticingly…
This was intriguing… As Scott made his first cast, in darkness and out into a tide which had just started to flood, the Moon, although still high in the sky, was just about to reach the stage where it would soon set behind the very high cliff to our right. I could say that this was meticulous planning on my part, but the truth is, although I knew it would set on ‘our beach’ during the session, the fact that this was occurring earlier than I expected was a massive bonus.
After the inactivity on the previous mark and the promising signs during the twilight period I was hoping for a quick response now that Scott was casting the Albie Snax into the required area and retrieving it smoothly. Yep!! Fish!! he quipped, as stood (well apart) but side by side in the knee deep water, a bass of just over 2lb walloped the pearl-coloured lure halfway through the retrieve – they were here alright!
As the very bright Moon lowered further in the sky it started to create a shadow covering a section (at this stage anyhow) covering perhaps a third of the water in front of us. Now, I have experienced an event like this before when a client and I were stood on a similarly cosy cove a couple of years ago, when half of the water/beach was shrouded in darkness, with the other half well and truly illuminated. During this particular session, the only bass he caught were on the ‘dark side’ of the beach…
“Another knock” he said, as a cast over into the gloomier slice of mrror-like water yielded yet more interest from schools of bass that were presumably moving through on the quickening pace of the tide. A few casts later and “Yeah!” Scott was into another one of a similar size to his first, that he said after we’d returned had hit the lure a couple of times before snaffling it good and proper – they were hungry!
Unsurprisingly, given all the commotion within what I consider to be a fairly condensed area for bass lure fishing (you could fit two anglers on this mark, but not three) it went a little quiet for a spell. However, as is common on this mark, another shoal soon moved through as Scott again received a couple of knocks before latching into the biggest bass of the night – bettering his personal best in the process of course!
One of things I love about the Albie Snax (alongside being inexpensive, great to cast, in addition to being about as weedless as it gets) is its ease of use. Quite simply, all that is required is a steady ‘one turn per second’ type retrieve rate (or a little less if the water conditions are really tranquil, or a little more if the bass are being reticent in order to garner more of a positive attack) to cause the lure to perform that deadly ‘slalom.’
After returning the fish (below) it again went very quiet for a good forty-five minutes, before one more sub-2lb bass made a positive beeline for the lure, whereby yet another solid hook-up was achieved.
By the later stages of our time on this beach the Moon had disappeared well behind the cliff surrounding us, but it was most certainly not a coincidence that all of the ‘bites’ Scott received, in addition to the three fish that were landed prior to his final and forth bass of an enjoyable session all came from the portion of the reef enveloped in the shadow of the cliff.
In line with my instructions, Scott did make a high percentage of casts out into the area still ‘lit up’, but bar one tentative strike on the lure all of the action was coming from that ‘darker side’ as it were. For me, this epitomises why bass are revered as such menacing predators and dare I say it ‘intelligent’ creatures – the cover provided by the gloomier setting being ruthlessly exploited to the max.
Going forward, I am really looking forward to hearing from Scott, as he is a very natural lure fisherman I think – time to put the 13ft Zziplex rods and Penn Mags on eBay!
Reading positive recommendations of my book, in addition from receiving emails from people who have read it and put the information contained within to catch their first or just more bass is something that makes all the time and effort that went it extremely rewarding. Thank you – it is really, really appreciated. An independent review written by the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society can be found here.
I had recently sold out, however, I commissioned another batch and am expecting a delivery of my self-published title ‘The Lure of The Bass’ in the coming days. Therefore, if you’d like to be added to my waiting list then please do not hesitate to contact me via the form below: