My Recent Catches – Striking it lucky!
As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, a great deal of effort has gone into initially finding and then researching my marks over the past 29 years of bass lure fishing. I am bonkers admittedly, but at the last count I discovered I now have 173 proven bass venues, many of which are exceptionally specific gullies, mini-headlands, creeks, shingle coves and sections of reef encompassing various fishy features – all of which match an array of ‘blueprints’ that I like to work to.
Every one of my guided sessions is planned meticulously and down to what I believe is the finest detail possible, in order to place my clients onto a fish or two, whilst facilitating their requirements to the best of my ability. But every so often I do something crazy, and for me that involves just heading out fishing for a completely ‘ad-hoc’ session, to a stretch that I don’t know all that well, whereby I’ll just either look for potentials signs of bass or will simply trust everything to instinct – sometimes I blank spectacularly, and sometimes I get lucky – very lucky!
BBBB = Beach, Barbecue and a Big Bass…
I’d had a lovely day already – I’d been on the beach (first B) all afternoon and swimming in the sea for the first time this year, I’d stuffed my face at my Parents’ house courtesy of a BBQ (second B) they’d laid on for us, and as we arrived back home after an hour’s drive I was shattered from all the Sun and sea air. I had planned on going fishing, but things had just gotten a little too late to head to the mark I’d wanted to fish over the high tide period. So instead, I had a light snack, a cup of tea and just chilled on the sofa in order to decide whether to head out or not…
I’d guided a fair bit over the past week and my feet and knees were a little sore, however, a late cancellation had provided me with the opportunity to enjoy this glorious sunny day with my family, therefore, I reasoned that I should really make the most of the evening as well. Clearing it with HQ was surprisingly easy (she’s a diamond!) and within ten minutes of deciding I was going I was rattling through the lanes to my chosen stretch in search of the final ‘BB’ – a Big Bass!
On my way to where I’d need to park I’d changed my mind twice about where I was going to actually fish! All of the usual permutations were churning through my mind as I walked through the woods and along the narrow path – studs crunching the very dry gravel and small rocks littering the route. It had been particularly breezy that afternoon therefore, what would the sea state and clarity be like? Would there be any weed fragments in the water? Would the bait fish be close inshore? Should I concentrate on one are or move around?
Being decisive is a critical element to how I guide, yet here I was, walking above some glorious ground dithering about where I was going to even start – maybe I was too relaxed! Nope, not there as I reckon I’ve missed the best part of the tide. Not there as I’ve never caught anything over 3lb. Not there either as it’s too far a walk and if they don’t turn up it’ll waste to much time… Get a grip Marc! There! Gulls and Terns drifting in the tide around a promontory of rock jutting out into the current and that I’ve fancied fishing on an ebbing tide for a while – this really was Plan H by this time!
Boom Boom Bass!
The sea had calmed down remarkably quickly considering the strength of the wind earlier that afternoon therefore, I attached the wonderfully easy to use Xorus Pathinko 125 (in the now classic Lieu/500g configuration) and proceeded to fire it out into the vicinity of a currently submerged ‘van-sized’ rock surrounded by sand. Here, the presently invisible (to the naked eye) left-to-right movement of the tide would be disrupted by a plinth of rock just inside of this structure to create the ideal ‘confused’ section of water, that the gulls had also considered as the ideal ambush point for the thousands of whitebait, that would soon be swept through on the quickening flow…
To my right were a series of similar underwater features, some car-sized and some smaller however, all were interspersed with a sandy seabed. It looked exceedingly tasty his evening, and even though I was utterly ‘cream-crackered’ I just knew that I was going to catch if that makes sense? After about thirty minutes of fishing I was becoming a little restless though… I’d already walked a very long way to be here and I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to fish into darkness therefore, this was it – just then I saw a bass ‘boil’ on the surface, no doubt plucking some poor silvery morsel in the process! I of course made a cast to said area and as expected BOOM! a bass nailed the medium-sized ‘Patch.’
Thereafter, the floodgates opened! Instant swirls, bass hitting the lure as it plopped on the surface, kamikaze attacks and one occasion, even when a mackerel was already hooked a bass took the lure and the mackerel – it was insane! I don’t know how many I landed during that frantic thirty minutes, but I can tell you now that my right thumb (from holding the bass in their lower jaw) was shredded!
Without warning, the action just ceased – thank goodness, as it allowed me the chance to take a drink and douse my hands of the fishy slim that was accumulating on my seriously sexy lure rod (more on that in a review I promise, promise!). Hmmm, ‘let’s aim a cast somewhere different I thought’, whereby I launched the Patchinko 125 a good 50m over and behind a group of rocks rising perhaps 4m above the surrounding seabed and around 2m under the now oily late evening calmness to the water.
WALLOP! This felt better straight away as a good bass thrashed on the surface, before swimming around in an arc towards another series of rocks to my right – utilising the force of the tide to make good its attempt to ‘snag’ me. The Yamaga Blanks Ballistick TZ Nano 86M ‘eats up’ this kind of behaviour from a bass and with the drag set tightly (for me) on the Vanquish in anticipation of such manoeuvres and taking into consideration the nature of the ground I was fishing over, a ‘perfect’ 60cm bass was quickly landed and released (see photo and release video below).
Were the bigger bass lying in wait behind the rocks, sheltered out of the tide and just waiting to pick off the mackerel I wondered…? I made a cast in a different direction this time (my first cast after returning the 5lb bass) into a zone at least 60m away from my stance – that is how good this rod is at casting this and its bigger brother. Again, it struck the surface layer as close as I could get it to where I reckoned a collection of outer rocks were, according to the image I had just double checked on my phone courtesy of a Google Earth screenshot I’d stored on it a couple of years ago!
Rod down and slightly to my left side, so that I could create as much tension through the line and onto the lure as possible, in order to really make it ‘thrash around.’ The lure had made three or four flicks in separate directions from what I could make out when, in a blink of an eye, a truly massive swirl enveloped it – oh yes!!!!!
The whole tip section of the powerful rod thumped down, and a number of thuds reverberated through it at a range still exceeding 55m, as a big fish wallowed, shaking her head in frustration at being fooled by a piece of hard plastic… From this juncture, things were surprisingly straight forward from a recovering line point of view, as in reality, it just felt like I’d hooked a large clump of floating weed – winding in an old ‘sack of spuds’ springs to mind!
Was it a big bass, or is it a decent one that is foul hooked were my thoughts as I brought the fish in towards my stance a further 20m or so. This is when my thoughts shifted to those submerged rocks, the largest of which was directly in the trajectory that the fish was currently taking. I tried to turn her, as I knew I had about a metre, at best, between the surface and the rocky pinnacle – Ziiiiiiiiiiiiip went the drag! She wasn’t happy with this I can tell you as she dragged 10m of line off of the spool in a matter of seconds!!!!
Realising I was attached to something rather special my focus went into overdrive as I lowered the rod to the right and then high, in order to ‘persuade’ her away from that blasted rock (a great example of how understanding the topography of the seabed assists you to fish the fish, in addition to actually getting them in).Thud, thud, thud – I’m positive this was the bass bumping along the rock, but the she calmed down enough for me recover the line I’d just lost to her, as I aimed to bring her towards my ledge, that was currently and rather usefully at sea level, so that I could attempt to land this beast – one that I still hadn’t seen as yet.
As the braid sliced through the top layer of the water I could now sense that she was rising rapidly in the water column, whereby I estimated she would breech the surface around 3m from the sharp edge of my platform. “Steady Marc” I said to myself, as she duly splashed and turned right before me, the blank bucking as she spotted me and headed back out towards ‘that rock’ yet again – wow! Another 10m of line was yet again zipping off the spool of the Vanquish in the process.
At this stage, although I was thoroughly enjoying the battle and the moment, thoughts of ‘I’ll be gutted and bloody annoyed with myself if I lose this one’ started entering my head therefore, as I still had no idea how precarious the hook-hold was, I made a conscious decision to ‘bully’ this one up onto the ledge at the earliest opportunity – the moment of truth was imminent!
Rising again in the water column as I applied what I considered to be maximum levels of pressure, as what I was hoping and praying would be a ‘double’ surged towards me, somewhat lethargically this time, my eager eyes caught a glimpse. A huge mouth first, then her back, and then that gorgeous shimmering flank as this silver slab behaved within those crucial couple of seconds to allow me to slide her up onto the flat (ish) and wet rocks.
Once she was safely out of the drink I grabbed the leader in order to slide her out of the clutches of any swell (out of habit more than anything as there wasn’t any!) which was when I felt how heavy she was! Blimey! She really was a sack of spuds! Alongside her weight, two other things struck me: the size of her tail, and the absence of the Patchinko protruding from her mouth…
Sensing she was as completely knackered as I was (in my case both from the occurrences of the past few minutes and the exertions of day as a whole) I got to work very quickly as her wellbeing was now at the forefront of my every decision – indeed, I didn’t even think to measure her. Opening her massive mouth, I discovered the Patch 125 was perilously close to being swallowed, in addition to damaging her delicate inner gills should I make the wrong move whilst removing the hooks or allow her to squirm, flap or roll.
Success! By very carefully entering through her gills (this was the safest way for the fish during that moment), with surgical precision, I managed to un-pick the two prongs that I was most concerned about, followed by the two that were almost lodged in her throat by placing my entire hand (plus the forceps) in her mouth – I know it all sounds a bit grim, but it’s important to capture the reality of the situation and the approach to take should you find yourself in a similar situation.
Lucky, Lucky, Lucky
Clearly, not only had I been extremely lucky to have stuck ‘silver’ as it were, in regards to the numbers and the size of the bass I’d managed to land, but as I’d just photographed and returned the previous very decent bass I still had the camera resting on top of my lure box and set to the good old ten second timer. ‘One shot, and if that isn’t good enough then so be it, as I have to get this wonderful fish back in the water’ were my continual thoughts.Again, I got lucky, as although it’s far from the perfect photograph I was very happy with it under the pressured circumstances.
Blimey she was a beast! Judging by her weight, added the fact that I’d handled that confirmed 60cm fish only minutes prior I estimated this one to have been an easy 70cm and over 8lb in weight. I held her up and ‘Click’ – done… She’d been out of the water for around ninety seconds now, so it was a case of immediately placing her into the nearest section of water in order to recuperate and hopefully swim away, relatively none the worse for the experience.
I was lucky once more, as following a few huge gulps of the oxygenated water her pectoral fins started to flicker and her body tensed as she realised a pasty-loving bass hunter was doing his utmost to revive and care for her. A shake of the head as if to say ‘get your hand off of my jaw’ and then, whilst steadying her substantial bulk with my other hand, she flicked her tail and was instantly cruising both menacing and elegantly out of the most perfect miniature inlet and the clearest water you could imagine. I didn’t capture the moment on video, but sometimes a memory is more than enough…
The Lure of The Bass
If you would like to learn more about my self-published title ‘The Lure of The Bass’ then a breakdown of what is encompassed within the chapters can be found here. Furthermore, an independent review written by the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society can be read here.
I have a limited amount of books currently available to purchase therefore, if you would like to enquire then please complete the contact form below, or alternatively, to purchase direct you can utilise the PayPal button at the bottom of this post.
The Lure of The Bass
A modern approach to catching European Sea Bass on lures by Marc Cowling.