Client Catches – Odds-on favourite
As you may well of read within my most recent posts, or indeed experienced yourself, the amount of bait fish around our coastline this summer has been staggering. In conjunction with this, the bass fishing has ‘at times’, been equally exceptional…
I say ‘at times’, because as is often the case when the chasing bass at this time of the year, they can be there, hanging around a certain headland, bay or cove in vast numbers, intent on smashing your lure to pieces during one tide – yet when you return on the next tide, more often than not they would have vanished… Is there a way then of narrowing the odds, or as I am always attempting to do, placing more of them in your favour in this scenario?
When you observe mackerel harassing the white bait well within the confines of an estuarine environment it is inevitable that the bass won’t be far behind! So having witnessed this on three separate occasions, and on three separate river systems the previous week (whilst walking/swimming with my family or testing out a fishing mark myself), with my clients in mind, I decided to ‘return’ to some of the more brackish venues that produced for us last season.
Now, when the white bait ‘fixation’ is occurring out on the open coast, the frightened prey and the eager predators can, out of fear (in the case of the prey) and greed (the predators) travel vast distances in quite a short time – both into the shallows, or more frustratingly of course, out of casting range altogether. Clearly, although this can still occur within the confines of a creek or the mud flats of a tidal lagoon, generally speaking, if you can position yourself within a zone whereby the tide is ‘overpowering’ the bait fish (and to a certain extent the following mackerel and bass) then you will massively increase your chances – this I believe, has been the key to our recent successes.
By leaning towards this tactic, within these types of environment over the past fortnight, in addition to utilising small surface lures such as the Patchinko 100, to mimic bait fish scattering, fleeing or being attacked and drawing in the predators, has resulted in a lot of bass being landed by my clients.
So with the open coast proving to be a little too ‘hit n’ miss’ for my liking, with my clients’ request to improve how they work and retrieve surface lures in mind, I decided to maximise their chances by placing them onto a stretch swept by a strong laterally-running tide courtesy of a deep, muddy channel within casting range. Here, they would be ‘odds-on’ in my opinion for a bumper session, on what had recently been one of my most productive venues.
Mark and Louis were my guests during this guided session – one that they’d driven all the way down from Somerset to enjoy. After checking their drag settings, leader-knots, tweaking their casting technique ever-so-slightly and providing some instruction on how to maximise the brilliant and bass-attracting qualities of the ‘baby Patch’, their almost matching lures were quickly plopping, zigzagging and splashing across the millpond-like water of the upper estuary and miles from the open sea.
With Mark operating close to an area of wrack, and Louis targeting a secondary culvert (where I’ve nailed many a bass) that peals off of the main channel, it was Louis who shouted first – “Yeah – Fish!” It was only a baby, but after returning this bristling little bass, thereafter I could sense the confidence soar in both of my clients.
Although a rather underwhelming venue at first glance, I think it was my description of the underwater topography, in addition to how I thought the bass would navigate through the area that really solidified their now highly receptive approach – something that was cemented as Louis latched into something that had me purring with delight!
The shout of “taking line” is definitely one of my favourite phrases, and with Louis battling with a much more substantial bass hell-bent on dragging him into the wrack, he did a great job of subduing his prize enough for me to wade in and slide the net under her. It wasn’t a monster, but if every one of my clients landed a 51cm/3lb+bass I’d be a very, very happy man.
The bass were most definitely ‘on it’ today – in fact I’d go so far as to say they were rampant, as swirl after swirl subsequently resulted in half-a-dozen bass landed within the first hour, but with one problem – they were all falling to Louis! Mark, being the very nice bloke that I quickly realised he is wasn’t bothered in the slightest, but it was bothering me!
I knew that the opportune period in the tide (the middle hours of the ebb, when the flow would be at it’s fiercest) would soon be upon us. So, following the capture of a small bass (at last) for Mark, I asked him to come and stand on a slight promontory, encompassing a zone of wrack jutting slightly out into the current within very close proximity of the channel. From this ‘new’ location, he’d be able to cast his lure ‘up-tide’ and work it almost parallel to the weed and back towards him.
For the next ten minutes Mark did precisely what was being asked of him, with the additional bonus of keeping the Patchinko 100 moving at the same speed as the now accelerating flow. This can be an important element and indeed ingredient when working the surface lures in my opinion – especially if you want to ‘hoodwink’ the larger, more astute bass.
As it had been quiet for a while now, my comment to Mark that “the next fish you hook will take line I reckon” wasn’t just wishful thinking on my part, but rather it was based on spending thousands of hours out on the South Hams shoreline chasing these magical fish. I say this a lot I know, but to me everything during that phase of the tide just looked ‘right’.
As more or less predicted, a good bass utterly battered the poor Patchinko perhaps 7m out from Mark’s stance as it was expertly worked down with the flow, and within a few metres of the weed. Seemingly travelling down in the tide and parallel to the bank on its predetermined route out of a nearby creek, this bass instantly ripped a few metres from his drag as it attempted to reach the faster flowing water now emptying out of the channel.
Immediately after this initial run, Mark cranked onto the bass pretty hard in order to keep its head up – something that is crucial if you’re to stop a decent-sized one burrowing into the wrack here – as has happened a few times… Wading thigh-deep, my instructions for Mark to “keep the rod low” were met as a bass that I knew would ‘make his day’ slipped over the rim – get in!
Cradling this dark-backed beauty (that measured 50cm/around 3lb) Mark was absolutely ‘made up’ with the day’s events – as you can see from the look on his face. Indeed, alongside watching the bass cruise back to their home, witnessing the joy that piecing together all of the elements brings to my clients is very rewarding as their guide.
The reason we’re there, how or where I expect the bass to be patrolling or positioning, the reason for the lure choice and ultimately, retrieving said lure to mimic what the bass want – when it all comes together, especially when they are inexperienced or new to bass lure fishing is just fantastic – it is the best job in the world as far as I’m concerned!
I believe Mark and Louis landed ten bass in total – many of which were undoubtedly from different year groups which bodes well for the future stocks. We’d had many laughs throughout the day, and it will be a great pleasure to guide either one of them, or hopefully both next season – indeed, Mark is already champing at the bit to get himself booked onto one of my 3 Day Packages in 2021!
My Book – 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 via the blog post I wrote upon release back in October 2018 here. Furthermore, an independent review written by the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society can be read here.
Although I am sold out for the time being (I will commission another batch within the next month) if you would like to reserve a copy then please complete the contact form below:.