Client Catches – Finicky, Fussy, Fun!
Taking ten days off from my guiding operation recently was beneficial on a number of levels – it allowed me to rest my sore ankle (that I was fortunate not to break when a plinth of rock I stood on completely collapsed) whilst enabling the opportunity to contemplate of the previous eight weeks of guiding (that I didn’t commence until mid-June due to COVID), alongside the twelve weeks of personal fishing adventures.
As you’ve no doubt identified from the title of this post, I think the bass have been decidedly ‘finicky’ during this period. Whether this is down to them being utterly fixated on certain prey items (crabs during their annual moult or the extensive sand eel, white bait and mackerel shoals) or their migratory patterns have been affected by the seemingly extreme weather patterns (very wet, very windy, very dry or very hot) I really don’t know.
There are occasions when bass, and sometimes even the better-sized ones too, are relatively easy to catch – most notably when they are gorging themselves on, as it happens, bait fish of various species. However, these occurrences are not common (not in south Devon at least!) nor are they something that you can rely on, even when the ‘fodder’ is prevalent close inshore – with numerous examples this season being cases in point…
One such example occurred on an evening (in daylight) when my clients and I clambered down a ‘grassy bank come cliff’ and immediately into the shallows. As we entered the water we were astounded to witness numerous bass, that I estimated to be around 3lb, essentially swimming straight up to our feet and through our legs – caution completely thrown to the wind due to their avidity to ‘chomp’ the white bait into oblivion!
It goes without saying that within seconds my clients were shaking with excitement (as was I) and quickly working their lures in amongst the commotion as the bass pursued their supper with ruthless aggression. Yet, a bass just would not take either a surface or sub-surface, hard or soft lure – despite trying all manner of patterns! I remember thinking and saying “you’ve got to be kidding!”
As you would have noticed in my previous blog post here I’ve spent a bit of time lurking around the half-a-dozen estuary systems that I am very fortunate to be able to access over the past few months, particularly when the weather has been very warm and sunny. Alongside the exceptional clarity of the water, what has struck me is just how ‘fussy’ the bass have been – to the extent of following and actually ‘nudging’ our diminutive surface lures, rather than hitting them with the expected vigour.
Another example of the mercurial nature of this fascinating species was observed over a recent session, in which my clients were utilising almost identical Patchinko 100 lures – the only difference being one client was utilising an almost solid white colour (the Nacre pattern) whilst his fishing companion was using a version possessing an internal silvery ‘plate’ found in the 500g/Lieu, Ghost Sayori, Holo Bait, Ghost Iwashi and White Cotton configurations I believe.
Within the first hour of the session, the client using the lure encompassing that ‘bit of glimmer and flash’ was attracting hit after hit and catching fish after fish, yet his mate, using the solid white version, remained fishless! Admittedly, his bemusement may have been aided by the fact that he was fishing with a white braided mainline straight through to the lure clip, rather than the dark green line and 5ft of fluorocarbon that his friend was using!
All changed however when I decided action was required! After tying some of the excellent Seaguar Ace Hard Fluorocarbon to the business end and handing him one of the ‘flashing’ Patchinko 100 lures I had in my ‘client box’ after catching a mackerel first cast, he was quickly into a bass and then another, and another! He was convinced!
Just a coincidence? I don’t think so. I think that it was more likely that the bass could see his white braid and shied away from it in the crystal clear and primarily shallow (2-3ft) water. Further, I also believe the bass were so ‘tuned in’ to the shimmering, flashing and terrified bait fish, in addition to having a very, very precise ‘search image’ in their minds, that they just wouldn’t accept anything not appearing at least fairly close to a tiny fish flashing and splashing across the top layers of the water in their desperate attempt to escape imminent slaughter!
In relation to the bass and their preoccupation with anything silvery and acting out of fear I recall a recent solo session this time, in which I was fishing a beautifully idyllic cove on one of the calmest nights imaginable. With the overall conditions so serene, my usual lure choice in this scenario (the white 6″ OSP DoLive Stick or 5″ Wave Worm Tiki Bamboo Stick) were being utterly ignored – despite the fact that I could hear bass swiping their midnight treats continually off the surface, again in the very shallow water…
I have fond memories of a particular series of sessions last year, when I managed to tempt a number of bass up to 4lb on the deadly Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire – the noteworthy aspect to these catches (here) being that they were all in the dead of night, under sea conditions so tranquil I could see the reflection of stars in the water. So, with the ‘Baby Patch’ having been so productive during the daylight hours recently and with bass clearly in front of me, what did I do… Yep, I attached one and landed a bass first cast – followed by three others within the next hour!
Furthermore, I know that all of these occurrences have happened to many anglers, including a number of my former clients up and down the country – some of which have contacting me asking how they can overcome each separate phenomenon, and some of which have advised me on how they’ve attempted to overcome the ‘fixation!’
All of the above leads me nicely onto a cluster of sessions with a real gentleman, and a yearly client of mine, Michael (featured image). The bass were, you guessed it, being finicky and fussy, but ultimately we had a lot of fun searching out a number of marks – some of which the bass were playing ball, and some in which they most certain weren’t, no matter what we tried!
As I’d anticipated, whenever the mackerel were found savaging the bait fish, the bass would materialise within minutes and snap at his Patchinko or Spittin Wire and completely ignoring various ‘natural looking’ soft plastics. What’s more, the bass would ‘switch on’ for very short periods and then disappear for long periods – a haul of four bass whacking the Patchinko (what else!) and being landed and released right on the high tide period, all within an area no more that 2m x 3m, within the space of ten minutes being an excellent example!
Although my mid-August family break was timed well, with the final few days of decent weather being enjoyed before Storm Ellen rolled in, since then, the open coast has remained ‘stirred up and weeded up’ – a situation exacerbated by the huge spring tides over the past week, in addition to bloody Storm Francis rocking up – what is going on!
My clients have landed quite a few bass in the 2-3lb range though during the sessions I completed immediately prior to my break, and indeed over the past weekend – a gallery of which can be found below. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we enjoyed an Indian Summer here in the UK, and the bass started to behave themselves before what I reckon is going to be a long winter on many levels arrives!
I have sold out yet again!!! However, 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 therefore, if you would like to reserve a copy then please complete the contact form below and I wil contact you as soon as I have them back in stock: