My Recent Catches – New lures, old methods…
If you’ve read my previous blog post here, you will recall that I have been forced to adopt something of an experimental approach to my personal fishing endeavours just recently, due primarily to the fact that the bass were behaving so capriciously during September. Indeed, the first 10 days of the month were arguably the toughest (in regards to locating the bass) that I have faced in my 3 Years as a full-time professional bass lure fishing guide.
Thereafter however, things did gradually improve, culminating in the capture of the marvellous 68cm ‘beasty’ in the featured image, in addition to numerous decent-sized (45-58cm) bass from a multitude of venues. Most pleasingly however, was that many of the bass were ‘attracted to and ultimately hooked and landed’ whilst utilising a variety of new or prototype lures – with a particular lure type and retrieve style that I had always intended to ‘return to’ this season also proving highly effective.
Savage Gear Gravity Sticks
I will admit, that through various ‘connections’ I was lucky enough to receive the new Henry Gilbey inspired and Savage Gear built Gravity Stick Kit in the post a week or so before they hit the shops. So, as I mentioned previously, when the bass aren’t exactly crawling up the fluorocarbon leader, a tactic I like to employ is that of out and out experimentation…
As you can see from the image of a bristling bass that I landed above on the Paddle Tail version, I was as much intrigued by what I think is a brilliant concept (essentially three different soft plastic twitch-baits, come senko, come paddle-tail lures in extremely natural colourations, in addition to rattles, insert weights and designated weedless and weighted hooks) and a kit offering tremendous value for money, as I was excited to use them.
I remember Henry ‘lending’ me (he never got them back of course!) a small selection of these lures when we met up for a session on a wild January night earlier this year – with the white ‘Pulse Tail’ appealing to me instantly due to the very straight/direct trajectory/path in which it swims (something I like a lot and that I believe the bass like even more in still conditions). Moreover, that particular prototype almost produced what would have been an elusive ‘February bass’ earlier this year, when a very decent fish grabbed it at the end of the retrieve, before thrashing on the surface and detaching itself in the process – Damn!
Nethermind though, as first time out on a gloriously sheltered shingle beach with the ‘full box set’, an obliging wallop only a few metres off the rod tip resulted in the near 3lb bass above. Lots of anglers have asked the question: How do they compare to the OSP Dolive Stick? I would say that the Paddle Tail and Pulse Tail are very different lures to the DoLive, whereas the ‘Pin Tail’ is the closest and the most reactive by virtue of those instant 45-90 degree turns that are easily achieved by a flick of the wrist and rod tip. Overall, I am very, very impressed.
The Marc Cowling Signature Needlefish Mk2?
Receiving photographs of the bass that my fellow bass lure anglers have caught on a needlefish that I designed, and that is superbly built by Tom Cooper at TC Lures is a real treat. Moreover, equally enthralling are the emails denoting the type of venue they were fishing, such as estuaries, surf beaches and over shallow reefy terrain, in addition to the circumstances and overall conditions, from calm to a moderate swells in darkness and within the surf during the day rather interestingly…
Below is a slideshow of some of those catches, alongside some that my clients have achieved whilst being guided by me, and some that that I have landed when fishing myself (I don’t fish as much as you might imagine between May-November!)
But it’s the catches achieved by lure anglers fishing in the surf, something that is becoming very popular both in daylight and darkness, that has really caught my attention… Encompassed within the blog post that I wrote upon the release of my MC Signature Needlefish back in March this year (that you can read here) I described how the lure performs and reacts in a very subtle manner underwater (in a similar way to a weedless, unweighted soft plastic such as a Wave Worm or Albie Snax), yet it can be cast and retrieved in windy weather and more turbulent sea conditions – something not easy to achieve with the SPs.
Therefore, with the breaking waves and a bit of wind straight into your face, or just with an additional 20-25% casting distance on the initial version in mind, a Magnetic Weight Shifting (MWS) MC Needlefish has been developed, manufactured and is in the process of being extensively tested by a few trusted individuals and I, with a view to releasing it for sale early next year.
So how have I been getting on with it myself? Blimey does it cast well!! But more importantly, even with that internal weight shifting system incorporated, the lure retains all of the attributes I wanted in the understated original, and most important of all, it still catches fish. Below is a bass in the 3lb+ range that snaffled the MWS prototype during a session when I was casting it way out into a tidal race at the mouth of an estuary, and allowing it to ‘swing’ around in the tide – what a hit it was too!
Pop, Stop… Bang!
At more or less the beginning of lockdown I released a blog post entitled ‘A new season, and some new lures‘, the aim being to describe which lures I had taken a ‘punt on’ after witnessing their effectiveness first-hand, fancied or just wanted with a view to returning to a particular style or method should the opportunity present itself. Top of the shop then was by far the most expensive acquisition, the Tackle House Feed Popper, that I eventually purchased in both the 90 and 120 guises during an evening when the bank balance took a hammering!
I won’t lie, the scenario I hand in mind when I was hitting the ‘Pay Button’ was a swirling, angry swell, washing up and over large structures of rock and within a fierce tide race. So far though, only the latter setting of a significant tidal flow and ‘popping’ the Feed Popper and the exceedingly deadly hybrid surface slider come popper that is the magnificent Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire has reaped rewards – even in the pitch black as you can see below.
Although hardly revolutionary but still of real significance, what has been a hugely effective method while the bass have been so reticent (at times) to commit to hitting a surface lure with the usual gusto, has been to gently ‘pop’ the lure (so that it shunts forward no more than 3-6″) and then allow it to rest motionless for between 1-7 seconds and to drift with the direction and at precisely the same speed as the flow or current, before popping it gently again.
It is an ‘old’ method for sure, and one that I used to regularly employ whilst utilising either the Storm Chug Bug, Duel Aile Magnet Slider or Maria Chico Boca all those years ago. But I can tell you something, it has proved deadly in recent weeks – give it a try!
Bang!!! Time and again, both while fishing alone or when occasionally demonstrating a method (with the ‘dummy’ set up that I have been carrying around during guided sessions this season so that I do not have to touch the clients’ gear) when the soft plastics, hard minnows or the usual ‘walk the dog’ technique with a sliding surface lure has proved non-effective, to the extent that you think the ocean is bereft of bass, a popper worked in this manner has come up trumps – as my grinning mug cradling a 68cm stunner (below) proves!
I have commissioned another print run (100 books) of my self-published book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ with delivery expected imminently. If you would like to learn more, then a breakdown of what is encompassed within the chapters can be found via the blog post I wrote upon its release back in October 2018 here. Furthermore, an independent review written by the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society can be found here.
Please contact me via the form below to reserve your copy: