My Recent Catches – Retrieve to achieve! Part 2 of 2
So in Part 1 (here) I covered two recent occasions when a ‘change’ to the retrieve style of the lure (an IMA Hound Glide 125F and a White, weighted OSP DoLive Stick respectively) ‘appeared’ to garner the type of attack from a bass that I’d been hoping for. And although these weren’t the only bass I landed during those sessions, they were caught following periods of inaction – indicating that these occurrences aren’t just a coincidence?
Later in the post I will continue with the theme of how an ‘adjustment’ to how I was working and retrieving the lure more than likely contributed to the fish being caught. However, I will commence Part 2 with a recent example of when, having experimented with multiple retrieve styles with a consistently productive surface lure, that after changing the lure type, I immediately connected with two bass by casting into precisely the same area. Above all, it is the prefect example of just how mercurial bass can be…
Whether with clients or when fishing alone, the mark I was stood on tends to produce for short periods only – either on the flooding or the ebbing tide. Sometimes it is literally for a few minutes (between 10 -30 generally) and on other occasions it is for a similar period as the bass seemingly enter a very specific zone when they have to swim past you. It doesn’t matter if it is a huge spring tide or a tiny neap, I haven’t, as yet, been able to distinguish any kind of pattern as to when to ‘expect’ the fish.
Timing my arrival to coincide with the final twenty minutes of the ebb, the water was very clear with the odd panic-stricken pod of tiny baitfish exciting the water – good news! I decided to attach a lure that I believe closely resembles this behaviour – the Patchinko 100. What happened next though is stored in my bass-ravaged memory bank for future reference.
Nine times out of ten, when faced with this scenario, one where bass, even if they were tiny ones presumably harassing the bait fish, they would have been on the ‘baby Patch’ (although I guess it isn’t now that there is an 85mm version!) in a flash – but not on this occasion. I tried all of the tools in my box so to speak with regards to this lure – casting and working it at different angles in relation to the shore, working it very slowly, on a quick ‘choppy and thrashing action’, with occasional pauses of varying lengths and also with a wider slaloming action all to no avail. What’s more, something that compounded my confusion was that I actually witnessed two 3lb bass swim right past me in the weedy margins on separate occasions as the tide began to flood. Action was called for!
There are times when a surface lure can and will out-fish anything, and other times when the bass just will not ‘have it’ in this regard, therefore, I went down the soft plastic route by swapping over to a Wagasaki-coloured DoLive Stick with the intention of twitching it pretty much parallel to the shoreline. Second cast. WALLOP! A feisty 2lb bass took the lure about halfway into retrieve followed by a bass closer to 3lb on the very next cast (see both below). Was a satisfied? You bet I was!
You may remember a recent post of mine (here) in which I mentioned the successful testing of a Magnetic Weight Shifting (MWS) version of the Marc Cowling Signature Needlefish. Now, I won’t reveal the bespoke qualities to the next generation of this lure just now, as I intend to write a specific blog post prior to their release early next month. It goes without saying that I have continued to utilise them during the couple of ‘night sessions’ I’ve completed lately, although I do plan on hitting the surf with them in daylight when conditions allow between now and what I consider to be the end of my season – the end of January.
A challenge that I set the MWS version though was to catch a decent (3lb+) bass on it in very serene and very clear sea conditions. So when a window of opportunity presented itself during those easterly winds we experienced at the start of the month I went out with the sole intention of using the MK2 version if you like, and that lure only for the duration of the session.
With the wind swishing over my head I was rather cosy in my little cove – the first requiring a woolly hat for some time. And as the large Moon began to rise behind me I was in a world of my own as I inadvertently slowed the smoothest possible retrieve I could administer (so that the lure ‘glides’ in underwater) to admire a shooting star… BANG!! Blimey do bass hit these Needlefish hard!
The 52cm (3lb+) bass in the images above was an excellent start, but I wanted more! With the tide now beginning to ebb (my favourite period on this mark) I continued to ‘blast’ the MWS Needlefish out into the pulsing and often swirling tide race here, before tightening down onto it very quickly due to the wind and then letting it level sink for around ten seconds. Tap! Arrghhh missed it – as they often do with these lures, a bass swiped it ‘on the drop’ but it didn’t hook up on this occasion.
Did that gradual slowing down of the retrieve, almost to a stop and over say a three to four second period make a difference I wondered…? SLOOP! (is the best way I can describe it sorry!) Hearing a bass swipe something close to the surface around 15m to my left I immediately made a cast in that direction and after allowing the needlefish to sink I commenced the retrieve. A steady pace, and then I brought the lure slowly to a halt – again BANG!
After returning this small bass (around a pound) I once again concentrated on the deeper and faster moving water. Third cast into the zone and literally at the start of the recovery I was hit very, very hard by a bass that splashed wildly on the surface about 60m out, before dragging around 6-7m of line off the drag! S**t! It then headed straight for the rocks to my right! But as I tightened the drag a couple more notches and applied some side strain the bloody hook(s) pulled… I was delighted as I’m sure you can imagine……..
Annoyed (I know you can’t get them all in but I still HATE losing fish!), but eager to see what else was swimming around out there, I ploughed on hoping for some kind of redemption. First up, another small bass grazed the lure (by the feeling through the rod) before side-swiping it ferociously, followed on the next cast by another hit as I slowed the retrieve down again – how that fish didn’t hook itself I’ll never know!
The mark I was fishing has a definite ‘cut off’ in regards to when the bass are there – and I was rapidly approaching it and my bed time! ‘Ten more minutes’, and then I call it quits I thought. A few steady recoveries all the way back to the rod tip and then a faster, pause, faster pause retrieve entered my head, so that’s what I did next. Unbelievably (or was it?), just as I recommenced with the quicker movement a really solid THUMP and the the water irrupted only 25m in front of me – Yeaaaaaaaaaah!
The battle was brief to be fair (sometimes they just don’t fight all that hard for some reason?) but I wasn’t really bothered. I was just happy with the 4lb bar of silver glistening in the Moonlight at my feet (release video below), added to the fact that another ‘test run’ of the fantastic lure Tom of TC Lures has built for me did the business, in conjunction with the change of pace and the pauses on this occasion – what an amazing night!
Much, much more on the dynamics of this lure closer to their pre-Xmas release via, at this stage Veals Mail Order and Lure Fishing For Bass…
The wind was pumping from the south the next time I headed out fishing – which is why I tucked well into an estuary! Miles from the sea, the water clarity was surprisingly clear considering the previous week’s rain, which is why I clipped on a surface lure initially. I’d earmarked this stretch of foreshore some months ago, and as I waded and stomped over the sand and gravelly undulations to access the area I was buzzing with excitement!
With a dull sky and excellent visibility to the water, I began a ‘cast, retrieve and then move’ pattern – searching out the weed beds and channels over the slack high-tide period. BOOM! A bass attacked the Patchinko 100 (in Lieu or 500g colour) just as it reached the boundary between a small, humped shingle spit and a presently submerged culvert that leads way out to the deeper channel. Although small, it’s capture was a strong indication that, on this morning at least, ‘they’ were in the mood for hitting a fast-moving, splashing surface lure – or were they?
Nudges and swirls
With the ebbing tide now in full flow and with no further ‘customers’ in and around ‘the spit’ I tracked a further quarter of a mile along the shore in order to gain closer access the main channel and a relatively narrow section of this vast south Devon estuary. With a vast volume of water now heading back towards the mouth any zones where I could visibly make out ‘eddies or slicks’ became my target – the larger Patchinko 125 (in the same colour configuration) now my weapon of choice in order to reach these features.
It was exasperating! On at least a dozen occasions a bass would swirl next to, or seemingly nudge the lure as it snaked and spat across the ever-so-slightly choppy surface – and even with breaks in the retrieve the bass just would not commit. Hmmm… I considered attaching a ‘popping’ surface lure such as the superbly named Shimano Colt Sniper Rock Pop 90 that I’ve recently invested in but not used in anger however, I just didn’t feel that the flow was powerful enough at this stage in the tide (I like to pop the lure and then leave it to move naturally with the current as described in the post I wrote here).
Instead, I went ‘halfway house’ with my approach and decided to work the medium-sized Patch fairly vigorously, before adding in a long pause of between 5-10 seconds, before working it again for 5-10 seconds and so on. In light of how this season has panned out (whereby the bass have consistently challenged me and my abilities by being exceedingly fussy and intent on moving wherever the bait fish have been!) I guess I have had to become accustomed to working out how to ‘fool’ them perhaps more than I would have ordinarily, or even in seasons gone by?
All I know is that on this muggy (for the time of year) morning, said long pause and then a return to a quick, zigzagging movement to the lure was met by an immediate ‘heavy’ take at range, whereby the bass just remained thrashing on the surface as I brought it ashore. No parallel run, no nodding of the head and rod tip or attempt to hold, head down in the tide – nope, she just thrashed with annoyance until I could slide her up the gravel.
I was chuffed with this 56cm (4lb) bass, as not only did I feel I’d outwitted her, but it was also confirmation that the upper reaches of what must surely be one of the most beautiful river systems in the Westcountry is home to some lovely bass.
As you can see in the image below, my £50 + £100 South Devon Bass Guide Vouchers are ready and now for sale – they can be redeemed against a session during 2021. They would of course, make an excellent Christmas present for someone who has experienced a guiding session with me before (and would like to return), or maybe someone who has been saying “I’d love to give that a go” for some time!
I have just commissioned another print run (100 books) of my self-published book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ with delivery expected in the next fortnight. 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 of my book, or to enquire about the Xmas South Devon Bass Guide vouchers:
Thanks for readig.