My Recent Catches – Learning with lures.
Not a lengthy post I’m afraid, but one that I wanted to write in order to highlight a certain type of lure that I have been utilising just recently – what I think are it’s virtues, how and when I’ve being using it, and most importantly, the catches that I have achieved with it. So with one soggy morning in particular being the highlight so far please read on…
It was just over a year ago when a client of mine (Martin) landed a splendid 61cm bass (full story here) on a lure that I’d taken a shine to after spotting it in his lure box – the Sunslicker Mishna Eel. On that occasion, after landing a 4lb bass on an IMA Salt Skimmer surface ‘sliding’ lure, the pace of the flooding tide became so fierce and the water so cloudy, that a sinking (courtesy of an 11g jig head) soft plastic paddle tail, trotted down with the direction of the flow accounted for what was and still is his personal best bass.
Fast forward to the start of this season and you may recall that the Mishna Eel was on my list (here) of ‘lures I was going to purchase and try’ alongside various method that I intended to ‘return to’ in 2020. I did try the Mishna Eels, with various jig heads attached, and I did catch a few modest bass on them once we were allowed out again in mid-May. But when a very friendly chap called Dave introduced me to Sunslicker’s newest creation, the ‘Swimish’, my interest was reignited.
Going for a Swimish!
It was while I was guiding two clients around two months ago that I stumbled across Dave (almost literally as I didn’t see him in amongst the weed beds initially!). “Hello Marc”, he called, as I stood trying to work out who he was, and if I’d guided him previously on the mark we all stood on? Feeling a little embarrassed (as I really couldn’t make out who he was or recognise him) I clambered over the weed to speak to him, whereby it transpired he’d purchased (and very much learnt from and enjoyed thankfully!) my book.
We had a great conversion about all things bass – the methods he was trying to master as a relative beginner, and the lures and the very expensive rod and reel he’d purchased before I returned the 50m or so across the rocks and wrack to my clients. A few weeks later, whilst I was guiding another two clients who were busily working their lures over the reef, I came across David again. “What’s that lure called mate?” I asked, as a fairly unique-looking piece of ‘white rubber’ dangled beneath the rod tip. “It’s called a Sunslicker Swimish” he replied, before ‘swimming it’ through the gully in front of me.
From my vantage point a couple of metres above the moderately clear water, the lure looked absolutely awesome… I explained to Dave that my clients and I would be heading off to fish another mark into the darkness soon, and that he’d have the place to himself. Therefore, I asked if he wouldn’t mind dropping me an email just to see how he’d got on with the lure on this particular mark – one that is weedy, shallow and swept by a lot of current. “Of course Marc, no problem at all, came the reply and from my limited experience, I can definitely recommend these lures as they’ve caught me plenty of bass so far”, he added.
A week later, what I’d suspected (and hoped on his behalf) might happen, did… He’d caught a haul of eight bass during the session up to 50cm/3lb – superb fishing!
With a number of venues and certain situations in mind, I was already on the case long before Dave’s confirmatory email – I’d been in contact with Nick Robson (the man behind Sunslicker.com) and asked him to make me up a couple of packets in the white (Cow Juice) colour. With the Swimish being a completely new lure for me, in conjunction with their planned use being an overall approach that I was intent on returning to as the water temperature drops away, I was excited to receive them and get out fishing with them!
So what do I like about the Swimish?
- They cast well considering the highly malleable body.
- The body is very tough (not liable to rip apart after being hammered by a bass).
- I like the substantial grove (hook slot) along the back.
- I love the action in the water.
- They sit beautifully on the 5/0 Eagle Claw Trokar 7g belly-weighted hooks that I am rigging them onto.
And in what type of scenario was I looking to use them?
- Dirty, murky or generally ‘coloured up’ water.
- A relatively clean seabed consisting of either sand, gravel, mud or shingle.
- Retrieve them close to the seabed or towards mid-water level in a fast moving current.
- Allowing them to ‘trundle’ along the seabed in deeper, slightly slower moving water.
Proof in the pudding
The image above was actually the first bass that I landed on the Swimish – taken as I stood waist-deep on a sandy beach swept by a laterally running tide. But it was the next session in which I deployed them – during a horrible, miserable, soggy and windy old day when the water clarity was less than 12″ that their effectiveness was rammed home to me…
With rain water and sand/silt being flushed out of the estuary system I was fishing, on what was the last of what I’d consider to be the ‘bigger tides’ (over 5.20 metres on the Plymouth/River Yealm scale) I was really hoping that the bright, white body and that delicious wriggling movement to the lure would ‘stand out’ to a hungry bass. Well, I didn’t have to wait very long, thankfully, given the atrocious weather!
I shouldn’t have been surprised, as it’s happened to me and I’ve witnessed it many times whilst guiding my clients, but even so, I was quite taken aback at just how close the first bass took the lure – no more than three metres off the rod tip I’d say (although I was stood just above knee-deep in the water). And with my drag set tighter than I would ordinarily set it (something I am trialling after reading Henry Gilbey’s blog as he’s renowned for not giving bass any line) I managed to pretty much ‘stop’ the bass (above) in its tracks, before essentially pulling it ashore in double-quick time – useful, as if this bass had got back into the fast band of current it would have been much more difficult to get her in.
At 61cm (well over 5lb) I was dancing along the shoreline after safely returning one of the most ‘p****d off’ bass I have ever hooked and held. I can totally understand why some of my less experienced clients are a bit ‘scared’ off them to be honest as this was evil – clearly, it hadn’t tired itself out!
Missed it… No, another one!
Brimming with confidence – in the mark, the conditions, the lure and the fact that there were clearly some tasty bass bursting through in the tide, I made every cast and retrieve count as I concentrated on bringing the lure around in the flow at precisely the right angle – so not to be dragging it against the current, but rather to look like something struggling, momentarily, within it.
YANK! The drag buzzed for a spilt second, but the culprit was gone as quickly as it had appeared. ‘Never mind, just keep doing what you’re doing Marc’ where my thoughts as I continued to retrieve the lure along a now seemingly ‘winning’ trajectory. It happened again! BANG! Right at the end of the retrieve! And with an almost identical and short-lived battle another ‘bucking and brutish-looking’ bass was heaved onto dry land – what a morning this was turning out to be!
I knew this one was larger as soon as I stood over her, much to her annoyance – blimey these fish were pumped up! I unravelled the tape as quickly as I could – 63cm and getting on for 6lb! You beauty! I then did something that some of you reading this might think is absolutely crazy! After successfully returning her I packed up there and then, exceedingly happy with what had occurred and decided to head home… Sometimes, you’ve just got to make sure that you take it all in, and revel in the moment.
To end, my thanks to Dave for putting me onto the Swimish, and my thanks also to Nick (Mr Sunslicker) for suppling the lures so quickly. Finally, yes I am a full-time, professional bass lure fishing guide, but I can tell you right now that I do not know ‘everything’. Far, far, far from it in fact, and what’s more, I am more than happy to acknowledge that I am always learning, be it new techniques, approaches, venues ad lure types. Stay very open minded I say, as these amazing creatures never fail to surprise you, and if I’m being honest, even 18 months ago I would probably have walked away from water as murky as it was…
Thanks for reading.