My Recent Catches – A ‘Purple Patch!’

My Recent Catches – A ‘Purple Patch!’

As promised! A follow up depicting two ‘beauties’ that I landed during the final week of November, and a post that I also hope will shed some light on why (and to lesser extent how and where) I’ve been utilising the ‘Xorus Patchinko Brothers’ – the little Patchinko 100 and his sibling, the medium Patchinko 125…

Battered, bruised and very well used! The phrase ‘Purple Patch’ could even be used to describe the iridescent finish on the Patchinko 125 (top) and 100 (below) in, my favourite, the 500g/Lieu configuration.

Reasons?

Unable to guide due to the Lock Down 2 COVID restrictions (people travelling to me when only essential travel was allowed being the sticking point) the second half of November was, unfortunately for the clients I had to cancel or reschedule mostly into next year, a definitely ‘Purple Patch’ for me. But why have I been so intent on using these wonderful lures, pretty much exclusively just recently, despite the time of year? Three reasons:

  • Bait fish – too good a look?
  • Clarity – getting that ‘reaction’
  • Coverage – searching out new venues and features…

Bait fish

I cannot remember a year when the white bait, mackerel, smelt, garfish, scad, sand eels or launce have been quite so abundant – to the extent that all the bass have had to do is exert the required effort and energy to effectively ‘follow them’ and ‘munch them’ with relative ease it seems? Added to which, I believe it can explain why the bass have appeared to ‘deviate’ from some of their more regular patterns of behaviour this season, and remained within close proximity of various headlands and tide races in massive in numbers on one tide (or series of tides), but have then vanished for long periods closer inshore (confirmed by my many diver friends) for days at a time!

Moreover, I believe the greatest indicator in relation to the above is the fact that all of my 60cm+ bass this season (bar one at 68cm here) have been landed in daylight, in addition to most of the 55cm and 60cm+ bass landed by my clients. A strange one really, as darkness has been, without a shadow of a doubt, the period offering the greatest chance of a ‘whopper’ over the past few years, but I guess the bass just haven’t needed to venture into the shallows at night if their bellies are full…?

My largest ‘night time’ bass so far this year at 68cm/7lb+ landed on my own ‘Signature Needlefish back in May (here) post Lock Down 1. During the dusk period I landed a number of mackerel before the bass moved in – the mackerel proving to be a accurate ‘indicator’ as to whether the bass would turn up, or not.

Even as we head into winter, no matter where I have fished or researched, be it on the open coast or within the many estuaries of south Devon, I have noticed bait fish… Gulls and terns circling and picking items off the top, hoards of miniature fish sheltering in the weedy margins or fry scattering as the predators below scoff on the ill-fated fodder! Above all then, what is the best way to imitate or mimic prey items being harassed or harassing? By using a small to medium-sized surface lure moving quickly, and appearing to be being chased or chasing something – all of which leads me nicely onto the next section of this post.

Clarity (getting that reaction…)

It all started the day we were initially ‘locked down’ back in March. After 6 months of relentless wind and rain, High Pressure finally decided to pay the UK a visit, hanging around pretty much for the next two months… The wind fell light and the Sun beat down from a cloudless sky, meaning the waters around our coastline, although still chilly, took on a Caribbean-esque turquoise transparency!

In turn, with the reduced commercial pressure (perhaps?) that the bait fish (sand eels and launce at this early stage of the spring) were placed under, in conjunction with the beautifully settled weather, enabled or rather encouraged them to form massive shoals – shoals that the mackerel and bass cottoned onto pretty sharpish and never stopped hounding thereafter. Indeed, I am positive that there were periods in the season when the bass were so fixated on these items, in addition to their ‘search image’ being so precise that they knew instantly when a lure utilised in clear water wasn’t the real thing…

Ultimately then, I suspect we (us bass lure fisherman) are still dealing with the fallout even now, well into December… As even though ‘in theory’ bass shouldn’t really be ‘up’ for chasing surface lures this late in the year, I believe that if I’ve given a bass ‘too good a look’ at the lure they’ve just followed it and turned away – and these are just the fish I’ve spotted!

A ‘meaty’ 66cm bass (see photo of me holding her further down the post) that swiped the lure within a few seconds of it landing on the calm surface of the VERY clear water, and me commencing a ‘thrashing’ ‘walk the dog’ action. An instinctive attack if ever there was one!

A great example of this was the very first cast that I made on a totally new mark on a morning when the water was staggeringly clear. Lobbing out a Wagasaki coloured OSP DoLive Stick initially (as I was concerned even a delicately fished Patchinko 100 might ‘spook’ any bass present ironically!) a bass easily over 4lb just sauntered in behind the gently waggling, weightless soft plastic, before flaring it’s gills and then deciding it didn’t want it! Then, it just sat about two metres off of my rod tip in water less than 1ft deep, allowing me to continually drift the lure in front of it before swishing it’s tail and meandering back across the sandy seabed – mesmerising, frustrating and something that doesn’t happen all that often…

So what did I do next? I clipped on the Patchinko 100, with the expectation of gaining an instant and therefore far more positive reaction should another bass sense it, hear it or see it and within ten minutes I’d latched into the 62cm bass in the featured image! As I often say to my clients, the less time you give a bass to make up its mind, the more positive it will be – and in the very clear water we’ve had here for 80-90% of the year, this approach has reaped rewards time after time this season.

Coverage

For a 100mm piece of hard plastic weighing 11g the Patchinko 100 casts a fair old distance – between say 40-50m, whereas the 125mm 18g Patchinko 125 is right up there as one of the finest casting hard lures ever built! Bearing in mind that most of my fishing has been conducted in almost ‘millpond’ daylight conditions recently, if I’ve wanted to go ‘really subtle’ in more of an attempt to mimic bait fish scattering or fleeing then the smaller 100 has been always attached first of all – as to be honest, 90% of the time 40-50m has easily been far enough.

But as I’ve been sneaking (literally!) around various different estuary systems in my search for the ‘ultimate venue’ to utilise when the open coast is dangerous and ‘blown out’, there have been occasions when the additional 15-20m distance that the Patchinko 125 delivers has been a useful tool… Indeed, without the impressive casting capability to reach a specific series of features during this session, alongside the ease at which you can make it ‘splash, flash n’ thrash’, I doubt I would have attracted the attentions of the 66cm bass below.

Although a very large percentage of the bass that my clients and I hook strike within 20m of the shoreline, having the ability and capability to ‘launch’ a lure (in this case the brilliant Xorus Patchino 125) a very long way is a great attribute to possess. I enjoyed the tussle at range with this 66cm, late autumn stunner I can tell you!

Working hard

Again, this leads me onto what I wanted to talk about next – how I’ve actually ‘worked’ these lures… Something that I’ve mentioned quite a few times within my blog posts (here and here being prime examples) is just how finicky the bass have been at times! Indeed, there have been many occasions when a short, or at other times, a lengthy ‘halt’ mixed into to the retrieve has resulted in a bass ‘swirling’ behind or actually ‘nudging’ the Patchinko 100, 125, 140, or any other surface lure I/we’ve utilised for that matter.

On other occasions, immediately after the lure has been brought ‘back to life’ following one of these pauses, a bass has shown itself or utterly nailed it! Getting into the real nitty gritty though, another aspect to the retrieve that I haven’t mentioned previously, and that I reckon is worth trying if you find yourself in a similar position, is working the Patchinko with either a gentler ‘wider action’ or a more vigorous ‘flicking action’…

Imagine…

Imagine a scenario in which the sky is bright and sunny, and the sea glass-like – both in smoothness and transparency. You cast out either the Patchinko 100 or the 125, depending on whether you wish to achieve more distance, and then you commence with that tap, tap, tap of the rod tip, winding at the same time. Do you work the lure with shorter, sharper taps on a medium-paced turn of the reel’s handle, or do you administer more of a slower, longer ‘draw’ to each tap of the rod tip with a slower-paced turn of the handle?

Although hardly revolutionary (to those already in the know, but then these posts are aimed at anglers eager to learn), ultimately, the former will cause the lure to ‘turn’ wildly one way and the next in a thrashing and ‘tick-tocking’ motion, ‘spitting and splashing’ quite energetically as the lure is brought towards you at a fairly quick pace. The latter however (and I really like this method) will cause the lure to more or less ‘glide or skate” rather than splash its way across the surface, and just as importantly, it will also track in much more of a wider, longer, zigzagging action, almost turning back on itself rather than coming in straight at you.

This, as you may have guessed, was the style of retrieve that accounted for the 62cm bass in the slideshow above, and that I am gleefully clutching under the trees below! What a special morning it was, as indeed, they all are when you’re out hunting for bass – whether you catch or not. But to have been fortunate enough to have landed and held her, and then be lucky enough to marvel at the experience of watching this majestic species within ‘her environment’ during the successful released was just awesome, and I just love the way she nonchalantly swishes her tail in the video below, in no great hurry at all – what elegant creatures they are !

2021 Vouchers

My £50 + £100 South Devon Bass Guide Vouchers are currently for sale and can be redeemed against a session during 2021. They would make an excellent Christmas present for someone who has experienced a guiding session with me previously (and are eager to return), or maybe someone who has been saying “I’d love to give that a go” for some time!

My Book

I have commissioned another print run (100 books) of my self-published book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ with delivery expected within the next few days. 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:

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