My Recent Catches – Switching it up…
It couldn’t last! Immediately following the period between the second half of November and the start of December, one that has subsequently gone down in my diary as one of the most productive periods in my bass lure fishing ‘career’ incidentally, things have, shall we say, returned to normal…
As you’d expect at the start of winter, I’ve had to dodge some of the weather fronts, showers and ,primarily, winds coming in from the south and west, whilst conducting the handful of guided sessions (here) I managed to complete (and cancel unfortunately, which was a shame as the weather didn’t turn out anywhere near as bad as forecast) alongside heading out when I thought I had a chance myself.
Again, as to be expected when the sea temperature really begins to cool off and the waters become generally murkier, I have blanked as many times as I’ve succeeded during the half-a-dozen times I’ve ventured out. Furthermore, what has started to become apparent over the past fortnight or so, is how the behaviour of my one and only quarry has started to shift – which in turn, has meant I’ve had to adjust accordingly and switch things up a touch in order to keep catching.
Lost one and last one?
It was now December, and here I was casting a diminutive surface lure (the Patchinko 100 AGAIN sorry!) into clear seas, whilst wearing a T-Shirt initially, and with a very nice new bit of kit to use courtesy of Major Craft. So I could hardly complain when a seriously good bass (judging by the immense ‘bow wave’ it produced as it ‘torpedoed’ into the lure in the final metres of the retrieve) wrenched a good few metres of line off what is currently a ‘tight drag’ before… Nothing… She was gone…
What the hell had happened? Had the firmness of the drag setting caused the hook(s) to tear out the fishes mouth? Nope, upon inspection I was slightly perturbed to see that one of the prongs to what was a new set of trebles had snapped clean in half! I’d been very unlucky, but hey, you can’t have it all your own way when you’re dealing with these hard-fighting fish and these often harsh environments.
My consolation prize however, was the fine 55cm bass (above/below) that nabbed the small Patch a few minutes later, conversely, almost at the start of the retrieve and at the maximum range of this lure. It was a great way to give the rod a thorough work out though – casting the 11g lure, feeling the sharpness and directness through the blank as I ‘tapped away’ at the lure, the full-on ‘boil and splash’ of a very decent bass, and then finally, the sensation and joy combining wonderfully as I brought this one ashore.
I’d have loved to have landed ‘the one that got away’ but all in all, with so many of the components that make lure fishing for bass what it is all in place during this marvellous few hours, it was, overall, an extremely satisfying and enjoyable early winter’s morning – one when I’d actually promised to go and get a much needed hair cut!
If I could describe the ‘perfect’ daylight fishing session, it would involve sunshine and clear water (something I wouldn’t have said just a few years ago!) alongside catching bass on lures that I am learning to really like, or in the case the new Magnetic Weight Shifting Needlefish that I recently released (here), one that I designed myself. What’s more, I do enjoy a session that starts in daylight and finishes in darkness. Plus, if high or low water, and the subsequent change in direction of the tide is encompassed then all the better.
Armed again with the prototype 88M Limited Edition Major Craft rod, this particular mission after what was a run of frosty nights started remarkably well. As within minutes changing over from the usually reliable surface lures to gently lobbing a Sunslicker Swimish out into the powerful tide I’d latched into the modest bass below – a lovely ‘THUD’ transmitting through the ‘Torzite-ringed’ rod in the process.
I’ve been asked quite a bit recently just how late or early in a season will bass ‘take’ a surface lure splashing? The answer really is ‘anytime’ depending on how hungry they are I guess! However, over the years I have noticed a distinct correlation relating to when the water temperature reaches a certain level – with between 12- 13oC being the critical number for me.
It happened back in May when, despite working a multitude of sliders and poppers in and around all manner of juicy marks and in even juicier conditions, I could not tempt a bass on a slithering or splashing surface lure until the final week of the month. Until then (although we’d only be permitted to fish for just over a week due to Lock Down 1) it was all about paddle tails fished ‘deep’ as you may recall until, after a projected spell of cold easterlies, the wind swung around to the south-west, the air and sea temperature increased and the top water fun began – as you can read here.
But fast-forward to now and as I suspected, following a number of mornings worth of scrapping ice off the windscreen, the opposite was now occurring – the metabolic rate of the bass no doubt reduced with the decreasing air + sea temps and with it, their appetite to rise to the top for their meal (only for the time being perhaps?)
So after a good start to the session, even as the Sun lowered and eventually set beyond a distant headland, not even the short twilight period produced a single bite or fish… Hmmmm, the other consideration was whether, after months of intense activity close inshore and within all of the estuaries, the bait fish had finally dispersed or been eaten?
A few swigs of tea (for a change) and a healthy snack bar (also for a change!) and time to think about my next move… Ah yes! My original plan, to walk back to the car and drive to a mark I fancied, was dismissed out of sight when I remembered a delightful little cove nearby, with a distinct ridge/plinth of rock running out from just beyond the low water line, with a sandy gully positioned on what would be the ‘exposed’ side of it now that the tide was ebbing.
With a slight swell now pushing into the area, as it so often does on the open coast once the tide starts to retreat off the shoreline, this was Magnetic Weight Shifting Needlefish time! What an opportunity too, as ‘distance’ would most definitely be an advantage in order to reach the outer edge of ‘the plinth’ in conjunction with my plan to alternate between working this area and the adjacent gully.
Drop n’ Go!
I can tell you precisely how far the extremely powerful yet exceptionally light Major Craft rod was putting the MWS ‘Surf’ Needlefish – even though it was pitch black! From taking in the slack (approximately five turns) and commencing the retrieve, I was fully rotating the handle on my Shimano Vanquish C3000MHG 75 times. Now with a ‘line retrieved per crank’ calculated by Shimano at 89cm, by my maths that equates to a distance of almost 67 metres!
What had me really purring in the darkness though was the way the admittedly small (at 45cm) bass (above) swiped the Needlefish ‘on the drop’ as it is proof that this lure performs what I know is a deadly ‘level sink’ movement at a rate of around 30cm/1ft per second, even when a hell of a lot of braid has left the spool!
As the wind freshened and the stars appeared the evening got even better! As just when what was a very large and bright Moon also began to illuminate the cliffs behind me, about four turns into the retrieve a very, very solid hit saw the prototype whack over, followed by a whopping great splash sixty odd metres out! Woohoo! I knew instantly that this bass was larger than the previous one!
It then decided to swim straight towards me (I’ve missed nailing them at night I can tell you!) and until I’d regained ‘proper contact’ with it in the shallows with the rod and drag system taking the strain superbly, I didn’t really have a clue about its size until a bass knocking 5lb appeared, mouth first, within my beam. This is when it woke up and decided to really ‘go!’ What a short-lived, but immensely powerful run it was too, and one that transferred gloriously through the set up as a huge grin also developed across my face and remained in place for the photoshoot below.
Getting out of the wind has proved to be the most problematic issue over the past couple of weeks. But the good thing about the wind is that, depending on your positioning, it can actually help you to propel the ‘jelly-like’ paddle tail lures I’ve been using (the Swimish of course and the 5″ Keitech Easy Shiner) out into the tide or within the vicinity of your chosen ‘feature’. Indeed, during a short night session, when the triple layers, hood and woolly hat were invaluable, again early into the session I was rewarded for my effort (I’d seriously considered watching the snooker instead!) by the plump 47cm bass (below) on the Swimish.
Finally and rather interestingly, I popped out yesterday morning (the 17th Dec) as the weather was great and succeeded in landing a small bass almost straight away on the Patchinko 125 (so it wasn’t the last one!). Thereafter however, despite fishing one of the venues that has been excellent of late, on a big ebbing tide and with good water clarity, I didn’t see or land another bass.
Ultimately, this could be ‘a sign’ indicating that maybe I should now begin to really concentrate my efforts on only fishing in the dark – a tactic that served me exceptionally well (here and here) during the brief periods of settled weather between last winter’s horrendous wind and rain, but more especially, during the exceptional winter of 2018/19 (see here, here, here and here!).
My Book – Back in Stock!
I have a batch (100 books) of my self-published book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ currently in stock. 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:
Thanks for reading – next up my ’10 Items of equipment I’d recommend from 2020′.