My Recent Catches – The March Marauder!
Your eyes are not deceiving you! Yes that is a very large bass caught in late-March – a period when historically (and I am most definitely incorporating my personal experiences into the equation here) there are only small resident bass starting to come on the feed again after a long winter, or the ‘early spawners’ are gradually filtering back inshore as the water temperature creeps up by 0.1 of a degree each week…
However, alongside being my new personal bass (confirmed after the event rather during as it happens!) there is actually a quite remarkable story behind this capture, one that I have itching to write and tell since stood, dumfounded, at what transpired that day and evening…
How’s it been?
First up, notwithstanding the release of my latest book ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective’ (here) I know it’s been quite a while since I released a ‘proper’ blog post! I do have a pretty good excuse of course, in that the completion of my second self-published title needed to take priority. Indeed, following the capture of the 7lb ‘pit-bull’ (here) that christened my new Daiwa lure rod back in mid-January I actually didn’t even have the time to fish again until the final day of February.
On what was a beautiful Sunday, once I’d cooked a roast and obtained the relevant ‘permission’ I ventured out, with a relatively high degree of confidence that I was going to catch given the overall conditions – although I wasn’t expecting anything above say a pound in weight. I ended up being pleasantly surprised, as early into the ebbing tide, and within a short timeframe, I managed to land successive bass of 45cm (therefore quite possibly mature fish). The first on the ever-reliable Wave Worm Bamboo Stick and the second on the Silver version of my Needlefish – the Magnetic Weight Shifting (MWS) ‘Surf’ variety incidentally that you can find out more about here.
Thereafter, I completed half-a-dozen solo sessions in March – some from highly reliable marks and some within completely new surroundings, whereby I landed a half-a-dozen small bass (up to a pound) with all of them coming in the darkness. Of note, is that I did witness a very good bass (at perhaps 7lb) follow my DoLive Stick almost to my rod tip during a sunny afternoon around mid-month.
All I was waiting for was a slight upturn in the air temperature, in addition to the annual sea temperature lull to pass and begin it’s upward trajectory before I headed out again – a period that saw me sorting through my lures and replacing split rings and hooks – like many of you I suspect in anticipation of being allowed to explore out of the local area.
If the sight of that splendid fish wasn’t encouraging enough, what occurred during the early-afternoon of the 29th March was utterly spellbinding… The mark in question is somewhere were I’d landed a fair few bass on surface lures (most notably the Patchinko 100 and 125) over the late-Autumn period, which upon further inspection over the spring low tides had revealed and confirmed what I’d spotted on Google Earth – a small 4m2 section of ‘standalone’ rock and weed set amongst an otherwise sandy seabed and located right on the edge of a fierce run of tide.
So here I was lobbing the previously reliable Sunslicker Swimish up-tide and quickly retrieving it down in the flow under the welcome and warm sunshine, when I looked down to my left and witnessed a bass no more than a metre from my feet that I immediately estimated to be in the 8-9lb range! This was clearly a remarkable and rather unexpected experience therefore, I did what every other angler I know would have done in that moment and gently flicked the lure out beyond its position, before gently eased it past its nose…
This monster completely ignored the lure of course, and then proceeded to melt away into the slightly deeper water just beyond my stance and out of sight after undoubtedly spotting me. It was a very special moment, not least because alongside confirming that big bass inhabit what had been a previously unchartered stretch of coastline for me until last November, it also cemented my belief that there were more bass about than us anglers were aware of at this time of year…
Bristling with replenished confidence levels and renewed vigour, whilst standing on what is, 90% of the time, a submerged feature (a slanting rock with wrack bordering it) I carried on fishing intently… Would you believe it, with the tide racing out on what was the largest tide of the year so far, I was absolutely astonished to see this beautiful fish, again less than a rod length from my position, and in no more than 12″ of water – my mate had returned!
Again, I attempted to ‘tempt her’ with the wriggling piece of white rubbery material but it was to no avail – this fish knew precisely what it was doing and what I was trying to do and again, just slid out of sight. ‘Well, that’s definitely the end of that’ I thought, but I decided to change the lure over to a more subtle and this time weightless OSP Dolive Stick just in case my new friend decided to say hello again…
Quite unbelievably, as the ‘silted-up’ sea directly in front of me cleared following a short period of gusts, I could just make out its broad flank as the Sun’s rays penetrated the knee-deep water right on the edge of the structure I was stood on. This was when the penny finally dropped and I realised that I was clearly stood on this beauties territory – she was going to remain here and presumably hunt (waiting for something to take its fancy as it was overpowered in the current) no matter what…
Seemingly it just didn’t care that I was practically stood over it, as on a two further occasions she ignored both the Dolive and a Patchinko 100 respectively (the latter being an attempt by me to garner an immediate reaction) before she eventually got fed up with my antics and disappeared for good…
Maybe I should have been, but I wasn’t overly disappointed to have not caught the marvellous creature I had witnessed over the previous thirty minutes or so – it would have been nice obviously, but it was, in all honesty, a real treat to be lucky enough to have witnessed her in her natural environment.
After driving home, thoroughly shattered from the long hike in the Sun (I am far from ‘peak guiding fitness’ after primarily sitting and writing continually ever since the turn of the year you’ll understand!), throughout the latter stage of that afternoon and into the evening my thoughts turned to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, it was worth the drive and the walk once again to that mark in a speculative attempt to catch this fish, or indeed, any others that could be in the vicinity once it became dark – decisions… decisions…
‘Bella the Bass’
I was yawning even as I slipped on my ‘Crocs’ and wandered out to the car – but I’d made up my mind that I was going even though I was knackered based not only on the spectacle that I’d enjoyed earlier in the day, but also on the fact that the overall airmass had warmed over the previous 24 hours. Furthermore, with a spectacular Full-Moon due to rise at 2048 and civil twilight ending at 2015 (darkness commencing in effect) I knew that there would be a very brief window of around 30 minutes when the bass just might conduct a bit of full-on hunting before the whole coastline was illuminated – not that it’s the death knell for a spot of night bassing of course…
With above in mind, after being curtailed by a household chore just as I was about to walk out the door, my timed arrival onto the mark was slightly delayed, and despite hammering through the lanes, pounding the footpath and having to effectively ‘splash’ my way to the venue due to the massive spring/equinox high tide, by the time I’d clipped on the incredibly simplistic and minimalistic White Wave Worm it was around 2045…
A big ‘no no’ admittedly, but due to the proximity of the rocks and weed to my left I had to do it, I flicked on my head-torch momentarily just to get my bearings and to ensure I was standing in precisely the right position in order to cast my lure into the vicinity of the feature I’d been stood, and of course, to where I’d spotted ‘Bella the Bass’ as my daughter had named her over our dinner! I wasn’t going to catch one first cast was I? And besides, I envisaged the fish would be travelling quite quickly through the area now that the tide had begun to ebb anyway, so the sudden light probably wouldn’t be an issue…
The scene was set but the script was yet to be written as I waded gently into the water to just above my waist so that I could ‘reach’ the required zone. Compressing the lovely Daiwa rod, the air was amazingly still as the breeze just ‘stopped’ now that darkness had set in – although the glowing haze of the imminent ‘Moon rise’ was apparent just over the headland.
First cast… ‘Splash’ the lure entered the water and I tightened up, holding the rod tip up at around 45o as I surveyed the sky for a satellite or something when SLAM!!!!! The rod was yanked downwards with incredible force as the Wave Worm was demolished – I must have placed the lure right on top of its head! With my drag currently set a full turn tighter than I would have done 6 months ago the fish wasn’t able to head away from me from the instant that it ‘felt’ the hook-point, and instead came immediately up onto the surface in one monstrously splashing motion – he he he!
She then took about two or three metres of the Savage Gear Silencer braid off of me as she attempted to get her head down, but within a further couple of seconds she came back up onto the surface again as the tightly held carbon fibre in my clutches thumped and bent wildly – I knew then that this was a bloody good fish, which is when thoughts of ‘don’t lose this Marc’ also started to ping into my head!
With the bass primarily ‘headshaking’ up on the surface I commenced with an almost dragging and heaving approach to getting her in as I was acutely aware of the wrack situated to my left. I knew that if this fish was allowed to get its head down into this jungle, based on my current estimate that it was at least 6lb+ I don’t think I would have been able to extract her – which is why I continued to keep the rod relatively high and just coerce her around to her left and my right so that I could land her.
There was a slight problem however – there was wasn’t anything to really land her on bar a comparative postage stamp-sized section of shingle behind me that was, in reality, the size of my dry bag that was currently resting up on the rocks… Just then, as I continued to pump this bruiser towards me I caught a glimpse of its bulk via the wake it was now creating on the surface – blimey!. Luckily for me, this fish had exerted all the energy she was capable of due to the coldness to the water amongst something else I would discover a few minutes later.
Now praying that she wouldn’t summon the necessary strength and agility to ‘dive’ into the weed, I held my nerve and brought her around in an arc in front of me with the rod now bent double and with the tip lowered almost into the water. Gradually moving backwards as I maintained what where precarious levels of strain on the hook-hold, all I could do was bring the fish around to right into the shallower water towards the tiny beach as I slowly attempted to enclose her – this is when I very quickly flicked on the head-torch – I needed to know what I was up against!
Holy s**t! She lunged away from me and the rod swung around to my left as this ‘battlecruiser’ realised precisely what she was attached to – this was when I think I very nearly lost her as she almost made a submerged ridge of sharp rocks, before the impressive power and the curve of an acquisition I’d initially thought I’d purchased on impulse (after a glass of red too many!) began to tell.
This was it – the moment of destiny when you either end up jumping around the shoreline in joy or you end up with your head in your hands for days as I quickly repositioned my right hand on the middle section of the rod whilst grabbing the line with my left in order to manoeuvre this huge bass onto the tiny patch of beach. Nearly, nearly – and with one final yank she slid almost out of the water – a section of her massive tail remaining in the drink as I breathed a massive sigh of relief!
Delving into my dry bag I reached around inside as quickly as I possibly could in order to locate both my camera and my action camera – the latter of which I was desperately trying to remember whether I’d recharged it – terrible I know! With my second jacket practically ripped out of the bag and dumped on the rocks in the process, both of these pieces of electrical equipment were now balancing on top as I scrambled for the tape measure that I always keep inside the front pocket of my waders.
I was shaking as you can imagine, and having not seen a decent bass since mid-January, although I knew she was a cracker I suppose my immediate estimate was around 67-68cm. But when I laid the tape down under the fish I was gobsmacked when she went 72cm to the tip of the lower section of her tail.
Although not quite my largest ever bass, I was constantly reminding myself that this was March, and here I was looking at a fantastic bass! Within those frantic seconds I realised that this specimen was highly likely to have been the same fish I’d so enjoyed ‘stalking’ earlier that afternoon – I mean, how many other bass of this size were there around, especially considering its persistence to remain close to that specific feature?
As you’ll see in the video that I captured with my Sony camera below (and in the photos above), at the time I genuinely thought this magnificent fish was 72cm in length – something I was extremely happy about! But it was only on closer inspection of all of the photographic material that I’d hastily taken in the heat of a very excitable moment (which is understandable when all you want to do is get what was clearly a fatigued fish and one that I surmised had only recently spawned back into the water) that I realised, she was a little bit longer!
With the tape not fully aligned to the tip of her snout, and with the top section of her tail clearly protruding over the bottom section if you like, many of my friends have commented that I’d underestimated her length and that she looked closer to 75 or 76cm!
Now, I don’t think for one second that I’ve cracked the ‘Holy Grail of a double here by the way, and I am aware that some anglers prefer to measure their fish from the snout to the fork of the tail rather than the tip of it (as far as I’m concerned the tip of the tail belongs to the fish, therefore that’s what I measure to!) and that the fishes girth is equally as important as its length. But without a sling in my bag at the time or a set of fully functioning scales (both of which I have subsequently remedied) I’ll never know her weight.
It doesn’t matter, as I am exceedingly happy to say to say, yep, I landed what is a 74cm bass on a lure – and yes that does indeed beat my previous best of 73cm so I’m over the bloody Moon – The March Marauder indeed, although she does have another name in our household of course! 🙂
Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 1)
As mentioned earlier in this post, I have recently released my second book titled ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 1)’. If you would like to discover more about this title and what is encompassed within the pages then you can follow the link to the blog post I wrote upon its release last month here. To purchase a copy, please utilise the Contact Form at the bottom of this post.
‘The Lure of The Bass’
I have commissioned another print run (100 books) of my first self-published book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ with delivery from the printers expected around the 15th-17th April. 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 in which they described it as ‘the Haynes Manual of bass lure angling!’
If you would like to enquire about either ‘The Lure of The Bass’ or ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective’ then you can contact me via the form below, whereby I will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading!