Client Catches – A winning combination…
“Has it taken any line Tiger?” I asked, breathing heavily after wading, waist-deep, around a series of rocks bordering the beach my clients were stood fishing on. “It’s still taking it Marc!!!” came the excited response from a young (19), yet supremely talented angler I had only met for the first time earlier that day – a participant in one of my 3 Angler, 3 Day Packages.
As I elaborate on within Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective Volume 1, my more anecdotally themed second release (in comparison to my first anyhow – the ‘How To/User Manual-esque’ title The Lure of The Bass) these truly are the moments that are etched in my memory. Those frantic, captivating and enrapturing seconds of a battle with a big bass, in the darkness in particular, when neither the client or I has any idea of the size of the fish, or indeed, if we’re ever going to see it and land it!
With the headtorch surveying the inky seascape, quite often the first thing you see in the beam is the gaping mouth and rubbery lips of a decent-sized bass, which was precisely the case on this occasion. And what a mouth it was, followed by a thick-set back, dorsal spines, a meandering body and a spade-like tail section as my student remembered his very recent training in relation keeping the rod low, inching backwards from his initial upper belly-depth in the water to more comfortable knee-deep, all the while maintaining the ideal amount of tension on what I could now see was an absolute whopper!
“Yeah! Come on!” Into the net she went as the moist mid-August air was filled with happy expletives and smiles as I dragged a heavy fish out of the gentle waves and up onto a gravel bank situated at the base of a cliff face bordering a lush forest. Peering into the mesh, I don’t think Tiger could quite believe what was unfolding as I asked him to keep his 4th personal best bass within the space of 12 hours in the water whilst I splashed my way back around the corner momentarily in order to grab my camera – the obligatory grip n’ grin being the minimum requirement really, and more a rapid attempt to capture a moment that does not happen very often – a client 70cm+ bass.
As you would have suspected, the capture (and subsequent successful release) of this magnificent creature had involved a carefully concocted plan involving something I had only recently discovered myself in relation to a soon to be ‘cult lure’ I’m sure – one that has been slowly but surely taking over my soft plastic lure collection, and more especially, my ‘guiding or client box’ so to speak.
The lure in question is, as you would have noted in the first photograph above, the Savage Gear Gravity Stick Pulse Tail rigged onto a 6/0 3g Savage Gear weedless hook, with the additional 1.8g tungsten nail or spike weight rather unceremoniously shoved precisely in the position where Henry Gilbey and Mads Grosell (Product Designer at Savage Gear) felt it would brilliantly ‘alter’ the casting prowess and sink rate of what is already a proven bass magnet for anglers up and down the land.
So why was I asking my client to use the lure in this manner? In a nutshell – distance and the capability to initiate the most instantaneous reaction possible, in conjunction with the topography of the seabed and the clarity to the water. To paint a picture, for the first 25-30m out from the angler the seabed here is essentially flat sand with a few patches of gravel and weed covered by 1-2m of water over high tide, before it quite suddenly drops away over the next 5-10m into a relative abyss of 20-25m.
Moreover, this drop off is more or less defined by a ridge that runs parallel to the shoreline itself, a feature that I know from achieving dozens and dozens of catches here myself and with many other clients, that the bass seemingly love to swim along – perhaps because the laterally running tide is at its fiercest along this route?
So straight away you can see why a longer cast into this ‘hot zone’ is desirable, and although the Gravity Stick is a pretty good lure in the casting stakes when rigged weedless, it definitely ‘flies’ when the additional 3g and 1.8g is brought into the equation – the latter of which most definitely enables the lure a truer and more arrow-like trajectory.
Onto the water clarity then that was absolutely gin-clear on this particular evening session, and the capacity to enable an instinctive, decisive and therefore a more spontaneous reaction from our friend the bass is never more crucial when, despite the darkness, I am convinced a hungry bass is utilising its sight in the final second before attacking its prey.
This is where the level-sinking attributes of a needlefish, or in this case the Gravity Stick Pulse Tail with that extra 1.8g now evenly distributed along the length of the lure becomes a vital component in my opinion. If the lure sinks very quickly and head-first like a lead weight plummeting through the depths, then although there will also be occasions when a bass will react and immediately smash it without thinking, I just feel that a more measured and possibly more natural appearing sink rate garners a more consistent response to the extent (and I’ve covered this may times now but I cannot reiterate its importance enough) that 20-30% of the hits and hook-ups I/we receive at night are on the drop – my personal best bass here being the ultimate example of this.
It also goes without saying really that ‘the splash’ as a lure enters the water is undoubtedly an attractant in the gloom (providing it isn’t too heavy an impact) and I reckon a bass, or even a whole squadron of them for that matter, will zoom in to inspect the commotion – much like they do (and I have witnessed this many times whilst guiding and observing from a height) when a top-water lure splashes and remains still on the surface, yet the moment it moves it is pounced on!
Finally, and this was arguably the most significant aspect to this stunning capture, is that following the superb placement of the lure (at its maximum casting distance I would say), then that controlled sink rate that is not easy to perform especially when you aren’t used to this kind of fishing at all, in addition to the well-drilled execution of the ‘five quicker turns before transitioning into a slower and more steady retrieve’ could have been the final irresistible ingredient that Tiger’s beautiful 70cm bass couldn’t ignore. What a way to finish a day in which he’d landed his first ever lure-caught bass!
Earlier that day…
Aided by his fishing friend and mentor who would be joining him on the 3 Day Package (expert Fly Fisherman and Pro Guide John Tyzack) Tiger commenced his day’s fishing following a long drive down from the North West and a kip in the car by landing his first ever bass with John, at dawn, on another stretch of the wonderful Devonian coastline. Upon meeting up with the pair and their friend Stu, who’d travelled down from Scotland a few days prior to make up the trio, we embarked on a drive and a walk to a very secluded creek that would, in essence, see the water completely drain out of it on the ebb.
When we arrived the bass were biting, albeit shyly, with only one solid hook-up to Tiger resulting in a modest 2lb bass almost straight away in what was initially some relatively transparent water with between 12-18″ of clarity. But as the water level dropped decreased and and the wind speed increased our creek gradually turned into something resembling a mud bath!
It was during this period however that I started to realise just how good an angler this guy was… I’m not sure this makes any sense, but when you watch as many anglers as I do you always know an angler is ‘talented’ just by watching how consistent everything they do is – the casting, the retrieving, the stance, checking for weed, observing the water, and above all, the sheer concentration they place into their fishing.
With John and Stu fishing further up-tide as it were, and Tiger now ploughing his white, wriggling, belly-weighted (3g) Gravity Stick through the coffee-coloured, shin-deep water I knew it was going to be extremely difficult to extract a bass from this mark and was just considering a move when he shouted that he’d hooked one! What a boy!
The next day…
The following afternoon saw my eager trio and I traipsing across various fields and through thick woodland in order to access a channel that winds close to a weedy-margined foreshore, again as the tide ebbed. Still in a slight state of shock following the capture of his stupendous 70cm bass the night before, by this stage of the proceedings Tiger was now being gently ‘ribbed’ by his older and more experienced 3 Day Package colleagues with comments such as “Please don’t catch them all today Tiger” and “I think you should remove the hooks young man!” being bantered about as the first casts were made.
You know what happened next… Highlighting the virtues of the Gravity Stick even further (and trust me they have accounted for many more bass between 4-6lb for my clients and I since these fish were caught) something that I’d noticed, and that I have no doubt many of you would have also clocked onto, is that if you retrieve the Paddle Tailed Gravity Stick just enough to make that tail waggle, and then maintain that retrieve rate/speed, you can actually make almost the whole of its body wriggle and not just the final tail section – especially when fishing it weightless, but not exclusively so.
Now I can’t say that this is what made the difference, because it wasn’t the only beasty that put in an appearance that afternoon… But when Tiger explained (as I unhooked the rather malnourished 60cm bass in the images above and below) that the fish just simply appeared in a flash and swirl, within and under the wrack, before utterly smashing the lure as it practically ‘waked’ on the surface only a metre off the rod tip, and that a second bass of perhaps 3lb was constantly trying to ‘steal’ the Gravity Stick out of its larger companions’ mouth whist he tried to get her close to the bank for me to net you have to take notice!
What a couple of sessions we’d enjoyed, and we weren’t even halfway through the 3 Day Package yet! It was my hope by this stage however that one of the other guys would latch into something special – and for another member of the group ‘PB Heaven’ was about to open it’s doorway….
Both of my books ‘The Lure of The Bass‘ (Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society review here) and my most recent release ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective‘ are currently available in limited numbers between now and an anticipated batch prior to Christmas. If you would like to purchase a copy please contact me via the Contact Form at the bottom of this page and I will send you the payment details – I can accept PayPal or a Bank Transfer.