Client Catches – Sense or Sight? (Daylight)

Client Catches – Sense or Sight? (Daylight)

Even though I have been chasing the mesmerising bass with a lure for nearly 30 years now, almost every time I venture out onto the shoreline, be it as a professional guide or as an angler looking to enjoy a spot of fishing, I will learn something new…

Attempting to ‘work out’ where bass may be located, what they may be preying upon and what kind of ‘mood’ they are in – all of which links into which lure to attach and how to retrieve it – is something that I think about almost constantly. Remaining absorbed, (obsessed you may say!) and utterly ‘tuned in’ to what is happening or potentially occurring in regards to the above, in conjunction with the sea state, sea temp and clarity, alongside the tide heights and current and forecast weather patterns, is all part of the ‘job description’ as they say. I bloody love it too!

The pointy end

For all the forward planning in the world and attempting to narrow the odds in our favour though, when it comes to the pointy end of actually attracting and placing a bass onto the end of the line there is no greater challenge than attempting to catch them in less than ideal conditions – not necessarily because the numbers of bass may be on the thin side, but because I will need to ascertain just what it is ‘they’ want, and how ‘they’ may want it presented more than ever.

Indeed, it was after some particularly inclement overnight weather (heavy rainfall on this occasion), followed by the subsequent run off and iffy clarity during one of my 3 Day Packages that I had to consider ‘lure constituents’ more than ever to enable my clients to keep on catching.- constituents such as vibration, movement, silhouette and something that I have been thinking about a lot recently – colour…

A spritely ‘client bass’ caught in some highly coloured-up water. Was it the vibration, movement, silhouette or colour of the Hi-Viz Savage Gear Gravity Stick Paddle Tail that attracted it, or possibly all four of these characteristics?

No return

The visual spectrum of a fish is something I have read up on with great interest from time to time – with water depth (attenuation), clarity and light penetration all aspects that clearly come into play, however, the only conclusion that I came to make was that no-one actually knows what a bass, or any fish for that matter can see! Therefore, is the visual aspect of a lure of any importance at all when, in very basic terms, the water is exceedingly coloured or indeed, the night is very dark? Or could its overall presence simply be enough…?

As you may have surmised within my previous posts relating to the capture of bass in murky water (particularly here and here), whilst in daylight I believe it is still ‘probable’ that in the split second prior to an attack that, ultimately, a bass can still physically see the lure when it reaches that point of no return… Whether this is the case in darkness also, or whether the fish is primarily utilising its lateral line or hearing to detect its prey is something I will discuss in what is effectively Part 2 of this post to be titled: “Client Catches – Sense or Sight? (Darkness).

As I’m not a bass I can’t say with any certainty of course, but based on personal experience (some of the occurrences this season can be found in the links to the separate blog posts above) the following account is, for me, the finest example of when I believe the colour of the lure, over the commotion (caused by the lure entering the water), vibration, silhouette or subsequent movement may have been the critical factor pertaining to the capture of the stunning 68cm/7lb+ bass landed by my client (Ash) in the featured image…

A thought…

Before I go on to depict Ash’s magnificent lure-caught PB, I love a soft plastic lure in white, fished sub-surface in daylight and darkness, yet I am not overly keen on a white surface lure in daylight, or more especially, a white, hard diving minnow-type lure fished in daylight or darkness. Although I know lots of anglers who swear by the use of both, I haven’t, as yet been able to place my finger on why I do not have the greatest amount of confidence in their use – although as you’ll read in Part 2, they’ve definitely had their moments when I have been guiding.

Why do I mention this then? Because I am just as likely (if not more) to use a white soft plastic lure (such as an OSP DoLive Stick, Keitech Easy Shiner or Gravity Stick) in bright sunshine and a very clear sea as I am in low transparency levels under a grey sky – meaning that as I use these lures a lot, as such I am/we are more likely to catch on them of course. However, I have discussed this with many of my clients whilst guiding them, and I am happy to place into writing that more often than not, if I’ve got two clients fishing with naturally-coloured soft plastics (greens, browns, silvers etc.) and a third angler casting and retrieving a brilliant white version, it is this pattern/configuration that invariably finds itself inside a bass’s mouth…!

Why, why, why? Why does a brilliant white lure consistently out-fish the more naturally-coloured patterns in very shallow, clear water – especially under a sunny sky? Could albinism (where white animals are more likely to be predated upon) be a consideration or maybe this colour negatively affects their ability to ascertain if what they’re about to eat is real or not – massive food for thought!

No tempters

Again, I mention the colour white as this has been a very successful colour in turbid water conditions, both on the open coast beaches and well inside muddy estuaries, however, from time to time this season we have encountered water that is essentially ‘tea or coffee-like’ in transparency… The Hi-Viz Lemon Back Savage Gear Gravity Stick has been a winner on a couple of occasions within brackish domains (although not the Pink version, so far, rather puzzlingly), but on the day Ash was well and truly nailed by the brute below none of the previous colours, patterns or various levels of wriggliness (is that a word?) had been tempting enough to lure the bass that I felt ought to be present.

The very nice HTO N70 Labrax Special and the sexy Shimano Stella 4000XG – a set up that deserved to be tested! Note also, the ‘lime green’ paddle tail lure hanging out this beautifully conditioned 7lb bass.

Now, apologies in advance here, but I actually can’t remember which one of my friendly clients gave me two of the 5″ Samawua One-Up Shads in what I thought was ‘Lime Green’ colour, and that I’d kept in my client lure box, ready to be unleashed when I felt optimum levels of visibility might make the difference. Stumpy, chubby, rather ugly and with a very soft body (I’m gradually becoming all of these!) I really did like the action on the One-Up Shad when I’d a had a play, before managing to lose it. Therefore, even though I hadn’t caught on them personally, it was actually with a high degree of confidence that I handed the one I still had to Ash for its maiden dunking before, 10 minutes later, I summoned him over to a lovely little nook in which I have hooked and landed some crackers previously – but only on surface lures incidentally.

Whatever this beautiful bass thought the speckled-green lure was it certainly wanted it! I highly suspect it could ‘see it’ just before it ate it too…

After a bit of research it turns out that the configuration/pattern of the One-Up Shad Ash was about to start lobbing is in fact called the exquisitely-named ‘Tree Frog’, but even though our bass don’t routinely eat frogs (especially ones that live in trees!) all it took was two casts into what can be a bit of a ‘bass lair’ to be fair (but one that another angler on this particular 3 Day Package had been peppering with a white lure only minutes prior) for it be snatched in the blink of an eye, just as Ash was about to lift it from the water’s edge! Booooom!

The one he wanted! Although the 3cm of water just flooding onto the mudbank beneath the fish’s tail was clear, you can see behind Ash’s head just how murky the water really was. His evening was about to get even better too as you’ll read in my next instalment…

I think the way the bass took the lure in the final second demonstrates that it ‘homed in’ and then ‘followed it’ to our stance – which means it could probably see it too. And because of the dullness to the day, plus the lack of transparency to the water meant the fish just didn’t see us either. In that magic moment, it was an honour to be stood right by his side and to witness £1000 of rod and reel be almost ripped from his grasp!

With the drag set ‘very tight’ and with a very nice bass trashing about in half-mud-half-water the battle was somewhat short-lived, and within a few seconds from the moment it took (a real detonation I can tell you!) I’d ploughed the net under her and she was ours! Despite landing multiple doubles on bait, I know that this ‘Tree-Frog-Lured bass meant more to Ash than any other bass he’s landed. Thank you to the kind person who gave me the lure (please do get in touch so that I can credit you accordingly) – I really do think its colour made the difference!

My Books

My most recent book Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective and my first release ‘The Lure of The Bass‘ (Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society review here) are IN STOCK and are available to reserve. If you would like to purchase a copy of either publication, 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.

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