Client Catches – If it’s ‘Bright or Night…’
Part 1 of 2
…. Go for White!!! This is the remaining segment of the title of this post, the first of a two-parter as, from my perspective anyhow, in relation to the colour of a soft plastic lure, it does appear to ring true…
In Part 1, I am going to depict some of the more significant catches my clients have achieved in daylight, during very bright, sunny, overhead conditions, and when the water has also been remarkably shallow, clear and calm. I’m going to have fun writing these!
You would have noticed that I have chosen to load the opening sentence with the accentuated words: ‘my’, ‘soft’ and ‘appear’ and I will transition back to the meaning of this throughout this post and the next – both of which will serve to highlight some of the fantastic catches my clients have achieved this autumn.
I have done pretty well myself just recently too, but I’ll save those moments for a couple separate offerings that I will begin writing just as soon as I’ve released this one and the next, especially as I have a programmed short break from the guiding over this week’s tiny tides – although I have a couple of theories to test, so I will be completing some personal fishing of course…!
First and foremost, I would like to emphasize that I/we do utilise all manner of different coloured lures when deciding what to attach, be it when I am out fishing alone or when choosing a suitable pattern/configuration for my clients to fish with. Natural colours (whether the fish can determine them or not is another question entirely of course), mimicking the silvers, reds, oranges, greens, blues and other hues are always at the forefront of my thinking, although I have to say that I am gaining a rather ‘alternative’ outlook on this specific subject. Please read on…
When you’re out bass lure fishing, then you are generally completing one of two things: casting and moving, looking for bass that are positioned and essentially stationary, or you are stood in one position yourself, attempting to intercept their movement(s). Either way (you could argue it’s more essential with the former in mind I appreciate), the first couple of casts into a favoured region are the most important, as any bass present will either react positively or negatively to your offering – the latter of which you’ll rarely be able ascertain unless you spot one following and turning away. This is just one of the reasons why the initial lure choice, in conjunction with natural presentation, is so, so important. Get it right, and it could well be the difference between a poor-to-average session and a great one.
“Really? How interesting Marc”, was the response as I handed a white Savage Gear Gravity Stick Paddle Tail to Stefan (my client in the image below holding a dark-backed beauty of 64cm/6lb+), before explaining one of the theories that I have on why a white lure is so effective in bright sunshine, and as mentioned, those very shallow, crystal-clear water conditions.
Would any colour of lure had been wolfed down in the instance above? I’m not sure, as this was the only bass we encountered on this particular mark and session, in the sunbathing set-up you can see, despite the two other clients (this brilliant bass and new PB for Stefan was landed on session 5 of one of the 6x 4 hour sessions that I facilitate on my 3 Day Packages) using more natural-coloured patterns – until I swapped them over at least!
Stefan’s capture was achieved by casting his lure into a zone that us bass anglers love to discover: a region of rocks/weed (cover essentially, in which bass will interrogate initially, before positioning around or within) located close to or within a zone or ribbon of tide/current – the type of mark that habitually throws up fish on the first or second cast as discussed. But the second client capture that I want to bring to your attention was achieved via continually casting a lure into a narrow (ish) channel, in which any bass present in the adjoining lagoon would need to swim out of or be grounded as the water level dropped/retreated.
“You won’t catch bass on lures under a blue sky in clear, calm water Marc – wait until it’s dull and cloudy or the sea is rough – or just head out at dawn or dusk”, was what my uncle’s would tell me when I was a ‘keen teen’ looking to catch my first bass on a balsa wood Rapala. But with the majority of bass lure anglers stalking the shoreline armed with splashy, flashy surface lures (so to garner a more immediate and intrinsically ferocious response from the bass) or unbelievably realistic ‘looking and acting’ soft plastics, those days are long forgotten – times have changed.
Indeed, you only need to look at the clarity and depth of water behind my client (Matt) above, in addition to the overall brightness to the late-morning conditions I guided him on, to realise that these are just another set of elements to overcome if you want to be consistently successful. Note, these aren’t white, bubbling, frothing, aerated sea conditions we are fishing into – this is attempting to catch bass in water that is as transparent and as shallow as it gets, when the colour of what is being presented could be of vital importance…
While his fishing companion (Rob) utilising a Patchinko 100 at first, followed by a relatively transparent/sand eel-coloured 5″ Megabass Spindleworm, it was another one of my staple white/speckled soft plastic paddle tail lures (the 5″ Keitech Easy Shiner) that accounted for the only bite, and the only fish of the session – one in which the bass were understandably wary following days and days of settled, sunny weather.
Before I go on to describe another special and very recent ‘white soft lure’ client capture under the Sun, I shall digress briefly in order to convey my thoughts on white hard lures – be it a surface slider/popper, a metal, or a floating/suspending diving minnow.
A metal lure first of all and I’ll use a Savage Gear Surf Seeker as an example, is something that is fairly conspicuous within ‘fizzed-up’ and more confused, turbulent underwater surroundings, which leads me onto why I sometimes struggle to have confidence in a hard diving or surface lure that is completely pure white all over – both in bright and dull conditions for that matter.
The ultra-vibratory, Megabass Zonk Gataride in the French Pearl/White configuration (here), utilised from a steeply shelving beach in rougher seas, or cast and retrieved through a gully of foaming and hissing water is a tactic I/we have employed on a number of occasions in order to put a bass on the shoreline. But in general, is such a lure type just a little too obvious in those more brilliant and/or serene conditions – plus even in darkness on a flat calm night perhaps. Or am I just over thinking this?
Likewise, although most of the surface lures I/we utilise will have a silvery flank, or even better, a ‘mirror or flash plate’ of some kind encompassed inside its housing, many of them will still incorporate a white underside, or at least a strip of white. Yet for me anyhow, a whole or solid-bodied white surface lure doesn’t seem to be as effective as something that ‘glistens’ in the sunlight.
To wrap this section of the post up, I know that solid white surface lures and hard diving minnows work very well for some anglers within a variety of conditions and scenarios, and they have for us also from time to time in calmer conditions at night (I’ll cover this in Part 2), but I would be very interested to read about your own thoughts and experiences – please do drop me a comment.
There will, almost inevitably, be a series of ‘caveats’ to the success I and we have enjoyed whilst fishing with the white soft plastic lures in bright sunshine. I touched on one of them (the pace of the tide) whilst describing Matt’s 4lb bass above, but one of the others that forms one or more of my hypothesis in regard to white lures, which, I hasten to add, might be as simple as to ‘fish a bright lure in bright conditions, and a dull lure in dull conditions’ or it might not, is that of attaining a predatory response from a bass – especially one that you have ‘sighted’.
I have written more than once, that if you spot a bass then 99 times out of 100 it has spotted you. Well, not only am I potentially re-considering this thesis, but what if the bass has spotted you, but then it is so fixated on feeding in that moment that it ignores your presence momentarily to a certain extent – enough so that you can gain the upper hand…?
Is it possible that a fairly diminutive, paddle-tailed soft plastic lure representing a small fish, that is arguably more noticeable amongst the sandy-backed, silvery-flanked fry that a bass is hoovering up in water barely covering its back, because it is essentially white can turn its head – and I mean literally…? Maybe…
Predators – all of them!
All of the occurrences above happen on a regular basis when I am fishing or guiding – something that I will expand on further in Part 2 when I discuss the catches my clients have accomplished in darkness on the white soft plastic lure – when we have enjoyed consistent success under a spectacular Full-Moon also which may surprise some readers…
Finally, I’ll leave you with a photograph that Dave took whilst I attended to another client on that wonderful afternoon – a lure-caught flounder weighing approximately 2lb that, by coincidence perhaps, also took a fancy to you guessed it – a soft plastic in white! Sublime predators in their own right.
The Lure of The Bass & Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 1)
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Marc Cowling (South Devon Bass Guide)