My Recent Catches – One Lure: Many Moments
I am still here in case you were wondering!!!
I know it’s been getting on for 3 months since my last blog post, and I can only apologise profusely for that. However, I can assure you that although I haven’t written anything on these pages for quite some time, my fingers and eyeballs are aching from the amount of typing that I have been doing on my laptop of late! Yep, the ‘typescript’ is with the printers, and the next post that I’ll write and release will be to highlight and present the release of my new book, and one that I am exceptionally excited to share with you – titled: ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective Volume 2‘
But while my head is still in ‘writing mode’ I thought you’d appreciate the ‘low down’ on the catches that I have achieved here in glorious south Devon since the turn of the year – during a period when a spot of fishing has saved me from going cross-eyed! So, here’s my summary of events so far in 2023…
I’ll be completely honest here. Due to the writing of, and the painstaking process that is editing the new book presiding over everything else in my life for the past three months, there’s been absolutely zero exploration and experimentation going on this winter and early-spring. What’s more, I have only ventured out when I’ve considered the overall conditions to be both ‘excellent and highly conducive to catching’.
By this, I mean returning to the specific venues that have served me well over past winters, and when the sea has been calm and clear by virtue of being sheltered from the wind direction at the time – if indeed, there has been any, which a good percentage of the time when I’ve been stood out there, there hasn’t been. Quite simply, if I’ve considered that I have less than a 70% chance of catching a bass I have remained at home in my office, glued to my seat and the keyboard…
There have been some very quiet spells on the fishing front though… The first period, I believe, can be attributed to the very cold, icy spell of weather we received prior to and over Christmas (when I was astonished to witness sheets of ice floating down the creeks on Boxing Day morning) as I feel it took until mid-January for nature in general to recover from that.
Thereafter, during the first halves of February and March, I have on occasion been able to comprehend within thirty minutes of fishing that the bass just either aren’t there or they’re just not feeding – occurrences that have interestingly and intriguingly coincided with the Full-Moon periods (which aren’t usually this muted). All of that said though, I have landed and released some lovely bass so far in 2023, more so over the New-Moon and the larger tides…
I’ll hit you with the raw data then: Not including the session I completed with Henry Gilbey this morning, in which I placed a very ‘chubby’ 4lb+ ‘March bass’ on the beach (I will cover this capture in a subsequent post if I may), I have completed Twenty-Four personal sessions (mostly alone, or with one of my fishing companions in tow bless em’) since the turn of the year. Eleven in each of the months of January and February, with a further Two in March. In total, I managed to land Sixteen bass, with Five over 50cm and the largest measuring 55cm (so around 4lb in weight) which is the bass that you can see in the featured image.
Although small, the ‘scrapper’ above brought a smile to my face during the first week of January, as it was the first time I’d fished since the 22nd December having come down with COVID on Boxing Day and waiting until I was feeling OK again before sneaking out. Furthermore, until today’s ‘cracker’ that I’m still reliving as I write this, all of the other 15 bass hooked and landed since this one and up until this morning were achieved within darkness – simply because, bar one mid-January afternoon, this has been the only period in which I’ve fished.
So why I have chosen to take the unusual step (for me) to publish this kind of information? Well, considering that all of the night-time bass took the same pattern of lure (a Savage Gear Gravity Stick Pulse Tail in the 120mm or 140mm guise rigged onto the Savage 6/0 3g belly-weighted hooks and with the 1.8g spike weight inserted into the tail section), via one very specific and meticulously administered retrieve style, not only acts as a precursor to some extremely interesting and fact-based information contained within my next release, it also makes things exceptional easy to quantify.
I mentioned the darkness because, as I’ve written previously, I truly do believe that these fish are far more active at night and will lie primarily dormant in the daytime so to conserve their energy during the colder months of the year. This is an interesting theory I know, given that in many of the photographs in this post I am stood out in sub-zero air temperatures, within which you could definitely surmise that the sea/water is slightly lower overnight too in the shallow, intertidal venues I routinely fish over the daylight hours when the Sun has a bit of ‘kick’ to it – especially during the latter stages of February.
Something that may have exacerbated this principle is that the bass prey items (especially the crabs) were no where near as prevalent around my patch during what is a notoriously ‘tricky’ time of the year in which to ‘lure’ bass anyway (which is made all the more difficult the more North and/or East you live in the UK I completely understand and appreciate). Normally, even in the darkest depths of winter, if I shine my light into the margins or when I am walking to and from the marks, there will be a lot of ‘scuttling’ going on and I have to be careful and mindful not to stand on them, but I cannot recall many evenings when this occurred since early-December, when the fishing was exceptionally good until we went into the deep-freeze.
Further, this is something I have corroborated with a good mate of mine who happens to be a superb flounder fisherman, in the sense that the flounder fishing within the estuaries of the South Hams has been excellent over the late-autumn and winter 22/23 period – which could be a further indicator of reduced crab (bait robbing) activity – until the lights go out that is, when any that are around will head out for their supper, whereby the bass will swoop in I have no doubt…
If I had written this post at the end of January I would have called it ‘One Bite Only’ or ‘One Bite is all it Takes’ or something similar, as this is precisely how the fishing and catches transpired during the eleven sessions I completed and the four very welcome bass that I landed for my exertions – many of which saw me dive into a very hot shower upon arriving back home followed by a nice cup of tea and toast with butter on – tut tut tut, I know!
But following a spell in the doldrums during the first week of February in which I completed four sessions for no reward whatsoever, just as I was beginning to ponder whether the protracted pre-Christmas cold snap had sent a higher percentage of bass packing and heading ‘southwards and westwards’ than the previous four Januarys in which I’ve achieved personal bass captures of 7lb (2021 here and 2022 here), the weather miraculously settled down and the fishing improved.
Two nights after ‘my first of the month’, with my in-laws having arrived, settled and the requisite permission granted from not only my family, but also the Farmer whose field I needed to cross to access the mark, on the third cast of the session, my late-night yomp was rewarded in the form of the second-largest bass I have ever caught on a lure in February courtesy of the ‘plump’ 55cm/4lb fish below. Maintaining the statis quo, she took a white, 120mm Savage Gear Gravity Stick Pulse Tail (here) rigged, as per the manner mentioned in the ‘quantified paragraphs’, right at the end of the controlled descent/drop, following a count of around twelve seconds (meaning the lure would have been about to touch the seabed by my estimation).
At this juncture into the New Year, bar my first bass in February (two images up) that I had coaxed into taking the lure after a couple of tentative ‘feathers’ on the drop (a kind of gentle tap tap in quick succession is the best way I can describe it, with the bass hitting the lure with their gill plates perhaps?) all of the fish landed had been via the only bite of each of the respective and successful sessions. Seemingly then, although there weren’t a lot of bass present around my marks, the ones that were there and feeding in darkness were of a good average, and most certainly, a mature size.
But with late-evening air temperatures hovering around the 8-10oC mark during the third week of February, despite the sea temperature approaching its lower limit, the fishing, exactly as it had done so 12 months prior during a similarly benign and mild phase of weather, switched on ‘big style’. Taking a slight ‘punt’ on a back-up venue (Plan B) after the first had failed to deliver a touch, over the first of the spring tides in that cycle, and with only the larger 140mm Gravity Stick Pulse Tail on me that night (having snagged and lost the only smaller 120mm version I had left) rather frustratingly, I received eight of those tentative ‘plucks’. But could I get one to fully commit? Could I heck…
However, the following night I was there again having searched high and low for my cache of the white, 120mm versions. And with the only remaining Pulse Tail I currently owned ready to roll, alongside a 5″ Wave Worm Bamboo Stick rigged with a ‘stinger’ hook (an additional smaller single hook in the tail section) I was highly confident that I would land at least one of the culprits from the night before… What a session! I counted thirteen ‘hits’, mostly on the drop, but with some materialising later in the retrieve also (which suggests the bass were revitalised and energised somewhat by the increased air temperatures that week) and I managed to land five lovely fish in total.
Five bass, with one well over the ‘very decent size of 50cm’ in February is a red-letter day/night in my book, and I don’t know whether it was the smaller-sized Pulse Tail (albeit by 20mm) that made the difference, or perhaps, the additional distance (some 5m-7m I’d say) that turned the odds in my favour following my frustrating blank on the previous night… Furthermore, it is also possible that the increased velocity to the current during this and the subsequent sessions (courtesy of the larger tides) that week (in which I landed a further four bass over the next two nights) could have added a bit of urgency to their feeding – that, and the fact there were more of them which added to the whole ‘being in competition with their peers element’.
Could I have caught more or bigger bass if I’d been less rigid in regards to my choice of lure? Perhaps yes, but as I said back in the third paragraph to this post, every one of the twenty-two sessions I conducted in January and February were planned and timed almost to the minute so that I could give myself every conceivable chance of catching whilst balancing how much time I was spending away from my latest project – and hence why kept with a winning formula.
But before I make you laugh with a photograph of me looking, for all intents and purposes like a drowned and half-frozen rat, below is a short gallery that highlights some of the catches I achieved in January and February whilst confirming the bass-attracting attributes of what is a brilliant, brilliant soft plastic lure for what I ‘do’ in winter – the Savage Gear Gravity Stick Pulse Tail (both the ‘mini’ 120mm 12g version and the 140mm 15g pattern):
Until literally a few hours ago, during a very enjoyable session in which Henry Gilbey kindly travelled up from Cornwall to fish with me in search of his first ever lure-caught March bass and I managed to extract (fluke out!) a stunning 4lb+ porker (it’s belly was rammed with crabs I believe) I had only fished twice in March. A combination of rubbish weather, or decent weather not combining with the ‘right’ tides on the ‘right’ marks, added to the fact that once I’d entered into the editing process of my next release I just had to get my head down and plough through it (with the help of a very nice Lawyer friend of mine – thanks Mike!) kept me off the shoreline.
But with my new reel (I’m too embarrassed to reveal its identity for fear of being labelled a tackle tart!) attached and ready to be christened, on what was a bloody awful night’s weather that wasn’t even hinted at in the Met Office forecast, just as the rain began to hammer down and my thoughts began to drift towards the curry and cold beer I had waiting for me at home BANG – my first bass of what I determine to be ‘My Bass Season’ (1st March to 28/29th February) jumped on, you guessed it, the 120mm Gravity Stick Pulse Tail…
Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective
If you follow my bass lure fishing escapades on Social Media then look out for an official announcement around the 24th/25th of March in relation to the release of my third book. Following this, early into next week (the week commencing the 27th March) I will be releasing a blog post on my website detailing precisely what is encompassed within this new title, in addition to how you can purchase it.
Furthermore, I have kept a substantial list of all of the people who have kindly purchased one or both of my previous releases (The Lure of The Bass and Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective Volume 1) therefore, I will be contacting you individually – so please keep checking your SPAM folders in case it’s diverted to it.
If however, you haven’t purchased from me before, and you would like to enquire about any of my books then I am more than happy to receive an email either directly at: email@example.com or alternatively, you can complete the Contact Form below and I will get back to you as soon as possible:
Thanks for reading.