My Recent Catches – Is March the new May…?
A couple of things before you read on!
Firstly, in case you aren’t already aware through social media or the emails I have sent to the people affected (and please accept my sincere apologies for this. Unfortunately, I discovered on Tuesday morning as I was placing ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 2)’ into the 500+ envelopes ready to be posted that, due to an error/mistake at the printers, there are 40 pages missing from the vast majority of the current batch of books.
To those of you who haven’t received your copy of ‘A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 2)’, and were/are unaware of this, again, I offer you my sincere apologies for what will be a further delay of between 10-14 days (from the 11th April) until you receive the book as all 1000 are now being reprinted. Further, if you have purchased a combination of Volume 2 and either of my previous titles then I would be extremely grateful for your patience in allowing me wait until I place both or all three books into the envelope, otherwise this error will end up costing me even more time, effort and money than it already is.
Rest assured, I have acted immediately on the situation, and I promise that you will receive your book(s) as soon as I can physically get them to you. If however, you would prefer a full refund instead of waiting, then please do send me your account details via email and I will transfer the amount back to you – no problem.
Once again, I am extremely sorry about this.
Finally, there are 70 books in circulation that I managed to post prior to the Easter Bank Holiday therefore, once you’ve received your book, please would you be kind enough to check if these pages are contained within your copy. Clearly, if they aren’t, then I will arrange a replacement as soon as the printers have reprinted the 1000 books – approximately 10-14 days, which I 100% appreciate isn’t ideal at all and I also apologise profusely for.
March = May… Really?
What a week! Onto the blog post then… I haven’t lost my marbles just yet when I refer to the title of this post! But why do I ‘think’ March could be the new May? Sand eels, and lost of them, both in the Lesser and Greater (Launce) variety have been prominent within the estuary mouth settings I have leaned towards during my mid-spring endeavours – which is somewhat surprising given that the sea temperature is only where it should be for the time of year here in south Devon (at around 10.4oC) rather than being ‘above average’ as it were… But they are here, and historically, if the launce in particular are this close inshore then, generally speaking, some pretty extensive bass shoals are never far behind, before they begin to ‘split off’ into smaller groups, and to invariable begin spawning in the females.
I have to admit that I only actually fished four times in the whole of March myself, due to the combination of the poor weather and, of course, so to ensure that I completed and was able to release my latest book. But it was extraordinarily interesting to ‘sense and see’ so much activity when I was out there, be it in daylight or darkness. Indeed, you’ll recall the (small) bass that I landed early in March from my previous blog post here (I won’t display the photo again as I look bloody miserable!) as despite the cold that night, it did feel decidedly ‘fishy and bassy’ to me as there were a lot of mullet splashing around – which is always a good sign I find…
But before I talk more about March, I very briefly want to highlight a pattern of events that I have witnessed over the past few winters. I’m sure you have noted from the photographs in all of my previous ‘winter blog posts’ how many times I am wrapped up in four layers of clothing, and with two hats keeping my bonce warm whilst holding a bass that I have extracted whilst the frost formed around me! But without a shadow of a doubt, within January, February, and March, if the south of the UK experiences some warm and settled weather within these months, then the bass that are present all-year round here most definitely react both accordingly and positively.
High pressure and the associated clear skies during this period in the winter and early-spring do, ordinarily at least, signal frosty nights. But if we receive what I believe Meteorologists call a ‘Cloudy High’, whereby a blanket of cloud remains overhead despite the rising barometric pressure, then if a gentle southerly drift to the wind and overall airmass is also established, it can serve to keep the daytime and night-time air temperatures hovering within pretty much the same range for days on end at around the 8-11oC mark – this is when the bass (and/or their prey perhaps) ‘come alive’ as it were!
The last two Februarys are a case in point, in which during an almost identical week’s worth of weather during 2022 and 2023, that also rather intriguingly coincided with the spring tides over the New-Moon period over each occasion, served up some spectacular bass lure fishing for the time of year. What I believe is occurring then, and indeed what I propose, is that a prolonged spell of relative warmth within this stage of the year is enough to ‘spark’ the metabolism of the bass into life – even if it is only for a few tides, or even better, a few days and nights. But what a treat it is when it does happen!
Anyhow, onto March, and if you follow my adventures even ever-so-slightly if not fervently, then you would have noticed that in 2021 and 2022 I did manage to pull bass out of 74cm and 64cm respectively (that you can see below). Therefore, it was actually with a fair degree of confidence during a spell of gentle south-westerly winds and heavy drizzle (is it me or do we seem to be experiencing these kinds of periods in the weather less and less nowadays?) that I suggested to Henry Gilbey that it might be worth him popping over the border to fish with me on the first of what I would term as a series of spring tides (one with a greater tidal range of 4m here in south Devon) with a view to breaking his ‘March Bass’ duck…
My chosen venue was ‘alive’ with activity from the minute we arrived. Sea trout and mullet jumping, cormorants hunting, sand eels being swished along in the flow and, above all, the sight of a ‘blue-tinged-fined’ 4lb+ bass literally swimming over my boot in the exceptionally clear, knee-deep water. “Mate, I’ve just had a good bass swim right over my feet” I bellowed along the foreshore before adding “They are definitely here!”
Sure enough, ten minutes later, and with the superb Megabass Spindle Worm (a 5″ version in the Ayu pattern here) still attached as it had been from the start of the session based on my assessment of the conditions (clear water as mentioned and a dull, overcast sky) a solid ‘THUD’ only a 3m off the rod tip as the lure began to swing enticingly around my stance (The ‘Swing Point’ Method is how I describe it within the Marginal Gains Chapter of my new book: Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective Volume 2) resulted in a solid hook-up via the equally solid early-season bass (below).
Henry wrote and released a blog post himself that you can read here in which he depicts the session from his viewpoint, and although he didn’t land a bass himself during our session, it was brilliant to see the message ping through the following morning to say that he’d landed his first ever ‘March Bass’. What was extraordinarily satisfying about what I know was a highly coveted capture from his perspective of never having caught a lure caught bass in every month of the year, was that he’d taken something he’d read from the promotion copy of Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s perspective (Volume 2) I’d given to him, and then used it directly on one of his venues. Well done Henry!
It was very kind of him to attribute his seminal capture to something he’d utilised from reading certain paragraphs of my new book (I won’t spoil it by revealing which ones), but in essence, it got me thinking even more about the migratory patterns of these marvellous fish – to the extent that I decided to venture out a couple of days later to a venue that conjures up some exceedingly happy memories for me, as it marks the scene of the second largest bass I have personally caught (the 74cm caught at night from the images earlier in this post and one which you can read about in its entirety in you guess it – my new book!).
When I was reading everything I could get my hands on in regards to bass behaviour and how to catch them on lures in conjunction with everything the people kind enough to tell me, a period in the year that everyone mentioned, wrote, or said was the adage that the bass would turn up in earnest around the first or second set of spring tides in May. Now I’m not disputing the fact that for large swathes of the UK coastline this doesn’t ring true, but I think it’s become pretty obvious from my year-round results, and those of the many other ‘southern based bass anglers’ fishing throughout the entire year with lures nowadays, that a percentage of bass most definitely remain very close to our shores all year round.
But taking these seemingly resident bass (that I appreciate we are very fortunate to be able to target in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset in particular) out of the equation for the moment, and if there was any tiny shred of doubt remaining (in my mind anyhow) in regard to just how territorial these fascinating fish can be, it was as I was stood precisely where I was almost two years ago to the day when I witnessed (and eventually caught!) a 9lb+ bass ‘wallow’ before me over a 20 minute period (in which it just kept ignoring a variety of my deftly delivered lures), that what I strongly suspect to be the same fish reappeared within the same square metre of terrain before me as the Sun also appeared to penetrate the silted-up shallows.
It may not have been the same bass of course, but even if it wasn’t (and I think it was!) either way, at the very least it cements the fact that very large, migratory, territorial and almost certainly spawning bass are either always present around localised sections of my local coastline, or more likely, that they are returning year in, year out, and much earlier than many of us (including me) ever thought. Like I said, I have absolutely no doubt about either of the notions above now given the fish I have seen and the captures I have personally achieved over the past three March’s as it were, but here’s another theory of mine that could also explain the ‘start/stop/start/stop start to April…
I completed my first guiding session in late-March this year, and a rather successful one it was too as it brought about the magnificent capture of bass of 54cm and 57cm that I’ll cover in my next blog post. But thereafter, up until the six bass that I’ve landed over two recent sessions in darkness (see the gallery below) the five guided sessions that I have completed in April so far have only been blessed with a few ‘not big enough to photograph stragglers’ – all of which has got me wondering as it always does!
I know there have been lure-caught bass caught further east along the English Channel coastline, and indeed along the shores of north Cornwall and southern Wales, therefore, is it possible that the 4lb bass I caught, and the two my client (well done Paul!) caught during the third week of March were, in effect, the forerunners to the season proper? Are these transitory bass, and/or part of a collection, squad, or shoal of fish now being caught further east along the south coast in the case of the south Devon bass that have simply followed the launce…?
We’ll never really know of course unless we tag and track a good percentage of bass that continue to live and ‘tell the tale’. Moreover, wouldn’t it prove utterly fascinating to be able to tag the ‘beast’ that seemingly returns to its ‘March haunt’ here in south Devon each year? The mind boggles – well, mine does constantly!
Notwithstanding the delay in delivery and despatch to ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 2)’ all three of my books are IN STOCK and available to order. Details of the contents of each respective title can be found in the blog post I wrote recently here, in addition to the various PayPal payment options applicable to each book at the bottom of that post.
If you would like to purchase either or both of ‘The Lure of The Bass’ or ‘A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 1)’ then upon receiving payment I will post these asap, whereas if the combination you decide to purchase contains ‘A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 2)’ then I will wait until this title has been reprinted before despatching it alongside the other(s). I hope that makes sense, but as always, you can contact me via the Contact Form below or directly at email@example.com and I will answer your query as quickly as I possibly can. Thank you.
Thanks for reading.