Why on earth is chucking lures around at night for bass so damn exciting?

To be honest it makes little sense to me if I think about it logically, because the whole lure fishing thing appeals to me so much because it’s so wonderfully visual for my photography obsession, but obviously when you’re out in the pitch black casting lures around, that whole visual side to this style of fishing flies right out of the window. I can’t get visually excited about say an angler working a lure rod against a dramatic sky in a beautiful location at night, and even a grip and grin of an angler plus bass at night is severely creatively curtailed because you have to chuck loads of harsh flashlight at the subjects. But I find myself standing there in the middle of the night casting and retrieving say a white senko, and for some strange reason I absolutely love it……

Is it that very reason that you can’t see very much at all that is a big part of the reason why? Take away a sense such as sight and it seems as if your other senses try and make up for the loss by jacking themselves up - if you chuck lures around at night, do you get the sense that say the whole feel thing is that bit more heightened? I love it when I’m straight retrieving a senko and out of the blue (black?) I feel a gentle tap on it from a bass, and I am convinced my awareness of these gentle plucks is that bit greater because I am seeing so little - my sense of touch feels like it’s on overload. And yes, I do of course prefer it when a bass simply hits my lure so hard it hooks itself, but wow is the anticipation of the tap or hit that bit more increased because my visual parameters have been removed.

A few years ago I couldn’t really imagine myself actively looking forward to heading out there at night so much to chuck lures around, but as ever, if there’s one thing this lure fishing has taught me, it’s never to say never. When I was bait fishing all the time, going night fishing was as natural as going  daytime fishing, but night time lure fishing has gone and crept up on me in a big way. Yes, it fries my brain that I am not able to properly show it off as I feel I can with my cameras during daylight hours, but then I do wonder if just the pure fishing thing and not also thinking about the photography of it is also helping to concentrate my mind on simply being there and feeling so intently for any interest in my lure that feels so tenuously linked to me by some scarily thin braid.

OK, not quite dark yet, but at least it lets me do something photographically.........

OK, not quite dark yet, but at least it lets me do something photographically.........

And of course there is the whole argument around night fishing being arguably more productive than daytime fishing for bass, or might it often be that flat calm conditions which usually aren’t remotely conducive to chucking lures around during the day (are estuaries mostly exempt here?) are now a whole lot more appealing to the bass angler who is prepared to ply his or her trade at night when it’s like this? Without a doubt the whole lures at night thing requires a dollop more confidence, and I am sure this is mostly because we as human beings are naturally sceptical that fish can so easily locate lures (which like say a senko are doing so little in the water) when it’s dark, but if there one single thing that has made the whole night fishing lure thing click for me the last couple of years is that I stopped treating night lure fishing as some big thing, and instead started thinking of it quite simply as lure fishing - day or night it seems that a predator like bass can just as easily locate lures, and for me it’s another fascinating aspect to a side of fishing that I just never imagined could be so seemingly infinite…….

It’s uncanny how many times the Crazy Sandeel produces pollack when things have gone a bit quiet

It has happened too many times now for me to put it down as merely a fluke - you’re pollack fishing off the rocks, a few fish have either been caught or hooked and lost (typical pollack fishing!), and then the fishing goes quiet. On goes a Crazy Sandeel and as if like magic you catch or at least hook fish again - it’s just frigging deadly. I know that pollack can be very colour picky at times and that marks can go quiet if you have hooked a few fish, but it’s uncanny how changing over to a Crazy Sandeel can produce fish once more.

Last week over in Kerry we made the decision to head for one of the most stunning pollack marks I have ever been lucky enough to see, indeed this place floats my boat that much I considered resigning my post as a co-guide with John Quinlan and fishing myself! Seriously, it’s just an inspiring place to be. Anyway, a few fish were either landed or lost and things then went a bit quiet. I said to Andy that now was the time to clip on a 150mm/20g Fiiish Crazy Sandeel………

I think the problem if you like with the Crazy Sandeel has always been that anglers aren’t aware how it’s meant to be fished. Hell, when I first tried bumping the lure down a current (categorically not how it’s meant to be fished I subsequently found out), I kinda dismissed it as not being nearly as good as the Black Minnow and left it alone for a while. Nope, the Crazy Sandeel needs to be ripped hard to get it working, and nine times out of ten you will then get hit as the lure drops and you are cranking back down to it - and this is how I told Andy to fish the lure. The lads are good anglers and he susses it out straight away.

A cracking shore pollack from the same location last October.

So it’s gone quiet on the pollack, Andy puts on a Crazy Sandeel, and first chuck he hooks up (on the drop) yet doesn’t hook the fish. A few casts later and he hooks a donkey pollack (on the drop) that he saw clear as day but his line snapped - I got some video footage of all this and will post it up in due course when I had a chance to edit it together. I have seen this happen too many times now for it to be a fluke, and I am fast coming to the conclusion that the Fiiish Crazy Sandeel is just about the most lethal pollack lure I have ever seen. Back in August over in Kerry we went out on John’s boat a couple of times with our clients and it was almost uncanny how many pollack the Crazy Sandeel produced, but you’ve got to get it moving (rippling).

How often do you watch fish swimming about in say a harbour or marina? I am out in Lanzarote this week with my family and I was watching a bunch of mullet mooching around the other day (well I can’t not can I?!), but it’s when they put on a burst of speed that I am reminded so much of how you need to get the Crazy Sandeel looking when you rip it - at a slow speed the lure’s doing squat, as intended, but now rip it hard and it literally comes to life, just like a fast moving/swimming fish or indeed sandeel. It’s almost uncanny if you ask me how lifelike this lure is when you bring it to life.

We then moved on to another pollack mark and one of the lads landed a few more pollack and also a couple of wrasse on the Crazy Sandeel. I accept completely that there are masses of different lures that work well for pollack, but I have spent enough time either using or being around (guiding) the Crazy Sandeel and pollack fishing now to deem it a lure that I’d feel uncomfortable being without. Obviously I spend a fair amount of time talking about all things fishing with John Quinlan when are are doing our co-guiding thing, and it was interesting to hear how, pollack aside, he has become completely convinced about the Crazy Sandeel as a bass lure, indeed he was telling me of a number of occasions when the lure was the only thing the bass were interested in taking - which of course tends to suggest that the bass were feeding on sandeels of course, but how many of all the other lures we carry are also along the lines of a sandeel? I can’t help but wonder how much more I have to learn about what I think is a fascinating lure that here in the UK is generally very misunderstood.

And below is my work that will be out in the next issue of Sea Angler magazine, including a review of the Crazy Sandeel.

If I get to 70, I hope I can be as awesome as this bloke is

We had a lad called Dave Froy on our first week of co-guiding out in Ireland the other day - he was one of four anglers from various ages and walks of life, but never in a million years would I have put Dave at 70 years old. We only found out that Dave was 70 on day three of the trip I think it was, and to be honest I was somewhat taken aback. Holy frigging cow if I am lucky enough to make 70 and I have even half as much zest as this awesome bloke has then I will count myself very lucky. Fit as you like, the most wicked sense of humour, sharp as a razor, he’s done so many things in his life, he’s a mad keen angler who just loves a bit of fishing in a place such as Kerry, and overall was just an absolute pleasure to be around…….

I don’t want to embarrass Dave here, but the fact that he was so up for what we did for four very long days at age 70 left a huge impression on me, and if there is one thing that a love for fishing and thus the outdoors must do is to help keep one’s zest for life shining brightly. Fishing can of course be done by people of nearly all ages, but what we do out at Thatch Cottage can be pretty tough - lots of early mornings, very long days, all kinds of weather, some of the marks can be a bit of a hike and/or a scramble over very uneven surfaces, and I have known a 30 year old client I think he was ask if he could nip off for an afternoon’s kip on only the second afternoon of his four day trip (no names mentioned P…..!)

It’s a blast to spend time with people who are so full of joy, and 70 year old Dave Froy was just that. I’ve already had a brush with cancer and I hope it stays away, but at the end of the day you’re going to get what you get. I can’t help feeling though that such a positive attitude as Dave has is going a long way towards him having such an incredible zest for life. Thanks so much for coming along on one of our trips Dave and we are so hoping you will come back to Thatch Cottage next year. What an inspiration.

It’s such a profound buzz helping people catch a few fish

Our first group of four anglers are leaving today and then our second lot arrive, ready to start again early tomorrow morning - maybe John and I are lucky with this co-guiding thing we do, but the four we have just had have been fantastic, and the four arriving are sound as a pound as well. OK, with one exception perhaps - check here! Nope, I stand by my belief that for the most part, anglers are just pretty cool people, and when you get them out here in such a special place and they catch a few fish, well I don’t really see how life can get much better…………

Now of course John knows these waters very well and he is making the calls on where to take the lads fishing. I’ll chip in with a few thoughts when I can, but the guy knows his stuff backwards and holy cow does he have a lot of coastline around here! What really does it for me is seeing people catch fish, watching them smile and laugh, and also helping where I can with lure choices, techniques, ideas etc. People often ask me if it bothers me at all not actually fishing myself, but I am perfectly used to not fishing and seeing people catch fish via the bulk of my fishing related photo jobs anyway - but getting involved with actually helping our clients catch a few fish just gets more and more satisfying. I just love it. I am taking photos and shooting a bit of video to give to the guys as a memento of their trips, but to be able to help in some small way with the actual fishing? As I said in the title of this post, it’s a profound buzz.

October in Kerry!

October in Kerry!

You might struggle to believe that it’s October in Kerry with a couple of these photos here, but that 6lb+ bass that Joe had in such bright, calm conditions will live with me forever. Drifting and twitching a (frigging lethal) 6’’ sandeel colour OSP DoLive Stick in a bit of current with water as clear as you could ever hope to see, and then a prime condition bass like that comes along and inhales the soft plastic - wow! If watching that sort of stuff doesn’t buzz one up then I’d be very worried indeed. Good fishing, the perfect call on John’s behalf, and an October day that I am sure will live long in the guys’ memories. One day you’re trying to cover up from the autumn sun, and the next day you’re getting properly rained on! You get it all here in Kerry and I fall in love with the place the more time I am lucky enough to spend here.

Another thing about not actually fishing is that you do get to see a number of different lures working - and sometimes not working of course. One lure I do often turn to when working with clients is the IMA Komomo II - when conditions are just a bit too challenging for fishing soft plastics rigged weedless/weightless and something like my beloved Komomo SF-125 swims that tiny bit too deep for where we are fishing, I’ll often suggest turning to the even shallower swimming Komomo II and winding it nice and slowly. It fascinates me how often the lure then produces bass, as per yesterday morning in fact. That flashing plate colour Komomo II seems to work in all kinds of water and light conditions, but especially in bright sunshine. One of the lads has been catching consistently on that mullet coloured Feed Shallow, but in some coloured water yesterday I suggested he clip on a brighter coloured Feed Shallow copy that he had in his box - and he went and caught. I can’t pretend that I like the idea of ripoff lures, but the thing worked. It was great to see one of the lads whack out the legendary but discontinued Maria Chase BW in that holo silvery colour and catch a bass. All we need now is some proper autumn swells to get the guys out in the surf………….