Do you have a tendency to stick to specific techniques/lures that have worked at specific marks in the past, and can this affect your catches?

Well I know I do. Rightly or wrongly, I don’t mind admitting that I turn to certain lures and techniques at specific marks where they have worked well for me before, and I would hazard a guess that a lot of you do this - at least as a kind of default anyway, and then chop and change according to conditions and whether you start catching fish or not. Some locations by their nature tend to call for a certain approach, and we all know how the whole confidence thing is so damn important in any kind of fishing. If you have caught before at a specific mark on a specific lure and a specific technique, it’s only natural to do the exact same thing again and again……..

On the flipside though, how often do you fish a spot you know really well in the way that you have done so well on in the past, only this time you catch sod all? Talk naturally turns to something along the lines of oh well, there were obviously no fish there today because we didn’t catch them when on similar tides, conditions, etc. we smashed them before - but is that always the case? Would a very different approach have found you a few fish, or were there really no fish around? Do we become a bit blinkered sometimes because we naturally default to what we know has been successful in the past? I like to think that I am an open minded angler, and certain fishing related instances really bounce around my brain when they are actually based around spots that I know and fish myself - when somebody fishes a spot that I know in a way that I have never done and then catches a heap of fish, well I would be beyond stupid not to sit up and take notice and think about how I could then incorporate aspects of what they have done into my armoury………….

An angler I know who happens to firstly be bloody good at fishing, and secondly grew up spending a lot of (family holiday) time fishing the exact same area of Kerry that I am now lucky enough to spend time around with this co-guiding work I do with John Quinlan - well this angler fished the Irish Bass Festival this year and based himself in Tramore on the south coast of Ireland. He is getting to know this part of Ireland bit by bit, but he has no preconceived notions if you like about how certain spots “should” be fished (which of course makes no sense anyway) - a few days before the festival started, this bloke wandered down to a spot that is well known by plenty of lure anglers. I guess he would feel a little naked without a few of those discontinued Bass Bullet lures in his box of tricks (and yes, this blog post does link into my discussions about long-range surf fishing recently, check here, here and here for example), and why on earth would he know that many anglers who fish this particular spot will tend to turn to those orange, white and yellow Savage Gear Sandeels, or at least something along those lines. Why you might ask? Because they have smashed fish on those lures at that particular spot plenty of times before.

But on this particular occasion this UK angler saw loads of birds working in behind the pretty lively surf, and because where he grew up bass fishing it’s perfectly natural to firstly know how to read and fish these conditions when there’s obviously a load of bait around, and secondly he’s gone prepared to fish (surf) conditions with a sufficiently powerful rod (Major Craft Skyroad 9’6’’ 15-42g) to really get his Bass Bullets out there, well let’s put it this way - he frigging smashed ‘em. On that first session at this spot he landed 25 bass in the 4-8lbs range, and that in anybody’s book is some serious bass fishing. The next day he went back and found good conditions again and landed 20 bass in the 3-6lbs range, and on the third session down there the conditions weren’t nearly as good but he still landed 5 bass around 4-5lbs.

Now all these bass were taken by belting out a Bass Bullet and then cranking it back at a speed which makes it work as a surface lure - he told me that at some points there were so many bass around that they would hit the lure the moment it came up on the surface, and then if the odd fish came off another one would then smash into the lure. I don’t see how lure fishing for bass is going to get much more exciting than taking them off the top at range in a big surf, but the simple fact is that I have never, ever gone to this spot equipped to fish like this guy did. Have I been missing out? Well I have to assume a big fat yes siree, because the simple fact is that the methods that have worked so well for other anglers in the past at this spot don’t always work - granted, there aren’t always going to be bass there, but what about when the conditions look just about perfect but we struggle?

I bet most of us here have got locked into certain lures and techniques at certain spots, but how often you do go to these spots prepared to do something totally different to what you would have done before? What this guy did was not a fluke, but whilst I know a couple of guys who might do a bit of long-range shore jigging at this spot, I don’t know of another angler who has deliberately fished there with ultra long-range surface lures. This is but one example though, and my questions here of course revolve around any kind of lure fishing that you or I might be dialled into but are then ignoring another potentially more successful way of doing things. Does that make sense? Sure, we might already be doing exactly the right thing at the right time in the right place, but what are the odds of that? I sure as hell am happy to admit that the more I learn about this lure fishing thing, the more I realise how little I actually know, and it excites the hell out of me. Nothing floats my boat in fishing more than learning new stuff. Have a good weekend.

 

Destination Angler, by Dave Lewis - book review

As much as I love my UK and Irish fishing, angling to me is a global thing, and via my travelling for work especially I have a fascination with sport fishing all around the world - and as a result, I can’t help but be interested in other people who fish a bit in weird and wonderful places. Putting Dave Lewis and “fish a bit” in the same sentence is a bit like saying Mo Farah does a bit of running though - Dave seriously travels the world for his fishing and fishing related work, and I am thrilled to be able to tell you about a Destination Angler, a book he has written and photographed. Crumbs, I reckon I’ve been to a few places on this glorious earth for my work and fishing, but take it from me, Dave’s done a scary amount…………

Is there an angler out there who couldn’t get a kick out of reading about Dave’s wealth of fishing experiences? He writes in a very down to earth and approachable way, as indeed he has done so for many years in Sea Angler, and I like how this makes me feel very involved in the many stories that unfold through the course of the book. Most anglers will never get to experience even a small percentage of the global fishing that Dave has done, but he manages to put you right in the middle of his fishing trips, and at the end of the day us anglers are but dreamers are we not? There’s a big world out there and Dave’s book Destination Angler opens up some of the finest sport fishing there is to us readers - and yes, there’s plenty of stuff in there that is on my bucket list!

Kenya, the Florida Keys, Norway, Tanzania, Cape Cod, Argentina, Mozambique, The Maldives, Belize, Uganda, Panama, Sierra Leone etc., the list of destination based chapters in this book is quite something. I won’t go into the many species covered because I would need a book to do so myself, but if you have any interest in some of the best sport fishing to be found around our glorious planet, pick up a copy of Destination Angler by Dave Lewis and lose yourself for many wonderful hours. OK, as a fishing photographer myself I’d like to maybe see a few double page spreads that show off the stunning locations even more (but this of course adds to design and printing costs with a book), but this is just me knowing how frigging awesome some of these places can look - there are more good photos of serious fish throughout the book that anybody has any right to have caught and I can see myself coming back to Destination Angler again and again throughout the long winter months especially. Well done Dave, cracking book, that’s some air miles!

Details above on where you can buy this book

Details above on where you can buy this book

HTO Shore Game S882LML 8’8’’ 7-28g lure rod review, plus casting video - £299.99 retail price

I reckon it’s a bold move for a UK company to develop two lure fishing rods for shore based bass fishing that are retailing around the £300 mark, but then if you keep an eye on the TronixPro lot then you can’t fail to notice how intent they are on shaking up the UK fishing tackle market - and I take my hat off to them. Will they sell a load of these (not cheap) lure rods? I haven’t got a clue, but full marks to them for giving it a damn good go……….

First impressions of this rather smart HTO Shore Game S882LML 8’8’’ 7-28g lure rod are good. I am a sucker for a decent neoprene rod bag even if I don’t actually find the need for a rod bag very much, and via my love affair with the Major Craft Truzer range of rods, I can’t help but be drawn to a lure rod rung with Fuji Torzite guides. Do they catch me more fish? Nope, but that’s besides the point. I like them and they smack of quality. I can live with the reelseat but I do wish it had a bit of a grip for my reel hand (see here, it’s the same design as on their longer 9’6’’ rod), and the noticeably short handle length sits well with the rod and how it fishes (I bet this rod works well on a boat). There is a little clip just above the foregrip where you can clip lures into, and I can even clip these rather fantastic Breakaway Mini Links in there if needs be.

So how does the rod behave when you take it out lure fishing? Well I mean this as a big compliment - it would be a shame to buy this rather deft lure rod and do nothing with it but “whack and crank”, as in the rod’s so light and wand-like and responsive that it really is pleading with you to do so much more with it than simply blast lures out there and crank them back in. By all means clip something on like the IMA Hound 125F Glide hard lure, blast it out and wind it back, but you can do that just fine with any number of lure rods. Nope, it’s when you are casting out say a DoLive Stick, a senko, a lighter hard lure or smaller surface lure and you are lightly gripping the rod and deftly working the lures back to you (and yes, sometimes I do actually do this!) - this is when this 8’8’’ HTO Shore Game rod really comes to life, and it’s a frigging dream to fish with it like this. When a rod feels like a simple extension of my arm is when I know it’s a bit special, and this is exactly the feeling I get here - the tip tightens up to the braid after the cast as you start to work your lure back and rod simply comes to life. Wand-like. Rather bloody lovely.

It might well be rated 7-28g, but that stated casting weight I think in some ways does the rod a little bit of a disservice if that makes sense. The rod will deal with the heavier end of its casting rating if you really need it to, but to me this rod is more of a say 5-24g lure fishing rod, and I seriously like this. I have fished with plenty of lure rods that sit just above this rod on the casting weight front (the 10-30g Major Craft rods for example), but it’s not that easy to find a wand of a lure rod like this that so enjoys the lighter stuff. As with the majority of these rods we use for lure fishing, you have the ability to land any bass that swims on them, and this thing’s got oodles of power if needs be - but you’re not going to buy it as a skull-dragging weapon because this rod isn’t like that. I actually think it’s interesting how there’s such an obvious gap between the 8’8’’ and 9’6’’ HTO Shore Game rods, and I must assume that this is by design.

Do I need a lure rod like this for my lure fishing? Well I could quite easily own this rod and end up using it for a fair percentage of what I do as regards bass fishing, but as for you? That would depend on where you live and how you either choose to fish or are almost forced to by terrain and conditions etc. I would love to spend time for example wandering a local estuary that I have my eye on for bass with this rod in hand, a soft plastic on the end, and say a light spinning reel around the Daiwa 2500/Shimano 300 size, indeed I have been using the 2016 Daiwa 2500 Certate on this 8’8’’ HTO Shore Game rod and they go very well together. If you need to fish with bigger lures and/or are needing to deal with bigger seas etc. then I would look at this rod’s bigger brother, the longer and absolutely outstanding 9’6’’ 7-35g version. As with that longer 9’6’’ HTO Shore Game rod, well done to the TronixPro people I reckon and I hope that anglers get to see these rods in the flesh because they are some seriously special bits of lure fishing kit.

Rattle or no rattle in white senkos for night fishing? Wednesday morning’s “experiment” fries my frigging brain.....

My first cast was at 5am, and on my second cast I hooked, landed, and released a bass. It was still dark, I was on my own, conditions were pretty much spot on, and I was using a white Wave Fishing 5’’ Bamboo Stick (senko) rigged on one of those “never seem to rust up” Lunker City Texposer 5/0 weedless hooks. There’s no belly weight on the hook and I am retrieving the soft plastic at a fair pace. The only sort of modification I had made is that I have put a rattle into the white senko that I caught the first bass on……….

So I take this particular lure off after that first bass and clip another 5’’ Bamboo Stick on, only this time it hasn’t got a rattle in it - fresh out of the packet if you like. Bear in mind that all I am doing is whacking the lure out and winding it back in, at a speed which I can assure you the thing is essentially waking across the surface. No twitching, no working it in any way, just a simple straight retrieve. Now I’ve obviously got my hopes up after landing a bass on my second cast, and I had timed my arrival to coincide with what seems to be prime time for this particular location.

Ten minutes or so of fishing away with the “non-rattle in it” white senko and I haven’t had a sniff, so I change back to the other white senko that has a rattle in it. A couple of casts later and a bass jumps on the end which I land and release. OK, so this is starting to mess with my head a bit. I keep on fishing with that “rattle in it senko” and in due course land another bass, so I change over again and go back to fishing with the “non-rattle in it” senko - and don’t get another sniff of a fish. Now my brain’s really starting to hurt………………

What does this prove? Not a damn thing of course, because there any number of variables that one could bring into the mix to try and prove or disprove whether sticking a little glass rattle in a boring looking bit of white soft plastic makes any different to the catch rates - but I can’t get away from landing three bass on a white senko that had a rattle in it, yet not getting a sniff on a white senko that was rattleless (is that a real word?). When I turn to a white senko for fishing in more coloured, bouncy water during daylight hours I will tend to use one that has a rattle inserted into it because I feel more confident that a bass can locate it, but when fishing a senko like that I will tend to work it a bit - twitch, pause etc., so of course the rattle’s chucking out a bit of sound.

But surely a white senko with a rattle in it that’s not being worked in any way save a straight retrieve ain’t exactly committing noise pollution? Or is it? Is there a little bit of sound coming from the rattle on a straight retrieve, or at least enough to pull the bass in? Does that bit of sound really do something, or was it a simple case of the three bass just happening to be around when I happened to be fishing the white senko with a rattle in it - and then not being around when I happened to be fishing the rattleless senko? See what I mean? Fries my frigging brain! On the one hand I will forever rejoice in the fact that we will never come close to knowing it all, but on the other hand it would sure make my brain hurt less to know for sure whether putting little glass rattles in a white senko for night fishing really does make a difference or not. It’s no great hassle putting them into a senko, and it obviously works or at least doesn’t put bass off, but I bet there are any number of you reading this who fish these kinds of lures with no rattles and hammer bass. Fishing eh? Talk about a lifelong obsession! Have a good weekend and may your brain hurt a lot less than mine………….

Below is my work in the new issue of Sea Angler that’s about to hit the shelves, and it’s interesting to see that my main feature in there is yes, you’ve guessed it, about fishing for bass at night on senkos.