Posted 08:57, 20 October 2014
- I managed to nip out for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon - ok, so the very small neap tide was hardly what I’d have preferred, but the conditions were fantastic. A proper bounce on the sea, great colour, an overcast sky, very little weed in the water, and it just smelt of bass. Now it was hardly an epic session, but I did manage to catch a well conditioned bass that might have touched 6lbs - I caught it on that long-casting Duel Lipless Minnow 120, indeed I had to have something very shallow on to keep me above some rocks that are usually covered up more with a larger tide.
- Saturday was a no-go for various reasons, but my mates Mark and Andy were up for a go over the HW yesterday - we decided on the same mark mainly because we fancied it to have enough clarity after Saturday’s strong S/SW winds, and of course there was a good chance of seeing some fish around. The tide was hardly epic, but it was a little larger than Friday, and although there was now a slightly milky tinge to the water, it was by no means too mucked up for lure fishing - confidence was pretty high…………
- But not a bloody sniff. You’ve got three anglers which at least means a load of different methods are being tried all over the mark - and there’s a fair bit of ground to cover there - yet we raised not even a hint of a bass. Conditions were lively but for most of the time we were there the sun was shining high and bright. We were on the same state of tide as I had been fishing only a couple of days previously, I preferred the slightly larger tide, the sea if anything was even bouncier, and still there was little if any weed about. But no fish.
- Frustrating yes, but at the same time another reminder that we are never going to come close to knowing it all, and yet again I reiterate my staying well away from “experts”. You’re looking forward to going fishing again even before you’ve finished fishing the last session, and it seems that the weather and conditions are in your favour - but we all know that in fishing you simply never get two days the same. Similar but with a few differences is how I could best describe the two days, yet because we are anglers and we can’t help but be eternal optimists, we hope that those slight differences might mean a whack load more fish - instead of the the opposite which is exactly what we got!!
- Now is the time though, or at least that is what I feel - with that winter we had and with how up and down it’s been this year, I can’t help but feel a sense of optimism about this period down here up until at least Xmas and possibly beyond if we don’t get either a serious cold snap or else the sudden brutality of last winter. Get it right and I reckon there’s a chance of some good bass fishing down here in Cornwall, but of course we are subject to a number of external factors which we the anglers must taken on board, compute through our brains, and then come up with solutions that we hope will put us onto a few fish. I can accept blanks because I am perfectly comfortable with where I am at both on the learning curve and also with respects to outwitting nature, but just sometimes you can’t help but scratch your head and wonder why on earth at least something didn’t jump on at least one of our lures…………..
Posted 06:46, 17 October 2014
- Catching fish is obviously pretty awesome as it is, but what’s your favourite way to catch the fish you target? Ledgering, sight fishing with fly, bait or lure, freelining, surface fishing with lures and flies, trolling, cranking hard lures, bumping soft plastics, twitching plastics, float fishing, surf casting, etc. - think about it and there are any number of ways to catch any number of different species. But what floats your boat the most? Well I’ll tell you straight off what doesn’t do it for me at all me, and that’s trolling. I have been around it, I have done it, and I will try my best to never have to do it again. Horses for courses and all that, but it ain’t for me.
- No, for me the ultimate way to catch fish is sight fishing - actually seeing the fish and then casting to them and hooking up is in my opinion about as good as fishing can get. Big or small, I don’t really care, but I have been lucky enough to have done a fair bit of sight fishing, and via my work I have been around a stack of it - and the thrill never diminishes. Trout, salmon, mullet, bonefish, GTs, bumpies, permit, golden dorado, whatever it may be, it’s awesome stuff. With fish bass fishing though I think that our chances at pure sight fishing for them are at best limited, so how awesome does this stuff the Labrax Squad guys did over in France sound? Check here. Now that is some serious fishing if you ask me, and it has to make one wonder what might be possible with a much lighter and quieter approach……………..
- If we are talking about bass fishing here and we essentially take sight fishing out of the equation for the purpose of this blog post, for me it now has to surface fishing. How awesome is it to run surface lures across the top of the water and see the swirls/carnage as a bass smashes into your lure? Any time I can get remotely visual with my fishing is for me when it steps up that little bit more into the realms of heart palpitations. Seeing fish to cast to or seeing fish come up and smash stuff off the top - does it get much better? Mark’s caught plenty of bass over the years, but he won’t mind me saying that he was a quivering wreck of joy at nailing that roughly 9lb fish off the top the other week in Ireland.
- Same spot but a different day and about five yards out a decent sized bass swirls and turns over the top of my Salt Skimmer but fails to hook up. I quickly cast out again and a bass comes up and just smashes my lure, but this time it hooks up. Was it the same bass? Most likely not, but you know what it’s like - heart-stoppingly exciting. Mesmerising. Addictive. Sure, I enjoy the scrap albeit I do my utmost to land any fish I hook as quickly as I am able to, but with surface fishing it’s about that smash into the lure which just freaks the living daylights out of me - and of course I love how bass fishing can sometimes give us those opportunities. As for GTs hitting surface lures? It ain’t right, believe me - it’s bloody freaky.
- But I get completely the fact that you yourself might get the most buzz from catching fish in other ways. Seeing a rod tip bounce in the dead of night is a rush is it not? A float sliding gently away is always going to be incredible. Watching your braid snake away across an oily calm surface as a permit picks up a crab over a wreck is pretty freaky stuff. And how about drifting a balloon back towards a road bridge in the Florida Keys in the pitch black, only to see the light stick inside the balloon suddenly disappear because a 100lb plus tarpon’s nailed the bait? Twitching soft plastics, drifting them current or bumping them along the bottom is getting to me more and more these days, but then I will also never cease to love it when an unseen fish hits a sub-surface lure. Is not variety the spice of life?
- At the end of the day it matters not what you love the most, because fishing is just so varied that if we want to we can fish for so many different species in so many different ways. For the life of me I could not do the same stuff all the time, but I guess that lure fishing has given me the chance to be so involved with my fishing and how I go about it - and the day that I don’t get a rush when a fish hits is the day to walk away. Fishing is for life. Life is fishing?
Posted 06:47, 15 October 2014
- Bear in mind here that it wasn’t very long ago when most saltwater anglers didn’t know about lightweight or “breathable” waders from the fly fishing world, yet here we are now when for many of us they are quite simply another bit of accepted fishing tackle (clothing) that we take out fishing with us - and it’s not just lure anglers using them in the saltwater world.
- So what you have is this slightly strange situation - many of us are using an item of fishing clothing that we can’t really do without, yet on the flipside we are using a product in an environment that it was categorically not intended for. Argue all you like that waders should be doing this and that, but now find me references to fly fishing waders having been designed for what is often some pretty brutal saltwater use. I have worn breathable waders for years now, well before I ever got big time into lure fishing in fact, and as invaluable as I find them for my fishing and indeed work, the saltwater environment just tends to kills them in the end - and in my mind it’s combination of the actual saltwater itself doing harm to seams and materials, and then of course rocks, thorns, hooks etc. putting holes in the material.
- But, for all that in some respects we don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to our freshwater waders failing on us with saltwater use, I am with any of you here who have had their waders fail on them - obviously it drives me mad. In essence we have no right to complain, but on the other hand it annoys me that in this day and age some waders don’t do a better job of standing up to the saltwater environment. A decent pair of breathable or lightweight waders are not cheap, and of course there are some out there that do far better than others. I also have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of so called “unexplained leaks” are no more than angler error at either not realising they have gone and put a hole in their waders, or via just not looking after their waders by not washing them down and drying them off after use. Saltwater is a killer, end of.
- So what can we do about it? Are there any magical solutions out there that will solve all our wader issues? Well there might well be, but none that I have come across. You can spend a heap of cash on top of the range Simms waders, but take it from me, an angler who has done just that - as awesome as they are to wear and move around in, and without doubt their levels of breathability are a step up from any other waders I have used over the years, they are still going to get trashed with heavy saltwater use. Although my Simms G4 waders are still going, they were essentially condemned by Simms after just over a year of heavy use.
- I have been wearing their new G3 waders for much of this year, and again they are so good to fish in - but I don’t remember using a leakier pair of waders for a long time. I haven’t been aware of putting any holes in them via slipping etc., yet I can’t recall having to patch up a pair of waders as much as these ones. I was deep-wading with them in Ireland the other day and I ended up with a wet crotch area (and no, I hadn’t wet myself with excitement) - it hadn’t happened before, so why was it suddenly happening now? I really look after my waders as well. Are top of the range breathable waders worth the cash for what we put them through? The jury’s out for me.
- Another solution of course is these non-breathable Bass Boots chest waders. They are a good product that I think would suit many anglers really well, although I simply can’t wear mine in anything approaching warm weather - the build up of sweat is quite something, and it then cools down and stays damp against your legs and you end up bloody freezing!! Outside of warm weather and if you’re not walking long distances then they are seriously worth checking out.
- Their new off the shelf versions are cut pretty well, but not as well as a pair of Simms (but then neither are most other waders to be fair), and it niggles me that the shoulder straps are not done with some kind of stretchy material as we tend to find on breathable waders. Kneel down to do something and the shoulder straps on these new Bass Boots dig into your shoulders instead of stretching with you. Personally I will always prefer a neoprene sock that means I can wear really thin liner-type socks over my feet and not have to worry about a lack of cushioning that you get with the very thin (but very tough to be fair) Bass Boots tech sock things. Easily sorted I am sure, but it’s an oversight if you ask me when targeting the lure fishing market.
- There is one solution to these problems I suppose - don’t wear waders. Go wet wading or wear a wetsuit (or don’t get in the water, ever), which to be honest I will not be doing save for a bit of wet wading during our warmer months. Do I want to be over-chest deep in cold saltwater for say three hours without a pair of chest waders on? Not on your life thank you very much, but then you might well be a lot tougher than I am. Nope, I need lightweight chest waders, but for the life of me I can’t find the perfect solution, and mainly because I don’t think it exists.
- I see no other way around this for the time being than getting the best quality waders you feel that you can get for the money - and then looking after them as best you can whilst accepting that you’re going to have to learn to mend leaks (rubbing alcohol spray and Aquasure), regularly wash them down in freshwater and dry them out, and of course get friendly with a wader repair service such as Diver Dave - check here. Some waders I see and hear about in my opinion do fail too quickly, and I can’t get away from believing that for the the same kind of money there are in fact good (or at least better) and not so good chest waders. But together with this statement I also come back to angler error and not looking after gear properly.
- So, I hear you ask, why isn’t there a company out there making serious, saltwater proof (if there can be such a thing), lightweight and breathable waders for us at a price that we are happy to pay? Well first off, how big is the market in reality, how much are we prepared to pay for a product like this, if indeed a product like that can actually be made, and as a fishing tackle company would you actually want to be making this kind of thing anyway? Well I’d sure love it if a tackle company did actually do all this, but I know that if I was a fishing tackle company and I knew how hard gear like this was actually used, I’d be staying well away from it!! In the meantime, use, abuse, wash, mend, and be thankful if your waders do last well for you. And as for wading boots? Another time.
- Waders aside, I was rather chuffed to get the front cover of Mel Russ’ last issue in charge of Sea Angler magazine - it’s Steve Richardson with a 9lb bass he caught on a trip to the south coast of Ireland we did earlier this year. I have to say that I am over the moon with how they have used my photo and made it work with all the other stuff that has to go on a front cover. I have no say in what is picked as a cover shot, but I can’t help but hope that some of the shots of Steve’s 11lb bass that he caught the other day over in Ireland might make a Sea Angler cover someday. You haven’t seen these shots yet, but there are a few there that I am seriously happy with - we shall see………..