It’s still bass heaven out here, and I love it even more

Nowhere fishes well all the time, but when the bass fishing is good over here in Ireland then to me it’s about as fun as fishing gets. I have loved coming over here for many years now and the thrill never diminishes, but as cool as it is to catch a bunch of bass, what really floats my boat is moving around to different locations and catching on a few different techniques because of the changes in ground etc. I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again - it wasn’t that long ago when I had no idea how varied and addictive this whole bass fishing thing could be, and if there is a bass heaven then to me that place is still Ireland………….

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So we’ve had some good fishing in some challenging conditions (flat calm and crystal clear so far), with one absolutely blinding session when we were casting at terns working over shoals of sandeels, and sometimes the bass were busting on the bait and it was all I could do control my shaking excitement and fish properly. I have a feeling that a number of bass anglers tend to target these new moon tides in September around here, but as per usual out here, there’s so much coastline that for the most part we are rarely seeing other anglers.

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Take yesterday for a classic example of how bass fishing is so much more than just whacking stuff out and winding it in. We start off working DoLive Sticks in really shallow, clear water, with big blue skies overhead. and within a few casts Steve’s into a fish. What did it for me was then casting right behind where I was wading and nailing a fish around 4lbs in even shallower water that could not have been more than 18’’ deep. I knew this sub-£120, new HTO 9’ Nebula lure rod was a cracker when I waggled it for the first time and then reviewed it here, but the more and more I fish with it using all kinds of techniques, the more it bangs home to me just how good this rod is. Seriously, it ain’t right how fast and precise it is. I’ve done my review and in theory I am done with this new HTO rod, but I am loving it that much I just want to keep fishing with it. Put a 6’’ DoLive Stick on the end of it and I can’t stop grinning, but then I will admit to an unhealthy obsession with these lures.

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Next mark and again we are looking for a bit of current mainly because of the still, bright conditions, and although we can see a bunch of terns working on sandeels, they are way out of casting range and it feels like it’s that bit too bright for good bass fishing. As that light starts to fade a bit though, the terns start moving closer and almost as if a switch was flicked we are smashing a stack of bass. For the most part we need to get our lures out as far as possible and it’s the 22g Savage Gear Sandeel doing the business (this 9’ HTO Nebula animalises those lures out there), but a few times we get bass boiling on the sandeels not that far out and I can whack a DoLive Stick at them and hook up. We got lucky and were in the right place at the right time and we had a blinder of a session.

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And then that comes to an end and we grab a quick bite to eat and head for a shallow, calm sandy beach in the dark and catch a few more bass on the white senkos and the smaller Spofford needlefish I blogged about the other day. Again, there’s nobody else around and we have the beach to ourselves. All nice and simple stuff, nothing remotely complicated about anything we were doing yesterday, but I just love that moving around and using slightly different techniques because of the locations. It’s a complete blast as ever out here and I love it more than ever. How could I not want to come bass fishing out here when within ten minutes of starting fishing after travelling for most of Friday this roughly 7lb bass jumps right on my white senko?

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Off to Ireland for a week, seriously can’t wait

For various reasons I haven’t done any fishing/photography trips over to the south coast of Ireland so far this year, so the excitement levels about heading over to Dungarvan today are somewhat through the roof! I’ve got a week around Dungarvan/Copper Coast area, then I come back home for six days before driving over to Ireland again to do a couple of weeks of guiding work with John Quinlan and their Thatch Cottage operation. I love being at home with my family, but I do feel a serious need to head across the water and spend time in Ireland…………..

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At the moment the weather forecast is looking ok, but as ever on these trips away from home, Steve, Carl and I will take what is thrown at us and do what we can. I will update the blog as much as possible, but please bear with me and the hours we will be putting in and often a lack of access to the internet. As per usual we are staying at the Gold Coast, indeed I still can’t think of a better base for accessing so much coastline out there. Here’s to hoping that they don’t weigh my Berlingo because of all the DoLive Sticks, Fiiish Black Minnows and needlefish I am taking over. Bring it on as they say!

 

Could this be the most important item of fishing gear I ever buy?

I never thought this day would come, and to be honest I can’t give you a specific reason as to why I am doing this, but I am going to buy a lifejacket to use for some of my shore based fishing. As per my blog post from last week, the recent tragedy up on the north coast of Cornwall last week has really hit home with how horribly easy it is for something to go so wrong - how many of us here have had near misses when you know deep down that you were lucky to get away with it? - and sadly we have all heard news reports in the past of anglers getting washed in and killed when fishing from the shore.

Hectic conditions for boat fishing, and of course the guys are all wearing lifejackets, but that is hardly hectic conditions for shore fishing - and how many of us here would be wearing a lifejacket when shore fishing in conditions like these?

Hectic conditions for boat fishing, and of course the guys are all wearing lifejackets, but that is hardly hectic conditions for shore fishing - and how many of us here would be wearing a lifejacket when shore fishing in conditions like these?

So why now? Why am I looking for a lifejacket to buy? I’m not entirely sure, but for whatever reason I feel that the time is right to get one and wear it when I deem it necessary. Wading out to perhaps thigh deep in a bit of surf I would suggest hardly calls for us to be wearing a lifejacket, but now think about fishing a somewhat wilder rock mark where there’s a lively swell washing around. How easy is it to get things wrong and suddenly you’re in the water and fighting for your life? How many of you here for example have any idea about cold water shock?

I am quoting here from the RNLI Guide to Lifejackets and Buoyancy Aids (you can download it here): “Cold water shock is the uncontrollable reaction of the body when it is first submerged in cold water (15°C or lower). In initial submersion, the body will experience a gasp reflex, which is a rapid intake of air. This is followed by a fourfold increase in breathing rate and associated increases in heart rate and blood pressure, making some people susceptible to heart attacks. These symptoms will last up to 3–5 minutes during which even the fittest person is unable to swim or to focus on breathing. Wearing a lifejacket with the correct buoyancy is vital to survival. During the initial stages of cold water shock, try to stay calm and let your lifejacket keep you afloat. The clothing you are wearing, the fitting and features of your lifejacket and the amount of energy you expend will all be critical factors to survival from this point onwards. Without a lifejacket, even the most competent swimmer will suffer from ‘swim failure’ after around 30 minutes of swimming in cold water. If you are wearing a well-fitting lifejacket with crotch straps, there is no need to swim and you can concentrate on keeping warm, conserving energy and making yourself visible.” Check out this RNLI angling page here, it makes for some interesting reading.

I don’t mean to get all health and safety here, indeed nothing is changing with my fishing and what I am prepared to do, but on the other hand we as shore based anglers are nothing if not a stubborn bunch who for the most part reckon we know what we are doing and tend to get away with thinking that it’s never going to happen to us. I know nothing about the skill levels of the two brothers who were killed last week, but I am pretty damn sure they went out fishing and never for one second thought that what tragically happened would ever happen to them. But it did, and as sure as I will give in and buy new colours of the OSP DoLive Stick, this of course means it could happen to any of us here.

There’s an element of risk with most things that we do in life, and of course the risks are heightened when you spend time around the sea. If you knew me you would understand how I am categorically not one of those parents who wraps their children in cotton wool and picks them up if they fall over, indeed there’s a whack load about “modern parenting” that I despise. I have always and will always encourage my two girls to get out, do stuff, and accept that things happen, but when they go sailing for example, they wear buoyancy aids. It would be beyond daft if they didn’t.

So what’s the difference with going sea fishing?

Or is that a question none of us like to ask ourselves? Both my girls have been hit on the head by the boom on sailing boats, and of course capsized multiple times, but they are wearing buoyancy aids and when they are out sailing with their club there are safety boats out as well - this is all perfectly normal, and I encourage my girls to get back out there after the odd scare as such. And they do, and they absolutely love it.

So why is it perfectly normal to wear something that will help keep you afloat when out on a boat (whether it be a buoyancy aid or lifejacket), yet many of us here fish next to the sea when it’s raging far worse than the majority or boat users would be out and about in, yet we wear nothing that will help keep us afloat in the event of an emergency? As I said, I can’t tell you precisely why I am asking myself these questions now when I am 44 years old, but I am, and when I dig down deep into my brain, I think about the places and conditions I have fished and will continue to fish, and I wonder why I am not wearing a simple and not very expensive device that will at least keep me afloat and keep my head out of the water if I was to get washed in - which let’s face it can happen very easily.

I have had a chat with somebody at the RNLI and it’s really interesting how aware they are of what we do, how they continue to try and appeal to us shore anglers, and then how we as a group (shore anglers) are considered to be just about the most resistant bunch the RNLI deal with when it comes to even thinking about wearing something as simple as a life jacket. This is not remotely the RNLI criticising us, rather it’s that outstanding organisation really wanting to help us be safer when we are out fishing.

Hardly the biggest, bulkiest thing to wear - this is the Spinlock Deckvest Lite lifejacket

Hardly the biggest, bulkiest thing to wear - this is the Spinlock Deckvest Lite lifejacket

Are you aware of what modern life jackets are like these days? Forget all about those awful bulky foam things that get in the way and would drive any angler mad. Nope, these days you can get some very lightweight and unobtrusive lifejackets that are easy to put on and secure, will not impede your fishing, don’t cost much, and will either automatically inflate when you hit the water - with a manual override and top up as well - or else you can get a fully manual one. Yes, I worry about getting hit by spray and the bloody thing suddenly inflating, but firstly the good modern ones are not designed to inflate like that, and secondly, on some of them you can “block” the auto inflate bit say when you go deep wading and just have it as a manual inflate, but then “unblock” the auto inflate for when you are on the rocks and could realistically hit your head getting washed in.

Note here that I am not talking about getting a buoyancy aid or personal floatation device, and there are various reasons why that make a lot of sense to me now that I have done a bit of research and spoken with people who actually know about all this. Firstly, a modern lifejacket is much easier to wear than a buoyancy aid, as in it’s smaller, far less bulky, and it won’t get in the way when you are fishing - and secondly, and of serious importance if you ask me, a proper lifejacket like the ones that I am looking into will keep your head the right way up if you go in the water, and will actually turn you the right way up if you were knocked out cold. A buoyancy aid will not do this, and with what can happen with cold water shock I will be avoiding them completely for my own shore fishing. Something is better than nothing, granted, but if I am going to wear that something, then it has to make sense, and to me a lifejacket does - with what I do bear in mind, and things might be different for you.

Anyway, I could go on and on here, but this is where I am right now. I have got a lot more talking and emailing to do with various people, and I am also making plans to do some local testing with a few mates who are willing to throw themselves in the water with waders and lifejackets on so that I can shoot photos and video - and yes, it will be in a controlled environment! Whilst it’s a complete myth that you’re going to sink like a stone if you are wearing waders, I would like to see how these guys can cope when in the water with waders and a lifejacket.  

The Mullion Compact 150N lifejacket

The Mullion Compact 150N lifejacket

I am not entirely sure which lifejacket I am going to buy, but from my talking with the RNLI and then a couple of companies who make this stuff, I’m looking at two models which seem to be ideally suited to my fishing and how I go about it - the Mullion Compact 150N which retails at around £150+, and then the Spinlock Deckvest Lite which I am seeing online for around £100+. There are various other items that I have been advised to look at buying, including a light for the lifejacket, and then either a simple, waterproof VHF radio for putting out a call on channel 16 if I am washed in and I’m on my own, or else one of those PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) things. This ramps the price up a bit and I need to do some more research before I know what’s the most applicable to buy, but if you look at these lifejackets on their own as an item of fishing gear that is going to give you a far greater chance of surviving in case something goes badly wrong, then is that really very much money at all? How much did you spend on your last lure rod, reel, braid, waders or lure order? Hell, I have spent more than the cost of one of these lifejackets on DoLive Sticks alone!

The Spinlock Deckvest Lite lifejacket

The Spinlock Deckvest Lite lifejacket

Please, please understand that I am not remotely trying to tell you what to do here. As ever, this is my blog, and I have decided to be very open about this and talk about my desire to try and make what I do that bit safer. Perhaps it’s because I’ve got kids and I have already had cancer, but when you sit there and contemplate your own mortality whilst you wait for your results, I guess that this then has to affect how you view life. I never intentionally decided to think more about my safety when I am out fishing, indeed this lifejacket thing seems to have crept up on me and was without doubt rammed home by that tragic event from last week. Laugh at me all you like if it makes you feel better about your invincibility out on the coast, but I have chosen to do something here and I think it’s worth blogging about. More to come and I hope you will engage with me here in the comments section below.

 

Roll on the next few months - can’t believe how much night lure fishing is changing my approach………

Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of summer and those long daylight hours we get, and even if summer isn’t always quite summer if you get my drift - and with how it’s looking outside at the moment, those “don’t worry, we often get a great September” thoughts ain’t exactly happening! The main problem as I see it with summer is the lack of properly dark hours…………..

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A few years back and I could never have imagined I’d be saying this - I love the long days and how much outside time it gives us, but the fishing side of me can’t help but look forward now to the shorter nights and the increased opportunities to go out bass fishing with lures when most regular people are inside. With how a few local spots were fishing towards the back end of last year, and with how I hope they might fish again as we head on into autumn, those long dark nights are looking so appealing with how you get far more options because it’s dark for so much longer.

I reckon we were getting around four hours of proper darkness a few months back, which of course restricts what you can do as regards night lure fishing. It’s all very well having a location say that fishes best around HW on a spring tide, but around here on spring tides, HW tends to be very roughly around 6am and 6pm times - and for many months of the year you just aren’t getting those prime times in the dark. But we will be soon. OK, so I know you’ve most likely got plenty of options, but I’m sure you get my drift.

And I find myself now scanning weather forecasts on the lookout for settled, calm conditions that I far prefer for night fishing. It looks like there’s been some good bass fishing around for a lot of anglers all over the place recently, and I wonder how this might translate to how the rest of this year fishes? The last three months of the year are always my favourite times around here for bass fishing, but I find myself approaching things that little bit differently each year, and I wonder how I might look back at the end of January and reflect on how night lure fishing has potentially shaken my fishing up even more…………...

 

It breaks your heart when you hear about anglers getting washed in and killed - do any of you wear lifejackets or buoyancy aids, and what are our options for this kind of safety gear?

If you are an angler and you go saltwater fishing, then I guess you have either heard about what happened a couple of days on the north coast of Cornwall - check here - or if you haven’t, please have a read and tell me that it doesn’t break your heart to know that two anglers who were most likely having a great time out fishing were washed off the rocks, with one confirmed dead and the search has been called off for the other guy (as at the time of writing this blog post). Most likely a couple of families that will never be the same again - something that nobody ever expects, but the unavoidable fact is that the sea is a cruel mistress which is never to be completely trusted. Accidents happen, and this most recent incident highlights how dangerous it can be when there’s a swell running especially…………..

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I don’t know much about what happened, but the area where these two anglers were washed in is a part of north Cornwall that I used to bait fish a lot, and like many of you here I am sure you have had your own scary as hell experiences when you get away with it and you know how lucky you have been. It’s beyond tragic that two anglers didn’t get away with it this week, and for me it rams home how dangerous it can sometimes be to fish in those areas where the lands meets the sea, as so many of us do here of course. You may not get much swell where you happen to do your fishing, and I do often wonder how many anglers go on holiday for example and are completely unprepared for how different the sea can behave on certain coastlines.

But as I said, I know nothing about what happened save for what I have read, and to me it throws up a logical question - when you are fishing from the shore, do any of you here wear lifejackets or some form of buoyancy aids? I have no idea if these things would have made any difference to what happened a couple of days ago - and I don’t personally wear anything that’s going to help me keep afloat when I am out shore fishing - but do you yourself wear something that could help you out in an emergency, or have you thought about wearing something, and what are our options if we wanted to wear something that could help us keep afloat if we were to get washed in?

And before we go any further, I grabbed this from the internet: “Essentially buoyancy aids are designed to help you swim if you capsize for example, whereas a life jacket is designed to keep a person afloat without the need to swim. A life jacket should keep someone afloat even if they are unconscious and should have a collar designed to keep the person's face clear of the water.” And: “Buoyancy aids are a specialist form of personal flotation device (PFD) used most commonly by kayakers, canoeists and dinghy sailors. ... Therefore, they should not be used as a substitute for a life-jacket”.

An IMA lure vest

An IMA lure vest

I have tried wearing those specialist lure vests before and ended up not really getting on with them - the ones I am on about are the vests that tend to come out of Japan and often have some kind of floatation material built into them. I completely get how some anglers like these lure vests simply as a means for carrying lures, nets, pliers etc., but can the ones with floatation material in them actually be used as buoyancy aids? A couple of anglers I know have commented on my Facebook page that the Japanese lure vests they have been using (RBB, IMA,  Graphiteleader, etc.) do help to keep them afloat, bearing in mind that they are conscious and can swim. And bear in mind here that we’re talking about the lure vests that have those fairly bulky floatation inserts.

We wear lifejackets and/or buoyancy aids on boats, so why not when shore fishing?

We wear lifejackets and/or buoyancy aids on boats, so why not when shore fishing?

Obviously I have worn plenty of those auto-inflate life jackets when out on boats, indeed I am out photographing some fly fishing tomorrow and I will have one on all day when I am on the boat. They are clever bits of kit and they still niggle me how they seem to get in the way, but I guess the more you wear one, the more you get used to it being on. I am assuming that there any number of these auto-inflate life jackets on the market these days, with the better ones I am sure now being very unobtrusive. Any of you here have any experience of these things for shore fishing? I understand how they are meant to auto-inflate if you fall in the water, but what are they like if you keep getting (safely) splashed by the sea? How easily does that auto-inflate happen?

A couple of guys on my Facebook page alerted me to these “lifejackets in a bum bag” things that I had no idea about - here are some details I found online: “The SUP lifejacket is a pouch style lifejacket worn around the waist making it ideal for sports such as Stand Up Paddle boarding when upper body freedom of movement is essential. When required the lifejacket can be quickly donned by removing it from the waistbelt pouch and placing over the head. The lifejacket is then activated by pulling the inflation cord. The lifejacket pouch comes with a zipped storage pocket which can be used for items such as sunglasses, suncream or safety knife.” These things sound like an interesting idea, but what happens if you are washed in and you’re getting thrown about by the sea and panicking and can’t get at the bag to get the lifejacket on and over your head? Again, does anybody here know much about these “lifejackets in a bum bag” things?

I know there are all these sayings such as “no fish is ever worth a life” etc., but try telling that to the poor families of those anglers that died on Monday. Whatever fishing we do and wherever we fish, we all do what we can to stay safe - some anglers are more sensible and some aren’t, but whatever you do or don’t do to stay as safe as possible, there is no guaranteed way except for staying the hell away from the sea when either it’s looking threatening, or else if you don’t know enough about what you are doing. Even then there is no getting away from the sheer unpredictability of the sea and the capacity for something to go wrong, however much you might know or however much experience you might have.

However experienced that many of us like to think we are at fishing from the shore, the way I look at it is that what sadly happened to those two anglers could have easily happened to many of us here. Families that will never be the same again because two people were out enjoying themselves and something went horribly wrong, and how many of you here have had fishing experiences where on another day it could have been you in the news for such tragic reasons?

Please, please, I am not trying to offer advice here on how to stay safe when you are out shore fishing, and I am categorically not trying to tell you what if any safety devices you should use. What you choose to do or not do has to come from you - and I include in that the decision to change your plans and either go fishing elsewhere or wait for the sea to calm down - and I am not about to stop what I do because of what’s happened. There is an element of risk with everything we do in life.

Bait fishing way above the water

Bait fishing way above the water

But it has got me thinking about all this stuff again, and especially with how saltwater lure fishing especially often requires that we are far closer to the sea than a lot of bait fishing. I used to fish some horrendous conditions for winter codling for example up on the north coast of Cornwall, to the point where sometimes you were struggling to open the van door against the wind - but we knew where to go to stay as safe as possible, we were way above the sea, and we never, ever went down close to the (raging) water. And I wasn’t wearing waders, which of course is something that I have deliberately not got into here because I simply don’t know the facts. Please do leave comments with your thoughts and experiences, and if any of you out there can provide proper technical information on some of the options available to us then I would be most grateful. Thank you in advance and once again my heart goes out to the families of those two anglers.

 

I will never forget the first time I watched somebody rigging a soft lure with a weedless hook, because it confused the hell out of me!

I know that some anglers have been lure fishing since before they were actually born and will therefore never understand how confusing it can be to start really getting into a whole new kind of fishing, but an email from an angler the other day reminded me of when I first saw a weedless hook because I was photographing somebody who is now a good friend rigging a soft plastic lure with it. Using a weedless hook may well be second nature to me now, but it wasn’t that long ago when I saw one for the first time, and because it seemed so bloody complicated I actually avoided using one myself for a fair while afterwards!

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I know exactly when it was when I first saw a weedless hook because I can go back to the photographs I shot and check the date - I was in south east Ireland and then headed over to take some photos in north Wales with Nick Roberts of Bass Lures. He had been using the Lunker City Slug-Go lures for his bass fishing for a fair while already, and firstly I had never seen a lure like this (and to be honest back then I couldn’t see how something like this could work for our bass!), and secondly the way he rigged the lure with one of those rather awesome Lunker City Texposer hooks was a mix of fascinating and confusing. Oh, and the exact date was 21.07.2008. I know, I shouldn’t be admitting to it, but I haven’t been lure fishing since before I was born.

Coming from bait fishing and getting into mainly easier to understand hard lures that you whack out and wind in, well this whole world of soft plastics was something that I knew so little about. Sure, I had fished with those old Storm Shads for pollack from the rocks, but whacking one of those lures out was little different from a hard lure, and I can remember so well watching a very talented Irish bass angler putting an XLayer out on a jig head and catching three bass in three casts. Firstly, what on earth was the lure, and secondly, what on earth was he doing? I don’t know about you, but certain instances in my fishing life have really stuck in my head, and the more I get into lure fishing especially, the more significant those moments become.

I don't know if this will help anybody out, but my photos sure helped me out!

I don't know if this will help anybody out, but my photos sure helped me out!

But it was seeing that weedless hook for the first time that has also really stuck in my memory as one of those times when I’m snapping away and trying to make all the right noises about understanding what is going on, but in reality I know that those photos I was shooting were also going to serve as my own reminder on how to rig a soft plastic with a weedless hook - when in truth I was shooting stuff for some magazine articles. Hell, killing two birds with one stone never hurt, and yes, I did refer back to those simple how to photos a fair few times when I was trying to work out how on earth a weedless hook worked with a soft plastic! As much as so many things within lure fishing have become almost second nature over time, I do all I can to cling to the memories of how confusing this way of fishing can seem to somebody who is starting to get into it.

 

It’s just so much fun fishing that little bit lighter for bass (oh how I wish I could do it all the time)

I know it’s not possible all the time when any number of factors come into play, but I’d so love it if I could fish with this slightly lighter gear all the time for bass. Lighter rods, smaller reels, lighter braids and leaders, no great big lures, and all this to me adds up to such a massive jolt of extra excitement when a bass hits - if lure fishing is a drug, then stepping down a gear has got to be as good as it gets…………..

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Mark and I were on a beach at first light earlier this week, and whilst the biggest bass may have nudged 4.5lbs, that shortish session was some of the most enjoyable and memorable lure fishing I have had so far this year. A gentle surf rolling in, very little breeze to contend with, nobody else around apart from my daft sheepdog Storm who can’t work out who to be rounding up when Mark and I are fishing say fifty yards apart so she just runs between us all the time because it’s how these dogs are wired, and a few very well fed bass around that are hitting soft plastics not very far out.

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There’s loads of gear out there that would have landed a few bass that morning, but holy cow it does it for me when you can step down to a lighter rod especially. I am not fishing to give the fish a chance, but there’s something about a lighter weight of rod in the hand when a bass absolutely nails something like the 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick. I know as anglers we are meant to obsess about the biggest fish, but that particular, roughly 4.5lb bass to me was about as much fun as any fish I have caught so far this year. The “jolt” when it hit my DoLive Stick not very far out was just awesome, and to get such a “clean” fight if you like when there are no sharp rocks or weed beds to worry about and all you need to do (enjoy) is play the fish out, beach it on the sand, slip the barbless single hook out, say thank you to the bass, and then take it out a little deeper and release it.

Does fishing get much better? I am not remotely into fishing that bit lighter for fishing lighter’s sake, but I would back myself to land any size bass that swims in our waters on the sort of gear I was using the other morning in the sort of place I was fishing of course. Sure, stuff goes wrong sometimes when we hook a fish, but any bass of any size simply isn’t going to empty a reel or break a quality light rod or snag you up in the sand. I don’t have a great deal of experience of those slightly lighter lure rods that can work well for some kinds of bass fishing, but if there are better rods out there for this type of fishing than the two Skyline Favorite ones I have fished with then I’d love to see them - the 862ML 8’6’’ 4-16g version is a peach (review here), but the ever so slightly more powerful 862M 8’6’’ 6-21g (review here) is just ridiculous now stunning it is to lure fish with. I saw a report on Facebook only this morning of a UK angler landing an 8.5lb bass off the top on one of these Favorite Skyline rods.

Every single hit on lighter lure rods like these makes me giggle, and whilst I am perfectly realistic about when I can and cannot use gear like this, the sheer fun factor for sure is making me look for more opportunities to bass fish like this. As ever it’s not the size of the fish we are likely to catch, rather the conditions, ground and lures that tend to dictate the sort of lure gear we need to fish with, but I suppose that my fishing more and more with soft plastics like the DoLive Sticks and senkos etc. makes it more possible to fish that bit lighter more of the time. It’s up to all of us how we approach our own fishing, but wow does that bang on the rod tip and the jolt down the arm feel that bit more electric when your soft plastic especially gets whacked on the lighter gear……………

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Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

These bass that we love need your help right now please, before 15th September

Please read this blog post I have copied and pasted from the excellent Save Our Sea Bass website and then tell me that you knew all about this - because as a bass angler I am going to hazard a guess that you didn’t. It’s a bloody disgrace how all these measures that were trumpeted around about helping to preserve bass stocks have been largely and quietly undermined, so I urge you please to read the details here - if you are not left spitting into your cornflakes or rabbit food muesli then I will be amazed - and then follow the links through to the Save Our Sea Bass website where there are some remarkably easy to follow instructions on how to email the powers that be and voice your disgust. Please, please follow through with this, and time as ever is of the essence. If we as anglers don’t keep on banging the drums then we don’t have a leg to stand on when we have no fish left to catch……………….

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Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Eustice?

"In January, we wrote about the grubby politics of the December 2016 Fishing Opportunities meeting.  In the run-up to the meeting, we told Defra and George Eustice that there were two things that would make public sea anglers back home see red:

Commercial fishermen being able to land bass during the first 6 months, when public sea anglers are not allowed to take a bass for the table; and paying lip-service to our “Get the nets out” campaign, but undermining it with a targeting allowance dressed up as a by-catch allowance.

We made it clear that, if there had to be a by-catch allowance for fixed netters, it should be 3% of their catch, the same as for demersal trawlers and seiners – a true bycatch allowance.

Although the Fisheries Ministers did make it illegal for fixed netters to target bass, they cynically undermined this by creating an 250kg monthly allowance for “unavoidable by-catches” of bass, knowing full well that fixed netters would be able to continue to target bass and pretend they were caught as by-catch.  Indeed, the UK Government initially tried to say it had agreed an allocation for fixed netters, before the EU Commission told them where to get off.

We said in January that we were waiting for an explanation from the Marine Management Organisation of how it would approach the impossible job of enforcing an unenforceable “unavoidable by-catches” allowance.  But any sympathy we might have had for the MMO’s predicament has vanished, for two reasons:

They wrote to fixed netters telling them: “The vessel named below is authorised to fish for bass using the gears specified” (our emphasis).  If the law says that fixed netters cannot target bass, what on earth is the MMO doing telling them that they can fish for bass?  The MMO has refused to correct this.

We were told that they were going to operate a percentage of catch policy, to distinguish targeting from by-catch.  But in July, IFCA officers told us they hadn’t received any guidance from the MMO.  And the MMO would not tell us or commercial fishermen what percentage of catch they were going to use. What a shambolic way to run a fishery, leaving commercial fishermen to guess what percentage of catch would be treated as “unavoidable by-catches” rather than illegal targeting.

Of course, the reality is that fixed netters are completely ignoring this, because they know it would be virtually impossible to prove that they were targeting bass and not something else.  To date, we are not aware of any commercial fixed netter having been accused by the MMO of targeting bass.  And yet the landing data shows that fixed net bass landings are actually increasing, not decreasing!  Defra estimated fixed netting landings for the whole of 2017 would be 43 tonnes, but by the end of June alone, they were already 52 tonnes and we estimate that by the end of the year they will be up 240%.

But the hook & liners’ 10 tonnes per annum allowance takes the absolute biscuit for Fisheries Ministers treating public sea anglers as complete mugs.  When we checked the landing data, we found that in 2015 and 2016, not one single UK hook and line vessel had caught more than 10 tonnes in a year.  The restriction that never was!

Does all this make you mad as hell?  It should do! Public sea anglers are happy to do their bit to restore the stock, but not while commercial fishermen are either untouched or can exploit deliberately-created loopholes."

You have just three weeks left to tell the EU Commission how disgusted you are by this duplicity, so reply to the EU 2018 Fishing Opportunities consultation now:

http://www.saveourseabass.org/en/email-the-eu/

 

HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g lure rod review - £119.99 UK retail price (game changing rod)

If you are reading this then I am going to assume you have gleaned the unavoidable fact that lure fishing rods fascinate me, and whilst I am lucky to get my hands on so many of them for playing with and often reviewing on here,, sometimes a particular lure fishing rod turns up here that I would classify as a game changer……….

So what’s a game changing lure rod? Well to me it’s either that the thing is so damn good I can’t contemplate not continuing to fish with it, or a particular rod offers what I feel is a very special level of value for money. The sub-£200 UK price Major Craft Skyroad 9’ 10-30g lure rod was and indeed still is a game changing lure rod to me. An incredible amount of serious lure fishing rod for sensible money - and nope, just under £200 is not cheap, but compared to what else has come through my hands here around the same specs and prices, the 9’ Skyroad and more recently the Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g sit there as the best value for money all round 9’ lure rods I have come across. Same with the Major Craft Skyroad Surf 9’6’’5-28g as my game changing, sub-£200 9’6’’ rod, then the more expensive HTO Shore Game 9’6’’ 7-35g at its more high end price point, and so on.

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So this £119.99 HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g lure rod turns up last week - and although it’s quoted as 2.7m on the TronixPro website, I’m going to call it a 9’ rod because I prefer imperial measurements over metric for fishing rods. It’s only my opinion of course, and as ever fishing rods are very personal things, but this HTO Nebula M 9’ 7-35g lure rod is just fantastic. I tend to give a lure rod more time than this before doing a review on here, but this new 9’ Nebula does it for me in such a big way that I couldn’t hold back.

But if you don’t like very fast lure rods then this HTO Nebula M 9’ 7-35g is not for you, indeed it’s described as “Ex Fast” by TronixPro, the people who are responsible for this increasingly impressive HTO range of lure fishing tackle. I do err towards fast rods as to me they make a lot of sense, and I knew from the very first waggle that this thing was going to float my boat. I like the length, I like the casting rating, I like the Fuji VVS reel seat (why oh why do companies bring lure rods out without something “grippy” for where your rod hand sits behind the reel? Well done HTO here), I like the Fuji Alconite guides and how they are nice and small towards the tip, I like how light and precise the rod feels, I like how it feels when you are casting well, I like how it sits in my hand when I am fishing (ok, in a perfect world I’d prefer an inch shorter handle, but then that might just be me), so overall that’s a lot of likes! To me that adds up to loving this new HTO Nebula 9’ rod.

Thank you yet again to the fabulous Art of Fishing website for their excellent rod info

Thank you yet again to the fabulous Art of Fishing website for their excellent rod info

Whether you do is going to depend on what sort of lure rod floats your boat, but I have a hunch that the greater percentage of anglers err towards a faster action - and this rod’s got that in spades. I know that this HTO Nebula is not a high end price, but I can’t feel anything remotely “budget” about it when I am fishing with it. Sure, you are getting a degree more subtlety or finesse if you like with those two more expensive 9’ rods, the Skyroad and the Tailwalk I mentioned previously, but on the other hand I reckon this Nebula’s extra fast action will float a lot of boats. I am interested to see that there’s a 7’ long 5-22g Nebula in the range, and I would be fascinated to see what a 9’ version with the same casting rating would be like. I’d also love to see a 9’6’’ version rated the same 7-35g as this 9’ rod I am reviewing here, because I reckon that could be an equally special rod as well.

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I have tried to trip this rod up, but for me it just works. It’s good with lures like my beloved OSP DoLive Sticks (ok, as per above, ideally give me a touch more “finesse”), you can absolutely leather the Patchinko and the rod’s got plenty more to give, a 30g+ casting jig is getting close to emptying my reel, surface lures at range especially are a doddle, and working something like the Fiiish Black Minnow around feels great. I reckon this 9’ Nebula would make a fantastic wrassing rod as well if you’re happy to go to 9’ for this kind of fishing, indeed with the power and precision on offer here I can’t see why not.

So there you go - this HTO Nebula M 9’ 7-35g is one of those lure rods that occasionally comes along which to me redefines what is possible at the price point. Sure, you can get fancier guides and reel seats - even though the components on this Nebula are great - but to get such a “proper” all round lure rod with such a steely kind of action at this price? To me this HTO Nebula M 9’ 7-35g lure rod is a game changer, and if a better rod for the money comes along this year I’ll be gobsmacked. Well done yet again to the UK based TronixPro and their HTO lure fishing brand.

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Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

 

Help Save Our Wrasse - please, please support this new Angling Trust campaign, even if you don’t actually fish for wrasse yourself

The first sea fish I caught from the shore was a wrasse, and to be perfectly honest it breaks my heart that these fantastic fish which provide so much pleasure to so many people are quite literally being harvested from the south west for “use” on the salmon farms up in Scotland as cleaner fish. Whichever way you look at this, it’s wrong (check here for a good explanation of why), and especially since we actually know so little about wrasse populations. Please, please read this blog post which I have mostly copied and pasted from the Angling Trust website, and then follow the various links to (very easily) fire off emails to the powers that be. Thank you.

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“The Angling Trust has launched a national campaign calling for an immediate closure of the live capture wrasse fishery supplying live wrasse to the Scottish salmon farming industry. And we want you to get involved!

Wrasse are used as cleaner fish to remove parasitic sea lice from farmed salmon as an alternative to pesticides. However, wrasse are very difficult to breed in captivity and consequently tens of thousands of wrasse are now being captured live from around the coasts of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex every year and shipped up to Scotland.

Little is known about the sustainability of wrasse populations and what impact commercial scale harvesting will have on marine ecosystems where wrasse play an important role.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests the hugely expensive operation of shipping wrasse live from the South West of England to Scotland is only necessary because localised Scottish wrasse stocks have already been depleted by the demand from salmon farms.

Wrasse are highly important recreational angling species and play an important role in the resident and tourist angling activity which supports thousands of jobs throughout the South West of England. What’s more, generations of young anglers fish for wrasse as they enter the sport and recent years have seen an exciting new development of specialist lure angling for wrasse.

The relevant IFCAs - the Cornwall IFCA, Devon & Severn IFCA, Southern IFCA, Sussex IFCA and Isles of Scilly IFCA – have developed a variety of management proposals to manage the wrasse fishery. However, the Angling Trust believes that the use of wild wrasse captured from England in Scottish salmon farms is a completely unsustainable and appalling use of a publically owned marine resource. Consequently, we do not feel that managing the live capture wrasse fishery is sufficient.

The Angling Trust is calling for the relevant IFCAs to instigate a complete closure of the live-capture wrasse fishery in the districts under their control on a precautionary basis.”

Please go to this webpage here, scroll down, and then follow the links below the “Get Involved” text.

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And here are a load of details about why it’s simply not right that wrasse are being “used” like this - the text below is copied and pasted from the Angling trust website again, see here for the original press release.

“Members of the public fishing recreationally should be extremely concerned over a new and rapidly expanding commercial fishery which threatens the South West’s wrasse populations.

The Angling Trust is calling for an immediate suspension of the fishery supplying live, wild-caught wrasse to the salmon aquaculture market where they are used to remove parasitic sea lice from farmed salmon.

Official government figures from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) show that in 2015 89 tonnes of wrasse species were caught and used as cleaner fish as an alternative to traditional pesticides to manage sea lice numbers.

Many of the wrasse are being taken from the inshore waters of the South West of England. Wrasse are highly important recreational angling species and play an important role in the resident and tourist angling activity which supports thousands of jobs throughout the South West of England and which was valued at £165m to the regional economy back in 2005 (1). Generations of young anglers fish for wrasse as they enter the sport and recent years have seen an exciting new development of specialist lure angling for wrasse.

Landings data from the MMO (2) shows that the value of live, wild-caught wrasse at prices as high as £150 per kilo makes what used to be a ‘trash fish’, or one only used as pot bait, the single most valuable wild capture fishery in the UK compared to wild sea bass and lobster that can fetch as much as £15 -17 per kilo.

With no controls on how much can be caught, and very little known about the impact on wrasse stocks and the ecosystem, sea anglers are hugely concerned that wrasse stocks in English waters could be decimated by the rush to profit from this hugely valuable, yet totally unmanaged, fishery.

Little is known about the sustainability of wrasse populations and what impact commercial scale harvesting will have on marine ecosystems where wrasse play an important role. However, anecdotal evidence suggests the hugely expensive operation of shipping wrasse live from the South West of England to Scotland is only necessary because localised Scottish wrasse stocks have already been depleted by the demand from salmon farms.

Official figures from the MMO add to the confusion about the extent of the wrasse fishery with the aggregated monthly landings for 2015 being reported as 89 tonnes with a value of £5m (3) and the annual statistical report for the same period reporting over 40 tonnes landings valued at £1.1m (4). Yet despite the huge discrepancies in MMO data being drawn to their attention the MMO have not been able to provide any explanation but it is clearly a very significant new fishery. More accurate data at local level is also hard to come by.

The Angling Trust is writing to the MMO, the Inshore Fishery and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) and the Welsh Assembly Government to request immediate measures to stop the live capture of wild wrasse for the aquaculture market using the precautionary approach under section 153 of the Marine & Coastal Access Act until there is sufficient evidence to establish: 1) whether it is sustainable, 2) what impact the removal of wrasse has on the ecosystem, and 3) whether the removal of an important recreational asset for anglers in the South West of England to supply the Scottish aquaculture market is in line with the IFCAs’ obligation to manage sea fishery resources sustainably. In addition, the Angling Trust is calling on the use of wild-caught ‘cleaner’ fish to be included in the environmental impact assessments of any aquaculture operations.

The Angling Trust has repeatedly called on the salmon farming industry to increase the pace of movement towards farming salmon in closed containment systems to keep them away from wild fish and the naturally occurring parasitic sea lice.  The decline of wild sea trout and salmon stocks throughout the West coast of Scotland and beyond has been clearly linked with infestations of sea lice from salmon farms.  Chemical treatments of farmed fish have been increasing rapidly and diversifying in recent years due to resistance building up in sea lice populations.

Attempts are being made to supply the aquaculture market with captive bred wrasse. However, the complicated lifecycle of wrasse means that this is still far from being a reality at a significant scale. The general public should be alarmed that wrasse stocks could be destroyed by uncontrolled commercial fishing pressure and a lack of control measures from fisheries managers.

David Mitchell, the Angling Trust’s Head of Marine, said; “Members of the public fishing recreationally for publicly-owned wrasse stocks in South West England will be appalled to learn that wrasse, once of no commercial value but a highly valuable species to those fishing recreationally, are now being targeted and transported live up to Scotland to help remove sea lice from the environmentally damaging salmon farming industry. The impact of this rapidly expanding fishery on localised wrasse stocks, and on the functioning of the ecosystem, is currently unknown. Precautionary measures must be taken to stop this emerging and unmanaged fishery from wiping out vulnerable wrasse populations before the impact and sustainability of the fishery can be established.”

Malcolm Gilbert, Conservation Officer for the Cornish Federation of Sea Anglers, said; “Alarm bells are already ringing throughout the recreational angling community. Anglers were denied keeping any bass to eat for the first half of 2016 and are again in 2017, with a one bass bag limit for second half of the year. Yet it was anglers who have consistently demanded from government a more restrictive management approach for what was primarily an angling species before the escalation of commercial fishing threatened stocks. Will wrasse be next in line?”

 

Finally, some “UK bass size”, off the shelf and not very expensive needlefish are now available in the UK - yippee!

You need to know a couple of things here before I get into this - my experience so far of bass fishing with needlefish revolves around whacking them out and winding them in at night over shallow ground with no obvious current, very much like I might fish a senko at night for bass, and if you read this blog post and fancy getting some of these new to the UK needlefish, from the links I will be giving you I would make a very small commission via affiliate linking. Please, please go looking elsewhere for these needlefish if that bothers you, and if you want to think that this is purely a marketing post then I can’t do much about that. I would far rather you look at this blog post as me being really happy to finally see some not very expensive needlefish available to buy here in the UK and wanting to tell you about it - but I must leave it up to you………….

Anyway, because most of my catching bass at night over the last few years has been on the white senkos - and sometimes struggling with them a bit when there’s a side wind and/or slightly bouncier conditions - when it comes to needlefish and wanting what in their most basic sense I feel they can give me here (cutting through wind and waves that bit better, and having a treble hook on the end, see here for why, etc.), I don’t want those great big lures that are designed for striped bass and the heavier gear that is mostly used for their shore fishing across the pond. Nope, for the moment I have been wanting what is basically a hard version of a senko, and then perhaps a slightly larger, slightly heavier version for those times when it’s useful to have a bit more weight and/or profile.

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I really like the smaller, 18g (14cm, or 5.5’’) needlefish that is made by Jim’s Lures (photo above) - it’s made of wood, it works well for bass, casts great, is handmade, and is not a cheap lure as such. They are handmade, hence the price I guess, and let’s face it, you are unlikely to go and lose many needlefish if you are winding it in so that it’s swimming either just below or actually on the surface. The lures come unrigged by the way. These 18g ones cast really well and they have caught bass for me.

So how about some off the shelf needlefish that can be had for £9.99 here in the UK? A while back I mentioned finding some lures like this when I was over in the US the other day, and a couple of switched on tackle dealers I know got in touch to ask if I knew where they might source these lures and bring them into the UK for their customers. I didn’t think I would ever find these smaller needlefish again after buying a couple out on Martha’s Vineyard a few years back, letting them sit gathering dust for ages, then spraying them white last year, taking them out bass fishing and catching on them straight away - yet again, how much is confidence to do with lure fishing?

Anyway, so I was in the well known Cape Cod Canal based shop Redtop Tackle recently and I asked my friend Bull whether he by any chance knew about these smaller, plastic needlefish that came out of Martha’s Vineyard, not thinking for one second that they’d stock them around the Canal. I couldn’t believe it when Bull led me over to a rack of these lures - kinda like leading a junkie to his next fix! With how much the US anglers like their great big needlefish for striped bass, it was a real surprise to find these Spofford’s needlefish lures again. They were not remotely expensive, and yes, I bought a bunch because I didn’t think we’d be seeing them here in the UK and they are exactly what I want for my bass fishing. These Spofford’s Lures are made from what I think is ABS plastic over on Martha’s Vineyard in the US. I don’t think the hooks are up to much and I replace them on mine - it’s easy, and this is coming from an idiot at DIY! You can actually buy a fairly substantial 42g version, but the two sizes that I bought and have caught bass on are the 17g (actually 15.8g with two trebles on), and the slightly larger 28g one (actually 23g with two trebles on).

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Above is the smaller 17g Spofford’s Lures needlefish in the two colours that I have here - White and White Green (you can also get Black, White Lime and Chartreuse). It comes rigged with three treble hooks which I think is overkill, and I don’t like the look of the trebles on them that much - you can simply unscrew the components for the front and middle trebles and replace (I don’t put a middle treble on there), and then at the rear of the lure you need to slightly unscrew the ring thing, open it up slightly with a long nose pair of pliers, and replace the hook. Close the eye of the ring thing back down and screw it back into the lure night and tight. If I can do it, believe me, you can do it far more easily. You might not want to bother changing the hooks, but I just don’t like the look of them. Rigged with a couple of size 4 trebles this 17g version comes in at 15.8g and it’s 13cm long, or just over 5’’. Imagine a hard 5’’ senko that absolutely flies, for this is what this particular Spofford’s needlefish reminds me of. The first bass I caught on the one I had sprayed white was actually during the day last year, slowly retrieving it like I might a senko - which makes no sense I know when I am retrieving a senko faster at night than I would during the day, but it’s fishing, and we’re never going to understand it all.

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And above is the next size up - on the website here it says 28g, but rigged with a couple of size 2 trebles it comes in at 23g, and the lure is 17cm long, or very nearly 7’’. This thing seriously flies and it feels very stable through the wind and in the water. I caught bass the first time I used this lure here in the UK which of course gave me all the confidence I needed that firstly they worked for our bass, and secondly that the “few” I had bought in the US weren’t a wasted investment! I changed the hooks on this one as well, just follow the details from above.

These are some incredibly simple lures, but they are exactly what I have been looking for - and yes, it slightly fries my brain that I actually had a couple sitting here that for far too long I simply didn’t have the confidence to take out and use. How have chucking white senkos at night changed my bass fishing for the better, because as well as the options it has given me, it has also given me the confidence to start messing around with lures like these Spofford’s ones. I like having options, and especially if there’s a bit more wind and bounce on the sea that I was expecting, and as much as I will be experimenting with single hooks on these needlefish sometime soon, having that (treble) hook right on the end of the lure caught me a bunch of fish earlier in the year when the bass were hitting and hitting the senkos but not hooking up on the large single weedless hooks.

So there you go - the size and weights of needlefish I have been looking for, and which means I don’t have to step up to a heavier class of lure rod to fish the one type of lure, and they are now available to buy here in the UK. I know bass will hit really big lures sometimes, but where I am with lure fishing right not I am not feeling the need for them. As I said, please bear in mind my lack of experience with needlefish in general (and I would urge you to search my Guest Blog Posts for Keith White’s excellent series on fishing with needlefish), and also you need to know that I have not taken these hard plastic Spofford’s needlefish out and let them swing in a run of current etc. I have been whacking them out, winding them in, and catching bass on them, so while I accept 100% that there is so, so much more to these simple straight sticks, at the end of the day you can still head out to the right spots at the right times and with the right conditions and chuck lures out at night that are doing so little obvious stuff in the water when you wind them in - and catch bass on them. Does there need to be much more to it at times?

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

Being comprehensively outfished doesn’t bother me one bit if I come away from the experience a better angler

And I would suggest that yesterday was a classic example of this. I caught the one bass and a lump of a wrasse, whereas Nick must have landed at least eight bass, but holy cow did I learn a lot of new stuff, and without a doubt I have come away a better overall bass angler. Nothing floats my boat more in my work than meeting and spending time with highly skilled anglers from all around the world and then learning about their fishing and understanding what makes them tick………….

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I left my house at 4.30am yesterday morning to head for a stretch of the north Cornish coastline that I don’t know at all, and this lad Nick fishes a bunch of spots that seem to very rarely see other anglers - perhaps because most of these places he treks down to are properly difficult to access, and I make no bones about it, I got a serious case of the fear when we were coming back up and out of the first spot, and oh how I wish I could have four legs like my sheepdog Storm who was having a blast! Nothing yet has changed my opinion that most people don’t like a good yomp for their fishing, and I guess that saves a lot of our coastline for those of us who welcome a trek.

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Anyway, to cut a long story short, I learnt a lot yesterday about a lot of bass related lure fishing, and I find it absolutely fascinating to be around good anglers who are so knowledgeable about their local area and have essentially had no choice but to adapt their gear and general lure fishing techniques to better suit their local fishing. I am not talking about a radically different approach, rather it’s a mix of obviously having really thought about things, and then understanding that every day is different and being able to adapt to it - as Nick did so well yesterday.

I found out very quickly for example that however much I might love and obsess over the 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick, yesterday the bass were feeding that bit deeper down, and with the side wind plus swell I simply could not get a soft plastic rigged weedless and weightless down to the fish and fish it there for any meaningful length of time. I changed over to a 120mm Fiiish Black Minnow with that lovely new 18g “Search” jig head and pretty quickly got a hit on the drop and then saw a proper bass turn on the lure right on top of a set of light coloured rocks. I think I might have dropped a little bit of bad language at that precise moment!

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A lure that I know works for a number of lure anglers but I simply have hardly ever used is the Savage Gear Sandeel, and yesterday Nick gave me a masterclass in how to fish this lure over the sort of ground and conditions he faces. Fishing new places and meeting other anglers to me is so much about watching how these guys fish, and whilst you can of course whack a lure like the Savage Gear Sandeel out and crank it straight back in, it’s how Nick was systematically searching the ground and the water column and changing lure body colour until he found the fish that really got me thinking and learning. Purchasing is required on my behalf.

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Whilst no really big bass were landed yesterday, I have seen the photos of the many lumps that Nick has landed from his stretch of coastline, and we are talking about some serious bass from some serious ground that stays delightfully quiet and untouched. I have seen some photos of some 10lb plus bass, put it that way. Nick and I were talking about various hard lures that he might use when required, and he was raving about how many of the killer IMA Sasuke lures he owns and uses and catches on, so I clipped on an IMA Sasuke 120 that I had with me and caught a bass around the 4lb mark from some fizzed up water in amongst some seriously gnarly ground that simply had to have had a fish or two nosing around. I then thought I’d try and search more of the water column and put that 120mm/18g Search head Fiiish Black Minnow combination on and hooked that lump of a wrasse above instead. Thanks Nick for grabbing it in that swell.

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Yesterday for me was about learning more about lure fishing via my comprehensively being outfished by a highly skilled angler who knows far more than me about this particular style of bass fishing. I get the sense it really bothers some anglers if they are outfished on the day, and whilst I am by nature a competitive person, for some reason fishing just doesn’t bring out that side of me at all. If there’s a few fish about and I can get the photos I need plus I come away having learnt more about this glorious pastime that so many of obsess about, then how on earth could I remotely worry about somebody catching more fish than me? Thanks so much Nick for the most awesome day.

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.