We’ve had a cancellation so one space has become available on our second July co-guided Ireland lure fishing trip

Just a quick blog post today to let you know that a space has suddenly become available on one of our co-guided lure fishing trips over in Kerry, south west Ireland. If you read my blog then you will know I spend a few weeks each year working with the renowned Irish fishing guide John Quinlan out of their rather special Thatch Cottage Ireland setup. I absolutely love the work we do together and I would hope that our clients agree that these are some pretty unique fishing trips in a part of the world that is truly, truly special.

The one space that has become available is on these dates in July 2018:

  • Arrive at Thatch Cottage Saturday 14th July

  • Four full days of guided lure fishing on 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th July

  • Depart Thatch Cottage Thursday 19th July

If you are after a bit of lure fishing down in Kerry where if we see another angler it’s genuinely shocking then please get in touch here and I will reply to you with further details. We concentrate primarily on bass fishing, but this is Ireland and there are plenty of other options. Do not worry for one second if you are not kitted out with all the gear, for we have plenty of rods and reels etc. for our clients to use if needs be. We fish hard but I would hope that what our clients take away from these trips is how much fun we have. Come along if you can………..
 

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We have a few spaces left on our co-guided Ireland based lure fishing trips in July, and one space in September - come along if you can!

OK, OK, as much as it pains me I must do this - well done Ireland on winning the Grand Slam and so comprehensively beating us that I reckon come the summer tests against South Africa we will surely be seeing a somewhat different England rugby team. Ireland were outstanding and we seriously were not. Holy cow, talk about a wakeup call…………….

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Anyway, enough of that, because I need to tell you about a few places we have left on these co-guided lure fishing trips in Kerry, Ireland that John Quinlan and I run together - and yes, as much as I can’t wait for these weeks to come around each year, a part of me is also dreading the insufferable smugness that John has every right to relay to me with that rugby result. I know that being the good fellow that he is, John would never stoop to winding me up about what happened in the Six Nations! Sorry, I digress, but you can probably guess where I am at right now with the disappointment.

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We have a few spaces on our July 2018 trips and then the one space on one of our September 2018 trips. All trips are of course timed to coincide with good tides, and the serious beauty about lure fishing around where John lives in Kerry is that we have so many options whatever the weather does or doesn’t do - plus the place is seriously beautiful and quiet and incredibly special. At those times of year we can even do a bit of lure and fly fishing for salmon if the river conditions are right and if our people want to have a go.

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For these co-guided trips we work on five nights of accommodation and all food at their rather lovely Thatch Cottage setup, together with the four long days of guided fishing with John and I. We fish hard, we laugh a lot, and we work our socks off on trying our best to put our people onto some good lure fishing in a seriously special part of the world. And please do not for one second think that these co-guided trips are for experienced anglers only - if you’re into fishing then please come along.

So these are the July dates on which we have some spaces:

1st trip:
Arrive Monday 9th July
Fish 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th
Depart Sat 14th July

2nd trip:
Arrive Sat 14th July
Fish 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th
Depart Thurs 19th July

And we have the one space only on this trip in September:

Arrive Weds 26th Sept
Fish 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th
Depart Monday 1st October

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The price for one of these all inclusive trips is the same as it’s always been - 1300 Euros. I tend to put our groups of clients together via email to see if any of them can share travel amongst themselves, for there are various ferry/drive and flying options to get to Kerry down in south west Ireland. You can find some more details on these trips right here, and then if you fancy coming along for some hugely fun fishing and also watching an Irishman berate an Englishman about the state of their rugby team, either fill out that Contact Me form on the guiding page, or over on the Contact Me page.
 

How can the one species of fish be so endlessly fascinating and absorbing?

I dread to think what the percentage is of my life that I spend thinking about fishing, and then because bass fishing has so utterly consumed me, a large part of my life is obviously spent obsessing about a single species of fish that firstly I used to catch by mistake and think little of it back in my mainly bait days, and secondly if you had told me even fifteen years ago that I’d be like I am now I would have refused to believe that this was possible………….

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What the hell is it about bass then? It sure can’t be their sheer size when we have a number of saltwater species of fish that I would argue are somewhat easier to land in generally bigger sizes than a lot of bass we might catch, and as much as I love how bass often scrap, it’s not as if in our colder waters we are beset with plenty of species which might run us down to our backing with their sheer speed and power. So what on earth is it then? 

Well you can probably guess that I woke up nice and early this morning thinking about this, and my current thinking on this subject is that it’s an intoxicating mix of where and how that has allowed chasing bass to creep up on me to the point that I will often go for long periods of fishing for nothing else. 

Where and how, that’s the crux for me, and I wonder how many anglers are in a similar boat to me here - you know these fish are around, you sometimes catch them as a byproduct of chasing something else, but for whatever reason you start having a go at this whole lure fishing thing and then over time a whole new world of fishing opens up to you. Lure fishing in essence may well be simply putting artificial imitations in front of fish, but let’s be honest here and think back a bit in your fishing life and where lure fishing may have come into it - did you have even an inkling that there could be so much fun and interesting stuff involved in what at first looks like nothing more than chucking bits of plastic or metal out there?

Which in essence lure fishing is, but it’s how much there can be to it that I had no idea about when I first started to buzz about lure fishing for bass over in south east Ireland especially. Even if a few bass used to sometimes jump on my baits when I was targeting something else, I didn’t have a clue about how many different places you could go and target bass - and I am talking about different countries as well as different terrains here. I can distinctly remember being pretty amazed when I found out there bass fishing was big in countries such as France, Spain and Portugal for example, and I love thinking back to how we would chuck lures such as that killer Maria Chase BW from rock marks in south east Ireland, but change over to bait fishing when we targeted an estuary because we didn’t really know how to properly target that kind of water with lures.

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Don’t get me wrong though, those times I spent running crab baits down an Irish estuary with Graham was some of the most glorious fishing I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of, but it was lure fishing that started to take over for me. I just had no idea that the one species of fish could demand such a variety of methods and techniques if you had an interest in targeting them from different locations and terrains (which I do) - and as much as I hope I have learnt a fair bit over the last few years about targeting bass on lures, what does it for me so much is how my brain is still buzzing with how much more stuff there is to learn and play around with.

If there is one thing that cabin fever does is it’s getting my brain ticking about how I might shake my own fishing up a bit, and then with the amount of often really good fishing “chat” online especially, how exciting it is to stumble upon different ways of doing things and then thinking about how you might incorporate such and such into your own fishing. I just love it. 

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As a simple example, I can think of a few specific times last year when out and out distance did in fact pay off, and on a couple of occasions especially it was a simple metal (spinner, casting jig or whatever) that did the trick. Discussions get going online and because a lot of anglers are very generous with their own thoughts and info as regards techniques and methods, you can’t help but start thinking all over again about what a range of different metals could do for your fishing for example - I think about those technical slow jigs for example and how there are now a whole bunch now that are the right weights for shore fishing and I wonder if these might catch me some bass in certain situations where something else might not have in the past? And so on and so on.

As much as I like to think I have a lot of the bass fishing fairly well covered as such around where I live, in reality there is such a huge amount more to learn that I am left wondering where on earth the time is to do so. I think about such wonderful countries like Spain and Portugal and I know that I need to at least spend a little bit of time experiencing some of their bass fishing because it floats my boat so much to see different places, spend time with different anglers, and come away with new ideas and memories and plans - which in a way comes full circle with this species of fish we call bass. Isn’t it amazing how the one species can do all this to so many of us here? Can you imagine how much better it could be if we had a properly healthy fishery for bass as well?
 

It doesn’t matter how good or bad last season was, because around this time every year I start feeling sick with excitement about all the fishing to come

Whilst I don’t hold out a huge amount of hope for nailing a few bass on lures at this time of year down here, it is Cornwall, the water doesn’t feel too cold, and if conditions come good then a bit of a go has to be worth it. In reality though it’s the time of year for me when I start to literally feel sick with excitement and anticipation at the season to come - around where I live was very up and down on the bass in 2017, but you never know how each season as such will pan out, and as ever I have a bunch of plans and ideas to shake my fishing up a bit and see what happens…………

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Every year is very different and I don’t know when your local bass fishing tends to switch on around you, but if I include January at least as part of the bass season down here, then I landed my first bass of the 2017 season on April 11th last year, as per the fish above. When might things switch on this season? My mate Mark who is kindly holding my bass above had a nice fish on March 12th a few years ago, and I would still love to know if that was a bass which had stuck around or was it a bass that had just come in?

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I know that John Quinlan often starts his bass guiding season over in Kerry towards the end of March, and he fully expects his clients to catch fish or else he simply wouldn’t be taking their money. I keep hearing rumblings of some good, very early season bass fishing on lures in the deepest, darkest parts of Cornwall, and of course this sort of stuff makes my brain rattle around in my head when it’s early February, it feels like it’s been raining for two months solid, we’re burning a lot of wood to keep the stoves going, and my youngest girl is still wearing shorts to school but dad here isn’t as brave as he used to be and is waiting for warmer weather to get the shorts out.

I know things are different that far south and west, but are too many of us perhaps a bit guilty of doing the same things at the same times and not thinking out of the box a bit more? I am as guilty as the next angler of often defaulting to what you tend to know the best on your local patch, but with how up and down the bass fishing was around here last year I am determined to shake things up a bit. If there is one thing I don’t mind doing it’s taking a punt and risking a few blanks, because if I don’t try new places and techniques and stuff like that then I can get stale and lose a bit of the buzz.

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One thing I didn’t manage to do last year was spend nearly enough time over in Ireland on my own fishing and photography. I consider myself incredibly lucky to spend what tends to be about a month in Kerry spread over a couple of guiding trips, but for various reasons I only managed the one Ireland trip where I got to fish myself and take a bunch of photos etc. We had some awesome fishing around Dungarvan last September, but if things go more to plan this year then I will be getting back to my usual quota of time over in Ireland, my favourite country on earth.

And of course it’s that epic time of the year when the Six Nations starts again. It might not be an epic time for bass fishing, but I can’t wait for the Six Nations and I reckon it’s going to be one hell of an interesting tournament with so many injuries for all the sides and with how strong Ireland and Scotland are looking. You all have a good weekend and may spring arrive pretty damn soon please……..

 

Happy Xmas, see you in 2018……….

Nearly another year gone, and as ever one has to ask where on earth the time goes? Can you really believe it’s Christmas Day on Monday, and as an angler I hope you have been good boys and girls for present time! Sadly my wife has absolutely no idea what a DoLive Stick is, so you can rest assured that when I open my presents on Monday (and surely you notice how bloody small your pile of presents is compared to when you were a kid!) there will be nothing like that in there.

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I have no concrete plans to do any more blogging until the New Year, so you all have a good Xmas and I will see you in 2018. We’ve got lots of family down over the next week or so but I will be out fishing when possible with conditions etc., and I hope that many of you on here might manage to wet a line or two. As much as I tend to love this time of year for bass fishing around where I live, it does seem worryingly quiet at the moment, albeit there seem to be pockets of fish around if you can locate them.

I did want to draw your attention to a fantastic new fishing film trailer that I saw the other day, with the main man behind this project being a hugely talented South African fly fisherman and film maker who I have done a bunch of stuff with over the years. I was lucky enough to go and photograph this insane tigerfish location back in September 2010 and the experience has lived with me ever since. I have never seen a freshwater fish hit a fly as hard as a tigerfish, and the only saltwater fish I can think of that hits so hard and fast and aggressively is a GT. As you well know, I am obsessed with bass fishing and I love our magnificent fish to bits, but wow would I love to see some of the bass fishing experts out there get nailed by a 10lb plus tigerfish! Try setting a hook in that mouth! Africa, it has been far too long and I need to go back. I hope you all get some proper time away from work, looking forward to catching up soon…………….

 Only in Africa.........

Only in Africa.........

What kind of action do you prefer your lure rod to have, and does that action really work for you?

It’s an interesting thing to stand back and watch other anglers fish, and especially the casting part - we all do things slightly differently, some do it better than others, and I do wonder sometimes if an angler’s rod might actually be working against them a bit. How many anglers can’t help but be drawn to the fastest lure rod on the shelf because it feels so precise and steely and “manly”, but how many of these anglers are going to be able to get the most out of the fastest rods? You see it with fly anglers as well……….

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I can’t get enough of this “budget” HTO Nebula M 9’ 7-35g lure rod (review here, and back in the UK in Jan 2018 I believe) - rated Ex(tra) Fast - but without a doubt you need to be on it to get the best out of it casting wise. I love the feeling of precision this particular rod gives me, but for the rod to really feel like it’s singing for me, I need to do things right - and because the rod is so fast there is very little margin for error. If my timing is slightly off then it bites back at me and my distance suffers. I like to think I can cast ok, and I can really feel it when I’ve got this 9’ Nebula working well - but I can also feel it when I am not casting at my best.

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And then you’ve got a similar rated lure rod like the outstanding Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g that I reviewed earlier in the year here. Because the Nebula is a smidgen faster than the gorgeous Tailwalk Saltyshape rod, does this then make it better? Nope, of course not, and it would be interesting to stand back and watch a bunch of anglers casting both rods and see which kind of rod action was working better for each person.

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I used to see this all the time with bait fishing - plenty of anglers who weren’t coming close to getting much out of their hugely powerful beachcasters because their casting style simply wasn’t up to it, and it’s interesting to read about these longer, easier to load, continental style shore rods gaining in popularity. Granted, it doesn’t matter much for short range rough ground fishing where you need to drag fish out, but as with lure fishing, I wonder how many anglers had gone for those big, powerful rods because they felt so “manly” when you picked them up? I sure as hell did many moons ago (Conoflex Highlander anyone?), but then I did actually go away and learn how to properly bend them if I needed to.

And of course it then depends on what size and weight of lures you are fishing with. The last couple of times I have fished the Cape Cod Canal for striped bass I have used a Major Craft X-Ride Shore Jigging rod that’s rated 20-60g - the 10’ long WRS 1002MH, rated Regular. Now this thing is an animal of a rod! I took it with me because it’s what I have here that I thought would be best suited to Canal fishing, and yes, I have cast way over the 60g recommended top end without any hassle at all. This rod may be rated Regular, but holy cow it take some bending, to the point that after a few hours of blasting big surface lures out there my shoulders are about ready to fall off. I understand why a rod like this is required for shore jigging in deep water for big fish, but for out and out distance casting, and rod this fast I feel works ends up working against me.

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I had a go with the rod that Bull is using above (12’ long Shimano US Tiralejo surf rod, rated to cast 2-6oz, as per here), and whilst it’s got oodles of power for getting lures out there and horsing big fish in through a rip of current, holy cow it’s so much easier to wind up on the casting front. OK, so it’s longer than the X-Ride rod I was using, plus it’s rated to cast heavier lures, but its action to me is more efficient for getting lures out a long way. Ex Fast, Fast, Medium Fast, Medium etc. - what do you prefer and why? I know that some anglers delight in spouting off about the best rod lengths, actions and casting weights, but we are all different and there simply can’t be the one “perfect” fishing rod that is going to work perfectly for every single angler.

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.

 

Watching your anglers pulling a bunch of bass out of some classic Irish surf on lures is pretty damn epic

It just smelt of bass, indeed if a bass hadn’t been caught by at least one of our clients then I think I might have given up - the conditions looked that good, and as is the norm out here in Kerry, you’ve got perfect bass fishing conditions on a huge beach and there are no other anglers to be seen. And we had a blast………

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Of course I love catching fish myself, but it’s some buzz to be standing next to another angler, watching intently as they fish away, and then they get walloped by a bass. I reckon you get to see more from not fishing, and it’s so exciting. It’s as good as fishing gets for me when those perfect tables of surf roll in from the Atlantic, but it’s very manageable and easily fishable, and because there are what seems to be a bunch of fish around, your anglers are fishing hard and expecting to get nailed on every single cast.

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One lure that is really starting to work well out here on the surf beaches is that newish Savage Gear Line Thru Sandeel - they absolutely fly, and as far as we can work out you need do no more than whack them out and wind them in. Get your rod tip up a bit, find the retrieve speed so that they are swimming very naturally just under the surface, and when those bass hit them, it’s something to see as the rod just slams round. One of our anglers also had a few bass on these Line Thru sandeels last week when we was casting it out across a strong current, controlling the swing round, and then slowly retrieving the lure when it moved outside of the main flow. I have been waiting to see how these killer looking lures might work in a bit of Irish surf, and John’s been doing really well with them when his clients have them with them and the conditions are right.

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It must have been the size of the bait that was out there the other day, because it was the smaller 19g version that was doing more damage, and in that ultra realistic sandeel pattern as well. The larger 27g version casts really well and has been catching fish, but holy cow that smaller 19g one goes out there like a frigging missile, and they remain so stable in bouncier conditions. I understand completely the line through rigging for sea trout fishing and how adept these fish are at throwing hooks, but here’s hoping that Savage Gear might one day bring out a version of this increasingly interesting lure that doesn’t need to be rigged line through - perhaps just a couple of eyelets on the end of the lure as per a regular hard lure? Anyway, apologies for the lack of blog posts, but it’s been hectic out here - today is our last day and then I head for home tomorrow. We had big blue skies yesterday and our anglers smashed a silly amount of pollack out on the boat in some wonderfully calm seas, but today is a proper Irish bass day down here in Kerry and we have plenty of time left before we wrap things up………………….

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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.

 

When the weather breaks and a few fish come out to play, down here in Kerry is pretty damn special

I wish I had more time to devote to my blog out here in Kerry, but this guiding work is some hectic stuff. It’s also a huge amount of fun when we are lucky enough to have such a nice bunch of anglers who are in the same boat as me - smitten with this part of the world, and especially when the bad weather passes on through and this quiet corner of Ireland lights up. Rather than me waffle on here when in fact I have got a load of photos to edit and keyword before everybody else wakes up, I will let a few photos do the talking for this particular blog post………..

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Heading over to Kerry today for some guiding work

No rest for the wicked as they say. I got back home from Ireland last Friday evening, and this morning I am getting back on the road and doing the long journey over to south west Ireland - I am leaving my house in south east Cornwall at about 7pm and will arrive in Kerry around 9.30pm if all goes well. Unlike last week where I had Steve and Carl to talk with on the journey (about DoLive Sticks!), on this Kerry jaunt I am on my own and will no doubt be talking to myself (about DoLive Sticks?).

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Our first group of lads arrive on Saturday, with fishing starting first thing Sunday morning, and I can’t wait to get going with this co-guiding work again. It may well be a case of not fishing myself for a couple of weeks, but it’s a genuine thrill to work with other anglers and of course John Quinlan. While I am over there John and I are going to work out our 2018 dates and I will get them out to people who have specifically requested them, and then make them available on here. If you want to be notified by email before the dates go up here, please contact me here, and I will make sure you are.

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Anyway, please spare a thought for the state of my head when I finally get to Kerry this evening after too many hours talking to myself about all things lure fishing. How many times have I imagined for example getting hold of the MD of OSP and threatening him or her with all manner of ills until he or she agrees to make a 6’’ solid white coloured DoLive Stick? Oh, and I’ll have a white belly/chartreuse back while we’re at it Mr or Mrs OPS. Seriously, it ain’t right. You all have a good weekend and I will do what I can with the hours we put in to keep you updated with how these guiding trips go in Kerry.

 

When the bass are feeding that bit further out………..

We had a situation over in Ireland last week when we could see a bunch of terns working over what we presumed were sandeels, and of course you can’t help but assume that there may well be a bass driving those sandeels up from underneath. And then you see the odd big swirl on the surface and your heart loses a few beats and your knees go all wobbly………..

On a couple of occasions those terns came within a relatively easy casting range and we could get at the bass - there must have been a good number of bass around because I distinctly remember properly missing a good hit on my DoLive Stick due to my over excitement (when will we grow up? Never I hope!), only for another bass to hit my lure and hook up a split second later.

 Westin Kongetobis (L), Bass Bullet (R)

Westin Kongetobis (L), Bass Bullet (R)

But when those terns/sandeels/bass were out of conventional casting range, that’s when you are left rummaging through your lure boxes to see if you have got anything that might get out there. It was one of those times when I wish I had been carrying one of the GT Ice Cream lures to see how it might do here, but I wasn’t. Steve though had one of these Bass Bullet lookalikes, the Westin Kongetobis with him (says 27g on the packet, but it’s actually a 30g lure). I wonder how many anglers have looked at lures like this and thought no way, where’s the bib, where’s the big action, surely it looks too simple?

If you catch the Westin Kongetobis right it absolutely flies, but it does call for the right drop and rod speed. When Steve gets it going it frigging flies out there, and I guess much like fishing a senko or DoLive or something like that, yet again it seems to be the case that less is often so much more. Straight retrieving that Westin Kongetobis at a medium sort of speed gets it swimming with a bit of a lazy slalom just under the surface, and what was so important here was distance. I’ve got a few hard sub-surface and surface lures with me that are very good casters, but they can’t get out to where the bass are feeding at this particular time.

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A couple of good bass later and yet again it’s hit home to me how it can be so worth carrying the odd lure with you that might not end up seeing a whole lot of water time but can give you a different option. The option here was of course as much distance as possible, and whilst distance if of course not remotely everything in bass fishing, on the odd occasion the ability to put a lure a long way out there is a handy weapon to be able to turn to.

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We had another situation last week where we were fishing a raging run of current and again we could see some terns working. We tend to bump the bottom here with soft plastics on say 20g jig heads, but the fishing was very quiet and with those mostly out of casting range terns it just didn’t feel to me like the bass were going to be feeding on the bottom with the sandeels up in the water like that. So I put on the one casting jig I had with me, a 35g Duo Press Bait Fusion Slim thing that I think is discontinued, and on that truly remarkable 9’ 7-35g HTO Nebula rod and my beloved 18lb/0.12mm Sufix Performance Pro 8 braid this thing is absolutely flying out there (apparently the slightly more powerful 9’ 12-42g HTO Nebula is also a peach of a rod, but I haven’t seen it yet). A few casts later when the terns came just about close enough and as the lure is on the drop I am suddenly hooked up to the only bass we caught out there, and at about 5lbs and in that current it’s some scrap. We caught plenty of bass close in last week over in Ireland, but on a couple of occasions the distance thing paid off.

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.

 

 

Let me tell you how to land a bass completely wrong and break your rod in the process

I have been loving fishing with this utterly sublime, lighter lure rod, the Favorite Skyline SKY-862M 8’6’’ 6-21g - every time a bass hits my lure I can’t help but give out a little yelp with how much of an excited jolt down my arm that hit is on a rod as precise as this. I don’t have a heap of experience with the lighter lure rods we might press into service for bass fishing, but I can’t see how a rod like this can get much better than this particular Favorite Skyline.

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So I took it over to Ireland with me the other day, ostensibly to use with the OSP DoLive Stick in the various estuaries I was sure we were going to spend a bit of time fishing - which we did, and as per my recent blog posts from when we were out there, we had some outstanding bass fishing. And yes, as per always, I am sure there are other lures which might have worked as well, but so far I haven’t found a soft plastic that I can fish weedless and weightless that floats my boat anywhere near as much as the DoLive Stick. So I’ll keep on buying them, fishing with them, and yapping about them until I come across something better.

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Anyway, so we’re fishing away in some very shallow, clear water, and I go and hook a bass on this Favorite Skyline rod. If I didn’t yelp with excitement then I certainly jumped out of my skin at the hit - the feeling from fishing with a lighter, ultra-sensitive lure rod when you are working your lures a bit is brilliant. The fish is soon ready for landing and unhooking, but bear in mind here that we are wading, there’s nowhere to drag the fish out of the water for unhooking, and I have got my camera gear in a rucksack on my back - but all this is no excuse I can assure you for some truly piss poor angling coming up!

As always I am using a barbless hook with my DoLive Stick (the 5/0 Owner Twistlock hook which I happen to think suits the lure perfectly), and because the fish is around 4lbs and I have some photos already of fish like this from the trip, I am going to go for a quick release which I have done successfully on many occasions. I will grab the leader with one hand, stick the rod under my arm, and with my now free rod hand I will remove the barbless hook so the fish swims off without me ever needing to even touch it or take it out of the water.

So I do exactly that - I grab the leader, go to stick the rod under my arm, but before I can do this the fish suddenly goes to charge off, and because I haven’t got a secure grip on the (wet) leader - I usually wrap it around my hand a couple of times but for some reason didn’t do so this time - the fish can suddenly move off. I bet you can imagine what happens next - my rod tip could not have been in a worse position, and a split second later I am down to a roughly 8’ Skyline instead of the more usual 8’6’’ Skyline. This may not be a traditional case of high-sticking as such, but in other respects it was - through my own stupid fault I allowed my rod tip to get into a totally unnatural angle when the fish suddenly lunged away. Modern carbon rods are amazing bits of kit, but they still obey the law of physics, and I am left standing there like a right tit.

This episode was 100% my fault, indeed there is no doubt whatsoever that my bag angling caused this awesome rod to break. A much more powerful lure rod might have held up to what I put it through when cocking up the landing of that bass, but I don’t want to be fishing with a rod like that with where and how we were fishing that particular session. These lighter lure rods are that bit more fragile, indeed the tip on this Favorite Skyline SKY-862M 8’6’’ 6-21g is a big part of what makes this lure rod so special, but as with landing say a bonefish in skinny water on an 8 weight fly rod, you need to show a bit of care for these things and categorically not do what I so stupidly did!

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Trip over as far as that rod went, and I was gutted mainly because we did a lot of shallow water soft plastics fishing over in Ireland to which this Skyline is perfectly suited. I changed over to fishing with the new HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g - I hadn’t fished with it for over a week because I lent my review copy to a friend, but it’s often when I come back to certain rods after not using them for a while that I am able to reconfirm in my head what they are really like, and this 9’ Nebula is an absolute freak of nature it is so ridiculously good, and for not much over the £100 mark it is a joke, end of. I had other, more expensive “regular” casting weight lure rods with me in Ireland, but I chose to fish with this “budget” 9’ 7-35g HTO Nebula because it’s so damn good. As special as this rod is though, it isn’t the delightfully light Favorite Skyline which I broke. Another example of fishing like a tit! Here’s hoping that a new tip doesn’t cost too much……….

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It's so damn special to be around bass like this

Catching a good number of angry, scrappy, bass in about as good a condition as you could ever hope to find is surely quite enough for any angler as it is, but just sometimes a very special fish comes along and you can’t help but act like a bunch of overexcited school children after it has safely swum away and you’re left to process how amazing that really was…………

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We have had some decent fishing during daylight hours, but as is becoming increasingly the way these last few years, it’s when darkness settles and non-fishing people are indoors doing what non-fishing people do that we are seeing the best of the fishing. The number of good bass that are jumping on the white senkos at night out here is pretty damn special - with a few to needlefish as I slowly get to grips with how best to fish them, albeit whacking them out and winding them in a la white senkos seems to be doing ok - but on Monday night I got a rather excited yelp over the radio that it might be worth my while traipsing back across the rocks to see the bass that Steve has just landed.

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You know the moment you see that stunner of a bass lying in a rockpool that it’s a double, but because you don’t want to get it wrong it comes out at first as “easy 9lb plus”, when if that’s only 9lbs then I am not having increasingly serious issues with DoLive Sticks and Competitive Colour Buying. Steve is in a bit of a state of shock, I am breaking out the camera gear, the main issue of course is to keep the fish safe and calm, and if you had recorded our conversation just then I would be interested to hear just how overexcited and inarticulate we were sounding! “&^%$ that’s a monster, @!&^ she’s a beast, *%$£ it’s awesome”, and so on. Mature stuff basically!

Anyway, so we get her weighed and photographed and safely returned - just over 11.5lbs of about the most stunningly conditioned bass you could ever see, and yet again Ireland has given us mere visitors a kind glimpse at the sort of bass fishing you can sometimes get when things come together. Anybody who comes fishing over here has had good trips and tough trips, but it’s when you see lure fishing like we are getting at the moment that you fall head over heels in love yet again with this magical country, and all you can think about is when you can come back again. I am so pleased for you Steve - I know how much a bass like that means and I consider it an honour to be around you landing another fish of a lifetime. Holy frigging cow. What more can you say?

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