A few thoughts on the recent Ireland trip - a learning process

There is no doubt in my mind now that the MegaBass Zonk 120 Gataride is going to become an all time classic bass fishing lure - it just smashes bass, plain and simple. All the Irish lads I know carry them in their lure boxes, and I am at that particular stage now with this lure that I would feel somewhat "under gunned" if I went out bassing without one.They cast like bullets, but what is really impressive is how the lure cuts into and across the wind - meaning you can cover more fishing holding water, and also get the lure nice and stable when the sea is kicking off a bit. The action is what it is - it just seems to turn bass on big time. Crank it, twitch it, do what you will, the Zonk 120 Gataride just seems to find the fish. A classic example of a modern bass fishing lure - check them out here. But as with most items of fishing gear, there is a flaw to this lure - I know a fair few guys who have broken the plastic bib on their Gatarides, and this kills the thing stone dead. Granted, if you hit a rock with the lure, then expect some damage, but the bib is a weakness that you need to be aware of. Be careful though and you will have minimal problems. The lure is that good.

I have now fished with the my new Shimano Stella 4000FD for plenty long enough to confirm what I already believed - that this stunning spinning reel is flat out the best plugging reel there is (bear in mind that this merely my opinion, fishing tackle is a very personal thing). I know that a lot of anglers would never consider spending this kind of dosh on a spinning reel, but if you are after the best then I can't recommend it highly enough. I will keep fishing with mine and deliver any findings I pick up long term, but you just can't believe how smooth a spinning reel can be when you fish hard with a Shimano Stella. I know we all suffer from the odd wind knot from time to time when using braid, but there has to be something in the intricate line lay that this Stella 4000FD has, for I never came close to any kind of snarl up last week. Bearing in mind that I was chopping and changing between surface lures, soft plastics and diving hard lures, I reckon this is deeply impressive. The drag is on the insanely smooth side, and you can also lock down hard and give the fish some proper grief. Every single thing about this reel just smacks of utter class. I still stand by the fact that a green fish goes back the strongest, and I am very much against playing a bass so light and for so long that they become completely exhausted. I want my fish to come to hand still full of fizz and fight. Photograph them, look after them, and then they swim off nice and strong. As I have said before, there is no going back once you own a reel like the Stella......

There is nothing more exciting in fishing than smashing a fish off the top - that hit on a surface lure reduces most of us to a gibbering wreck, whether it be a 5lb bass or a 100lb GT. Doesn't matter. Surface fishing rules. But there seem to be times when a bass wants a lure fished literally just below the surface, and I imagine they are hitting them because the lure creates such an irresistible silhouette when viewed from below. There are some great shallow diving lures around like the Tackle House Feed Shallow and the huge range of Duo Tide Minnows (see here), but for those times when you want to force your shallow diver to swim literally just below the surface, I am now turning more and more to the IMA Komomo 125 that you can see above. It just seems to work for bass. You can force it to swim even shallower than it is meant to if that makes sense - cast it out, hold your rod tip up (but drop your arm down to your side), and crank it back at a medium pace. There must be a load of different colours that work well, but I only have the Komomo 125 in the shades you can see above - and it seems to work really well. You can get many lures to swim "artificially" shallower by holding your rod tip on the retrieve, but I don't own any lures that I can make swim as shallow as the IMA Komomo 125. Not a lure for all situations, but increasingly I am learning of different situations that require very specific approaches. This lure took a fish for me the other day when neither surface lures of soft plastic lures were working. I put this on and bang, bass on. Fishing is a constant learning curve, and I love it for that.

The early bird catches the light - on a clear morning, there is often a wonderful period quite a while before the sun appears when the sky is catching the impending warmth from the rising sun, yet at the same time it still retains a degree of heavy blue/black from the night. This is an awesome time for photography, when you can simply silhouette the angler against the sky and let the light do the talking - the trick is to recognise that your camera wants to "read" the scene somewhat differently from how you actually perceive it. If you are using a digital SLR, make sure to focus on the angler and then dial in at least a stop of minus exposure compensation to retain all that contrast in the sky. I can't tell you how good these Nikon D3 cameras are at high ISO - this shot was around f4 at ISO 2000, and although you will not be able to appreciate the overall cleanness of the file at the small size you can see above, at full resolution I am just blown away. This was south east Ireland very early in the morning last week. I shot the stuff, put down my cameras, picked up my rod, and nailed a 6lb bass. Does me just fine !!

Can you see the difference in the quality of the light in the two shots above ? I like the photo above, and it will work well in a number of situations for my work, but it does not do it for me as much as the "well before first light shot". Still, anybody into photography and trying to make fishing look as good as possible will know that the best light is usually at the start and the end of the day - various specialist situations aside of course. It just so happens that bass often like to feed around first light.

The screen grab above is of these Sawamura One Up Shads that are starting to work so well for the bass - I don't know much about them, but I have seen them work, and I am going to try and get hold of some as soon as possible. The person you need to speak to about them is Patrick over in Ireland - check here. You can't beat consistent local information from somebody such as Patrick who is out there so much of the time. Seems that the One Up Shad works on Texposer hooks and on jig heads. Those tails go insane in the current. Lots more to learn.