Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Are big bass lazy or older and wiser?

I was looking at a thread about the Fiiish Crazy Sandeel on World Sea Fishing the other day, and a comment on there from a hugely talented bass angler I know really struck a chord and got me thinking. Now this bloke has far more experience of big shore caught bass than I will ever have, and he said something along the lines of big bass being lazy - this was in relation to questioning whether the relative speed at which the Crazy Sandeel needs to be worked to get it moving properly in fact then makes it a lure that perhaps isn’t best suited to big bass because they are lazy. But are they? Do we presume that because a fish has got big it then becomes lazy? Or are these bigger bass in fact older and therefore wiser than the smaller ones?

I know that I get obsessed with various lures at times, and at the moment I am very much into finding out if this Crazy Sandeel which I basically ignored might in fact be something really worth persevering with. It worked for those tuna over in Italy (see here) and it then worked for me when I took it out and fished it exactly as its designer told me to (see here), but of course I need a lot more time and experience with it - I do love trying new stuff out though and I lose interest if I end up doing the same thing all the time. I love how lure fishing is so diverse. But if we forget about the actual lure and the speed at which it needs to be fished, what has been churning around my head for the last few days is this whole big bass behaviour thing.

I raised the question the other day when we were over in Ireland getting beaten up by the weather, and Steve said something that really struck a chord - think about human beings as children, rushing around at full speed, not understanding how to pace themselves, and having little experience of life. Now think about an adult human being and how much more experience we have of life. Some people might well be lazy individuals, but ignoring that, instead think about how much more efficient we become as we get older (in theory anyway) - at the end of the day we are all animals, and I wonder if fish are kinda similar? Does age tend to mean greater wisdom throughout the animal kingdom?

There is of course nothing remotely yes or no here, but I know that Matt the Fiiish designer caught a bass around the Douarnenez area last year that was one metre long, and at this length it might well have been up around the 20lb mark. Now in anybody’s book that’s a monster bass, and the lure if you hadn’t already guessed was the Crazy Sandeel which he was fishing relatively fast, as indeed he designed it to be fished. He has told me on numerous occasions how he’s catching two to three times more fish on the Crazy Sandeel over the Black Minnow, and while he is mostly boat fishing in and around French waters for the bass he catches, I can’t help but sit up and take notice at those kinds of results - until I have given the Crazy Sandeel a lot more water time, I can’t say whether in my experience it might be a lure that’s better suited to shore or boat, or of course both.

While I was in Ireland, a friend of mine back home in south east Cornwall lost a bass almost at his feet which he put at possibly around the 10lb mark. I know the spot, indeed I fish the spot with him, and I know that he was fishing the Crazy Sandeel pretty quickly (“ripping” it). I don’t mean to bang on about the lure so much as wonder whether we should be assuming that big bass are less inclined to chase faster moving lures or indeed food, or whether they are older and wiser and perhaps choose differently to the smaller, younger fish. On the one hand I am inclined to think along similar lines as the guy who posted that comment which really got me thinking about all this, but on the other hand I would question whether bigger fish conserving energy and only exploding into action exactly when required is in fact due to them being older and therefore wiser (if indeed a fish can be referred to as wise of course), and not in fact lazy as we would define it.

Nobody really knows of course, but I don’t see how I can become a better angler unless I think about stuff and then get out there and try different things out. I have always been perfectly comfortable with the fact that I know and fish with some people who are quite simply better anglers than me, but I also know that one of my skills if you like is a willingness to ask questions and learn from people. Why wouldn’t you? My job I suppose has given me a very rounded view of fishing in general, and it fascinates me how good some anglers are at specialising in certain species and methods. Big bass may indeed be lazy fish when quantified by human standards, and whilst there can never be any definitive answers about this sort of stuff, I do wonder whether lazy is the right word - efficient perhaps? It’s these sorts of questions that get my brain churning at silly o’clock in the morning……