Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Be honest, did you ever imagine there could be this much to bass fishing?

If you have been bass fishing all your life and are fully conversant with all techniques, lures, methods and future discoveries, then you might as well skip this one and I'll see you later in the week. But if you are anything like me and have come to bass fishing relatively later on in your fishing life then tell me, do you ever sit back and think about these silver fish we chase, and how there is just far, far more to them than you could ever have imagined? Perhaps you don't, but from time to time it really hits me how these relatively modest sized fish can, if you choose to go down the lure route especially, just completely surprise you?

I can remember a wild and wet night up on the north coast of Cornwall many years ago now. A friend I had recently met at uni basically couldn't get his gear our far enough to catch the ray that I was after, so he dropped in close and ended up hammering a bunch of bass. I caught a few ray, but after seeing bass after bass coming in, I eventually "lowered" myself to dropping a sandeel bait in close and catching a few for myself. And then I went back to the ray fishing. Look at me now. Look at a number of you here I am sure. How did we get so hooked on bass fishing?

Because of what I do, what I have been lucky enough to have experienced, and what I get to see, I come at this with perhaps a slightly different perspective to some of you. Bass are an awesome fish and I love to catch them, but a few specialist captures aside, we simply don't have huge fish that run and run and run that we might catch off our coastline. I do think bass are good scrappers and of course I love catching them, but if you put it into sheer scrapping perspective they can't hold a candle say to a bohar snapper hooked near a coral bombie, or size perspective of course they don't compare say to kob. It doesn't matter one bit though, because bass are "our" fish and we love them with a passion, and way beyond their actual size or power is what lure fishing for them has so opened up to me - that there is just far, far more to fishing for them than I could ever have imagined. It's way beyond simply size or power for me.

Fishing hard lures for bass - taking fish off the top, fishing specialist shallow-divers over horribly shallow, rough ground, pushing "grippier" lures out into rough seas, dead-drifting suspending hard lures etc. Think of the ground, the locations, the current or lack of current, the different weathers, tides, moon phases and seasons through which you can fish with any number of different kinds of hard lures. Not that many years ago I just had no idea lure fishing for these spiky silver predators could ever be so consuming, and I must of course lay part of the blame for my "enlightenment" at the door of a few kind (?) souls who helped open me up to it.

Soft plastic fishing for bass is of course where it's going to another whole different level, but I don't mean size or numbers of fish so much - because there will always be plenty of very good anglers out there who will continue to hammer good bass on all manner of hard lures. Nope, what I mean from my point of view is firstly the fact that I can't really think of bass terrains that I can't now fish with soft plastics if needs be, and secondly the sheer levels of finesse and subtlety that some of this fishing can require from us, the anglers. If our traditional way to go shore fishing in the UK and Ireland is with 13' beachcasters and 6oz leads, then look at say an 8' 5-21g rod and a tiny spinning reel, fishing a 5'' senko rigged weedless/weightless. It's all saltwater fishing, but is there much similarity? Well it's all saltwater fishing, but back in the day I simply had no idea that I could one day be fishing for "our" saltwater fish with something approaching finesse. Me, your archetypal rock fisherman used to losing 6oz lead after 6oz lead in the snags? It's bass and the way ways we can fish for them that's done it.

And of course you can take bass on the fly. Or at least decent fly anglers can. I love photographing fly fishing and I tend to leave it to fly anglers to do the fly fishing! What I have noticed among the more enlightened fly anglers is how the whole soft plastics thing really appeals to them. OK, so you're not aerialising a fly line, but give anybody that 8' 5-21g rod and a small soft plastic, and get them twitching it around the rocks and weed at close quarters, and now tell me there's a big difference. There isn't, and it makes people smile at how much fun it is - as is blasting a 140mm minnow into a rough sea of course. Much of fly fishing is about finesse, and to catch bass from all kinds of ground as say parts of Ireland forces me to do, well that's a big part of lure fishing as well. If it was nothing more than trying to chase "specimen" bass or big numbers of them I just don't think my level of interest could be sustained. Fishing is different for everybody, and for me, it's so much about how we do it, and the fact that there is just so much more to how we can do it that I ever imagined in my pre-bass days.