Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Can there sometimes be so much bait around that it negatively affects your shore fishing?

If like me you happily accept that we will never come close to knowing it all as regards nature and the fish we chase, do you still ask yourself a whole heap of questions and try to come up with a logical answer anyway? Granted, said answer may well be way off the mark, but it can be fun to look for a reason as such, and recent happenings around here in south east Cornwall have got the old grey cells a churning…………

Whilst this winter is another classic example of never knowing what you’re going to get weather wise and of course we have no choice but to take what is thrown at us, I really, really look forward to November and December around here for bass fishing. Some years we have hardly been able to get near the sea for the conditions, but with the so called winter we have been having down here we had a lot of what I would call pretty damn good bass fishing conditions around here in that say eight week run up to Xmas - ok, so the fishing was not bad at times, but to be honest it wasn’t nearly as good as the conditions we were getting suggested it might be.

We caught a bunch of fish away from the south east of our rather wonderful county, but I’d have expected to see more bass with the time we put in close to home. There could of course be a whole heap of reasons for this - with overfishing of course being at the top of any list - but with what was going on around here, I can’t help but wonder if for a lengthy period there was that much food around not very far offshore that the bass would have been expending unnecessary energy by coming inshore to look for food. Surely predatory fish go to where the easiest and most plentiful food source is?

I would suggest that while it could be a giggle to hook a fish like this from the shore on your bass fishing tackle, I would also suggest that it would be a mighty fine way to try a new spool of braid out, 'cos this beauty's taking the lot!

I would suggest that while it could be a giggle to hook a fish like this from the shore on your bass fishing tackle, I would also suggest that it would be a mighty fine way to try a new spool of braid out, 'cos this beauty's taking the lot!

As much as bluefin tuna are one of the most impressive fish I have ever been lucky enough to see and indeed catch in my lifetime, I refuse to believe that they were stationed off our coastline for a bit of a laugh. If there is one thing that spending a lot of time with John Quinlan over in Kerry has taught me, it’s that I am guilty of not thinking enough about searching for the food that bass want to eat when I am out chasing bass - and with there being a load of bluefin tuna hanging around here, I must assume that there was a hell of a lot of food for them, indeed surely that was the sole reason that those magnificent fish were here?

So if it’s something like serious numbers of herring that the tuna were hanging around to stuff their colourful faces on, does it make sense that most self-respecting bass would also be joining in on the feeding frenzy and not then wasting energy to come close inshore and be so kind as to crawl up our lines as they can sometimes do around the end of the year? Or is my attempt at applying some sort of logical thought here merely my ineptitude as a human being and not understanding something else that was going on?

If our local coastline had been blown to pieces by winter storms then we’d have never been able to notice how things didn’t seem quite “normal”, but when you get good conditions you can’t help but think about previous years when you got similar conditions. I remember a trip I did to the south coast of Ireland a few years ago now in October when we were getting report after report about how many herring I think it was that the boats we could see just offshore were landing, and with some pretty tidy conditions in fact we struggled like crazy to catch bass. OK, so with what I know now I wonder if we did some different things (white senkos at night for a start) whether we’d have caught more fish, but that week or so has always stuck in my head as being a potentially classic example of there being that much easy food around for the bass that it actually impacts negatively on our fishing.

And the pre-Xmas period we have just had is now another example that sits in my head as a couple of months that I can’t explain. We hammered a heap of bass up on the north coast but might then nip out locally in some conditions that you’d be literally running down the cliffs to get a lure in the water, yet come away with things just not firing like you’d expect. For sure there might have been a hundred different factors impacting upon all this, but I don’t remember hearing about all those bluefin tuna being around like that before, and my brain can’t help but wonder at these potential coincidences. Who really knows, but then yet again isn’t that the whole crux of this fishing thing that we so love?