Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Can't shake that horrible sick feeling from losing a serious fish

I never saw the bass so I can't put a size on it, but whilst I have hardly landed a silly amount of big bass in the relatively short time these fish have had a hold over me, I have hooked and landed enough proper different fish to know when I've got something special on the end. At 7.15am yesterday morning a bass did me on a rock, and without a doubt it was the biggest bass I have ever hooked from a UK shoreline. If you have ever lost a fish like this then you will know all about that horrible sick feeling that pervades your stomach and just won't let go. How big was it? Did I do something wrong? What could I have done better? It doesn't matter how long you've been fishing, because the loss of a fish like that just haunts you.............

It's been some patchy bass fishing around here recently, but after a week in France I was itching to get out on the coastline and have a go. A couple of texts back and forth to my mate Mark and we were set for a 6am start to coincide with the Sunday morning HW and the first of the ebb. I wasn't sure whether to trust the forecast, but both of us were almost running down to the rocks when we saw the sea state - a bit of fizz on with a freshening westerly breeze, but not too much to blow out what is a mainly shallow, reefy mark.

Pretty early on I had a small pollack on a shallow diving hard lure, so at least there was something about. I was really interested to see how this new 9'6'' 10-30g Major Craft Truzer might perform - I have been kindly lent the rod to give it a decent workout, and yesterday morning was its first outing. Give me a while with it before I post a review, but my initial feelings are that it's as freaky good as the 9' version I reviewed a while back - see here. Anyway, with nothing more than a small pollack to put a little bend in the rod, it was time to move to a particular gully I had been waiting to access as the tide stripped away and gave me access to a rock I needed to stand on to fish into this slightly deeper water. Storm was not amused by me wading around in the dark, so rather wisely she hung back with my rucksack and waited to see if I might fall in. Nearly, very nearly, but don't worry, Mark did go in up to his neck!!

On goes a 120mm/12g Fiiish Black Minnow (colour as above, but I can't imagine it makes much difference in the dark?), and I started to fish it in a way that I must admit I haven't really done so before over this kind of ground - more to come on this, and thanks to Portuguese bass nut Armando Sousa who I met last week in France. A few casts later it feels like I've wound into a great big lump of weed - only the weed starts moving left to right on me. I fish with a tight drag and I like to pull the hell out of anything I hook - and I knew straight away that this was a seriously proper bass. The rod is right over and stays over while the bass thumps its head, and whilst I am giving the fish the gears and it's not taking any line, I just can't get it in fast enough to prevent it running slightly in but to the right and towards the shallow edge of the gully. Wise big fish?

I have caught fish that weigh more than me and I've caught fish that fight so hard they make bass look somewhat "pedestrian", but at the end of the day you either love the fishing you do day in day out or you don't, and a lot of our fishing excites me massively - so yes, my heart was in my mouth when this fish was thumping away and I was loving every single second of it. I knew where I was going to land the fish and whilst I am not about to put an estimation on a fish I never saw, I know what I was thinking.

And then I get that horrible ping back of the rod tip as my line snaps on a rock. From your rod being hooped right over to that horrible slack feeling in a split second. From imagining how that bass might look as it comes to hand to very suddenly having no potential fish of a lifetime on the end. Without doubt the biggest bass I have hooked from the shore in the UK, but it is very suddenly no more. That angle the fish ran meant that a tight 8-strand braid was run right across a sharp rock and snapped like cotton. For all that these lines are awesome things to fish with, and for all that I was using a fairly long 20lb fluoro leader, you put a tight 20lb braid over a sharp rock and there is only one outcome. Bass love shallow rocky ground and the odds can never be totally in our favour.

Gutted, absolutely gutted. I was not worried about the welfare of the fish because that single weedless hook on the Black Minnow was barbless, but almost immediately I am feeling sick to the pit of my stomach. It's that time of year around here in south east Cornwall when there is the odd donkey of a bass around, and when you get conditions like that you know there is a chance. You do every single thing you can to stack the odds in your favour but you can't account for a bit of bad luck/sharp rock. I've run through what happened about ten thousand times now and for the life of me I don't think I did anything wrong. I know when I've messed up and I'd have given myself a damn good thrashing if I had done so here, but here I feel that fishing is simply fishing.

I feel sick though. I can't stop thinking about it, and I wish I hadn't lost that bass. But I did, and all I can do now is to get out there again and see if I can't do something about it. Mark and I went out again over the LW and had a really good session in fact, with a bunch of very good conditioned bass to 6lbs+ (pix to come), and whilst I loved every second of landing that particular fish, I couldn't help but think how much stronger that bass was that I had lost earlier that morning. Fishing eh? We love it, but wow can it mess with our heads............