Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

First bass of the year - small but beautiful

I managed to get few hours in plugging yesterday afternoon before I needed to be back to babysit my two daughters for the evening, and it turned out to be a blast. Just me, my sheepdog Jess and a deserted coastline, with the strong NE wind off our backs and what seemed like fairly good conditions. I knew something was looking up when the first rock I waded to had a nice, perhaps 4-5lb bass rooting around just behind it - but the fish saw me and promptly legged it !! You simply can not put a value on decent polarised sunglasses, and I wear what I believe are the best on the market today, Maui Jim. It was flat calm and the water was verging on being almost too clear (weeks of east winds), but when a proper sized pollack turned on my Maria Chase BW (check the lure here) right at the edge of the rocks and showed me that big, predator eye, I reckoned my luck might be in. I then had numerous follows from plenty of other, smaller pollack, plus a small bass, before moving to another set of rocks close by and landing three small pollack. Together they might have struggled to reach 1.5lbs, but at least there was plenty of life around.

About two hours after low water I went and snagged my Maria Chase up properly and lost it, so I re-tied a short 30lb Varivas fluorocarbon leader on and picked out another great shallow-diving minnow, the Lucky Craft Flash Minnow. I really like this lure, but it dives a little deeper than the Maria and I had to retrieve for the most part with my rod held high to get it closer to the surface. I also reckon it works better with a slower retrieve than I use for the Maria. But it worked......

The bass you see above is my first this year on a lure, and although it might be "slightly" on the small side (!!), I could not be happier to see one - seriously overjoyed in fact. A typical smash into the lure typifies these magnificent fish. It went back fine after a few photos taken with the aid of this great little tool, the Berkley TEC Pistol Trigger Grip. I picked it up in the US a few weeks ago, principally to enable me to at least get a few photos of fish I might happen to catch when I am fishing on my own. It is designed for gripping a fish like a bass for unhooking - no harm comes to the fish and no more will you end up with spike and cut marks all over your hands. It sits in a little holster on your belt and I would not be without it now.

I also saw a big wrasse follow my lure right in to my feet before I caught the bass, and after I moved to another finger of rock and hooked the bass, on virtually the next cast I caught this one you can see above. Around 3.5lbs I reckon, it was great fun on this Tenryu plugging rod and it put up a typical wrasse kind of scrap. It had stunning markings and went back fine. I love these fish and I am really pleased to have nailed one on the plug where I was fishing. On a Bank Holiday weekend, I saw nobody - amazing. To have that kind of good looking water to myself was a real treat.

That was it, I had to head back home and take on the babysitting duties so that my wife could go out on the razzle. How badly would I have loved to stay on fishing, but I could not even get any mobile phone reception to try and call and tell a little lie about my car breaking down or something like that !! Not that the thought has ever entered my head...........

Below is the lure that did the business, the Lucky Craft Flash Minnow. It does cast a little better than the Maria and it "rolls" incredibly seductively through the water - I like having different options in my lure box. I just have to remember to slow down on the retrieve when using the Flash Minnow.

The more I am using this stunning Tenryu Red Dragon Express plugging rod, the more I can see just how advanced a fishing rod it is for this kind of bassing. You can see my initial review of it here, and my views have not changed at all. It is the single best plugging rod I have ever picked up, and I feel totally confident of getting the upper hand on any bass that might come my way (setting myself up for a fall I know !!). But I do know that I am working my lures effectively from the moment they hit the water.

And as for this Varivias braid I am using - wow !! Yes, it costs more than most others, but it is sublime to fish with. The bright green Avani Sea Bass Braid in 23lb is awesome to use, and I love the colour, but the Avani Sea Bass Max Power PE in 20lb is a class apart. I just wish they did it in a really hi-vis colour like yellow or orange (hint, hint). I have yet to find another braid that feels like this - you will not believe how thin and easy casting it is. I used a different Varivas 8-strand braid out in the Florida Keys the other day and it did great, so I guess I am sold on the merits of this stuff. I know you can get both the Varivas braids I am raving about here. If you are seriously into your lure fishing, you will no doubt be prepared to pay to get the best.

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