Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

How will I top that epic start to the bass season?

Isn’t it interesting how you can literally feel the world around here really waking up after winter? That glorious cacophony of birdsong early in the morning, swallows coming back, hearing cuckoos, seeing sandeels in the water, giggling away because you find so many mullet stacked up at one north coast spot you can’t help but bump them with your lure as you work the gloriously green, tumbling tide rip for bass - plus at last some properly warm weather. I love this time of year……….

Awesome north Cornwall conditions on Sunday

Awesome north Cornwall conditions on Sunday

On Sunday we found about the best conditions you could ever hope to find on a particular spot on the rugged north coast of Cornwall, and it just felt alive. The three of us had a few bangs bumping Fiiish Black Minnows along the rocky bottom, but no hookups (I am really liking these 18g Search jig heads for the 120mm Black Minnow, they just seem to literally “walk” so well along all those contours on the bottom). Charlie saw a couple of properly big bass mooching around a gully as he went to jump from rock to rock and I reckon nearly fell in with the shock at seeing those fish - and then we found a stack of mullet which to me is a really good sign. OK, no bass landed, but the place felt alive at least, and especially with Charlie seeing a couple of shoals of sandeels.

Mark meanwhile did fall in, and I promise I didn’t laugh at all! He was wearing a prototype Mullion lifejacket we have here to test, and whilst there was nothing remotely dangerous about wading this gully, Mark got unlucky with his timing as a surge of water came through and took him off his feet. It is very impressive how quickly these auto-inflate lifejackets inflate! Charlie and I remained resolutely straight-faced?, the lifejackets work, Mark was not in any danger, and I’m still feeling weak from nearly wetting myself. Does anything provide more laughs than fishing?

So Monday early evening saw Mark and I out on our local south east Cornwall coast, and we had some pretty stunning conditions to fish the early flood on a bit of reef. Onshore conditions, a bit of breeze and bounce but not remotely out of control, a little too much weed in the water but it was ok if you moved around, grey, scudding light conditions, and damn things felt good. I find it so interesting how the ocean feels so different here in the south east compared to the north coast, and I love how we have such easy access to it all.

And then it happened. My 2018 bass fishing season kicked off in such outrageous style I was left shaking with adrenaline and then a bit of a worry about how on earth I could possibly top this mighty spring time feat (slight exaggeration as you will find out later). I had tried a few darker coloured lures to account for the very overcast conditions, but nothing, yet it’s feeling so good. A big gully is starting to fill up, I have got away from the worst of the weed, and for the life of me there’s got to be a bass or two on front of us. Sod this then, how about trying to get what I tend to think of as a sort of reaction hit by putting on a really bright, “look at me” hard lure and seeing what happens?


I do find it a particular delight when I catch a fish on a cabin fever related lure that I liked the look of during those wet winter months, took a punt and bought one, and then it goes and works! For ages I had wanted to see what a Shimano Japan hard lure might be like, and when I stumbled across what looked like a long-casting, nice and shallow swimming Shimano Exsence Responder 109F (109mm, 15g), how the hell could I resist? Chunky, very stable, I like the size, wow it casts well into a headwind, it swims nice and shallow with such a lovely wiggle that I can’t bloody resist, seems to be seriously well made, and I like this particular colour above because on other hard lures a very similar colour has worked well for me before.

And it went and caught me my first two bass of the season, plus I got another couple of hits into the bargain. I would love to regale you with tales of how this ridiculously special Shimano Exsence Infinity S900ML/RF 9’ 5-32g lure rod that I reviewed the other day manfully subdued those April bass, but to be perfectly honest both bass I reckon were about 10cms longer than the actual lure! Is there a class of bass that’s below a schoolie? Hell they were small, but they were bass, and to me that simple fact that a couple of them impaled themselves on my new lure (yippee!) gives me that all important jolt of confidence. Joking aside I’ve got a really good feeling about this Shimano Exsence Responder 109F.  

Yes, there is always the possibility that another lure would have caught the same fish, but you can only catch on what you have clipped on at the time can you not? Did those bass suddenly move into that big gully and find my lure, or were they mooching around already and did that rather bright colour change just happen to do it for them as opposed to the more muted lure colours I had been previously trying? As ever I am left with questions to which I will never know the answers, but we’re off and running - small they might have been, but I’ll take ‘em!

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