Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

It wrecks my head when you give it a go this time of year, you lose a nice fish, then you’re left wondering and never knowing

OK, so it’s not as if early February is exactly the finest time of the year to head out and see if you can find a few bass, but if you don’t try then I would suggest you will never know. Down here in Cornwall I do believe that if we get some decent conditions then there’s at least a chance, and whilst that chance might well be slim, sometimes just getting out on the coast and working those lures feels mighty fine indeed………

Mark and I found some very good looking water on Saturday morning, and if nothing else it was a good excuse to keep on playing with a stunning new lure rod (more to come) and also check out how some new, cabin fever related lure purchases looked in the water (more to come). After the rubbish water clarity we have had around here for what seems like an eternity now, to have a bit of green fizz and virtually no weed on a nice big tide gives you the hope that there might just be something lurking around the big reef we were fishing.

We tried again on Sunday morning, not a sniff, but the light went off big time!

We tried again on Sunday morning, not a sniff, but the light went off big time!

Anyway, so we’re working the parts of the reef we tend to target, and although neither of us are exactly expecting a bunch of bass to launch into our lures, this is Cornwall and there is a chance. A hat, thermal buff and gloves is hardly my regular bass fishing attire, but a cold north west wind in February ain’t exactly warm, albeit it continues to amaze me how modern fishing clothing is so efficient and easy to wear compared to what we used to wear back in the day. Anybody remember those wooly bear suits?

It’s when that tide starts to ebb that I feel most confident on this mark, but neither of us have had a sniff, and Mark wanders off a bit. I can’t wade out to a certain rock that I like to stand on quite yet because the big tide means it’s a too deep to get out there - I can get at some of the ground by hanging back a bit and putting some long casts in, but the problem with fishing from that particular spot is that if you go and hook a fish your braid is essentially running over the top of a very sharp ledge, plus if it’s a decent fish that wants to run, you’ve got big rocks sticking out of the water left and right. I have landed fish from there before, but I have also lost them. Logic says don’t fish from there, but I want to get at that ground, and like with lure fishing in February, if you don’t give it a go then you will never know.

I have written about it on here a few times now, and with how a couple of north Cornwall lads I know and respect often fish their shallow reefs, I clipped on a Fiiish Black Minnow - I happened to have a black coloured one with me in the 120mm body/12g Shore Head size that I wanted, so out it went. It’s not very deep where I was fishing, so I let the lure hit the bottom, and because it’s so bloody snaggy and I know that a controlled sort of sink and draw along the bottom sort of retrieve tends to snag up a fair bit, instead I slowly retrieve the lure with my rod tip up, maintaining as much contact with the snaggy bottom as I can, so of course the rod tip is banging away as the lure bangs on the bottom.

It’s bloody typical isn’t it? First cast with the Black Minnow and not very far out from that horrible ledge that I am trying to pretend isn’t really there and something bangs my rod tip down hard. Holy frigging cow if it isn’t a fish, so I strike hard, my stunning new rod bends right over, I think I might have yelped with excitement, and then as quick as you like my braid snapped nice and clean over that sodding ledge. I have decided to go back to some heavier and more robust mainlines for shallow and very rocky, reefy marks especially, so even though my spinning reel was loaded up with the strong as rope and so nice to fish with 26lb/0.18mm Sufix 832 braid, it wasn’t going to make much of a difference with where the fish hit me and how my braid was over that bastard sharp ledge. Tight braid and knife like edges ain’t exactly the best of friends.

So I’m a bit gutted to say the least! You could of course say that I should not have been fishing where I was if the chances of landing a fish are that dicey, but I have landed plenty of bass from there before, I really like that section of the reef on the early ebb, and it’s bloody hard to be out in February and not at least fish exactly where you feel the most confidence.


And I also accept that what I hooked might have been a wrasse, but I can’t recall having caught a wrasse from this location at this time of year before, the way it hit so hard and there was no messing around with the lure like wrasse so often do, and the simple fact that I never saw the fish which of course steers your head in the direction of the species of fish you wanted it to have been, well it wrecks my head. I know that wrasse love Black Minnows, but I have lost a donkey of a bass in the dark from that same spot, fishing a Black Minnow the same way, and because I will never know for sure and it’s early February and it’s Cornwall and there always seems to be a chance that a bass is hanging around, damn right this is all playing around my brain!

As much as I keep thinking about what might have been, at least the opening Six Nations weekend has helped towards a better headspace though. I had a suspicion that Scotland away from home weren’t going to be as good as they thought they had become, but I didn’t see Wales doing them quite like they did. Should be one hell of a game next weekend when England take on Wales at Twickenham, but with how ruthlessly we put Italy away I am feeling really confident. How good is that Farrell/Ford combination? How scary fast is Sam Simmonds? Even with all the injuries we have it’s still one hell of a team. All credit to Italy as well, and I fancy them to turn over a team or two this Six Nations. That France Ireland game wasn’t exactly a highlight save for that typical, out of nowhere French try, and then that sublime Sexton drop goal deep into injury time. Was it a bass or a wrasse though, that’s what is churning around my head………….

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