Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Long range lure fishing into heavy surf conditions - are plenty of us missing a trick here?

There are a number of reasons why this whole surf fishing with lures thing has been bouncing around my brain for a while now, and especially with spending more time down in Kerry where a few switched-on anglers sometimes do incredibly well on the bass with launching the discontinued Bass Bullet lures a country mile into heavy surf conditions and cranking  them back at a speed which actually causes what is a fast sinking lure to skip along the surface. I have only seen a little of it, but it’s some exhilarating stuff, indeed I can’t really see how much better lure fishing can get than fishing heavy surf as birds hit bait and bass smash into surface lures in amongst all that turbulence. Talk about adrenaline.

Look how far away the breakers are!

Look how far away the breakers are!

But how many of us purposefully target surf beaches with lures when it’s pounding in? The sort of conditions that a bait guy might get excited about for bass is I bet when many of us would turn away and head somewhere else with the lure gear. Granted, some beaches will colour up or fill up with weed much faster than others, but it’s amazed me how readily bass will hit lures in big surf conditions - and wow am I wondering how much of this style of lure fishing there is out there that most of us simply aren’t doing………….

And I don’t mean standing in a bit of surf and whacking lures like my dearly beloved IMA Hound 125F Glide out - nope, I mean needing to get lures out there a serious distance because you’ve most likely got a decent headwind, the tables of water are just too powerful to go wading very deep at all, and the bass are feeding just behind the breaking waves. Hence the need for serious distance. So as much as I love lures like the Hound Glide, Sasuke, Tide Minnow Slim etc., the fact is that these long-casting lures simply ain’t getting out there when the going gets that tough.

Hence the question - are plenty of us missing a trick here because we aren’t geared up to deal with it? And please note the question, because I suspect the answer could be yes, but I don’t know. A lot of you might well live in areas where you either don’t have storm beaches, or else rough conditions means it’s blown out anyway (always thinking of you Richard and Tim!), and of course punching specialist lures out on specialist gear into heavy conditions could be a very localised thing. Or is it? More to come on that.

I had a very interesting conversation with a lad I crossed over with as I was leaving Kerry - he had just turned up to fish with John Quinlan, and he was telling me how his few days of guided fishing last year ended up essentially completely changing how he approached his own bass fishing. Back home he went after last year’s trip (another part of Ireland), invested in some Major Craft Skyroad light shore jigging rods and spinning reels to match, experimented with a bunch of different casting jigs that could really get out there in heavy conditions, and he told me his catches of bass have gone through the roof. If that didn’t cause me to stop and think for my entire journey back home then I shouldn’t be an angler in the first place!

OK, so the Bass Bullet the Kerry based guys are using isn’t made anymore, and the lad from the paragraph above went down the bigger casting jig route rather than go for lures that can be cranked along the surface - so the way I look at it is that there’s quite obviously a whole bunch of different ways in which these heavy storm beach conditions could be dealt with, but the simple fact is that I think I’m going to find it the case quite often that I need specialist lures that really do get out there and fish in different ways to our more regular minnows which mostly won’t get out there, and secondly are going to struggle in the maelstrom. Sure, I might love the Hound Glide, but up against a Bass Bullet and it’s not even fair - and yes, the Bass Bullet looks like nothing and it does very little save for splash a bit when you crank it as a surface lure, but the bass obviously home in on it. I had a couple of bass on Sunday morning in fact from a local rock mark where it was pumping in, and I couldn’t believe how easily the bass hit my Bass Bullet.

I have taken a punt on some South African style chisel plug lures to see if they might work, and from what I remember of using these kinds of of lures in Angola and Mozambique, I have high hopes. I ordered a few of the wonderfully named and not very expensive GT Ice Cream lures from this UK based online store here and when they arrive I will take them out and cast them against my (only!) Bass Bullet to see how they compare. They are designed as a long range (sinking) surface lure that comes up nice and easily when you start winding, and because of the weights of these sort of lures I will be turning to more powerful lure rods such as this Major Craft one here that I reviewed, and also the rather sublime Skyroad 9’6’’ 15-42g which I will review in due course. What a rod, holy cow it gets lures out there.

I have also been going through old boxes here to see if any strange stuff I have bought over the years might actually end up working. I am also wondering if these really heavy, sinking minnows like the 30g IMA Sasuke 100HS above might also work well in a heavy surf? It casts very well, it’s heavy for it’s length, and on a slow retrieve it’s got a nice tight action that I know bass will hit, but I know little about these more specialist “solid” minnows. I also keep thinking about those slow jigs which do so well from the boats and I am pretty sure can be found in shore sizes, plus I also have a bunch of prototype lures here that I have a feeling could end up killing in heavy surf conditions. I caught bass, pollack and mackerel on some of them the other day when fishing from the rocks, but I can’t wait to try some of them out in the surf. Anyway, I hope that might be some food for thought, because it’s got my brain bouncing big time. Am I way off the mark here, or are a lot of us missing out by turning away from the sort of conditions that some of the guys I know are literally praying for? Sure, it might take a bit more of a specialist approach, but that’s a part of fishing is it not?