Shock horror, it's nothing more than a straight retrieve
On Monday I mentioned that I had been talking with a rather good Portuguese bass angler about a way to fish a lure like the Fiiish Black Minnow over say shallowish to medium depth water. By no means did I mean to be remotely secretive about this method in case you were wondering, and I apologise if it came across like that. I didn't go into it because of time considerations my end, and also because I ran the risk of the blog post getting so long that you would all fall asleep.
I would imagine that most anglers are relatively secretive about where they catch their fish, and especially if the locations they are fishing are for the most part fairly quiet and out of the way. Why? For a number of different reasons. But for the life of me I don't understand why somebody would want to be secretive about methods or lures - I see something like the internet as a great tool for sharing our fishing knowledge and experiences. I will always remember a far better bass angler than me emailing me a few years back to tell me how a certain soft plastic lure was regularly sorting out bigger bass for them, but then hang on, the actual lure can't be divulged!! Why email me to tell me about it in the first place if you ain't going to say what the lure is??!! Do you know how this messes with my head?
Now this method of fishing a lure like the Black Minnow is nothing more than a straight retrieve as close to the bottom as possible - which I would imagine is something that many lure anglers are already doing? But I was not, and therefore the way that this Portuguese bass lad was describing it to me was something a bit different and therefore registered straight away on my "information radar" - and of course when you go and hook (but then lose) a seriously proper bass on the method within five casts of first trying it, is there any better way to get a great big jolt of confidence in it?
Some years ago I would straight retrieve something like those Storm Shads as close to the bottom as possible for say pollack over in Ireland, but I as good as gave up fishing like this because of the tackle losses revolving around that single hook standing proud. Hell, I remember losing over twenty sets of gear when we were filming pollack fishing in the Isles of Scilly and I was deep-spinning with sandeels or jellyworms - that bloody hook sticking out loves to get snagged up, plus the weight does I suppose. Effective, but a pain in the backside to keep setting up again.
There are of course any number of different paddletails out there (soft plastic shads), but it just happened to be that the Fiiish Black Minnow was from memory the first one I happened to come across that gave me that chance to bury the hookpoint away in the body of the lure and drastically cut down on my having to set up again and again. The fact that it caught fish for me kinda helps as well, but I can't pretend that fishing it with a slow and deliberate straight retrieve for bass over rough ground was a part of my armoury of techniques. Bumping the lure with a sink and draw along the bottom in current? Yes. Pollack fishing with it (sink and draw, straight retrieve in deep water etc.)? Obviously. Need to see if there are wrasse around? Goes without saying. A sink and draw over deeper rock marks for bass but pollack often grab it? Yes. Etc...............
They catch some serious bass down in Portugal, in some serious conditions sometimes, and from some seriously brutal coastline. If I had not asked Armando as many questions as time allowed then it would have been remarkably ignorant of me, and one thing they are doing is to cast a Black Minnow out, let it hit the bottom, and then straight retrieve it - at what retrieve speed though? It's a simple case of finding the speed which keeps your lure just above the rocks - feel it bump the bottom and speed up a bit. Feel no contact with the bottom? Slow down a touch, and then play around with this simple technique. Feel is key, but of course over time I would imagine that however snag free a lure is, you're going to lose a few of them over really snaggy ground.
My experience of fishing a lure like the Black Minnow like this is not even one week old, but already I have noticed how slowly you can actually retrieve say the 12g/120mm or even the 20g/120mm (the 20g head Shore Head that is designed for the 140mm body) and not keep smashing into the bottom. I remember watching the Fiiish lure designer Matt showing me in a tank how the Black Minnow moves so well at slow speeds, so while I am now fishing with this technique I've got a really strong mental image of how it looks down there. Del and I went looking for clear water yesterday after that storm blew out our local marks - we found some awesome conditions but had not a single sniff, and I tried this way of fishing the Black Minnow over and through some pretty gnarly ground, and so far I haven't actually lost a lure. Sure, the heads get a bit battered, but does that matter?
So it's hardly a revolutionary new method, and as I said, I am sure lots of you are already fishing like this - for me though this is another variation that I can call upon of needs be. Of huge interest to me is being able to more effectively cover the whole water column on the hunt for fish. I am surprised how easy it actually is to fish a weighted soft plastic like this over fairly shallow ground, and I would imagine that over time you're going to see some big wrasse and pollack as well. Have a good weekend, and here's to hoping that the water around me clears up and gives us a bunch more chances at a few fish. It's potentially a really good time of year around here, but we need the conditions.........