Some nice bass on our last day
I am posting this from our StenaLine ferry back to the UK - we are just about to leave Rosslare harbour and nose out into a southerly gale, so I guess that there might be a fair few ill people on this particular sailing. The first proper winds of autumn. We had a pretty good last day yesterday on the bass, when we were forced to tuck away from the howling onshore wind and find some shelter.. Much as I would have loved to have fished the open coast, as yet I have never seen a bass surf down a monster wave to take a lure. Jacks out in Angola might be good at it, but not our bass !!
We have not had nearly as many bass as we might have expected, but fishing is never the same from one week to the next. There have been three proper fish lost though (vive la France !!) Still, overall we have had a fair few, and on lots of different methods. But one thing that has really struck me is that every single fish we have landed has been in the most incredible condition - plump, extremely well fed, and full of fizz and fight. This stunner above nailed Andy's MegaBass XLayer in the lethal Ayu colour on a 10g jig head, as he let it swing round in the tide and just gave it a few gentle twitches now and then. We have so much to learn about fishing for bass with these modern soft plastics, and I know that there are plenty of us out there who are thriving on this huge learning curve. All anglers choose to go down whatever path best suits them, but personally I get the biggest kick possible from learning all the time - it's why I can see no reason why fishing will not be my obsession for the rest of my life........
I am going to be completely honest and admit to you that I caught this prime conditioned 7lb bass above almost by mistake - from time to time it really strikes home that successful fishing is so much about confidence. Having the confidence to work lures "properly" is a big thing, but I am just the same as any other angler - it's hard to stop yourself from cranking hard lures nice and fast (because it works), and it's hard to really slow down and fish soft plastics with a proper degree of "la finesse" as the French guys would say. Bruno (from Ultimate Fishing) has said to me a fair few times now that a very, very effective way to fish with the MegaBass XLayer on a 3-15g jig head (depending on water flow) in a decent tide or current is to simply let it swing through almost dead-drift - by this I mean you essentially let it do its own thing and move/tumble with water flow only. But having the confidence to put no action into the lure and trust that it does it's thing by water movement only takes a bit to really do properly. To me it is very similar to the fly guy casting across the river for salmon and steelhead, and then simply letting the fly dead-drift around and down in the current. They know it works.
So I'm fishing away and the tide is really picking up properly - I am casting out my white MegaBass XLayer and working it with what I like to think was a fair degree of finesse. But I then heard Patrick shout something about a fish in the distance, and it distracted me. I stopped working my XLayer and instead I could feel it simply tumbling along the bottom down the tide, doing it's own thing. Braid lets you feel everything, and I distinctly remember feeling the jig head nudge a couple of pebbles - bearing in mind that I am still trying to hear what Patrick was shouting about. I am putting no action on the soft plastic lure at all. And then this 7lb bass you can see above just impaled itself on the white XLayer and the rod tip slammed over. OK, so it's not the biggest bass ever caught, and it's hardly the greatest fishing tale ever told - but because the fish hit when the lure was fishing in a way that I have been told would kill, but perhaps did not have the confidence to do (thanks Bruno !!), I now have complete and utter faith to fish with the XLayer like this when the tide allows me to. And that made my day big time. It's always easier to work lures hard. It takes confidence to slow right down - "pecher avec la finesse". Another weapon to my bow.
You know when a fishing guide is the real deal, because he likes to go fishing on a rare day off - Patrick came and joined Andy and I later on yesterday morning. It was our last day, so we had got up at silly o'clock and had set off on a pretty tough walk to our fishing spot. Patrick timed it far better and nailed a few fish on his way down to us. He also brought us some very much needed coffee and chocolate - thanks mate. Patrick is absolutely raving about a particular soft plastic lure called the "One Up Shad" from the Ultimate Tackle guys, and he has just got a load in. The tail action in the water is just insane, and if you want some, get hold of Patrick via his blog on the right side of this page. From now on is the prime time for really big Irish shore bass, and I also know that Patrick has a few spare days on prime tides - if you can get yourself over to this magical corner of Ireland, then get in touch with him and I guarantee your eyes will be opened right up.
As with every trip I do over to Ireland, I have loved every single minute of it. I really enjoy fishing with a bunch of mates, and the friends you make in fishing are so important. But I think that the real highlight for us all was having three days of fishing and talking with the French guys - they all work in fishing, just like me in fact, and they are all just obsessed anglers at heart. Just like us. My spoken French is not that good, but I can get by, and this year I have had plenty of time to spend with these guys and just soak up their methods and opinions. I am sure they have picked up various things from us guys as well (breathable chest waders, great English and Chinese food, cranking the hell out of the Tackle House Feed Shallow, Gold Blend coffee etc.), and to a man they are true gentlemen with nothing to hide about what they do. I think all the guys have been surprised about how open the French lads have been with what they do and why they do it, but then this is what makes fishing the finest sport in the world. No boundaries, no differences, just a bunch of people having a blast, catching a few fish, talking a fair amount of rubbish (we are blokes after all), and making plans for future fishing trips. And so much is based around Ireland, my favourite place on earth. The ferry has left Rosslare and it's getting good and rough..........