Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Springs and neaps

Do we just take it as a given say that some locations work better on spring tides than on neaps for example ? Is it as simple say that bass fishing is always better on the spring tides ? Obviously not, but the number of questions that this growing obsession with lure fishing is throwing up is on the one hand very bad for my already not great sleeping patterns, but on the other hand it's proving eternally fascinating to me and ramming home once again how little I actually know about this thing called fishing that I have been doing nearly all my life...........

I had a hugely fun day out last week on the south Devon wrasse population with Jim O'Donnell and Danny Parkins, indeed if you could sum up what fishing was about in a single day then that would be it for me. Fun. We had some good fishing without it being epic, but the weather was stunning, the fish were feeding most of the time, and it was just a blast. No, wrasse fishing is not bass fishing, but that is the point for me. Before I really got into this whole lure fishing thing I was not targeting only one species to the exclusion of all others, and I am not about to start doing it now. Sure, bass grab me big time these days, but how could any angler not enjoy being out on the rocks with some friends catching wrasse on soft plastic lures ? Fun. Fishing is about having fun for me. I don't compete, I don't give a stuff who gets the biggest or catches the most, and I have no interest in spending time around anglers with closed minds. Oh, and the tides were just coming off springs..........

So I went out early on Saturday morning for a few hours on my local south Cornwall coastline - wrasse fishing again as the awesome weather recently is hardly worth jumping up and down about for the bass, plus the tides were by now proper neaps. This particular spot has a series of ledges running parallel to the shore with deep gullies between them. I have had plenty of wrasse out of here before, but thinking back it was mainly on the spring tides for various reasons. I never thought that much of it as regards the wrasse until Saturday morning when the fishing was what one might describe as pretty rubbish !! I was with a few local lads who know their stuff on this wrasse fishing, but it's fair to say that we were well and truly kicked in the teeth by these seemingly "humble" fish. But, and it's a but that really struck home to me -

I think we all had a wrasse or two fishing in nice and close where you can get that angle on a hooked fish to get them up and away from the bottom as fast as possible. The fish were hardly "on" though. But what really got my attention was the fact that I could whack my little 7g cone weight and soft plastic way (Karl's Killers, more to come in due course, and I hope this bit here on my website might help you out with the wrasse fishing if needs be) out beyond probably the second set of ledges out from me and get a bite almost instantly. Now I did do this and hooked fish almost immediately, but because my line was then directly over the edge of a ledge the fish snapped me off - and yes, I do crush my barbs on all single and treble hooks that I lure fish with, and I include wrasse fishing in that. It seemed to be the case that there were actually plenty of feeding fish around but that they were reluctant to move closer inshore to the gullies beneath our feet, and the only real explanation for this that I can come up with is the neap tides and there being less water over their heads to when I usually fish the place. I know that wrasse are often happy to come in and feed over very shallow ground, but every location must be different - this place for example never dries out and there is plenty of water around at low tide. There could of course be a million reasons why those fish were not moving in closer, but for the sake of my brain I am putting it down to small tides. Yes, I could have gone and most likely hooked any number of wrasse further out, but what's the point if I can't land them and I keep getting bust off ? I have to trust that barbless hooks are going to fall out considerably easier than those with barbs still on them, but there comes a point when there's no point if you see what I mean.

I didn't stay that long to be fair, because I wanted to get back home and head for the beach. On Saturday afternoon we did have just about the most perfect few hours you could hope to have. We met up with some friends and took our collective four girls down to the beach in the most glorious weather you can imagine - the kind of weather we never really got this "summer" in fact. What more does one need in life than an afternoon on the beach with a barbecue tea ? Life's simple pleasures, and every time we get such a perfect day as this I can't help but think that many people pay to come to this part of the world on holiday - but we live here. It's all too easy to take things for granted in life.............