Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Tough conditions, but there be some donkeys about

The conditions we are getting out here tend to suggest that it's not going to be about numbers of fish, what with these sodding north west winds we seem to get more and more of these days flattening off the sea, but there are some serious donkeys moving around out here. Of course I would love it if we had lovely south west winds that were fizzing the coastline up, because I have a feeling that we would be hammering bass if we had those conditions, but as always we will take what we get and roll with it.....................

When I first started falling for this whole bass fishing thing, I genuinely had no clue that so much of it could end up being about close quarters, "stealthy" fishing, yet here I am sometimes almost creeping up to the water's edge and doing my best to fish "subtly", and often at bass that you can see cruising around. I look at the gear I was using and the gear I am tending to use now and it's like a sliding scale that corresponds with the learning curve I find myself on. I look in my lure bag that sits around my waist and I reckon that more often than not I am carrying a larger selection of soft plastics than hard lures. I've been fishing out here with a 12lb 6' long fluoro leader most of the time and it feels perfectly normal. And yes, that knot I blogged about the other day is performing absolutely flawlessly if that helps.

We were out fishing the other evening not very far from where we are staying at the Gold Coast Golf resort here in Dungarvan, and I mean about a two minute drive. I've had a few nice fish off here this year, but it's so not the kind of bass fishing location I would have been thinking about a few years back, or even imagined I might be fishing say during my skull-dragging out of the rough stuff days. It's exactly the sort of spot that I would drive straight past at home, but over this shallow ground there sometimes be donkeys moving around. Why ? I don't know, but I explain a lot to myself by simply saying that this is Ireland, and as much as I would like it not to be case, it's just different to home - which is exactly why I come here.

I'm standing on a rock slowly straight-retrieving that killer Fish Arrow 5'' Flash-J soft plastic rigged on a 5/0 weedless hook with a little belly weight on there. I love how these things slalom in the water, but more importantly I have caught fish on them and when I have one clipped on I feel confident. A little bit of me still can't help but sometimes look at a lure like this and giggle about where I am now in this lifetime fishing journey, but these things catch me fish and that's what it's all about at the end of the day is it not ?

Not fifteen yards off my rod tip and this big bow wave comes in after my lure. I have seen countless GTs bow-waving after a fly on Indian Ocean flats and I am not about to say that this bass was assuming those kinds of proportions, but it was displacing some amount of water. My heart is in my mouth but I will myself to keep on reeling. I can't stop the lure and let it drop seductively through the water column because there can't be more than 30cms of water, yet the bass keeps on coming. Please, please, please, chow my lure. Let me set that hook, give you not one single inch of line, land you, photograph you, and release you. It's not too much to ask is it ?

Almost off the end of my rod tip when I'm wondering whether this rather large fish is actually going to take my lure and there's this great big swirl and the fish is gone. I'm standing there shaking like a leaf and I also think that I might have rent the sky with a few profanities. Me ? I'm all grown up !! My first thought is that the fish must have picked up that there was an angler standing not very far from where she was about to smash the lure, but when I got the lure back in my hand I could see in the impending gloom that there was some of that infernal, sodding, head-crushingly, ball-breakingly annoying green weed adorning the hook. Weedless fishing I know, but anything's going to pick up that green weed when it's out there and my potential donkey I must presume saw that something was not quite right at the last moment and pulled out of the kill - leaving me a wreck.

Mark had a great big swirl on his surface lure and the fish seemed intent on smashing it until his lure hit a weed patch and all went quiet. I had a few more gentle takes on my soft plastics that never resulted in a hook-up and Steve had another almighty swirl on a surface lure, but it was one of those sessions that on another day could have resulted in who knows what coming in. Sure, it's always the biggest fish that don't get hooked or indeed get away, but this is Ireland, I know this spot, I know what can come out of it, and I know how small fish don't create bow waves like what came at me. The conditions may well be tough, but we're getting a few, Ger's had a 12lb fish already, Steve has landed that 9lb bass, and I have a feeling that somebody may well land another donkey before we head on home...............