It's usually around this time of year when the chance of catching a few bass on lures isn't very far away that I find myself thinking about my fishing in general, and especially why on earth this whole lure fishing thing has come along relatively late in my fishing life and got me so badly. What on earth is it about heading out to the coast (or river and lake for many of you I am sure) and chucking a few lures about? If it was purely about the size of fish we might catch then we wouldn't be lure fishing, because let's face it, as much as many of us here might love bass, pollack and wrasse, at the end of the day you stand a chance of catching bigger fish if you use baits and target rays, cod, eels, huss etc. Nope, it's far more than just the fish to me, and it always has been.
Lure fishing to me just feels so "pure". I am loathe to say it because it might imply me thinking that one kind of fishing is better than the other, when I categorically don't - ok, sitting/sleeping for days and nights on end in the hunt for big carp appeals to me about as much as having to listen to that bloody Uptown Funk song that my girls keep singing, but it's fishing, and it ticks the boxes for lots of anglers. Whatever floats your boat if you ask me, and we anglers could surely do with being more open and accepting. Nope, lure fishing to me just feels so "pure", more akin to fly fishing than chucking baits out perhaps, and whilst I am a perfectly useless fly angler, I have always been drawn to it photographically as a form of fishing that is so much about motion, beauty and lines.
What do I mean by "pure" when it comes to lure fishing? Well first off I know that lure fishing does it so much for me because you are always doing something - casting, looking, twitching, walking, wading, scrambling, thinking, waiting, you name it, lure fishing in my mind keeps the brain ticking over. It forces me to think on my feet and I love that. Sure, it's that hit from a fish that is the pinnacle of this kind of fishing if you ask me, but it's what it takes to get that hit - we are having to do something, and therefore the hit is very different to reacting to a bite on a rod tip. I have tried again and again to describe that hit on a lure rod, but it's as nigh on impossible I reckon. How do you put into words something that so often comes like a bolt out of the blue? Fishing away, nothing happening, and then suddenly something grabs your lure. Even if you see a fish coming at you, nothing prepares you for the actual hit, and that jolt of electricity flooding through your body.
It's just so direct. That feeling of being so connected to the lure and thus that hit. Of course I used to love seeing my rod tip registering a bite, and even better still was touch ledgering and being that bit more connected again - but lure fishing to me is another level up. Holding the rod all the time and having to turn the reel handle to get your end gear working, the lighter tackle approach that still gives us every chance of landing the fish we might hook, carrying far less gear, and the out and out need to think on your feet and adapt to conditions and locations as things change. I love it. Lure fishing has been and continues to be the biggest fishing learning curve I can imagine being on, and trying to get better at it forces me to think about things and look at how I need to try and improve.
And of course I don't mind admitting that modern lure fishing tackle fascinates me. I picked up some of these continental style beachcasters at the show in Dublin the other day and it shocked me how alien they felt. OK, so my bait fishing tended to be with say 13' 4-6oz rods, but I haven't picked one up for a while now, and they feel as if they come from another lifetime. I have no doubt that one day I will get back into my bait fishing, but I can't help but wonder how that thrill at being so connected to my (lure) fishing could ever wear off. I worry for the future of certain fish stocks of course, but like you I am sure, that excitement is starting to build with the onset of spring. When are things going to kick off? What will the year ahead be like? Will you miss that first surface hit of the year because you strike too early out of sheer overexcitement? (Guilty as charged most years). To go fishing is about as good as it gets in the first place, but just what is it about casting bits of rubber, plastic and metal that is so infectious?