Catching fish is obviously pretty awesome as it is, but what's your favourite way to catch the fish you target? Ledgering, sight fishing with fly, bait or lure, freelining, surface fishing with lures and flies, trolling, cranking hard lures, bumping soft plastics, twitching plastics, float fishing, surf casting, etc. - think about it and there are any number of ways to catch any number of different species. But what floats your boat the most? Well I'll tell you straight off what doesn't do it for me at all me, and that's trolling. I have been around it, I have done it, and I will try my best to never have to do it again. Horses for courses and all that, but it ain't for me.
No, for me the ultimate way to catch fish is sight fishing - actually seeing the fish and then casting to them and hooking up is in my opinion about as good as fishing can get. Big or small, I don't really care, but I have been lucky enough to have done a fair bit of sight fishing, and via my work I have been around a stack of it - and the thrill never diminishes. Trout, salmon, mullet, bonefish, GTs, bumpies, permit, golden dorado, whatever it may be, it's awesome stuff. With fish bass fishing though I think that our chances at pure sight fishing for them are at best limited, so how awesome does this stuff the Labrax Squad guys did over in France sound? Check here. Now that is some serious fishing if you ask me, and it has to make one wonder what might be possible with a much lighter and quieter approach.................
If we are talking about bass fishing here and we essentially take sight fishing out of the equation for the purpose of this blog post, for me it now has to surface fishing. How awesome is it to run surface lures across the top of the water and see the swirls/carnage as a bass smashes into your lure? Any time I can get remotely visual with my fishing is for me when it steps up that little bit more into the realms of heart palpitations. Seeing fish to cast to or seeing fish come up and smash stuff off the top - does it get much better? Mark's caught plenty of bass over the years, but he won't mind me saying that he was a quivering wreck of joy at nailing that roughly 9lb fish off the top the other week in Ireland.
Same spot but a different day and about five yards out a decent sized bass swirls and turns over the top of my Salt Skimmer but fails to hook up. I quickly cast out again and a bass comes up and just smashes my lure, but this time it hooks up. Was it the same bass? Most likely not, but you know what it's like - heart-stoppingly exciting. Mesmerising. Addictive. Sure, I enjoy the scrap albeit I do my utmost to land any fish I hook as quickly as I am able to, but with surface fishing it's about that smash into the lure which just freaks the living daylights out of me - and of course I love how bass fishing can sometimes give us those opportunities. As for GTs hitting surface lures? It ain't right, believe me - it's bloody freaky.
But I get completely the fact that you yourself might get the most buzz from catching fish in other ways. Seeing a rod tip bounce in the dead of night is a rush is it not? A float sliding gently away is always going to be incredible. Watching your braid snake away across an oily calm surface as a permit picks up a crab over a wreck is pretty freaky stuff. And how about drifting a balloon back towards a road bridge in the Florida Keys in the pitch black, only to see the light stick inside the balloon suddenly disappear because a 100lb plus tarpon's nailed the bait? Twitching soft plastics, drifting them current or bumping them along the bottom is getting to me more and more these days, but then I will also never cease to love it when an unseen fish hits a sub-surface lure. Is not variety the spice of life?
At the end of the day it matters not what you love the most, because fishing is just so varied that if we want to we can fish for so many different species in so many different ways. For the life of me I could not do the same stuff all the time, but I guess that lure fishing has given me the chance to be so involved with my fishing and how I go about it - and the day that I don't get a rush when a fish hits is the day to walk away. Fishing is for life. Life is fishing?