Henry Gilbey
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When you blank, was it simply because the fish weren’t there, or were you using the wrong techniques and/or the wrong lures? This morning was a classic example……..

Okay, so I can’t pretend I really like these east winds and very bright conditions, but if you don’t go you will never know, and with building tides we picked a spot this morning that would at least remain in shadow for as long as possible. To have so much coastline on our doorstep upon which we see so few anglers will never be anything less than a huge thrill for me having not grown up by the sea, and when you see a few nice bass before starting work it’s just about perfect in my opinion. It’s my 20th wedding anniversary today and I had one of my what are now six monthly skin cancer check ups yesterday which was all cool, so all in all it’s a mighty fine day!

Anyway, I didn’t actually get a sniff of a fish this morning, but Mark landed four nice bass up to 5lbs (weighed) - and as ever with this fishing thing, holy frigging cow is my brain churning away! We weren’t fishing that far apart and I moved towards him after his second bass, but I still didn’t even get a hit. I went through my repertoire of lures I had in my boxes for a typical session like this - surface, soft plastics, smaller, shallow diving hards lures - but all I really did this morning was watch my mate hitting into bass and then try to control my head which is about fit to burst with how many questions this brief session throws up.

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If you looked in our lure boxes then I reckon Mark and I are carrying a number of the same lures, but for whatever reason he had a particular paddletail with him this morning - and he caught his four bass on this one lure. It’s called a Sunslicker Doodle Shad, and to me it looks very much like what I think were some Keitech paddletails I bought a few years ago and I know I have got squirrelled away here somewhere. Mark caught on the exact lure above which to me is a translucent kind of silver/white colour, and he had it rigged on one of those Gamakatsu EWG Weighted Spring Lock hooks which have a belly weight on them.

So Mark caught four bass and I didn’t get a touch, and whilst Mark might quite simply be a better angler than me, I find what happened absolutely fascinating for so many reasons - if I had been fishing on my own and blanked, I’d have been on the phone to Mark later on to say there were no bass around. But there were bass around, and Mark nailed four of them. The other morning I had three bass but Mark didn’t have one - why? I had a little Shimano hard lure with me that for whatever reason caught those three bass but Mark’s lures didn’t get a sniff. Did there happen to be some baitfish around this morning that Mark’s Sunslicker paddletail happened to be a decent imitation of? Was I quite simply using the wrong lures and/or the wrong techniques this morning?

And of course the only way that I know I was doing things wrong this morning is because the two of us were fishing together and Mark caught whilst I didn’t - so how many times are we doing things wrong but we are never going to know because we were fishing on our own? Or a bunch of us are fishing together but all fishing the same way with the same results? How many times do we go out fishing to a particular location where we have done well in the past on previous lures and/or techniques, but this time we blank? We reckon it’s the right place at the right time, but we don’t catch - were the fish really not there or were we doing it all wrong by not presenting the right lure in the right way on that particular day or night?

Which is why I will never subscribe to the word “expert” in fishing, because I don’t care how good or experienced you are - sometimes you’re going to get a humbling, and I would always argue that the truly good anglers are those that then take this humbling and use it to try and get that bit better again. Damn I love this fishing thing more than ever, and I’ve been doing it for thirty nine years now.