Monday 27 May 2024

All about the Bass

With high tide due around 2100 in nicely fading light we’d normally be fishing one of the open beaches for Rays but last week’s visit to an interesting estuarine location had stirred our juices so Giles and I couldn’t resist another trip.  The day was sunny and bright with a light breeze from the north, the hike raised a sweat and had us puffing, we arrived by the water around 1630.  Today I’d brought a lure rod and I started off with this and it soon became apparent that there were a few Bass about as they were showing in shallow water.  I spent half an hour going through the lure box, chopping and changing but I couldn’t get a bite.  It seemed like the fish were moving around, coming into range then moving out again as we’d seen them do before elsewhere in the past.

By 1700 I had two rods fishing running leger rigs with long hooklengths; my normal ‘light rod’ was baited with a bit of squid and a 1980’s vintage carp rod was baited with ragworm.  There were obviously fish about so I was confident we’d soon be getting amongst the Bass but it didn’t work out, we sat looking up at the rod tips but they weren’t doing anything.  I tried the lure rod from time to time and saw a decent sized fish swirl at a shallow diver but still couldn’t get one to take the bait.  Then at last, after ninety minutes the old carp rod started bouncing and I had the first Bass of the night on ragworm.  Had a number of fish moved in to the area?  No, the next ninety minutes were fishless but my confidence didn’t waver, I was sure the Bass would arrive eventually.

And so they did, with the tide reaching its peak and the bay full of water the fish moved in, Giles caught two quickly and I managed a second.  The fading light and ebbing tide brought a flurry of action and we had bites on all rods bringing our total to eight Bass and a couple of Eels.  Fishy baits had remained untouched so by now we were using rag exclusively.  As the water dropped again the fish moved out of the bay and longer casts to the edge of the main current brought bites, with not much crab activity we could leave the baits out a while knowing we’d eventually get a bite.  Around 2200 I was alerted by expletives from Giles’ direction, his lighter rod was hooped over as a fish took line off the clutch.  This fish put up quite a battle and Giles’ patience was rewarded with a new PB Bass!

Spurred on by this we stayed later than planned, the gaps between bites was getting longer but they still kept coming if we waited long enough.  We had a couple more fish each, my final one came around midnight and just like last week it tried to drag in a rod that was rested against my chair and also like last week was my biggest of the night.  After a successful session the hike back through the marsh didn’t feel as arduous as it should have but this illusion was exposed once I sank into a comfortable car seat!

Another Saturday shift came to an end at 1600 and just over an hour later me and Giles were laden with gear and heading for the water.  The tides this week were all over the place and tonight we would be fishing through low tide and part of the flood.  Most sea anglers will reckon this is the worst time to go and my experience supports this but we were heading back to the estuary where we felt confident we’d be in with a chance of Bass, especially as night descended.

We were fishing by 1730, I’d reverted back to the beachcaster and left the carpy rod at home this week as it had felt a bit sloppy for fishing in this kind of current.  I had a leger rig with a long hooklength on each rod and chucked lures around from time to time.   In hindsight tonight we probably set up in front of water that was a little too shallow for this part of the tide.  There were fish about giving the odd fast rattle but nothing you could strike at and three hours into the trip we hadn’t managed to drag anything fishy up the beach.  But by now the sun had left the scene, the light was fading and the water level was rising rapidly, sure enough the fish moved in.

Bites came in flurries of two or three in a ten minute period followed by half an hour or so where nothing happened and you began to doubt the bait was still in place, then bang!  A tip light was dancing and another shoal of fish had moved in, from what we’ve learnt over the last few years this seems to be a feature of Bass fishing.  Another thing we’ve realised is you will never hit all the bites and we both missed several.  The fish we did land were a good average size, most would have made a decent meal if not quite legal.  Around 2230 I had a bite on the light rod and a fish that pulled back for a bit, a beautiful silver Bass bang on legal size had I been of a mind to eat one, which I wasn’t.  I hadn’t got this bait back out before the heavy rod was pogoing, this one was a bit smaller but still a nice fish.

After a quiet half hour the light rod banged again and I was in.  Straight away I said “this is a better one…” as something a little heavier was writhing and wriggling.  Bass this size fight bloody hard but on the tackle we have to use to present a bait they are never going to be stripping line, when this one ran along the shore I followed it with the rod tip then when it was close enough Giles grabbed the leader and dragged it up the beach.  A couple of pounds of beautiful shiny silver was unhooked, admired and slipped back in the sea.  A few minutes later the same rod banged again and it was the smallest fish of the night.  We fished on for another hour but the bites dried up and as usual our energy was also ebbing, our tally at the end was into double figures.

We’d never fished this estuary spot before this spring but after three consecutive visits it seems we might have stumbled on a little gem.  We’ve learned a few decent spots where we are confident we’ll catch Bass but this one ticks all the boxes and we’re starting to get our heads around how best to fish it.  However next time out we’ll probably be elsewhere doing something completely different.

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