Small fish

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Have headed off to Wales now for a week of walking the hills but not before I managed a quick session on the lures early doors the other morning. The trouble this time of year to get fishing for first light means I have to get out of bed at 2 a.m. to make sure I’m at my mark fishing before sunrise! With the weather forecast set to be bright and sunny later in the day it was always likely to be the best time to fish on a rising tide and so it proved. Managed to pick up half a dozen bass in total though none were of any size, in fact, three of them were barely longer than the lure itself! Size wise, it always amazes me what small bass think they’re capable of digesting!!

The first of them was taken still under the cover of darkness within the first half a dozen casts on the Salt Skimmer close in…

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Another even smaller fish followed so I moved on and kept working the rocky gullies changing tactics to soft plastics to see if that enticed anything but all I seemed to be getting were the tell-tale signs of small wrasse plucking at the lure – the teeth marks just confirming it. So, I switched to the trusty Tackle House Feed Shallow and again within half a dozen casts the lure got nailed by a bass  which after a short scrap was ready to release…

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Within a couple more casts a bass of a very similar size was landed from the same spot, same lure but then as the sun started to make an appearance, and top of the tide was reached, it seemed to kill things where I was so I moved on again finding a sheltered spot in the shadow of the cliffs where the sun hadn’t reached just yet.

Switched lures to the Komomo SF-130  Slim and with a couple of peregrine’s squawking overhead a tiny bass, who was determined that it wanted this lure,  was finally successful after a couple of failed attempts at grabbing it! Proves the point about the size of prey even the smallest of bass will attempt to ingest…

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One last lure swap to the small Patchinko produced my final fish of the session before it was time to head off and get myself packed for the week in Wales.

Always good to be out there and at it… just need some bigger fish to turn up now! Will try and get at least one more session in over the next couple of weeks before the much anticipated trip to Ireland at the beginning of August…. cannot wait!

Until next time…

Quick session

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Combination of a holiday and other commitments meant that Saturday evening was the first chance I’ve had to wet a line in over a month and then it was only for a couple of hours. After a good start to the season in April and early May the fishing went quiet on me thereafter with a couple of blank sessions so I was interested to see if things had picked up over the month I’d missed.

It was also only the second outing for the new DFR Entice 9’6” 6-28g rod that Richard at Dorset Fishing Rods has once again come up trumps with for me – stunning piece of work to say the least. After a blank the first time I used it I was very keen to get off the mark with it as you can imagine!! Once I’ve had a chance to get a few more hours on the water with it I’ll put a review up for all to read but early impressions are mighty impressive…. I don’t think I’ve used a rod that casts and recovers so effortlessly, and my word, do those lures fly with it! Watch this space…

Anyway, to the fishing…. was still a bit tough going if I’m honest which was a shame as there was a nice chop on the water with colour not bad either. Tides were OK as well for where I was fishing but sometimes it just doesn’t work out how you would like I guess? Did manage a single bass – though of no size. After casting out I gave the lure a good crank back for a few seconds, paused the retrieve for about a second and then began cranking again…..this small bass then hammered into the Zonk almost immediately! Gave a nice scrap to christen the rod…. and saved me a blank as well! Did connect and hook another fish a tad bigger on a Salt Skimmer but dropped it at my feet which was annoying.

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Only a short session but a bass nonetheless and pleased to have christened the new rod! Hoping to get out a bit more regularly over the coming month before heading to Ireland at the start of August which if previous trips are anything to go by will be pretty God damn awesome!

Until next time…

After the storm…

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After a spell of extremely calm conditions over the last week, with water clarity as clear as I have seen in a long while, it was nice to see a bit of swell and white water yesterday for a few hours. Bit of a yomp to get to the mark with my pal Nobby but nonetheless a mark we had been thinking about for a while and on arrival at low water it looked promising enough with that decent swell breaking over reef and weedy gullies. What we hadn’t bargained for on arrival was the huge thunderstorm that hit us… definitely an occasion to keep the rod tips down and boy do those hail stones pack a punch when they’re coming down in that quantity and velocity! It blew over soon enough though and we were able to start fishing properly…

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It looked so ‘bassy’ but we spent the first couple of hours with no reward at all working surface, sub-surface and soft plastic lures in and around the gullies. It was only when I switched back to a surface lure – the Gunfish 115 – in a calmer piece of water that there was a definite swirl behind the lure…. encouraging I thought but then the next few casts…. nothing. Nobby meanwhile was fishing a similar gully a bit further back along the reef and it was just as I was walking back to where he had perched himself that I saw a bit of a bend in his rod and he was in! Not a huge fish but a blank saver nonetheless and taken on the reliable OSP Do-Live stick hooked perfectly in the scissors of its mouth.

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Fished on into dusk but no further action to report. Nice venue though and one to keep in mind over the coming months as it just looks like on it’s day it could throw up a decent fish or two. Just need to work out best state and time of the tide to fish it etc. One thing we were thankful for was we seemed to dodge any further storms which were obviously skirting along the coast – spectacular from a distance though!

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Until next time…

More April Bass…

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Another short session yesterday evening at the same venue as the previous report where I’d picked up a fair few small bass. This time it threw up generally a better stamp of fish though fewer in quantity – which is how I like it! In total I picked up six bass all roughly in the range of 40-54 cm – nothing earth shattering but again, as I have said in previous posts, it does feel like it’s a much better start to the season than it has been in recent years.

With calm conditions it was a no brainer to load up with the baby Patchinko 100 to see what surface activity it might provoke and it really did not disappoint. While the light was up it was on with the 500g colour and this accounted for the first four fish of the session including the best at 54cm – approximately 4lb in weight…

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I did try the bigger Patchinko 2 in the same colour and a Gunfish 115 but they were just too big in calm conditions with my feeling being they were creating too much commotion on the surface being that bit larger in profile. So, with the fading light it was back on with the smaller Patchinko – this time I wanted to try out the Deep Purple version which had served me well on a previous session. Good decision, couple of casts later and a fish slammed into the lure breaching the surface in the process and giving  a good account of itself before I slipped it ashore…

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Landed one more bass on this purple colour and lost one which shook the hook close in right as the light was going- it’s definitely one I’ll be keeping in the armoury going forward. Purple was never really a colour of choice for me with lures but the success with this Patchinko has given me food for thought on the potential for other lures with this colouration.

All-in-all a decent short session with plenty to be encouraged about as Spring progresses. To finish, here are a couple more fishy photos from the session…

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Until next time…

April schoolies

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Managed to get out for a few hours on Friday and had more early season success albeit the fish I landed were all  very small. It was an early start to get to my chosen mark which meant a 2:30am alarm call and a 1.5 hour drive to be fishing by 4:30am. I like fishing this mark at low tide up and particularly fishing from the night into the morning light.

Starting in the dark I thought I’d give the deep purple Patchinko another go after the recent success I had with it… not a sniff at the first couple of spots I tried but then I moved to a corner position with a small reef in front of me and first cast here ‘WALLOP’ I had a nice take, for a few seconds the drag on the reel kicked in but then a head shake and the Patchinko pinged out… expletives followed – no idea on size of fish but was the best take of the day by far. Frustrating, but it happens – simple as that.

Plugged away with the purple Patchinko as I moved along the coast but as light came up, and looking at the water clarity, decided to switch to the same lure but in the trusty 500g colour. All remained quiet until I reached a little bay when, what seemed out of nowhere, I connected with a small schoolie which I quickly returned and cast out again…. first turn of the reel handle and another surface take, another small schoolie… and that’s pretty much how it continued for the next 30 – 45 minutes. I even switched lures to a Salt Skimmer to see if it put these small bass off but it didn’t! I stopped counting after about a dozen but then after a crazy few minutes the action stopped – the shoal must have moved on.

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With the sun up things went extremely quiet… I figured breakfast was in order so called it a day and made my journey home.

Whilst no decent fish to report I’m tentatively encouraged by the start to the season – definitely seems to be more bass around for this time of year compared to the last couple of seasons at least. Shame the first hook up didn’t stick – would have been interesting to see what size of fish that was but the schoolies saved a blank nonetheless.

Until next time…

Shimano reels… why no spare spool?

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So, I recently had a birthday and with a bit of gentle guidance the wife came up trumps again as I gleefully unwrapped a parcel that looked suspiciously like it might house a much required new reel inside….. and what do you know – therein lay a brand spanking new Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 4000XG. A fine bit of kit it looks too which will replace one of my aging but superb Shimano Rareniums….. what a workhorse of a reel they are, and have been. If the Stradic is anywhere near as good I will be chuffed to bits… could be perfect for bass lure fishing in the UK.

However, I have a gripe….it bugs the hell out of me that these days with most new Shimano reels there is a distinct absence of a spare spool. This seems to be an across the board policy by Shimano with this type of spinning reel that a lot of lure anglers will use… certainly those in the £100+ bracket I have looked at. I obviously can’t speak for everyone out there on this but I’d hazard a guess that a fairly large percentage of lure anglers would want to carry a spare spool with them for their fishing either in case of malfunction or simply because conditions might determine you need to fish lighter or heavier than you are with the existing spool. The crazy thing is pretty much the first thing I did once I  took this new reel out of the box was to note the part number for the spool,  to then go and trawl the internet to source an additional one…. it’s frustrating beyond belief as actually finding the spare in itself can be a consummate head banging exercise.

Personally, I’d like to see one or both of these two things happen:

  1. Please, please Shimano ship a spare spool as standard to save us the frustration highlighted above… I would gladly pay the extra cost for the reel to have the added value of that spare spool included.
  2. Alternatively, make the spare spools much more readily available to retailers as an optional extra at the point of sale so we can add this to our shopping baskets when we purchase the reel itself.

It surely can’t be any more difficult than that can it? I can’t think why this would not make sense from a customer service and subsequently a sales perspective? Am I missing something?

It’s such a shame as the quality of Shimano reels on the whole are outstanding and it feels like they are taking it for granted a bit that us consumers will always come back for more because of that quality. Are they resting on their laurels a bit here I wonder? I’m not sure whether the other big player in this market Daiwa have the same policy but if they do then it does feel like  they’ve both left the door ajar for one or more of the other manufacturers out there to come up with a corker of a reel, or range of reels, that actually does include a spare spool from the outset. After all, it might only take a decent volume of  favourable reviews for the masses to quickly switch allegiance and the big boys market share would be hit. Am I the only one who feels like this? Maybe I am!!

Anyhow, rant over…. hopefully will get fishing with the new Stradic  soon…. and I’m sure I’ll love it!

Until next time…

Maxpedition bags & saltwater lure fishing

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As anyone in this lure fishing game will testify the very nature of saltwater means it can be extremely harsh on our gear whether that be rods, reels, lures, waders, wading boots, and let’s be honest pretty much everything it comes into contact with. I’ve had my fair share of failures in all these departments with some of the more costly acquisitions being no more dependable than cheaper similar options on the market. The same cannot be said of the two Maxpedition bags I have been using for my lure fishing… I profess they weren’t cheap but with good reason – these things are pretty much bomb proof and are right up there with the best and most durable pieces of kit I have bought, and importantly, regularly use when I’m fishing. The two I own are both sling/shoulder bags, the Sitka which is now in it’s fourth season and the Jumbo Versipack which is in it’s third season.

Being that bit larger, the Sitka I will tend to use for longer trips or when I feel the need to carry more gear with the smaller Jumbo Versipack being the bag I use when I’m going for shorter sessions or I’m confident I don’t need that extra kit…. increasingly it’s this option I tend to take as it generally means I’m travelling lighter. In truth though, both these bags have been superb for me with the type of fishing I do. To my knowledge neither of these bags, or indeed any others out there from Maxpedition, have been made with a fishing market specifically in mind so it’s even more telling how well I think they work out for lure fishing.

Close up of the Jumbo Versipack…

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I won’t go into detail here with the specifications of both bags other than to say they can be found on the Maxpedition website by clicking here for the Sitka and here for the Jumbo Versipack. However, one thing I will make clear is that they are not, nor do they claim to be, fully waterproof. Splash proof yes, drain holes where required yes, but totally waterproof no. Realistically, unless you are sub-merged in the surf that really isn’t a problem and to be honest I have worn the Versipack in the surf a fair few times now, including last year in Ireland, gave it a rinse off when back to base and there is not one bit of it that is suffering from saltwater damage – zippers included. They’ve been thrown down on the sand and shingle, beaten against rocks and suffered some serious fishing abuse… aside from the odd abrasion mark you could be fooled they’ve only had four weeks of use as opposed to four years. There are no tears at all, the zippers work like they did from new and the stitching is rock solid. Put simply, when I get back from a fishing session they just sit there looking at me saying “is that really as hard as you can hit?”…. trust me, these bags have attitude and really are hard as nails!

So what kit do I carry in each of them?

In the Jumbo Versipack main compartment I can comfortably stow two of the small Snowbee ten-lure boxes and still have room for a few small loose bits in the inside pocket. In the top compartment I’ll usually store sunglasses in their case, and in the front pocket a small box with clips, scissors, super glue plus there’s usually a bit of room for a chocolate bar or such like. I have a spool of leader in the zipped pocket that folds over and buckles down the main compartment, with a spare reel spool and tape measure in the main side pocket. There is a generous bottle holder that fastens down tightly with a nice and secure Velcro fastening. A side pocket houses a fish grip just in case I need it and on the reverse of the bag a bigger zipped pouch pocket that rests against your body can hold additional kit – for me that’s a rag and a bit of first aid kit but it I’m sure it could be put to better use! The only additions/changes I’ve made to it is to add a pouch for my pliers and I’ve made my own zip pulls to keep it tidier.

Typical kit that I take in the Jumbo Versipack (excluding snacks!)…

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Two small Snowbee lure boxes fit comfortably in the Versipack’ s main compartment…

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The Sitka will take all of the above gear plus a further two more of the small Snowbee lure boxes (or two of the bigger Snowbee fourteen-lure boxes as an alternate to the four smaller ones) plus have room for more provisions you might need for a longer trip.  You will see I have added an additional removable pouch (the ‘Janus’) to mine just because I got all excited and thought I might need even more room….. in reality I didn’t and the ‘Tac Tie’ system Maxpedition use means it could be easily removed. In addition to the fishing I find I use this bag in particular for other outdoor activities so of the two this one has a definite multi-purpose string to it’s bow.

Sitka kit this time with four small Snowbee boxes – plenty of room for other kit as well…

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The four lure boxes sit comfortably in the Sitka…

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Access for both bags while fishing is excellent… simply unclip and swing the bag around to the front where zips, clips and buckles can be easily unfastened quickly and safely without fear of dropping anything. The other thing is they are well padded and extremely comfortable for an extended session on the water… other bags I have used have not been anywhere near as agreeable or reliable to carry for long periods. All-in-all, in my opinion, these Maxpedition bags are functionally mighty impressive for lure fishing.

Obviously, there are a whole lot of cheaper bags out there that would equally suit purpose and which could be every bit as reliable… but I can only draw on my experiences to date and I’d say if you’re prepared to pay a little bit extra for a bag that will last and last you really will not regret the investment in a Maxpedition bag…  I certainly have every confidence that both mine will  go on serving me well for many, many years to come.

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Until next time…