Couple of nice one’s…

There’s been some lovely bass fishing conditions of late on the south coast and despite the limited time I’ve had  available I’ve been lucky enough to get out a couple of times and get amongst some fish. The first session I had a couple of weeks back yielded over twenty bass with most being in the 50-55cm bracket with the exception that is of a nice fat 68cm fish pictured above.

I started this session as light was coming up using the ever reliable Megabass Zonk which produced a couple early on as did the Savage Gear Seeker which I put on next. However, as dawn broke properly conditions looked good  for the infamous Xorus Patchinko II and that was what nailed the majority of the fish thereafter, including the chunky 68cm one. This top water lure certainly holds it’s own in a bit of surface chop where I think other surface lures struggle – it certainly came up trumps for this session anyway.

None of the fish were taken at any distance, 30 yards out maximum. Another shot of the 68cm fish…

Set-up for the day was 10’6″ Triple Cross TCX-1062Surf, Van Staal VR-50 loaded with 25lb Gosen braid, 19lb Seaguar Ace Hard Fluorocarbon leader and a mini Breakaway clip.

Second session was this weekend and again conditions looked good for bass with a bigger swell, more chop and even more white water than previous trip…

Again, started around first light and picked up a couple on the Zonk. What the above photo doesn’t really show   was a stiff south-westerly blowing and the Zonk is one of the lures I find casts well into a headwind. It turned out to be the best lure I had in my box with all eight fish taken succombing to it’s action! The bass were all around the 45-50cm mark this time with the exception being a nice one that was again touching 68cm albeit not as fat as the one from the previous trip…

Set-up was similar to last time with the only change being I chose to go with the Tailwalk Eginn 9′ 6″ rod as opposed to the Triple Cross option. Once more none of the fish were taken at any distance – almost under the rod tip at times.

One final observation before I finish off with a few more pictures from the last couple of trips – the Van Staal VR-50 reel I am really liking, especially with the Gosen braid. Whilst I haven’t given it enough water time as I would have liked this year I’m not experiencing wind knot issues and whilst the line lane is not as good as a Shimano reel in my opinion, it is certainly not something that is causing me issues when fishing with it. I did load the braid on initially by submersing it in a bucket of cold water and have very slightly underfilled the spool which may have helped? I know some far, far, far more experienced and respected anglers than myself have found it does not suit their fishing but I’m loving it! Undoubtedly it’s a personal thing, no-one is right or wrong… it’s fascinating how things work differently for all us anglers eh?!

Anyhow, here are a few more pictures from the last couple of weeks…

Until next time…

First of the year…

Have been a bit slow to get going this year so after a couple of short sessions where I’d done nothing better than a blank and a wrasse it was nice to get a few bass this morning. Just the three – two off the top on the Patchinko 100 and one on the Shimano Silent Assassin 129F.

There could well have been a couple more had I managed to connect with takes on the Albie Snax. I haven’t used the Snax much to be honest but I know many lure anglers love it. It’s a tougher soft plastic and I’m wondering whether the hits but no hook-ups were because I had it rigged on the wrong weedless hook with not a wide enough gape on it? Or maybe, I should have drilled the hook hole slightly bigger to let the hook ‘dislodge’ easier on a hit as I’ve seen on an on-line video. Food for thought next time as the bass clearly like it.

The takes on the Patchinko couldn’t have been more different, the first smaller fish was on a very slow retrieve and it was the tiniest of plucks that snared it – was hooked very tentatively in the lip so much so that it threw the lure once landed!

The second fish which was slightly bigger absolutely launched at the Patchinko and was nicely hooked. The third bass taken on the Shimano Silent Assassin again nailed the lure hard and had taken it deep so it took me a while to delicately remove the hooks. Was very conscious I wanted to get it back as soon as I possibly could so no pictures of that one. Concentrated on the recovery and it did swim off strongly which was pleasing.

After the couple of early season blanks it was nice to get off the mark for the year with these bass – hopefully many more to follow in the coming months.

Until next time….

Ireland 2018 – Part Two

Well, you can see from the above picture that on his last full day of fishing UJ did finally lose his lure caught bass virginity…. and it really was getting near the last knockings when it happened!

The day started so dramatically different to any of the previous one’s we’d had all week – hardly a breath of wind and the seas had completely flattened off so first up we decided on a spot of pollack fishing for a couple of hours. The fish duly obliged with bends in rod aplenty! Nothing big but good sport nonetheless. Next up was a stunning bass spot John wanted us to fish where he knew there would still be a decent surf running given it’s location – it would have been totally unfishable earlier in the week. First cast for Nobby and ‘bang’ – fish on! We thought we might be in to a shoal but not another sniff…. strange how it can be at times.

With nothing more happening at this mark it was getting to the time in the tide where John wanted us back fishing the reef I’d caught at the day before. Back in the wagon and soon enough our lines were in the water. Nobby and I were fishing the DoLive Stick but UJ had switched to the new Gary Yamamoto Swim Senko in white. He was fishing between Nobby and myself when all of a sudden his rod looped over and a few expletives filled the air followed by a “you beauty”…. UJ had at last got his bass!!!! It wasn’t the biggest bass you’ll ever see but it was the most hard earned and well deserved bass I think I’ve ever seen experienced and we were just off the scale chuffed too bits for him….

It really was the fish that made our week when I look back on it – Nobby and myself have been lucky enough to catch a few in our time but to see someone who is new to the trade catch their first lure caught bass and work so damn hard to get it, in such a stunning  place… well, it really was the highlight of the week and we could only do one thing after that to celebrate…

Day six and UJ didn’t need to take off until after lunch so with his bass virginity lost the day before it gave him the opportunity of a further half day fishing. There was a better swell and surf running so we were off to a mark we’d looked at earlier in the week which had been unfishable. Today it looked good and after starting on the far side of the bay we worked our way to almost the middle of the bay where there appeared to be a gulley running behind a sand bar – it created a nice bit of movement with water running against the incoming surf. On went the Line Thru Sandeel  working it through the current and second cast ‘bang’ fish on!

Unhook, release, cast again and the next fish hits. By now Nobby and UJ are also into fish with UJ picking up a small sea trout and then his second ever lure caught bass…

Meanwhile, whilst we were obviously into a decent shoal of fish John is trying to get some scale samples and tags into the fish – I think at one point there were three fish hooked up and one on the beach!

These fish weren’t monsters but with the tough conditions we’d endured earlier in the week it was very welcome to get into a run of a few fish on the light gear… they certainly scrap better in the surf with the more oxygenated water giving them a bit of a turbo boost. The fish moved on though and so did we to rocks the other end of the bay where Nobby and I  picked up a couple more bass including one off the top on the Patchinko 125. UJ picked up a pollack as well so he’d had a three species final morning –  a nice way to finish you’re first foray into lure fishing I’d say and more than merited for the effort he’d put in all week.

After lunch at Thatched Cottage we bid UJ farewell and headed out again, fairly local thsi time, with a few more schoolies found over reef ground before an executive decision to declare early for a well earned pint. It had been a twenty bass day in total which was decent given the cold November winds, we’d certainly have taken that after the conditions at the start of the week.

Our penultimate day was once again different – things had flattened off again with much less surf running but given the success at the spot the previous day John couldn’t ignore it and we went back to see if the fish were still around. By now we had been joined in Ballinskelligs by Malcomn and Ian who had made their way down from the Dingle area. The fish were still there but not in the same numbers with half a dozen between us I think, here’s Ian with one…

The afternoon saw us back over a bit of reef where Nobby picked up one on the ever reliable DoLive before we headed back to the surf as the tide flooded – despite looking fishy, and one missed take, neither of us hooked up. The final mark for the day saw us fishing into the dark over shallow reef but aside from a couple of small pollack that was it – the bass certainly weren’t playing ball so it was time for a pint and John’s fish and chip supper!

Our final day was now upon us and the conditions could not have been more different to those when we rocked up a week earlier – it really was benign in the bay with hardly a ripple on the surface. We tried a couple of marks but there was nothing happening so it was off to a spot again we’d been too earlier in the week which had a better chance of some current in the water with the option to fish from the beach or from some rock groins. I stayed on the beach in the surf and picked up four schoolies while John took Nobby off the rocks where he nailed a few pollack on surf lures… spot the fish in this picture!

We were nearly done for the week but one last throw of the dice back in Ballinskelligs Bay as the tide flooded yielded a small bass each for Nobby and myself – both on DoLive Sticks – and that was as good a place as any to finish on as the sun headed for the horizon…

This was my fourth trip to Ballinskelligs and Thatched Cottage and as I said at the very beginning of the ‘Ireland 2018 – Part One‘ post it’s been a fantastic week. Tough at times, especially to begin with, but lots of smiles, banter and laughter along the way in a quite stunning part of the world. Big thanks to Malcomn, Ian, UJ and of course Nobby for your splendid company and enjoying the craic, but I’ll reserve my biggest thanks for John and Lynn….. yes, it’s the fishing that draws us back year on year but hats off to you both for the huge efforts you put in to make it happen for us anglers day in day out, often without a sign of a break – it doesn’t go unnoticed by many of us and is hugely appreciated.

Keep that spirit of Ballinskelligs Bay riding high my friends…. it’s a very special place and thing you have going there.

Until next time…

Ireland 2018 – Part One

Another year and another fantastic week in the company of John and Lynn  at Thatched Cottage Fishing Lodge in beautiful County Kerry has come to an end. Fishing was tough at times, particularly to start with – no two days were the same that’s for sure – but really and truly that just added to the challenge. I’ve said it before and will say it again, there’s something very special about this place and I don’t just mean the fishing – it’s the whole backdrop too it – the scenery, variety of ground to fish over, the people and above all it’s the spirit of the place which has really, really gotten to me.

This year’s trip saw the usual suspects of Nobby and myself joined by his mate Richard (‘UJ’) for whom this was a first delve into the wonderous world of lure fishing for bass…. excuse the pun but he was definitely in at the deep end!

After a few early inconveniences, like having a chat with Mr Plod about being slightly overexcited to catch the ferry and then the ferry itself delayed for a couple of hours, we eventually found ourselves on the good shores of the Emerald Isle. It was then the jaunt from Rosslare to Kerry before us…. you could have worse journeys and the anticipation of getting there meant the miles and time were eaten up –  before we knew it we were through Caherdaniel, over the hill and before us was Ballinskelligs Bay (with some  ferocious looking swells and waves I might add). Shortly after we arrived at Thatched Cottage to be greeted as warmly as ever by John and Lynn. A quick decant of fishing kit, chatter, a couple of wee shots, lovely food, and a couple more wee shots and we were ready for bed ahead of our first day of fishing.

I’ll make no bones about it, the first couple of days were tough – the big swells and waves were still there and the water colour was downright filthy in most places. Not ideal. Between three of us, in the most sheltered and best coloured water John could find, we had one pollack for Nobby and a lost bass to UJ to show for our efforts.

That provoked  a change of plan from John for day three with us heading north to the Dingle peninsula to try the surf beaches there – a first for us on our trips to Kerry. There we also met up with a couple of well known bass anglers Ian and Malcomn who were giving the bait option a blast in the surf. The decision to head to Dingle finally paid dividends with our first lure caught bass of the trip landed, albeit only a small fish. The Savage Gear Line Thru Sandeel doing the business for my good self.

I had one one more hit that didn’t hook up as did Nobby but that was as good as it got despite fishing hard into the evening…. tough November fishing all round but at least the bass account had been opened. Our bait fishing friends only managed one in the same surf on the same session so not bad for us lure fishers we surmised…. we called it a draw anyway!

Day four back in Ballinskelligs and dawn brought us brighter, calmer conditions and thankfully clearing water with a nice table of surf running in the bay which John got us fishing first off. Nobby and myself cast out pretty much side by side and he shouted across to me “Looks fishy, doesn’t it?”….. “Oh yes it does” I respond with the devil in my eye as I’m into a bass first cast! Only a fish of a couple of pounds and again the Savage Gear Line Thru was on the money. That was the cue for a few more fish for Nobby and myself, here’s John with one of them…

UJ was still plugging away but was yet to be rid of his lure caught bass virginity – we were all quietly willing it to happen but it wasn’t to be in this  surf session. The fish had moved on and that was the cue for John to get us on the road too and off the surf beaches altogether to fish some shallow reef on a flooding tide. This was a familiar and favourite spot of mine from previous trips and it came up trumps again with the ever reliable DoLive stick accounting for this bass…

Both Nobby and myself had further hits – alas no hook ups – but the tide was now pushing us off the reef anyway so it was  time to retreat and once again move on. A couple more spots saw no action as we finished after dark but it had been a better  day on the bass and a couple of pints of the black stuff made for a suitable reward.

Whereas Nobby and myself still had four days fishing ahead of us UJ was always heading back early so only had one more full days fishing ahead of him…. was he going to lose his lure caught bass virginity?

Until next time…

Frustrating start but a few bass in the end…

Fishing for me is my time to relax and forget about the day-to-day things in life and very seldom do I let anything to do with fishing dishearten me. However, I must admit that’s how I felt just as the light got up on Sunday morning. My intention was to get some early morning fishing done in the dark for an hour or so before dawn. So, I’d dragged myself out of bed just before 3 a.m., drove for an hour and a half and then yomped for a further 30 minutes to get to chosen mark. I like to fish here at low to particularly get the first push of the tide and the timings were favourable for this early start in the dark at this spot.

It’s usually a fairly reliable mark and I was surprised that for that first hour or so in the darkness I didn’t have any interest whatsoever… top water, shallow divers, soft plastic – zero interest. Then the light started to come up and  the reason became fairly clear – if you look carefully in in the cropped photo below you’ll notice what I was faced with…

Nettting

Yep, strewn out for probably 200 metres in front of me was a net pretty much in casting range, in fact if I’d had a metal lure to give me extra distance I would definitely have hit it. Frustrating and above all disheartening. Needless to say I moved on and later I saw the net owner come along in his little boat to retrieve the net with his catch. Really wish there were some ‘no net zones’ for the good of all marine life and not just to appease the recreational anglers amongst us.

Anyhow, the move along the coast was a positive one and soon enough my mood was pepped up as I was into a few fish. As with my last post the bass were all small with the best topping out at 55cm. At least they put a bend in the rod and there do seem to be plenty of them around this year which I guess can only bode well for future bass stocks…. if they’re left alone of course.

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You’ll notice the Patchinko 125 was once again the weapon of choice, definitely my favourite lure of the moment. I just feel really assured it will pick me up fish versus other options… amazing how much confidence plays a part in lure fishing eh?!

Hopefully, will be out again in the coming weeks for a few local(ish) sessions but the countdown to Ireland in November is well and truly on now. Shouldn’t wish your life away I know but I can already picture it… and of course taste the Guinness.

Until next time…

Liking this Patchinko 125…

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Well, once again it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and to be frank I’ve disappointingly managed relatively little fishing over the summer period – general life stuff getting in the way and the real need to get a project completed at home…. more on that later. The few times I have ventured out over summer I’ve found to be relatively hit and miss on the bass front. So with autumn knocking on the door it’s been good to finally get out and have two multiple fish sessions in quick succession – albeit all schoolies up to the 3lb bracket.

What has been particularly encouraging is the catching ability of the new Patchinko 125. Let’s face it, it had a lot to live up to with both its’s smaller brother the P100 and the bigger Patchinko II, both of which have been proven ‘catchers’ for a number of years. The problem with the two siblings, in my humble opinion, is there was too much of a size difference. The smaller version would sometimes be ineffective if conditions got bouncy, be out of reach for the fish, or simply be too much of a magnet for smaller fish whereas conversely the big brother can be too ‘noisy’ in calmer conditions and lack the subtlety that is required in a given situation.  The P125 looks to have filled that void very nicely with very few compromises. I’ve found it casts slightly differently compared to the Patchinko II which you could fairly wallop out to the horizon if you put your body and soul behind it. To get the best out of the P125 I’ve found it’s all about hitting that sweet spot and then it will give you that distance and there’s no question it can fly! The nice thing about it is it seems to be consistent in the disturbance you can create on the surface with it and by that I mean it seems to work as you would expect equally between it’s two siblings – capable of a bit more disturbance than the P100 but not too much that it puts fish off, it can hold it’s own in choppier conditions and like both of it’s forebearers is incredibly easy to work. Above everything else though it has maintaned that irresistible action that bass seem to love.

That brings me nicely to Saturday when I took a trip down to Dorset where the Patchinko 125 was the weapon of choice and amongst a plague of garfish, and a few mackies, a dozen bass were caught – nothing big as indicated but okay numbers. The white version of the P125 was certainly working well (apologies for picture quality below)…

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The second session on the P125 was on Monday for a couple of hours at a venue closer to home and again it did the business with the infamous 500g version a clear winner. This was a classic case where the P100 just would not have reached where the fish were shoaled up. Again, roughly a dozen caught similar size to below… the P125 certainly gets the thumbs up from me!

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Generally, it’s nice to experience, see and hear of more fish being caught as autumn looms large so let’s hope for more of the same in the coming weeks… particularly ahead of the now annual trip to Ireland which is in November this time around. Just cannot wait!

Before I finish, you remember that project at home I mentioned earlier? To cut to the chase it was basically a shed building exercise that got out of control…. I’d got so far with it so thought why not make it into a part fishing den/man cave sort of shed thing…. somewhere to hang the Patchinko’s up at least!

The Tackle Box

Until next time…

New season – unexpected start…

After a long lay off and the annual bout of cabin fever my fishing urge finally got the better of me yesterday and it was off to the coast for my first session of the season. To be honest with the March cold snap, relatively low water temperatures and only a few catch reports my hopes of a bass weren’t high but my head told me ‘you got to be in it to win it’ so I dragged myself out of bed at some ungodly hour to give me a good couple of hours before the published high water.

Arrived and the water was already much higher than I expected and I thought I must have mis-read the tables so I tackled up and hurriedly got going. It was still dark when I started but you could see there was a nice little chop to the water. Nothing at the first couple of spots so I gradually made my way west along the shoreline switching lures in the process and it was after one of these changes to the smaller Tackle House Feed Shallow 105 that just as the light was up I got hit… for all the world I thought I’d got lucky with an early season bass but was beyond surprised when I saw it was a mullet!

After that brief excitement nothing more was happening at that spot so I was on the move again but a significant landslip right to the waters edge stopped me in my tracks and there was no alternative but to turn back. The slip was slicking into the bay making it horribly coloured… it will certainly need a storm or two to break it up otherwise, unfortunately, this spot will likely be unfishable for a while.

Fished my way back but nothing further to report though there were a few mullet there in the shallows. Did meet up with some familiar faces on the walk back and in discussion we’d all faired much the same on the bass front. Last year I had my first bass at the end of March, this season seems a good few weeks behind probably as a result of the colder Winter with water temperatures definitely down.

So, the mullet was a blank saver, it was good to be back out after a long lay-off plus good to catch up with some familiar faces but in all honesty I think it’s probably a few more weeks of cabin fever before I try again!

Until next time…