Harder going….

Managed to sneak a hastily arranged trip down to Dorset at the weekend for a few hours with Nobby, plus we met up with Richard from Dorset Fishing Rods, and one of Nobby’s work mates, Mo, who was down there as well.

Early-ish start, on the road by 4:30am to hopefully catching the rising tide with high water at 9 o’clock. Was blowier than expected when we arrived in the pitch black but soon enough we were rigged and ready for the trudge along the shore. In the early dawn it was difficult to judge the clarity of the water where we were initially fishing but as the sun got a hold it showed that actually the water was quite green and maybe not as clear as we had hoped for at this rocky mark.

That said it wasn’t long before Richard bagged a small pollack and then a bass of around 3.5lb. Nobby and Mo had walked on round the shore and had a couple of follows from bass but nothing to show for it.

My luck was similar with a single follow but nothing taking so I decided to head back round to a bank of washed up kelp we’d earmarked on our way round. We thought it might be worth a few casts as the kelp was washed back into the sea on the rising tide. The water here was even cloudier but nevertheless it did give me my one and only fish of the day – a schoolie of about 1.5lb…

Fish was taken on the Kimono II – the same lure I’d had success with on my last trip down here. That was the last of the fish action for any of us even though we fished all the way back.The water clarity meant it was hard going.

It was also an extremely big tide so it was interesting wading our way round in parts and extremely slippery in places… yes we all took a tumble at some point but luckily nothing broken – bones or rods!

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On the rod, it was again a joy to use and so far I haven’t blanked with it …… long may that continue though I have probably just cursed it! I know I keep promising but I will get round to reviewing it shortly!

So, not a bumper session but nice to be out there fishing in good company. I think opportunities to fish might be few and far between in the coming weeks depending on all the usual factors of time, weather, work and family commitments but you never know.

Until next time….

Early Autumn bass…

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Only a quick local session to report on but three bass in little over an hour and a half was pleasing nonetheless. They were all in the 2lb bracket so noticeably smaller than I have had on previous outings at this location this summer… maybe the slightly bigger fish have started to move off shore now autumn is on our doorstep in The Solent? It was also a second outing for the new rod which again proved a joy to fish with…. I’ll get down to finishing the review of it shortly….promise.

You tend to need calm and relatively clear water at this spot – I’ve never had much success here when there is a chop to the water and it becomes murky. I can only surmise it’s because the fish can’t see the lure despite the rattles and noise they give off – whether sub-surface or off the top it never seems to produce in choppy seas … but today conditions were good and thankfully it came up trumps.

The first fish hit the Feed Shallow (Mullet 21g) lure within a few seconds of the retrieve and put up a good scrap for a small fish…

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I had to wait half an hour or so for the next fish but again the same Tacklehouse lure produced for me…

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I fished on and within a few minutes I had my third similarly small sized bass of the session – this one hit and missed to start with so I literally just stopped the retrieve and as soon as I started again it hit – presuming it was the same fish that is!

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The tide was up so far by now that the spot had become unfishable and as I had to get back anyway I decided to call it a day but drove back contented with my first short autumn session.

One thing I noticed today was that all three fish took the last treble hook which I’ve noticed tends to happen with takes from the smaller fish – the bigger of the fish I had in Dorset last time out all took the middle treble. One explanation for this may be the smaller fish chasing the plug and grabbing it from behind whereas the bigger fish might be ambushing the lure side on? It’s a theory but nothing scientifically proven of course!

Would like to get down to Dorset for another session in the next few weekends so hopefully things work out on that front!

Until next time…

Not bad in the end…

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Since getting back from Cornwall I’ve only had time to briefly wet a line but that was only for a couple of hours locally when conditions weren’t really right so it was nice to get a few hours under my belt yesterday down in Dorset. I was especially keen to get out as I’d managed to pick up my new rod from Richard at Dorset Fishing Rods on Saturday and was obviously desperate to try it out!
 
Things didn’t start well though! The plan was to fish from low up which would mean getting there late morning and then fishing the afternoon – with high water around 6 o’clock. I left home in plenty of time at around 9:30 in the morning but traffic was awful taking me two hours to get to a venue that usually only takes me just over the hour. No dramas though, I was still in plenty of time to fish the rising tide. I got all my kit together and began the trek to the first mark I had in mind and about half an hour later I was ready to fish. New rod, first cast – fish on! Only a small bass taken on the Feed Shallow so it went straight back – rod christened! Second cast – bang! Feed Shallow hit again and this time it was a slightly better fish which came in just over the 3lb mark. I thought at this point it would be a good photo opportunity for the fish and new rod……  trouble was where was the camera? I had it at the car and it was only then it dawned on me I had left it on the damn car roof while I was rigging up. The air went blue as I slid the bass back and hastily departed on the trudge back to the car park praying the camera was where I left it. Luckily, there it was – exactly where I suspected. So, camera safely in backpack, off I set again back to the mark still cursing myself for my stupidity but also somewhat relieved that it hadn’t been removed!
 
It was about an hour wasted by the time I got back to my original spot and to top it off the fish had moved on so I did the same moving on around the coast to marks that had previously been productive. Not today though – it was really slow despite trying shallow divers, deeper divers, surface plugs and soft plastics with just a solitary take on a Megabass Zonk from a small pollack that dropped off as I pulled it up onto the rock I was fishing on. I did get a couple of snaps of the ground I was fishing which for all intents and purposes looked ‘bassy’…
 
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Late afternoon, a bit disconsolate I decided to head back and fish the top of the tide in a couple of bays I’d passed on the way out where there had been banks of weed washed up at low tide. It was a good decision because on turning the corner into the second of the bays there were gulls working the surface which I knew would be worth checking out. Anyone who reads in particular Mike Ladle’s fishing diary will know that these rotting weed banks often harbour maggots which get washed out as the incoming tide hits them and this was exactly what was happening here. There were mullet cruising around extremely close in lapping up the maggots being washed out of the weed and crucially there were bass there as well! The problem was deciding on a lure that I could use that could cope with the weed and maggot soup before me. Usually I would have gone with a Slug-Go or X-layer but I didn’t have the Tex-Poser hooks to use with them so a hard surface lure was all I had in my armoury that I thought might work.  I tried the GunFish and Z-Claw but they were still pulling in chunks of weed so I changed tactics slightly and put on a Kimono II and cast beyond the weed and retrieved with the rod held high so the lure was working by just skimming the surface and creating a wake behind it – it worked a treat! First bass was only a small one…
 
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The second was a bit better at 3.5lb…
 
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Another in the 3lb bracket followed before the best fish of the day, and indeed my best bass this year, came in at precisely 5lb 2oz…
 
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It was a great last hour of the day making it  six bass taken in total for the day plus a couple of near misses where fish crashed into the lure but didn’t connect. Impressed with the Kimono II – it’s got a hell of a wiggle on it and worked really well for me with the rod held high over the weed soup!
 
It was a shame to leave but with time getting on I decided to depart on a high and walked back to the car having a chat with a couple of other lure anglers on the way. It had been a good day in the end after the traffic and camera incident earlier in proceedings and I drove home content with the afternoon’s work!
 
I haven’t said much on the new rod because I plan to put my thoughts on it in a separate post  but suffice to say, based on it’s first outing, it is everything I had hoped for and some – thanks Richard!  Will try and get round to that post in the near future.
 
Until next time….

Cornwall Trip – days 3, 4 & 5

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Day 3

Sunday morning we woke up to relatively clear skies though the wind was still strong and there were clouds on the horizon threatening the coast. We had a quick fry up then decided we’d take a look at a couple of spots on the Lizard peninsula which we had an inkling might be good for bass. We checked out the first spot near Porthleven and it looked ‘bassy’ but we’d need the westerly wind to drop off to give us a chance of fishing it. We then headed around the peninsula to the shelter of the eastern side looking at Porthoustock and Porthallow but neither looked like the type of ground that would throw up bass. We had a chat with a couple of local kayakers who’d just come in at Porthallow and they had had little success on the water that morning.

It was all a bit frustrating really – the areas we wanted to fish were blown out and the one’s that looked to have a bit of shelter did not look like there would be fish there. We were fast running out of options and after a quick scout around the top of St Ive’s we concluded the only spot realistically we knew would give us a bit of protection from the wind and swell, and which might get us amongst the fish, was near Gurnards Head again….. and so that’s where we headed but this time with waders and cags on to try and keep ourselves dry. When we arrived if anything the swell was bigger than the previous day  with some big waves crashing against the rocks – the pictures don’t do it justice really. The good thing though was that the fish turned up again though not in the same numbers or size.

Nobby was first in with a bass on his faithful Zonk and had a couple more to his name before I managed to break my duck for the day with a small bass on the Xlayer…

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The emergence of a large seal close in to where we were fishing soon meant the fish dried up though so we decided to have a look further round the bay as the tide was still pretty low. It really is a beautiful spot…

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We threw a line in the surf and from some of the prominent rocks here but nothing was taking a lure so we checked the roving seal was nowhere in sight and headed back round to the spot we’d caught at earlier… and sure enough the bass were back if only small ones with most falling to the Xlayer though I also took a couple on the IMA Sasuke…

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That was pretty much it for the day aside from a very small pollack and a launce sand eel caught on a set of feathers at the end of the session.

We headed back to the North Inn and over a couple of pints contemplated what we were going to do on Monday but we both agreed we should move on from the North Inn and head either down to the Lizard area or further up the north coast depending on the weather … the forecast was not great.

Day 4

This was the windiest night to date with the occasional squally shower to boot which rattled the sides of the tents making for a restless night’s sleep at best. Luckily though the strength of the wind meant the canvass was pretty dry come morning and could be packed up easily enough.

After a quick bacon butty we were on the road away from the North Inn and back down to the first spot we’d looked at yesterday on the Lizard near Porthleven. We hoped that the spot would be fishable but when we got there it was clear it was a non-starter. The seas were monstrous with heavy waves dumping on the beach.  A fellow angler turned up to have a go with a heavy lure rod and plug – we watched him have about three casts but each time it nearly blew back in his face so he soon left… as did we. There really was no option today but to get ourselves some shelter on the east coast of the Lizard peninsula.

We had a scout around and eventually found a spot at the end of the River Helford north of a small hamlet  called St Anthony’s where we found some rocky marks with gullies into fairly deep water. It was relatively sheltered but even here the wind was howling down the Helford valley.

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I managed a solitary small pollack and had an unsuccessful take from a bass close in on a grass minnow soft plastic. There were thousands of fry hanging around and some huge mullet cruising around but it was slow fishing and as the squalls became more frequent and heavier we headed back to the car as we needed to sort out where we were going to camp down that night.

As it happened a quick check of the weather forecast again proved wise as the worst of the weather was due to hit that night with gale force winds and driving rain expected – not ideal for camping out! Luckily enough Nobby had good friends Paul and Carol who lived in Newquay who were extremely accommodating when the despairing phone call was made to see if we might have a night with them and a few home comforts! They were legends and we had a great night out and a couple of glasses of plonk as well to see us right… they also have probably have the most comfortable sofa in the world – anyone could fall asleep there you  know!! It was about 3:30 in the morning when I awoke on said sofa and dragged myself to my pit… the wind and rain hammering against the windows… not a night to be in the tents!

Day 5

After the stormy night the outlook for Tuesday morning did not look any better – whilst the rain was more intermittent the wind was still about a force 7 so we needed a sheltered spot again if we were going to have any chance of fishing. Paul pointed us in the right direction and after breakfast we packed up the car and made our thanks to our hosts for their kind hospitality. The car which was packed to the gunnels anyway was now beginning to smell badly from the various bits of wet kit, footwear and not least from us! It looked like a grenade had gone off and positively reeked as we left Newquay…

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We headed up the north coast towards Trevose Head where there was a chance we might be able to get out of the worst of the weather. As we drove up the coast we passed the coast close enough in to see some huge swells coming in…

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Even this picture does not do justice to the size of these waves and which were regularly around the 12-15 foot mark. Anywhere along this part of the coast was going to be a complete no-go fishing wise.

Thankfully, we found a mark behind in the area Paul had recommended around the Trevose headland. This gave us a chance to wet a line but even here there was some big seas hitting the shore. Here’s Nobby casting beyond the breakers before scarpering back up the beach to avoid a proper soaking…

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It was hard going not only with the weather but also with the three resident seals which were happy to chase the lures in at times! Eventually though I managed a take from a small bass on an OSP Rudra plug which was our only success here…

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And that was pretty much it for the fishing today and for the trip. The weather wasn’t really improving and it was near on impossible fishing the marks we wanted to with no let up in the conditions on the horizon. Reluctantly, we decided it was time to cut our losses and head home a day or so earlier than planned. We did stop off in St Merryn at the Art of Fishing shop run by Ben Field  to have a chat with him and salivate over the lures and kit he has in stock. If you’re down that way it’s worth popping in, Ben is a nice chap and in addition to being an experienced lure fisherman he clearly knows the area well… be warned though it may be advisable to leave debit and credit cards well out of reach if you’re inclined to go in the shop!

A quick mid afternoon pub lunch followed and then we were back in the, by now rancid smelling, car for the trip home arriving in Southampton around 7 o’clock in the evening.

So, that was it, trip over. The weather could haven been a lot, lot kinder to us and I’m sure we would have got a lot more fishing in with just slightly better conditions but that said it was a top, top few days with plenty of laughs to compliment the fishing and as always in excellent company. Cheers to Nobby for a cracking few days and thanks again to Paul and Carol for their hospitality when most needed. It’s certainly an area I want to fish again but, as I say, hopefully in better conditions!

Until next time…

Cornwall Trip – days 1 & 2…

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In the pipeline for a while had been a fishing trip down to Cornwall with my pal Nobby to explore some of the Cornish coast and hopefully bag a few Cornish bass and maybe pollack. We had contemplated taking the kayaks but the amount of kit required coupled with a less than favourable weather forecast told us it would probably be a wise decision to leave them at home… and so it proved as you’ll see further down in this article.

Here’s the day-by-day account of our expedition…

Day 1

We set off from Southampton around 11 a.m. on Friday with good weather but not so good traffic… took us nearly 2 hours just to get to Dorchester where we stopped off for a coffee and a quick chin wag with Richard Cake of Dorset Fishing Rods. Soon enough though we were on the road again and in fairness once we hit Exeter the trip down to Pendeen where we had decided to camp was pretty good. We had chosen our camping venue carefully and arrived at The North Inn in Pendeen by around 4 o’clock in the afternoon giving us plenty of time to pitch our tents and to head out and explore some of the local coast we had already earmarked as possible fishing locations.

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We took a look around the Cape Cornwall area and decided to wet a line for an hour as the sun went down near Porth Nanven. We bumped into a local who was rather glum on the state of the local fishing saying there were no bass around and hardly any mackerel which was a bit of a worry. We didn’t catch either but the sunset was pretty good…

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We were back at The North Inn camping ground by 8 o’clock and in the pub for our tea and a sampler of the local ales which were all rather pleasant I might add!

Day 2

We woke up Saturday morning to grey skies and a freshening westerly wind as the forecasters had predicted… whilst also realising the one or two samplers we had drunk the night before had done a ‘Proper Job’ on us! Nevertheless, we set off to recce the tip of Cornwall from Sennen Cove round to Lamorna where we eventually decided to stop off and try for a pollack in the deep water marks there using soft plastics. We fished here for a couple of hours but the weather was really deterioating now with heavy rain to join the ever freshening wind. We blanked again but here’s Nobby giving it a good go though…

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After the fruitless morning we headed back to the car, had a quick brew at the local cafe and not for the first time on the trip got the OS map out to try and find a place to fish which gave us a little bit of protection from the elements. We came to the conclusion that the best bet might be on the north of the tip of Cornwall and headed to the Zennor area where we found Gurnard Point. It’s a pretty spectacular bit of coast line here…

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The rain had stopped, but the wind was still blowing hard and it was good to find some terrain tucked in behind the headland which looked promising so we headed down to it. We had company though as there were several seals there sheltering from the conditions as much as we were. Nevertheless, we found ourselves suitable marks and began fishing. I was still opting to fish soft plastics with a 5g Iwashi jig head attached to a white paddle tail and as luck would have it within a few minutes I had our first fish of the trip and a bass as well which was pleasing…

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It was the only fish at this spot and as the tide started to turn we decided to move round the bay to a prominent rocky outcrop where it looked like we might be able to fish into some decent water. After a 15 minute stroll round to the mark we were pleased we had moved – the water looked very ‘bassy’ and as it was low water we were able to take advantage of some decent rocks to fish some of the gullies and as the tide turned so the bass turned up. I had just changed my lure to a Megabass Xlayer as well – this time on 7g Iwashi jig head and first cast … bang! Fish on!

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Next cast… bang! Fish On!

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… and to complete the hat-trick third cast with the Xlayer I was in again! Three casts, three fish! Soon enough Nobby was in as well using his Megabass Zonk plug…

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This was pretty much the pattern for the next 30 – 45 minutes with both of us nailing bass to 3lb – me on the Xlayer and Nobby on the Zonk plug. We even managed a double hook up…

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By the time we called it a day and walked back up the cliff in the now pelting rain we had bagged 17 bass in total between us plus Nobby took a solitary mackerel…

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So much for the local we’d spoke to the previous evening saying there weren’t any bass or mackerel around! We’d just had a great little session and although the bass were nothing spectacular they all put up good fights in a strong current.

We drove back to the North Inn in fading light and, with the heavy rain, in fading visibility just praying the tents hadn’t washed away! They hadn’t and thankfully despite the day’s deluge the camp was in a pretty good state. A quick clean up and we were nicely settled in the ‘Inn’ for supper and a couple of pints before heading back to the tents… finally it had stopped raining…

Days 3, 4 and 5 to follow…

Until next time…

Big kids and little kids

For this post I could almost just say to you to read the previous post as it was pretty much similar in terms of the catching although I did have some willing accomplices on this occasion.

The plan had been to take Billy down to Dorset to fish with my brother and my niece who has also got into her fishing with her Dad. Unfortunately, as anyone who had seen the news yesterday may have seen, there was almost biblical amounts of rain in Dorset the day before and neither my brother or I fancied risking the kids on slippery rocks so we decided on the safer option of the local spot near to me where I’ve had a few fish of late.

Low tide was around 8:15 in the morning so we got down to teh shore two hours after and began to fish the flooding tide all in similar areas I’d caught before and all using similar lures. The sea was pretty flat but was just starting to bubble up a bit with lovely bright conditions over head.We didn’t have to wait long for the fish either when I was lucky enough to get the first take and landed this beautifully conditioned bass of around 2.5lb……

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A nice start and I was then hoping one of the others would catch but within two casts I was lucky enough to be in again and a slightly larger bass came ashore after a feisty little fight, again in tip top condition……

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Embarrassingly, no sooner had this one gone back the very next cast I was in again with what proved to be the best fish of the day at 3.5lb. Again, a nice scrap ensued and a prime conditioned fish came to the shore……

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After that excitement I moved spots to let the others too it but it wasn’t to be and from then on none of us had any luck which was a shame for the kids though it didn’t seem to dampen their spirits in the slightest……

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We had a BBQ lunch on the beach and as the wind stiffened we decided to head for some shelter on the River Hamble to see if we could entice a few schoolies out for the kids. Aside from a couple of crabs on ragworm it wasn’t to be but being kids they didn’t seem to mind at all. My brother did manage to save a blank with possibly the smallest bass I’ve ever seen hooked… so small in fact he was too embarrassed to have his picture taken with it. He also managed to fall in at one point to the amusement of the kids and myself!!

Interestingly, the only fish I took today where the last treble had hooked the fish was the first and smallest of the fish – both of the other two went for the lure head on and hooking themselves on the first set of trebles – coincidence? Maybe, but suggests to me that with the first take the lure was being chased whereas with the other two takes it looks like the lure was ambushed from below…… that could of course be utter rubbish but a theory nonetheless?!

Best part of the day? Seeing the kids take such an interest in their fishing and enjoying being by the sea, sometimes the simple things in life really do give you the most pleasure. Happy days…

Until next time…

More bass, same lure, same spot….

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Certain venues seem to need a certain set of conditions to produce results and nothing proves this better than the mark I have recently discovered which has given a few nice fish of late. I fished the spot this last Saturday morning with calm winds fishing high tide down….. not a sniff. I’d fished it previously for an hour immediately after low tide in calm conditions and after low water up in rougher conditions – again nothing happening. The sweet spot here seems to be between 2 and 4 hours after low water in calm or semi-calm conditions when the water is fairly clear and around 2 – 4 feet in depth – no more than that. It produced in these very conditions again for me this morning – three fish hooked with two landed in little over an hour.

I had checked the weather and tide last night as being at home today it gave me the opportunity to fish early plus get home all in time to jump on the work treadmill. Low tide was at around 2:30 a.m. so I got up at 4:30am with the aim of being fishing by 5:15 a.m. just as the day dawned. Arrived and conditions were excellent with the light just changing and the calm conditions I’d hoped for. Short stroll to my favoured spot, Feed Shallow on and I was in business…… second cast and fish on… took a bit of line and staying down it felt like it might be a nice fish but then as it got in closer it made a kick for it and then all went dead… fish off…  didn’t even see it – shame but at least they were out there.

Luckily I didn’t need to wait too long for my next take as half a dozen casts later the lure was snatched almost the moment it hit the surface and this time the fish was obviously well hooked. After a nice little scrap I slid the bass ashore  which weighed in at 3.75lb

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Once again on the Tackle House Feed Shallow  – this variety is the Ochiayu which has an orange belly and is darker across the back. It has been very effective for me at this mark.

There was a bit of a lull then for twenty minutes or so before the lure was hit again. This time I had left the lure for a few seconds after it hit the water and had just started to twitch the lure on the retrieve when the take occurred. After another fine little fight a bass of about a couple of pounds came to rest nicely on the weedy rock ledge. You can see clearly the orange belly of the lure in this shot…

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After this fish I thought I’d try something different and switched lures to a rattling Z-Claw to see if might induce a strike off the surface but it was to no avail. With time cracking on and work in mind I called it a day – once again very content with my early morning foray. I was home by 7:30 a.m.

Will be keeping an eye on the weather and tides over the next few days to see if there is another opportunity to wet a line – got to take the opportunities when they present themselves after all.

Until next time…