Bass before work anyone?

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The weather has been relatively settled the last week but there just hasn’t been the opportunity to get out on the kayak which has been disappointing. However, with a few whispers of mackerel and bass in close locally I needed to get out and fish.

Last night I settled on a plan of getting up early this morning before work and having a couple of hours plugging for bass. With the aid of one of the dogs barking at an intruding fox in the garden at 4 a.m. I dragged myself out of my pit, got my kit together, made a coffee and headed out into the dark – it was perfectly still.

Within half an hour I was at what turned out to be the first of my venues. It was just getting light and the sea was flat calm but not a lot of activity on the surface which was contrary to recent reports. Nevertheless, I walked along the shore casting into the water to see if anything was out there and to my surprise on about my twentieth cast the rod slammed over and I was in to a fish – nothing huge and after a decent little tussle this nice fish that weighed in bang on 2lbs came ashore…

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Encouraging I thought but then it went completely quiet for the next half hour so I decided to spend the last hour I had at a venue a bit further down the road I had an inkling might hold some bass but had never tried before. It proved to be a good decision.

The tide was slowly rising but at this particular place the water is pretty shallow and in fact there was probably only two or three feet of water there at best when I arrived. The water was fairly clear though with some weed cover and encouragingly there were a lot of fry moving around. Even more encouraging though were the occasional swirls amongst the fry and that said to me either mackerel or bass. It was bass. First cast and I hooked a schoolie of about a 1lb which was released but then second cast the lure was slammed by a slightly better fish around the 2.5lb mark – perfect eating size so that one went in the bag. A couple more schoolies followed but then I connected with a better fish and the result after a brief scrap was this nice bass a little over 3lb…

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I walked along the water’s edge maybe 20 yards and the very next cast I was in again with a fish of a similar size… this one had a bit of fire in his belly and for it’s size put up a really good fight…

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This was all in a little over a single hour’s fishing and the lure that took all these fish was the Tackle House Feed Shallow UB 15 which has certainly once again proved it’s worth. It’s funny how you can have confidence in one particular lure compared to another and that is definitely the case with the Feed Shallow range. It’s probably unjustified as there are a lot of good lures out there nowadays but psychologically it makes me think I am going to catch every time I use one!

By soon after 7.a.m. I was walking back to the car ready to head home to start work. A really enjoyable couple of hours and a great way to start the working day that’s for sure.

Until next time…

Charter trip…..

A few months back when we heard our mad keen fishing mate Ian was coming over from his adopted home in Australia a date was put in the diary for a charter boat session primarily to have a few laughs but hopefully to land a few fish as well. A much needed day off work was booked and yesterday, for once, the weather played ball so six of us – Kee, Ian, Dee Bill, Doc and myself – headed out from Lymington on the good ship Shogun skippered by Rob Thompson.The general plan was to fish a couple of wrecks and sandbanks off the back of the Isle of Wight and see what species we could pick up.

We were shipshape and ready to go around 8:30 in the morning ……well, most of us were shipshape and ready but there was one notable exception!!

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From Lymington marina we headed out into lovely conditions in the The Solent and it did cross my mind it would have been nice out there on the kayak! We passed Hurst Castle and headed on towards The Needles…

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The engines were shut about a mile off the back of The Needles and it was feathers down to bag up on mackerel – it didn’t take long with enough to live bait, dead bait and eat pulled up in no more than 15 minutes tops……

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Tried to get a picture of them in the live tank as well but didn’t come out so good……

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Before long we were over the first wreck mark,  Dee and Ian fishing with mackerel live baits and the rest of us on soft plastics hoping for a pollack. First drift was uneventful but second time round Dee had a hit on the live mackerel and up came this nice pollack…

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A couple more drifts proved fruitless so Rob moved us on to another wreck which again was uneventful so the decision was made to head for some sand banks and try for a few bass. Four rods went down with live baits and two with soft plastics and on the first drift Dee was in again with a bass followed shortly by Bill with a slightly bigger fish…

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That was it for the bass here though Doc did have a decent bite and when the bait come up it was cut cleanly in half…… it was widely suspected a tope had nabbed it. We moved once more to a mark further round the back of the island, again over some sand banks, where we anchored up for some dead baiting using fillets of mackerel. There was a nice tide requiring over a 1lb of lead to hold bottom. With baits down and a couple of beers on the go it wasn’t long before Bill was into something a bit different that was pretty much a dead weight in the tide. A ray was suspected and we weren’t wrong, though maybe it wasn’t the species expected, when up came a rare small eyed variety…

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Kee was next off the mark – mackerel aside – with a dogfish leaving Doc and myself bringing up the rear on the fish front! The tide had slackened off by now so less weight was needed to hold bottom which was pleasing. Dee was probably having the best day so far and it was about to get better when he was in again and this time to something a lot better which was a good test for his 12lb class rod……

IMG_0644After a decent tussle he was rewarded with this beauty of a blonde ray which weighed in at 19lb – a very respectable fish…

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Nice mouth on it too…

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As I say Doc and I were not having much luck but at least Doc was getting the odd bite and for a few seconds he had a run on his mackerel but it soon went dead and on retrieval he was missing both hook and bait – the suspect again being a tope!

Kee was feeling the effects of his antics the previous night but that didn’t stop him catching and whilst he was sat recovering  he had a tentative bite on his mackerel fillet which actually resulted in the best bass of the day…

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Time was getting on and before we knew it, it was time to head back to port …… but with a stop off on the way. Rob had noticed on his trip the day before a lot of school bass activity at the back of the island where they were chasing fry and suggested a bit of fun plugging for them on the way in. Sure enough when we got to the same mark the sea was boiling with bass attacking a bait ball of fry from below and birds working at the surface. With plugs and lures at the ready we fizzed them out and as hoped we were getting hammered by them pretty much immediately and at last I saved a blank with a  steady stream of bass in the 1.5 – 2lb bracket similar to the one below…

IMG_0660It was great sport for an hour in terrific conditions and in the end we literally lost count how many we actually caught but it was a mental hour for sure. 

At near on 8 o’clock though it was finally time to head back round The Needles, through The Solent and back into Lymington harbour……

IMG_0662 A fantastic twelve hours on the water in great company as always and especially good to catch up with Ian on his trip here from Australia. The only thing appropriate to do after such a day was to finish it off with a couple of cheeky beers – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Until next time…

Nice bass but oh the one that got away….

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When you talk to fellow anglers a story that often crops up is about the one that got away and we all listen and say “yeah, yeah, sure it was a big fish!”. Well, yesterday I had that moment and as I write this I am still sickeningly picturing the nano second when the line went slack as the lure pinged out of the fish’s mouth. My only consolation was I managed to nab it’s younger brother a bit later.

I’d been keeping an eye on the weather predictions all the weekend and there looked like there might be an opportunity for a 2 – 3 hour lure session on Sunday late afternoon/early evening – no chance of getting out on the kayak with the incessant windy conditions of late. For once the forecasts held true and I made my way down to Dorset. Conditions from the car park looked good with a bit of a chop and plenty of colour in the water on a rising tide. I trudged off and about half an hour later I was at the start of my favoured length of coast. Here’s a taster of the type of conditions I was going to be  fishing in…

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For the first hour there was not a lot of response to any of the lures I was sending out there whether it be shallow divers, surface poppers or soft plastics but eventually I settled on the Tackle House Feed Shallow 18g lure I started the session with and after a further 20 minutes as the tide really started to push in I saw a fish follow the lure in … encouraging. I was fanning my casting out to cover as much ground as possible and from the next but one cast, which was more or less parallel to the shoreline I had a really strong take – fish on! With the clutch set line was coming off the reel at a decent rate and I leant gently into the fish as I let it move off into open water – it felt decent and gradually I managed to get it back in towards the net… then I saw it and it was easily the biggest bass I’d hooked on a lure, broad across the back and a visibly big head… it was also the point the fish saw me and with this it made one last desperate bid for freedom – it succeeded – the lure pinged out and fizzed past my ear. I don’t mind admitting I was gutted and the air turned blue for a few seconds as the disappointment dawned on me. There’s a fine line between the adrenalin rush of having a decent fish on and then the agony as in a split second it disappears. I’ll never know how big this bass was but I’d estimate it was double the size of what followed based on the fight, the bend in the rod, the swirls on the  surface and not least the visuals I had of it.

It sounds stupid but it took me a few minutes to regroup and put it behind me but it’s what you have to do and it wasn’t long before I picked up my consolation prize from a mark 50 yards further along the shore. Again, it was the Tackle House Feed Shallow that came up trumps with the fish hitting the lure hard, just as I started a slow retrieve, within seconds of hitting the surface. It put up a nice scrap but was nowhere near as strong as the previous take and thankfully I managed to successfully slip the net under it – a fish in perfect condition of 4lb which, as I say, was a nice consolation prize to what had gone on before and a nice way to christen my new rubberised mesh landing net at least!

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Time was getting on so I fished my way all the way back to the car but there was no further action and after de-rigging I was left to reflect  about the one that got away and also on the lovely fish I did land.

I love this stretch of coast and hopefully it will remain fruitful in the coming months and maybe, just maybe I’ll get to hook that bigger fish again. Fingers crossed.

Until next time…

Catching up but not catching a lot!

This time last week I had just arrived at Tom’s Field campsite in Dorset for a couple of days leisurely fishing and with the primary purpose of catching up with my brother Paul which was long overdue.  I say leisurely in the loosest sense as we did manage to get a few miles of coast under our belts… in waders, over rocks and up hills – no mean feat in the sunshine.

Tom’s Field campsite is tucked away in Langton Matravers, not far from Swanage, and is a smashing little site which was quiet for the couple of nights we were there – probably due to our stay being during the week – I imagine things would be different high season. Facilities are spot on though, flat pitches, plenty of reasonable showers and a small shop in great surroundings with the added bonus of a  couple of pubs within walking/staggering distance. Yes, there’s lots of bleating sheep in adjoining fields that wake you early but there are also enough rabbits here for many a stew if the fancy took you!

First night we set up camp and had a couple of beers to send us to our beds. The plan was for a fairly early start and to get ourselves down to Chapman’s Pool for a spot of plugging for bass. It wasn’t the preferred venue but we weren’t going to argue with the MOD who were firing along the favoured stretch of coast.

It’s  a big hike down to Chapman’s from the car park but nothing compared to the even more strenuous hike back up at the end of the day…… more of that later! We headed west once we were down to sea level towards the rocky marks and little bays that are at the foot of Houns Tout Cliff. The tide was low and we noticed the weed was heavy but the water was a nice colour and there was fair chop on the sea which boded well particularly for later in the day as the tide came in… or so I thought anyway. As it turned out it was very slow and the tides being neaps there was not much of a range between low and high water. Despite similar conditions to those where there had been success in my previous report Bass on the rocks there was nothing happening for either of us on surface lures, poppers or soft plastics. Whatever we tried it was just one of those days. I did get to take some photos though which show the terrain and Paul doing his best to entice a fish…

After a hard days slog along the shore we drew breath for the climb back up the hill to the car park. Now, my brother lives in Evesham so he rarely gets to fish the coast and usually has to settle for plonking himself by the side of a lake trying to tempt a fat carp to his net…… this fishing on the move and the health benefits it can give you may have come as a shock to Paul! I did warn him the climb back up was a bit gruesome but I don’t think he’ll mind admitting he didn’t expect it to be as tough as it was – I saw his spirits fall further when half way up he was overtaken by a spritely pensioner!! In fairness, climbing it normally is no fun but in waders, carrying kit, it’s a beast of a climb. Anyhow, he made it and was only too pleased to removed the cursed waders! When I checked the GPS we’d walked, hiked and scrambled well over 5 miles during the day so not bad going really.

Back at camp we flaked out for a bit, freshened up and then headed to one of the local pubs for food and a pint – The Ship Inn – food was good pub scran and the Purbecks Brewery beer was even better. We had four or five pints and slept well that night in our respective tents!

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t wake quite so early next morning and after a leisurely breakfast decided to have a less strenuous day so headed to Seacombe near Worth Matravers. It’s about a mile’s walk from the village and well worth the effort. It’s a flat rocky outcrop with deep, crystal clear water off the edge.

As the pictures show it was relatively calm when we go there and not a soul in sight. We started with more plugging with some deeper diving lures this time but again not a lot was happening aside from one species… wrasse. Whilst they weren’t taking the lure they would chase it right in to the ledge or come up for it from their rocky haunt below before turning at the last second. With the water being so clear you could see them like you were looking at them through glass. To give you some idea of water clarity here’s a picture I took with the camera submerged in a rock pool which was being filled by the incoming tide…

With the plugs and lures not yielding us a bass or even a small pollack it called for a bit of improvisation. There were plenty of limpets around so we decided to try free lining them off the ledges for a bit of fun with the resident wrasse and it worked! The fish weren’t of any size but good fighters nonetheless on light gear. They were all around this size and of similar markings…

However, most unusual limpet catch of the day went to Paul – a spider crab!

The weather was on the change as the seas became heavier and sooner rather than later it was time to head back the mile or so to the cars and make our separate ways home. A very pleasant couple of days catching up with Paul even though the bass didn’t play ball for us – as the saying goes ‘a bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work’ and that was very true. We mustn’t leave it so long in future.

Until next time…

Bass on the rocks

After the long weekend in Cornwall, and with the rest of the week off work, I had hoped to get a day out on the kayak but the wind was not very favourable so that was a complete non starter. However, conditions were perfect for a lure fishing session and when my mate  Nobby called it was too good an opportunity to pass by so we headed down to Dorset early afternoon ready to fish the rising tide.

There was a bit of a trudge to get to our chosen spot where we’d had a bit of success in years gone by but it turned out to be well, well worth it. The slog to the spot was not without incident though as we had to head down a steep slope which is never the best in waders and it was only when I was almost at the bottom I realised I’d lost my polarised glasses on the way down – a real pain in the backside as they are vital in my book when lure fishing. It was too much of a hike to go and search them out and they were relatively cheap one’s so I made the decision to just get fishing. It may have been the  wrong decision as it turned out but  you live and learn.

Conditions were near on perfect with a nice amount of movement and a bit of colour in the water with bright conditions overhead. We split up about 100 yards apart along the rocks and began working our lures in the water. It wasn’t long before Nobby was into a decent fish and pulled in a bass of around 6lb – a cracking start. He had managed to spot a decent gully in the rocks and bagged a further two smaller fish around the 3.5-4lb mark from the same location – superb! It shows the benefit of the polarised glasses that he could see the gully and he worked it really well.

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That wasn’t the only reason for his success though… he seemed to have the killer lure on and was twitching and retrieving it to good effect. So much so that as we made our way round the mark he picked up a further two fish and I was still not off the mark!! The lure was a Tackle House Feed Shallow and luckily he had a spare one on him and was kind enough to share it with me! It did the trick within a few casts and in fact we were both hooked up at the same time! It was my solitary fish of the day around the 3.5lb mark but a nice fish all the same. Unfortunately, unhooking the fish proved a bit calamitous and deprived me of a photo opportunity as it flipped out of the net, freed itself and left one of the treble hooks to rip into my finger… ouch!  After a minor clear up of my claret we fished our way back to base without further success – but what a day – some fantastic daytime fishing with 7 decent bass in total, a few miles of shoreline covered and with the added bonus of seeing a pair of peregrine falcons high up on a cliff ledge to top the day off.

Here’s another one of Nobby’s bass caught on the Tackle House lure…

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So, whilst there have been limited opportunities to get out on the kayak of late it doesn’t mean the opportunity to fish is not there and sometimes the results are even more pleasing… it’s certainly a great way to catch bass that’s for sure.

Until next time…