A perfect day out
As I write this, we’re coming to the end of an Indian summer. Boat fishing is more weather dependent than shore fishing, so the recent settled weather made for a a very pleasant day out with Dave Jones . Seeing the Cornish coastline in all its glory, from a different perspective, would have been rewarding enough in itself. Throw in some fishing and good company, and you have the ingredients for a perfect day out.
I don’t mind admitting that my boat fishing experience is limited, but I’m always up for a bit of a change from shore fishing and learning new things. Dave is an excellent mentor, and shared his considerable experience of lure fishing for bass from the boat. We managed about a dozen bass (plus pollack and wrasse) between us (with a predictable master:apprentice ratio of course). I think it’s a reflection of the state and size/age profile of the bass stocks that we didn’t get more bass, or anything over about mid-fifty cm. Having said that, I’m still getting flashbacks about losing what was potentially a very large bass on a previous trip with Dave, which snapped my leader like so much cotton!
The featured image (Credit Dave Jones) of this blog shows me holding a 53cm bass which I kept for the Super4science project. There’s still time to keep a bass head (or two) for this, but please hurry as they can’t take anything after the end of this month. If you can help, please email Essex Uni on email@example.com.
A night to remember
My fishing trips have been limited of late due to the juvenile bass survey programme being in full swing at the moment. When a gap in the schedule presented itself I was keen to get the rods out again.
I always think that if the choice of mark is obvious you stand a much better chance of doing well. Dithering about with a range of possible venues usually (for me anyway) means the opposite, and you end up wishing you’d gone somewhere else. After a brief check of the tide table and wind direction, I knew exactly where I was going, and it turned out to be a night to remember.
To be honest, I had thought about fishing an estuary mark, but the coast seems to be firing better than the estuary marks I fish, and a report from Ben Harris that there was a lot of bioluminescence in the water put me off. With little wave action in estuaries there isn’t a lot of background bioluminescence to mask any which your lure makes. I’m not sure that a canny bass is going to be fooled into attacking what looks like a shooting star coming past it, but who knows for sure?
First out of the bag
So, decision made, I headed out to the coast to find the mark flat calm, as expected. The first lure out of the bag was my favourite Soft Plastic, a 6″ DoLive Stick (Wagasaki colour). I cast around for a few minutes as the light was going, gradually getting closer to a low rock sticking out of the water.
I could just about see the fish rise as it took the lure. I could instantly tell it was a decent one. It took me on a merry dance, but she was well hooked (as they usually are with SPs), and it wasn’t long before a 60cm bass, only my second of the year, was sliding up the shore. Not bad after just five minutes fishing.
Fifteen minutes later, a switch to a black-speckled DoLive produced a 50cm bass. As this met my personal slot size (50-60cm), I decided to keep it for the supper4science project.
More to come
Things went quiet then for an hour or so, but years of experience here told me that there was more to come. Since there were obviously fish around, I decided to try one of the new Supersoft paddletails that Matt at Bass Lures UK had sent me to try. Bingo! This nice 56cm bass obviously approved of Matt’s lure.
On a roll
On a roll now, I couldn’t resist trying an Albie Snax. Although I first learned of this lure back in 2015/16, while fishing in Ireland, success on it had so far eluded me. I’ve had knocks on it, but no hook-ups. I had convinced myself that this was because the plastic was too rigid, and couldn’t collapse around the hook properly, as the fish hit it. However, I must have read about somebody catching on them recently, so my interest in them was reignited.
As I wound in with my usual slow, steady relieve, I felt a definite bump. My senses were now on full alert, and when I started winding again the lure was hit hard – no hooking problem this time! After a short, but feisty, scrap a real beauty lay at my feet. I quickly measured it with the BASS tape. As much as I wanted it to, it wouldn’t quite make 60cm, but at 59 it wasn’t a bad first fish on the Albie. I’m pleased to say I’ve had several others since, and the Albie is now a regular in my lure bag (shame you can’t get hold of the pearl ones now!).
A recent trip with Ben Harris illustrated the power of confidence. Ben is ‘top dog’ with the surface lures, with many good bass catches to his credit. Like this nice 51cm bass he caught on a Patchinko.
I remember Ben trouncing me once on surface lures, but he has much less confidence when it comes to soft plastics.
As darkness fell I clipped on a dark green-coloured DoLive Stick. First cast produced a 54cm bass. I gave Ben a ring straightway (we used to dream of doing this in the old days – using walkie-talkies!) and suggested he get back over here. Just as Ben arrived I had another hit – this time from a 53cm bass.
Ben swapped his surface lure for a DoLive Stick, but I could feel his hesitancy and lack of confidence coming through. And me landing another fish soon after (42cm), while he hadn’t had a touch didn’t help things much. I recounted to Ben how I fished with DoLives for several months before I found my rhythm with them and caught my first bass. I’m sure once it clicks Ben will be catching shedloads of bass on SPs!
Juvenile bass surveys
Going by our results so far, things are looking more encouraging for the 2023 class than the 2022 one. I’ll update on our final conclusions when we’ve concluded our surveys for the year.
One highlight was a successful first survey on the Gannel estuary. We’ve been looking for a site(s) on the North Coast which works for us for a couple of years now. In time this may allow us to compare spawning and settlement success on both sides of the Cornwall peninsula.
Time to stand up and be counted
If there was ever a time for anglers to stand up and be counted it’s now. It’s absolutely vital that as many of us respond to the Bass Fisheries Management Plan consultation as possible. To help you, BASS have produced a useful blog. You’ll need to get your response in by Oct 1st.
If you don’t have time to use the consultation tool, you can always just email your thoughts to FMPconsultations@defra.gov.uk
For me the key points are:
- Netting controls – mesh size, length set, restrictions on where and when they can be used e.g. to avoid pre-spawning bass aggregations;
- Boost recruitment – increase closed period duration to avoid spawning bass, more nursery areas to protect juveniles, higher MCRS (minimum size) to allow more bass to spawn before being harvested;
- Restore the stock size to levels seen before the crash in 2010. Restore a natural age/size profile to stock.
That’s it for this month folks – thanks for reading.