Summer’s here!

Is anybody else getting that special feeling when summer arrives, and the bass fishing starts really picking up? Late nights and sunny afternoons – they’re part and parcel of my fishing at this time of year,  evoking many happy memories of sessions in years gone by.

With the sea temperature nudging 14°C and rising around Cornwall, things are also warming up on the fishing front. My own fishing has seen a definite upturn this week, and I’m hearing regular reports of bass being caught by others, so it’s a good time to get the gear out if you haven’t already started. Right on cue too – just look at the foxgloves coming out.

When the foxgloves come out it’s time to go bass fishing.

Hope for the future?

I’m also hearing reports of big shoals of bass around the 30cm mark. These are probably from the good 2019 year class; when I say good, it bears no comparison to some of the great classes of the past (1959, 1976, 1989). These four year-olds will be leaving their native nursery areas to begin the free-ranging adolescent phase, when they adopt the area they will return to every summer for feeding.

The other night there were plenty of little bass taking surface lures. From the length (25cm) I guessed they were either two or three year-olds, and some scales I took appeared to show they were just starting their third year, so spawned in 2021 – a reasonable class according to our surveys. They may not have been the bigger fish we are after, but at least it gives us hope for the future. Let’s hope that lots of these survive both natural predation and man-made activities; at this size they should escape the nets and any caught on rod and line can be returned.

Favourite surface lure

It was great to catch these fish on surface lures, the little (9cm) Arms Pencil (about 1/3 of their  length!) doing the business. This is my all-time favourite surface lure. Like all good things, they’ve stopped making them – although you might be lucky if you search online under Silver Dog 90. Mind you, there are lots of similar ones now available, like this IMA Pugachev Cobra.

With all my plugs I replace the trebles with singles. In this case I was using barbed size 1 VMC 7237’s, with my usual ‘walk the frog’ technique (see this earlier blog). Even though the size 1 hook is small, it looks quite big in the mouth of a two year-old bass, and I was having a bit of trouble extracting it from some of the fish. I don’t like damaging fish any more than necessary, so the barbs have now been flattened on these.

Yozuri Arms Pencil – with single hooks fitted and barbs now crushed.

Check out this great short video giving tips on handling striped bass for catch and release; I’m sure this relates just as much to the  bass we catch in the UK. I am indebted to my BASS colleagues for posting this on the online members forum.


A recent session with fellow veteran angler/old scrote Steve Ainsworth saw us scaling the cliffs in a very age-inappropriate way. We were returning to an old favourite haunt that has been good to both of us in the past. ‘Must be over thirty years since we first fished this mark’ said Steve. I’m not one to accept limitations, but the fact remains that we’re not getting any younger. The tricky rope descent, and sketchy walk across the slippery reef seemed harder since the last time we did it; sadly I think this may have been our last visit to this special place. At least we have some wonderful memories of bass fishing at its finest to treasure. Don’t bring the Zimmer frame out just yet though!

As to the fishing on the night – they hadn’t read the script. Just one fish between us – to me as luck would have it – a rather nice, but not exceptional for this mark, 60cm bass on crab (alas no photo).

Soft plastic success

Another session produced some success on  soft plastics. I was using a 5″ Easy Shiner and before long  felt a pluck on the line, then another. Next instant – wallop! as a 54cm bass took off with the lure. This was followed by another of 41cm ( I measure all my fish for the BASS Catch Recording scheme). Curiously the next contact, a good bang which nearly took the rod out of my hands, didn’t connect. It was only when I checked the lure for weed a few casts later, that I realised the paddle tail had been bitten off!

Keitech 5″ Easy Shiner (Wagasaki colour) minus paddle tail, with new one below for comparison.

With my only Easy Shiner out of action it was time to try that one that the nice folks at Bass Lures UK had given me to try – two bass to 48cm later I was convinced!

A return to the same venue the next night was oddly quiet. Apart from a slightly brighter moon, everything was similar. I cycled through a range of different soft plastic lure types and colours, including the Easy Shiner, to no avail. It was only when I put on the T – Tail from Bass Lures UK, which worked the previous night, that I had any action.  The 50cm bass you can see in the featured image (and another of 49cm) were the result. Was it the speckles picking up the moonlight? Matt from Bass Lures UK certainly thinks so. Another interesting observation was the ‘mayweed’ clinging to the line and clip. It was only a small bit, but I had always thought than any weed on the line or lure killed its action. Scales I took from this first fish showed that it was just starting its 9th growth year – so from the good 2014 year class, which dominated catches last year.

Juvenile bass surveys

Speaking of year-classes, 2022 doesn’t look great. We found very few of last year’s fish (this year’s won’t have arrived yet) in our juvenile bass surveys on the Fal and Helford recently. This supports our initial assessment of ‘poor’ for the 2022 class. That’s the problem with bass recruitment – good years can be offset with bad.

A one-year old bass or ‘1’ group. We’ve found very few of these in our surveys so far this year.

That’s it for this month folks – thanks for reading.

10 Replies to “Summer’s here!”

  1. Nice report Rob
    Im 61 still climbing down cliffs, standing on rocks as the tide floods.

    Im making the most of it whilst i can.

    The season has been good to me so far plenty of Bass biggest is a 58 cm.
    I fish the Llyn Peninsula. The Chappie and Bay Ruf Manics doing really well.

    Keep up the good work buddy

    1. Cheers Paul.

      Good to hear you’re getting about and catching well. Hopefully I can still fish most of my marks for a good while yet.

      I like the Chappy, but haven’t tried the Bay Run Manics.

      Good luck for the rest of the season.

  2. Excellent blog Robin. A new season begins full of hope and anticipation. Foxgloves everywhere!
    There are a lot of smallish bass down west with anglers catching 20+ fish in the 30-50 range.

    Not been out myself yet but my dodgy arm is slowly healing and the warm weather will help. Once this wind goes will get my myself going.

    1. Most kind Peter.

      Yes indeed – let’s see where it goes this year.

      Thanks for the catch update; I do hope you’re able to get out and enjoy some of the action.

  3. Good to see you’ve been catching a few Bass on the lures Robin.
    It’s a shame recruitment in 2022 appears to have been so poor., especially since the last couple of winters have been relatively mild.
    Have you any ideas as to why?

    1. Hi Greig.

      A good spawning year is thought to be associated with relatively strong and homogeneous westerlies, but in poor spawning years, average winds are more variable with no particularly clear directionality or strength. Winds were variable in direction and strength in February & March 2022, the key spawning time in the southwest. There were no sustained periods of strong easterlies at this time, as was seen in 2018, a poor year class in Cornwall.

      The absence of a clear directionality or strength of wind may have reduced settlement, but increased temperatures (air and water) would be expected to have reduced the pelagic phase of this, thereby increasing settlement, and to have increased increased summer growth.

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