The richness of a bass angler’s life

I love bass fishing, whether from an estuary, or from the open coast. But a bass angler’s life is about so much more than just fishing.

Take the BASS Fish-in last weekend. The fishing was tough, but these get-togethers are as much about socialising, and sharing experiences and methods,  as actually catching. Just setting up camp was a challenge to someone who hasn’t set up a tent since my youth, and brought a modicum of satisfaction in itself. With thanks to Richard Brandon for the loan of his tent.

Tent erected and still standing after the wind and rain of the night before. Rob Hillman looking on.

While in the area, I took the opportunity to look up Matt Burgoyne from Bass Lures UK.  It was great to finally get together after numerous exchanges on Twitter, and a nicer guy you couldn’t wish to meet. His business is going from strength to strength, and it’s so good to see a local entrepreneur, who provides an excellent service and products, doing well.

Matt Burgoyne from Bass Lures UK.

Recent catches

The fishing has been patchy, but is slowly improving. I managed a couple of fish on a lure session earlier in June, including this muscular 55cm fish which put up quite a battle, falling for a 5″ T-Tail in purple flash from Bass Lures UK.

A 55cm bass which fell to a 5″ T-Tail soft plastic in purple flash.

When bass maestro Steve Ainsworth suggested a north coast beach trip with live sandeel, I jumped at the chance to take a trip down memory lane. This was my favourite bait back in the nineties – I even had my own live eel tank in the garage.

As I threaded the hook through the eel’s mouth and out from its gill cover before nicking the hook in the belly, thoughts of memorable nights standing in the Cornish surf came flooding back.

Live sandeel on a running leger rig on 30lb braid, with a 3 foot trace in 25lb mono and 4/0 Aberdeen.

I was soon jolted from my daydreams though, when a feisty bass of 48cm signalled its presence with a hefty bite. I know that lure fishing is so much more convenient than bait fishing, but doing both really adds to the complete experience of bass angling.

The best session of the month came right at the death. On this occasion lures did the business, producing 5 fish to 55cm in a little over two hours. Once again Matt’s lures featured prominently, with the largest fish taking one of his 4.5″ Soft J Shads in black neon sprat, the fish almost completely engulfing it.

55cm bass taken on a 4.5″ Soft J Shad in black neon sprat. Only the very end of the lure is visible in the fish’s mouth.


One of the projects I’m involved with, on behalf of BASS, is Supper4science. You can read more about this in this BASS blog.  We need as many anglers, from as many different areas as possible to get involved, so if you can help, please let the folks at Essex Uni know by emailing

I have my own personal slot size of 50-60cm, but each person can decide for themselves what size to keep (as long as it’s over 42cm). Here’s the head and fillets from a 54cm fish I caught last month on a Pulse Tail Gravity Stick. The head is now residing in my freezer;  the fillets were delicious!

Juvenile bass surveys

We’ve reached the midpoint in our programme of juvenile bass surveys on the Fal and Helford (and now Camel).  Alas our fears that 2022 was a poor year in our survey area were realised, with few 1 year-olds being seen.

At this point we pause, to allow the incoming post larvae, or ‘0’ groups as they’re known, from this year’s spawning to grow a bit, so that they can better withstand the rigours of netting. Some have already reached our shores, and this is the earliest we’ve ever seen them. This is possibly linked to the marine heatwave we’ve recently experienced, and having the hottest June on record. We’re looking forward to  resuming surveys at the beginning of August; let’s hope this early arrival of ‘0’ groups is the sign of a good spawning year.

A ‘1’ group bass, probably spawned in Feb/March of 2022, with an ‘0’ group below, probably spawned about the same time this year.

If you are interested in helping with the surveys please let me know by commenting on this blog, or via the contact page on this website.

That’s it for this month folks. Thanks for reading.

4 Replies to “The richness of a bass angler’s life”

  1. A great read again Robin and some interesting info on the lures you are having success with.
    Have put a link on Mounts Bay website.

  2. Hi Robin, large numbers of what I would think are 1 year group bass are present in both Chichester and Portsmouth Harbours at the moment if that’s any consolation. Not sure who if anyone surveys these areas (Chichester Harbour is a bass nursery so I would hope so) but it would be interesting to know if that is represented in the survey data.

    1. Hi Andy, thanks for that.

      It’s now recognised that spawning and settlement success can vary from area to area; it seems that further east the spawning was better last year. I’ve heard that from several sources now.

      It will be interesting to see which spawning grounds the juveniles you are seeing came from, and which areas they eventually choose to spend their summers as adults. This is what the research project BASS is partnering Essex Uni with is trying to understand.

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