Friday, 30 July 2010
Bringing on the Bass
After two unsuccessful nights after another elusive Canal carp, I was starting to get itchy feet and so with some active fishing in mind I couldn't wait to explore a rocky mark down in the South Hams in search of bass and other sea species. Big tides are always favourable in these parts, an extra high tide bringing the fish really close in. My brother has had good results for mullet in these conditions, which feed ravenously on the many maggots which infest the rotting seaweed high up on the tide line. After witnessing a nice bass tail a streamer fly however, I was only going to fish it one way.
A few casts later and one of my sand eel patterns was grabbed- no nips or cagey pulls here but just sudden, solid resistance. As conditions were calm we were using 7/8 weight floating line set ups, which provide absolutely ballistic action with a bass attached! A fish of a pound and a half was admired before a quick release. Great start. The bass was legally "keeper" size, but at this age this slow growing fish may not even have spawned yet, hence the goal of the B.A.S.S (Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society) to increase minimum size limit to 46cm.
With the tide lapping up we hotfooted it over a fresh set of rocks closer to the shore. Within seconds it was clear that some serious predation was going on, with bait fish leaping clear and boils at the surface. It was Ben who struck next, the fish taking in plain view right under his feet. Again, the power of the bass is sensational on a fly rod. This one was just two ounces under three pounds- nice fish, but a cheeky bugger for catching it on one of my own home rolled flies! This one was also carefully released, as was a one pounder. Good karma, I reckon.
From then on in it was mackerel and pollack all the way, skittish looking shoals of sandeels running under our feet and predators never far behind. The raw speed of mackerel is something else when viewed close up- terrific fun on a fly rod too.
What a difference from carp fishing! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy carp too, but it's such a buzz to see fish hunt in clear water and use imitations of what the fish are actually eating (rather than trying to "train" fish to eat bait they wouldn't ever find in nature!). The key to catching at sea always seems to be exploring as much coast as you can, as there is so much space and the fish are never evenly spread. A fast retrieve is also important- sea predators are quick and fully expect to chase their prey down, so long strips of line are best with streamers.