Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
The percentage game.
It's getting towards that time of the year when I'm wondering how much longer it will be worth going bass/mullet fishing. Even though I love catching these fish and will generally go bassing for preference I suppose I tend to 'play the percentage game'. As winter draws on and the chances of catching a decent bass become remote I prefer to go to the river and catch grayling, perch or pike or chub. If on the other hand the river is likely to be filthy I'll fish my local ponds and so on. Anyway, the number of 'maggot tides' in Purbeck is now becoming limited so when my pals Bill and Nigel said they were going to catch the evening high water I couldn't resist.
We met in the car park and set off on the yomp to where we hoped there would be some middens of maggoty weed. It was the first decent tide of the series and it's always a bit iffy as to whether the water will rise high enough to wash the maggots into the sea. We didn't need to worry; by the time we arrived at our chosen spot, about an hour before high water, there were already fish showing on the surface. I stopped at the first mound of weed and my pals walked on another hundred metres or so to the next potential hot spot. Nigel was the only one who'd brought a fly rod in hopes of a mullet while Bill and I both chose to spin. I started off with a big soft plastic and Bill was using one of his favourite Slug-gills. Apart from the odd 'nip' neither of our lures seemed to elicit much interest from the fish, even though we could see that there were some bass among the cruising mullet shoals. There were plenty of maggots on the water surface and periodically small groups of sprats or sandsmelts would spray out of the water, disturbed by the bass or mullet beneath them.
Even with my poor old eyesight I could see that the others weren't catching anything either so I stopped fishing and rooted about in my lure box. In the back of my mind was a memory of several occasions when, at the back end of the season, I'd seen mullet feeding on tiny fry; so I clipped on a little, size 2, silver Mepps. It proved to be an inspired choice. The little lure wouldn't cast too far but it was pretty easy to drop it beyond the surface feeding fish. By keeping the rod up and winding steadily the tiny spinner flickered along just under the surface. I'd only had a few casts when wallop! I was in. Clearly there was a decent fish on the end and I played it carefully for a couple of minutes before I saw that it was a mullet. It was perhaps another five minutes of give and take before I slid my catch ashore onto the weed piles. I removed the hook (all three points were inside the mouth of the fish) before taking a picture and measuring the mullet's length - 62 centimetres so about six-and-a-quarter pounds, possibly a bit more as it was pretty fat.
Keen to try again I returned the mullet and picked up my rod. Almost at once I was in again but this time the fish was a tiny bass, not much more than 20cm in length. Back it went and after a few biteless casts I walked along to see how the others were doing. It turned out that the fish were proving frustrating (often the case) and neither of them had caught anything. As I stood watching Nigel, at last, struck into a fish on his fly gear and the usual epic battle with a fine mullet ensued. After Nigel beached his fish I had a few chucks without success and then decided to pack in and leave them to it. As I walked back past my 'hot spot' there were still some fish moving and I couldn't resist another dabble with the little spinner. On about the fifth cast I had a good bite and latched into a schoolie of about two-and-a-half pounds which fought like stink before I was able to land and return it. Bill emailed later to say that he had blanked but as the light began to fail Nigel's fly had produced a couple of small bass. Nigel told me later that the larger one fought like a tiger.
The following evening I wasn't able to fish, so Bill and Nigel went down alone. The conditions were apparently perfect with lots of fish again feeding on the surface. This time the bass were there in force and Bill's soft plastic snared him nine fish including a few three pound plus ones. Nigel, again fishing a fly also had nine bass, including one of four-and-a-half pounds which took a maggot fly and once more he had a nice mullet. A fantastic couple of hour's sport. Pity I couldn't make it.
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My six pound, fry-feeding mullet which took the tiny Mepps.
A tiny bass also on the spinner.
The sun's going down as Nigel's fly rod bends into a mullet.
Bill and Nigel watch as the mullet launches itself 'polaris style'.
A bit better bass on my Mepps.
Nigel into a fish in darkness on the second evening.
Not a bad catch for the 'dry maggot fly'.
One of Bill's nine fish on the weedless plastic eel.
Well deserved after his first evening's blank.