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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).
Bass - but not easy!
I'm still in my 'fishless phase' as I said last time. To be honest my pig-headed determination to freeline big baits had been partly responsible but that's another story. Anyway, it was the first decent spring tide of the series and we knew that there were likely to be lots of weed piles with trillions of Coelopa maggots at some of the usual hot-spots. Being of like mind Bill, Nigel and I decided to give the bass a bash on the evening tide. I was out for the afternoon and I was uncertain whether I could make it in time so when I eventually got to the car park my mate's vehicles were already there and the occupants had departed for the rocks.
I grabbed the spinning rod armed with a J11 buoyant Rapala and the fly rod carrying a small, white Delta eel and set off in pursuit. As I trudged along on the long hike and rounded the first corner in the cliff I could see my pals in the distance. No point in trying to catch up so I put my head down and plodded after them. Fifteen minutes later my goal was in sight and I could see huge piles of weed just where I expected them. A big flock of black headed gulls was already gathered in the water's edge in anticipation of the maggot fest to come. Magic!
By the time I caught up with the others they were already casting their weedless soft-plastic eels into the rather choppy, slightly murky water. A decent swell was breaking at the edge of the sea and threatening to give us a good soaking every 'seventh wave'. I asked how it was going and was encouraged to hear that Nigel had already had a bite. I joined in the cast and retrieve scenario but my plug was picking up too much crap on its treble hooks so I decided to change it for a large, white SlugGo lure. By the time I'd swapped lures Nigel gave a shout and I looked up to see his rod well bent. Instead of fishing I grabbed the camera and started to take a few pictures of the action.
The bass, clearly a decent fish, fought hard and it was a few minutes before it was sufficiently subdued for Nigel to slide it ashore on a wave. We admired it and tried to guess the weight before Bill measured it on his yellow mat. Sixty centimetres and five pounds weight was the conclusion - our guesses had all been pretty close. I continued taking pictures as my pal unhooked the fish and returned it to the sea. Good start!
The bass proved to be a bit of a 'flash in the pan' because for the next hour or so we had nothing apart from a schoolie landed by Bill and a couple of tentative plucks on the lures. By now we were becoming restless and wandering up and down in search of action. I looked back in the direction we had come from and noticed that the gulls had reformed their flotilla a couple of hundred metres back. I picked up my bag and fly rod and left the others to see whether the birds knew better than we did. Of course all the black headed gulls departed before I got to the spot but it was clear what they had been up to. The stiff, longshore breeze had pushed a broad band of maggots and finely chopped, weedy salad into a narrow strip where the waves were breaking a right in the margin. Swirls in the maggoty carpet showed that fish were feeding close in but the smash and grab behaviour suggested that they were small bass rather than mullet. Time to try the 'Delta fly'.
There were so many fish feeding that I was expecting instant action but of course it didn't happen. The bass were clearly preoccupied with maggot feeding. Usually fish which are behaving like this will take a fry-fly with gusto, but not this time. I flogged away for fifteen minutes with only a couple of taps to suggest that I might have chosen the right strategy. By now the others had followed me and joined in. Suddenly, I had a hook-up. I could tell it was no monster but it christened my new fly reel (a replacement for the defunct, ancient, favourite Okuma) and within its capability the fish fought like stink. I had a few more bites and eventually landed one more small bass but Nigel - doing more or less the same as me - failed to catch. Of course the tide would be an hour later the following evening so perhaps it might be worth another try?
He's in! Nigel's spinning rod bends to the pull of a good bass. What a way to start.
Still battling. Plenty of time to take a few pictures.
Got it! Note how close the white 'slick' of maggots is. Where I was fly fishing the feeding bass were in the same maggoty, weedy slick.
Back it goes, none the worse for being landed.
One of my Delta tempted bass.
Nicely hooked, so the fish had been distracted from maggot feeding for long enought to take the 'fly'.
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