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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).
First maggot tide of the season.
I'm not a great one for changing lures. Generally I will stick to what I started with in a session, unless there is a very good reason to switch. Anyway, to get to the point, this week is the first one that we have been allowed access to many of the local beaches. Previously, the number of spots that we could visit had been seriously restricted, but with the relaxation of some of the anti-Covid regulations it is now possible to make a more reasoned choice of venues.
From the grapevine, my pals and I already knew that there were large deposits of weed on the beach. The long spell of hot, dry weather sometimes reduces the cast up weed to the state of crisps, but we were hopeful. The odds were that these thick 'middens' would have resisted desiccation and generated a good supply of the seaweed-fly larvae beloved of mullet and bass. The middle of this week would see the first spring tide large enough to wash some of these maggots into the sea. Often the first evening spring tide of the series gives the best opportunity of a fish or two but with the weather forecast to deteriorate I decided to try at dawn. After fixing up my spinning rod with a good sized weedless softbait (a white Swim Senko given to me by my mate Bill), and tying a maggot-fly on the fly tackle, I set the alarm for 03:15 and went to bed. The next morning I dressed in a hurry, chucked the gear in the car and set off for the coast. For most of the journey I was followed by another car, and unusually it did not overtake me as I crawled along in deer-avoidance mode, at about 30 mph. I guessed that the other driver must be someone who was going to try the same thing as me and sure enough he parked his car just a few metres from mine.
The other angler, not one I knew, had a spinning rod and I left him starting to fish as I set off on the long trudge to my chosen maggot-mark. As I arrived the tide still had about an hour to go before high water. It was a lovely morning; no wind and flat calm. When I reached the weed middens, a scrape of the boot showed that the piles were full of little white maggots - magic! There were no fish showing but I couldn't resist a couple of casts with the spinning tackle. Nothing happened for a little while and the tiny waves were just reaching the weed piles. I decided to give nature a hand and I put the rod down before heaving a few kg of rotting weed into the sea. Even as I washed the rotting, slimy kelp off my hands I noticed a few small fish ringing the surface as they picked up the floating maggots I'd released. I began spinning again and on the third cast I found myself playing a schoolie. I landed the bass and as I took its picture I noticed some larger fish skimming the surface, about twenty metres further along the shore.
My first schoolie on the Swim Senko given to me the other day by Bill.
A nod is as good as a wink when I see surface feeders, so I swapped the spinning rod for my fly gear. I had a floating, polyethylene maggot-fly on the end, but at this point I realised that I'd left my (very old) maggots in the fridge. I'd just have to try without any maggots on the hook. In fact the fish were now feeding well, and many of them were right in the water's edge so I was quite confident. I slowly drew the floating fly through a group of surface feeders and it wasn't long before the fly rod bowed to a take. This one was no monster and after a minute or so of splashing and a couple of zuzzing runs I slid it ashore to have its picture taken - not the anticipated mullet but another bass. The writing was on the wall. I immediately cut off the maggot fly and replaced it with a white Delta eel.
A small bass on the maggot-fly - sans maggots.
Nicely hooked on the floating 'fly'.
So much for not changing lures. The Delta, it appeared, was just what the doctor ordered. In the next hour or so I landed eleven more fish, all bass, up to 53cm in length. As usual I had a few come unstuck including a couple that took the fly line well into the backing before escaping. One of the escapees was almost certainly a good mullet to judge from the length and power of the runs, but you can't win them all.
A victim of the little Delta eel 'fly'.
Nicely hooked in the scissors.
This lovely, fat fish had engulfed the Delta.
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