Tackle and Tactics
"Lures are a hell of a price!"
Occasionally someone says something that makes me realise that (like many other people) I assume that everyone knows the same things that I do. I recently had an email from one of my website readers that gave me just such a 'prod'. I'll quote from the exchange of letters to show what I mean. I have always argued that losing a lure or two every year is still cheaper than buying (or even collecting) bait. However, when it's your first couple of lures in a session it can be a bit dispiriting. I start with Graham's first email.
In your 'floating plugs' article 2nd June 2005 you mention confidence as an important factor in catching bass . You also mention at length finding the right time to fish in different locations in ‘Hooked on Bass’.
The problem I have is that is that I can't connect with any bass at the moment off the spots I fish despite a full week's spinning over different bed types, depths and tide - where are the fish? My confidence is slowly ebbing.
How do I get the all important local knowledge? I'm returning at the end of July with a new supply of spinners etc for another go. I did catch several largish pollack and and mackerel on Tobys over shallowish rocky shores but nothing with Rapalas or Skitterpops etc.
Any views or is it a case of keep trying?
I also have these periods of self doubt when I'm bass fishing. If you are catching pollack and mackerel you are obviously spinning OK - so your technique is probably fine. I don't know your area but here in Dorset I don't catch many pollack or mackerel in the best bass spots. That's not to say that the three species don't go together, they do, but bass will go into much shallower water than the other two. My commonest byecatch, when after bass with plugs, are ballan wrasse. (What are the pollack and mackerel eating? It could give a clue as to the best lures or tactics).
Obviously, without actually fishing the area, it is difficult for me to make useful comments about where and when to fish but, as a general rule I'd try to find out whereabouts bass are caught (by other people) (not their marks but the stretches of shoreline that are producing) and then I would try fishing at daybreak (short sessions of an hour or two should be enough - if the fish are there you'll get bites) with something like a J11F Rapala or another shallow diver of similar size. These lures will almost always catch fish if they are about and feeding.
Are you seeing any activity from the bass? (striking, following lures, bird activity, etc.?). It's just possible that there were none there when you fished. Anyway, there's not much point me waffling on - look for shallow water/rocky/weedy/mixed ground/water movement (waves or currents) and low light levels and you will surely catch some soon.
Let me know how you get on.
Last weekend I returned to the same area and took your advice on the seaweed and rocky shelf but went in the evening at high tide not early morning. Lost an Abu Hi-Lo and a Rapala jointed shallow diver in the weed but kept going.
Then the clouds came over and the wind got up and I put on a largish Skitterpop/chugger (blue with red belly 13 cm long inc. treble). After 20 or so casts (50 -75 m down wind 30 - 40 m into the wind) into the deeper water and back onto the rocky shelf the unbelievable happened.
The retrieve stopped dead (not seaweed again) and the line went deep and held there moving from side to side with the 1.5 lb ‘barbel’ rod bent considerably more than with the usual catches.
I thought it was a big pollack again but to my amazement a nice 4 - 5 lb dark-grey-topped shiny bass was cornered into a shallow gully after about 5 mins.
I can't remember how I got the fish in but it involved lots of frantic adjustments on the clutch and me making a conscious effort to set the hook properly after I realised it wasn't anything I had caught before. I think this was just before it was landed. I ended up wading into the gully and lifted the fish out onto the rocks.
Anyway, I've had a brilliant experience, the wife hasn't seen me so happy for ages and I feel rewarded for persevering when I could have stuck to going for the mackerel and wrasse etc.
Thanks for all the advice
Bloody good effort! I'm just back from Tobago so a bit shell-shocked. Sorry about the lost lures - it's always best to start with a very shallow or surface lure until you get to know the ground. Would it be OK if I used your letter as the basis for giving this advice on my website? I'd never though about it before really. I see that they just put J11 on the Rapala box now - there used to be J11 sinkers as well as (F) floaters. Perhaps they only do floaters now?
Keep in touch and catch a lot more.
(Truly I had not given this any thought but on reflection I automatically select a lure that is likely to minimise losses on my first try at a spot. For example - if the kelp or rocks are breaking the surface I will often use a popper, if they are just under and causing roils and boils I try a very shallow diver, and so on. Remember that the troughs of a big swell may shallow the water enough to make lures ground and strong flows will drive plugs deeper. Since losing lures can be expensive and (worse) can knock confidence this is very important.)
Use the letter by all means, as I was really concerned that the effort I was putting in was going to be a waste of time. I needed that confidence and re-asserted advice that you gave me.
Friends and family were also teasing me about how little I was catching and my reply was to suggest I was going only for the elusive European sea bass. Well now I know that it is not that elusive - you just have to know how to catch it and then be lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
Thanks for the information and encouragement which has enabled me to join in the pleasure.
IT MUST BE OBVIOUS FROM THIS LITTLE EXCHANGE OF EMAILS (LAST MONTH) THAT THE WHOLE BUSINESS IS LARGELY A MATTER OF CONFIDENCE. I GET MANY LETTERS SIMILAR TO GRAHAMS AND AS A RULE, ITS JUST A MATTER OF REASSURANCE AND SHEER CHANCE. THE FIRST FISH IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST ONE.
If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - firstname.lastname@example.org
Lures to minimise losses.