Tackle and Tactics
Late season bassing.
The bass continue to bite in Dorset (so my pals tell me) and further down in the West the fishing is also pretty hectic at times. My recent email correspondence with a Cornish angler is interesting because of both the late season and the tactics in use. I believe that big surface poppers/sliders have been used 'walk the dog' style, to good effect, for years down there. My epal Ry sent me emails confirming that this type of fishing can be very effective for bass late in the year. Here's an edited version of them: -
I live in Cornwall. The bassing is fantastic.
We often fish the offshore reefs, from a boat, for bass. We have been livebaiting with mackerel the past 5 years and have taken bass to 7lb. Our tactics are to start at one end of the reef and drift over it with live mackerel trailing behind freelined. We also plug as we are drifting. The average size of the bass caught is about 5lb.
We also fish a reef which runs along the coast line and is very easy to cast to from the shore. It is still producing a lot of fish (I had 9 today) all the fish on poppers.
This year I have really been trying out large lures to see if I can tempt a real biggie after what you said in one of your articles about "size". I have not managed anything larger than 5.8lb from the shore.
The lure I have been trying is a Cotton Cordell popper & measures 171mm and still I have had bass not much bigger take it. Do you think that the big bass know there is something "not quite right" about our plastic fish?? A double figure bass is my life aim!!!
Hope this finds you well.
As you can imagine I was fascinated by Ry’s email. I'm sure that, at times, the bass are wary of artificial lures (and at other times, when they're 'mad on', they don't care). I said that we often caught bigger fish late in the year and asked him for a bit more info. about the livebaiting. I also asked if it would be OK to use his stuff on the website. He replied as follows:-
Thanks for the reply.
When we livebait from the boat we definitely catch a lot more bass than we do on lures but they are about the same average size, just plenty more! We always like the mackerel to be about 20cm about 3/4 lb - 1lb. this size is a lot better than the small joey mackerel of 10-15cm which we often try without much success???
We went out livebaiting in early October and had used all of our' favourite' sized mackerel and we had only one bait left. It was huge (1lb 8oz ish and 27cm long) and my friend hooked it through the jaw. Neither of us expected him to catch anything..... lo and behold we catch the smallest bass of the day about 3 1/4 lb on it...speechless!!!
Yeah it’s the same here we tend to get the 'better' fish between September-November.
I go bassing every chance I get and most of the time I tie on a surface lure. I am very reluctant these days to put a diver on. I fish the whole range of surface lures from 70mm - 170mm - you definitely catch a lot smaller bass on the smaller lures, but you also catch small ones on massive lures (I had 2 this afternoon, both on a 171mm lure and both fish about 1 1/2 lb in weight!)
I went out to America last year for a wedding and managed to squeeze in a few sessions on a lake stocked with striped and largemouth bass (I caught 2 largemouth and 1 striper) - this is where I saw the Zara Spook lures in action (walk the dog action – zig-zagging along the surface like a snake) it worked amazingly out there for their bass. so I brought a few back- (they work like a dream!). They are, in my opinion, the best bass catching lure you can buy (not just the Zara spook but other 'walk the dog’ action styled lures). I always thought the Yo-Zuri mag popper was the best catcher... not now!
Use what you want, I’m always keen to spread the gospel words of the poppers!
Again I made a comment about the livebaits and asked about the ‘walk the dog’ technique and lures (I’d heard of it but never really tried it).
I think these lures are better because they are more versatile, you can fish them incredibly slowly whilst still making them look very much 'alive' and you can also whip them really fast still keeping the great action (for me in flat conditions they are amazing - I find poppers can sometimes spook the fish a little?). I know you can fish poppers slowly, but you need to pause a lot as well whereas with these you are constantly moving.
They definitely both have their place but I'd have to say that I prefer them (the ‘sliders’). I have had three occasions now where I have been using poppers and not had a sniff, tied on a 'walk the dog' lure and had some fish (enough evidence for me!)
There are some hybrid lures on the market now which I am giving a whirl - the one which I have been trying is the Lucky Craft Gunfish which to me looks pretty much the same as the TD pencil. However, as a rule the usual 'walk the dog' lures are torpedo shaped (same both ends) and you have to twitch the rod to put life into them - just reeling them in won’t do anything.
Ry sent me a few pictures and I asked about the size of the lure in the picture.
That was the big lure 171mm (it does cast well - tires your arm a bit though - it is 62g!)
I had 3 fish in total and missed another 4 or 5 - swiping and missing then giving up. Quite often the way with surface lures isn’t it - miss a lot and also hook them with the treble near the head. Have you ever seen them strike your lure with their tail? Bizarre! I have had it a few times, they slap it so hard I’ve seen the popper come out of the water about three foot high ..??
Couple more bass I had this morning on a normal big popper. Landed three lost two.
Ry’s last email – at the end of November just topped it all off.
Hi Mike ,
Had 5 bass today off the surface, the bass at top is just under 5lb on the large popper/walker (all taken on the treble near the head, apart from one bass which took a smaller lure by the tail treble)
I have to say it’s wonderful to get information like this straight from the horse’s mouth. No single angler can try everything and the collective knowledge that never sees the light of day must be phenomenal. This correspondence has what I call ‘the ring of truth’ and is backed up by pictures so I’ve no hesitation in suggesting that anyone (including myself) gives it a try next year (or even now!). It will be fascinating to see just how effective these lures (particularly the big ones) are for bass fishing in different situations.
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
-a better one.