Tackle and Tactics
The Dawn Raid.
I have trouble finding pictures to illustrate the 'tack-tics' pieces. My slide scanner is still out of action so I can't use the original slides - I suppose I'll have to get a new one. Anyway, here's a piece from the nineties (with a few added notes) that I thought was informative.
“What time shall I pick you up?” I said.
“Well when does it get light these days?” came the prompt reply from Stuart.
“ I suppose that it’s about four thirty.” (this shows how naive I was - at the moment I have to leave the house about twenty-to-four if I want to be fishing by the time it is 'bass light' - about four o' clock)
“OK , I’ll pick you up at about four o’clock then.” The arrangements made we went our separate ways to prepare the tackle, sharpen hooks etc..
Actually the story begins a few weeks earlier, at the beginning of May. My first serious plugging trip of the year was a blank - no surprise there you might say. Next time I went down to the coast was an evening mulleting session with Aidy Pinder during which I caught a little bass on a Rapala - my first of the season. It was enough to stir my enthusiasm.
As luck would have it I had just been asked to do a short radio interview on bass fishing by Ellie Lock who works for Radio Solent, so with my recent catch fresh in my mind, I gave her a ring. I said that it was low water neaps the following morning so the chances of a fish were not all that good. However, I knew a spot which sometimes fishes well in the early morning under those conditions.(John Bennet just asked me whether time or tide is critical on my early morning sessions and I had to say "it depends where you go". All things being equal it's always worth being there as it gets light). “ What time shall we go?” she asked. I was conscious that my early rising habits are not to every ones taste so I compromised - “About five thirty!” Of course, it would be well after dawn but since it was just a radio interview perhaps it did not matter too much whether we caught fish.
Ellie was waiting on the doorstep when I drove up at five thirty. She was warmly clad and had a small rucksack containing tape recorder and microphone. We were on the sea shore by ten to six and discussed the prospects as we walked the quarter mile to my chosen spot. The carp rod, eight pound line and J9 Rapala were already set up (things have changed a bit these days the carp rod is now an 11ft spinning rod, the starting lure is still a J9F Rapala but the line is 30lb whiplash braid), so as soon as we reached the little rocky bay I was ready to fish. “Just describe what you are doing.” Ellie said, so I did. I cast out into the calm sea and on the first cast picked up a bit of weed. As I cleaned the hooks a little wave slopped over Ellie’s walking boots. “It looks a bit weedy in the edge.” I said “Let’s move a few yards out onto the ledge so I can avoid the weed and you can keep your feet dry.”
We took a few paces out onto the flat rock and I cast again. Nothing! Ellie was recording the events as they occurred. I cast a third time, about fifteen yards diagonally outwards. Two turns of the handle later and the rod whacked over as a fish took the plug. “Its a bass!” I shouted and to confirm what I said the fish thrashed heavily on the surface before leaping clear of the water (its very unusual for bass to jump out, even on spinning gear). After a short but spirited fight the fish, a four pounder in mint condition, was slid onto the beach, admired, unhooked and returned to fight another day.
The success of my impromptu early morning session really got me going and the next morning I picked Stu Clough up at the appointed hour of four o’clock and we headed for the spot where I had done my interview.
Despite the earlier start it was plenty light enough to see by the time we arrived. Stu fished about ten yards to my left and in the space of the first hour had landed two bass (one pound and three pounds) and lost a third. I had one bite. After that the sun arrived and the fish stopped biting even though we could still see them swirling in the ‘weed soup’ at our feet. Obviously there were a few about.
On the following set of springs, a few days later, Stu and me decided to try ‘Flat Ledge’ - often a good mark at that time of the year. This time a three thirty start ensured that we caught the dawn. There were a few fish in the little bay when we arrived but they showed no interest so after a few chucks we decided to continue out onto the ledge. For an hour or more we waded waist deep in the clear sea, casting and retrieving our plugs, to no avail. In fact that is not strictly true. On my first cast I hooked a small fish which snagged me and came off. I decided it must have been a wrasse. This was confirmed on my second cast when I hooked and landed a half pound ballan. After that - not a sniff!
When we were almost too chilled, by our immersion in the waves, to cast any more we decided to go even further on round the corner to a long stretch of mixed shoreline under a high shale cliff. We fished for a while, Stu using a J9 black and silver Rapala and myself a large shad patterned Bomber (I haven't used one of these for ages). When we were about half way along the beach, with Stu a few yards ahead of me, suddenly his rod bowed and the reel screamed as a big fish took right at the end of the retrieve. He was using one of the new braided lines (14 lb BS but only as thick as 6 lb nylon) (Fireline) and it stood the test well as the fish made run after powerful run. Eventually it was beaten and landed, a fin perfect seven-and-a-half pound bass. We were really chuffed. Not long afterwards I heard Stu call and was just in time to see another big bass racing out to sea. This time he was less fortunate and the fish came unstuck.
By now it was almost high tide and time for the long walk back. As we plodded along the beach the sun was rising and a flock of sandwich terns began to hammer into sandeel shoals out in the bay. We reached flat ledge and decided to have a few casts before giving it best. It was fortunate that we did.
My first throw with a J13 Rapala produced a one-and-a-half pound bass. While I was unhooking it Stu had a fish of over four pounds and then, within minutes, I had one of three pounds plus. What a morning!
I have just heard that on the following evening Aidy landed four bass from another stretch of beach a couple of miles to the west, so I guess that in a minute or two the phone will be ringing to arrange yet another dawn raid.
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