Monday, 16 May 2011

The final countdown - 13th - 14th May 2011

With not long before the bass closed season I headed to a beach that has been consistently producing bass over the last few months. I had a good stock of big juicy lug, dug the evening before, and a couple of packets of razorfish, the two optimum baits for this mark. I arrived shortly after 9.00 pm, just as the tide was beginning to push in. I set up two rods; one with a 4/0 pennel pennel pulley, the other with a 4/0 running ledger both baited with plenty of lug.

Shortly after casting out, I spotted some subtle twitches on the rod with the pennel pulley, I picked it up, felt a slight tug, struck and started to retrieve. There seemed to be a fish on the end but it wasn't putting up much of a fight, soon afterwards I hauled it out of the surf and was surprised to see it was a bass, a 44 cm fish. That was the most lethargic bass I have ever caught, he couldn't be botherer putting up a fight and just coasted in. However, it surged off with a powerful twist of the tail when I released it. But it was a good start, a bass on the first cast so I thought I was in for a good session.

Unfortunately that was it, I had no more bass bites, although I was plagued by small flounder robbing my bait. Within seconds of casting they were onto the bait, stripping the hooks in minutes. I resorted to the razor, tied on with plenty of elastic, it lasted a little longer, but I still needed to rebait every ten minutes. I caught three small flounder in the 21-24 cm range, including one that was not hooked at all, but had got the bait elastic stuck in its mouth! In amongst the flounder there was also a small coalfish.

I was hopeful that the bass might turn up close to high tide and fished all the way up. But still no bass. By 3.00 am I was out of bait so packed up and got into bed by 4.15 am, after setting the alarm for 8.00 am for a final lure session.

After about three hours sleep I struggled out of bed at 8 am on Saturday morning and headed to a relaible rock mark. However, the water was still highly coloured and there was a lot of weed. Met Pat there, we fished for a few hours, without a bite between us. Pat said he was heading to another mark which had been clear the day before so I joined him. The water was crystal clear so it looked good. But again the bass were not biting. Pat could see them swimming up and down, he had a couple of follows and I think he briefly hooked a fish but I didn't have a bite. By high tide at 3.30 pm my back was aching from all the casting and I was feeling the effects of the lack of sleep so packed up.

So that's the end of bass fishing for the next month until the 16th June. Time to service the spinning reel, replace some of the rusted and bent triples on the lures and maybe do some wrasse and pollock fishing.

May was a poor month for bass fishing, the conditions were tough with strong winds and gales at the start of the month and kelp choked bays. Lets hope for good conditions for the reopening of the bass season next month.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Last cast bass - 10th May 2011

I headed to a local beach on Tuesday evening as the winds had eased off. I wasn't too hopeful of it been fishable at all due to weed but surprisingly it was almost totally weed free. As the wind had changed to a more southwesterly direction all the weed had been blown down to the eastern end of the beach. I didn't have time to dig lug, the prefered bait on this beach, so took a couple of packets of razor out of the freezer.

There was a good surf so I was optimistic about getting a few bass but the rod tips remainded stubbornly still. I did get a small 40 cm codling close to high tide but that was the only bite. At 12.30 am, an hour after high tide, I decided it was time to pack up. I had expected a better result given the surf and conditions but it was a nice, mostly clear mild night to be out. I lifted the first rod and held it for a minute or two (as I always do before reeling in) and suddenly felt some subtle tugs. I waited, felt a stronger pull, then struck, hooking into a fairly strong fish - a bass and not another codling I hoped. After a few minutes I hauled it out of the surf - it was indeed a bass, 48 cm, that glint of silver was welcome sight after a bass drought for the last ten days!

That was the first fish picture on my new FujiFilm XP30 camera, the ultimate waterproof, shockproof, freeze proof and dust proof fishing camera. It even has a GPS in case I can't find my way home!.

Of course I had to fish on a bit longer now. However, there were no more bites so I packed up at about 1.15 am.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Blown out - 7th & 8th May 2011

Due to the windy weather over the weekend I decided to fish some more sheltered marks using peeler crab as bait. On Saturday I headed to a sheltered area in Cork Harbour just after low tide. I was hopeful that I might get a bass with the incoming tide. But all I had was a small red codling. Something bigger had a bite on its tail. As the tidal flow increased I began to snag large clumps of kelp and lost about 4 rigs.

On Sunday I headed westwards. I planned to fish at the mouth of a small estuary. There was a huge surf rolling in on the beach and an extremely strong steady southerly wind blowing.

I was relatively sheltered but there was still a strong enough wind funneling around the corner of the headland. There was a lot of fine "lettuce" weed which made fishing difficult. I just used one rod and held it high to stop the weed building up on the line. Fished there for a few hours without a bite. Eventually I gave up and packed up early at about 6.30 pm.

The wind is supposed to ease off later in the week so hopefully there will be an opportunity to get a few bass before the 15th.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Weeded out - 5th May 2011

The windy weather has put lure fishing on hold for the moment. I headed out for a bait session last night, hoping to find a clear patch on a local beach. I got to the mark before dusk so that I could check if out for weed. There was a mound of kelp at the western end, but the center of the beach seem clean. At first it was OK, just a few strands collecting on the shock leader knots, but as the tide dropped it became unfishable. Clumps of the fine lettuce weed collected on the lines. I spent longer cleaning it off than I did fishing. In the end I had to admit defeat and headed home early.

There is only 8 days left to add to the annual bass tally before the closed season, so tomorrow I will have a change of tactics. I have ordered 2 dozen peeler crabs and will stay away from the beaches. There are a few marks in Cork Harbour which may be fishable.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

8.5 lb bass; fine end to great month - 30th April 2011

I arrived at a reliable mark just after low tide on a nice sunny morning. A fairly brisk ESE wind was blowing but it had not yet created a big surf and the water was still crystal clear. It was quite a warm day despite the wind direction. I began to work my way along a productive stretch of the shore with shallow reefs alternating a Feed Shallow with various soft plastics. Since the wind was quite strong I mostly cast diagonal to the coast to achieve greater distance. As the tide began to push in I moved westwards. I had been fishing for about 40 minutes and cast a Feed Shallow almost parallel to the coast across an area of barely submerged boulders and was suddenly hit by a big bass no more than 2 m out from the shore. It was fighting ferociously and stripped a little line. I gradually worked it in but when the fish was close it began to thrash about violently making it very hard to land. Eventually I got it into a very shallow pool and managed to lift it out. It was just over 8.5 lbs, my best ever bass. Unfortunately I forget to bring my ruler so I didn't get a length. The fish was quite slender so was well below average weight for its length. It would not surprise me if it exceeds 10 lbs by September. I got some photos and quickly released it. I do keep a few bass for the table but a fish of that stature has to be put back.

After releasing the bass I put my camera back in its case but failed to close it properly and before I could place it somewhere secure it slipped out and into a rock pool!!!! The end of another camera. That's about the sixth camera I have ruined in four years. As if that was not bad enough about 10 minutes later as I was crossing a narrow but deep rock pool I lost my footing and fell in ending up with one wader leg full of water!!!!

I continued fishing. As the tide pushed in I moved further to the east and fished across a small bay. At first I was using a Feed Shallow but as the tide rose I had to move back and was fishing across a very shallow area so switched to surface lures. On about the fifth cast my Asturie was grabbed by a bass. It was a small fish, just over 2 lb, but my first on a surface lure this year.

Close to high tide I moved down to a small cove that has been fishing well in the last hour before high tide. I worked my way around the bay, trying a variety of hard and soft plastic lures. I reached the far side of the bay and switched back to a Feed Shallow. After about 10 casts the lure was hit by decent bass. It was putting up a reasonable fight and I almost had it in when it got sight of me and made one last dash for freedom, stripping some line, before I turned it and coaxed it back it. This was a 3 lb bass.

So despite ruining my camera and getting a soaking I went home happy with a new personal best.

Afterwards I did a calculation on the length of the fish using the length of the Boga grip - works out at just over 79 cm!!!
The average weight for a 79 cm fish should be about 11 lbs so the fish should fatten up over the summer and easily exceed 10 lbs by September.