Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A few East Cork bass - 28th August 2011

I arrived at an East Cork mark just after low tide early Sunday afternoon. There were moderate swells and the water was a little cloudy, although it cleared as the tide rose. I tried a range of hard and soft plastic lures but there was no interest. The last time I fished there a shoal of bass showed up a couple of hours into the rising tide so I stayed on hoping that they would arrive. Sure enough about two and a half hours after low tide I had the first bass on a Feed Shallow. It was a small, but very lively fish just under 40 cm.

The next cast another bass struck the Feed Shallow. This was a bit bigger at 46 cm.

I felt a few knocks on the lure after that but the fish were not hooked A few minutes later a third bass grabbed the Feed Shallow but it came off about half way in.

The bites died off after that. Two hours before high tide I made my way around to the other side of the bay. However, there was no sign of any fish activity and no interest in the range of lures I fired out.

Given the big tides and conditions I had been expecting a better session, especially as the previous time I fished there I had five bass up to 5 lb and lost three others on slacker tides. But at least I did get two bass to add to my annual total.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Greedy fat bass - 27th August 2011

I headed to a West Waterford mark on Saturday morning. There was a fairly strong northwesterly breeze blowing but the bay I was going to fish would be sheltered. It was partly sunny with a lot of broken cloud. So the conditions, along with the big tides, promised a good session.

I started fishing at the eastern end of the bay. It looked ideal with gently swells breaking on the rocks. I had a few casts into an area of fairly deepish water between some large rocks. After about 15 minutes I moved to the left and cast a Slug-go across a small bay. First cast the lure has grabbed by a strong heavy bass. It stayed deep as I gradually worked it in and only came close to the surface a few meters from the edge of the shore. It looked a big fish. It made a few darts for freedom before I surfed it on to the rocks on the crest of a breaking wave. It was the fattest bass I have ever caught!!! Its stomach was bulging and it weighed just over 7 lb, although its length was 66 cm so it was approximately 1.5 lb over-weight for its size.

I continued to cast across the small bay. Shortly afterwards I had a second bass on the Slug-go. Again it stayed deep and as I got it in close I could see another similar size bass following. At the edge of the rocks it dived which had me worried that the line might snap due to abrasion on the edge but I succeeded in raising the fish before any damage was done and eased it on to the rock platform. It was a smaller bass at 52 cm and had a more normal weight of about 3.5 lbs.

By this time the wind direction had changed and a strong breeze was blowing parallel to the shore. At one stage I saw a large bass swim up close to the ledge I was standing on. It was less than an arms length from me in about a meter of water. It wasn't following the lure, as that was still about 10 m out, just crusing the shore. I decided to stick to the same mark, but I could not tempt any more fish.

I moved westwards along the bay but the shore-parallel wind seemed to kill off any fish activity. By high tide I had made my way to the western end of the bay. I fished an Xlayer into a deep gulley and could see a large pollock checking it out. Next cast the pollock grabbed the lure but came off before I could land it. A few casts later the Xlayer was grabbed again, but further out, the fish dived and must have gone behind a rock. As it tried to bully it out the line snapped, presummably on the edge of the rock. I cut off the damaged line and tried again. This time an Xlayer was snatched by a fish right below my feet but the same thing happened, as it dived below the rocks the line snapped!!!!

Then the water around me erupted into a frenzy of leaping bait fish and feeding mackerel. I put on a silver toby and lobbed it into the shoal. One fish was instantly hooked but about 15 others crowded around trying to get at the lure. In the next few casts I caught another four. Mackerel do certainly provide an entertaining fish on a lure. I decided to pack up after that as the tide was now starting to drop.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Sunday bass - 21st August 2011

On Sunday I decided to return to an area I fished for the first time a week ago. That previous session had been poor, with one small bass and a few pollock but the venue looked superb with lots of areas that one would expect to find bass moving in on a rising tide.

I got there at about 6.00 pm just as the tide was beginning to push in. It was a nice evening, partly sunny with broken clouds, a light southwesterly breeze and gentle swells breaking on the rocks. I started off on a rock platform fishing into an area of two intersecting gulley. I reckoned that the back wash from the tide would wash food back though the gulleys. I fished there for about 40 minutes but just had two pollock on Slug-gos and missed a few more.

I then moved to the other side of the platform and cast towards some shallow reefs. After a few casts I had a bad wind knot. I spent about 20 minutes trying to undo it but in the end gave up and had to cut a sizable amount of line off which left me with not a lot remaining on the reel.

I moved into a small bay that was rapidly infilling with the rising tide. Cast a Slug-go across some quite shallow ground. After maybe 8 or 9 casts the lure was grabbed by a very strong fish, there was a massive splash as it pounced on the lure. Then it turned and powered off out to sea like a locomotive, line was just peeling off the reef and I realized that within seconds it would have emptied the spool. I tightened the drag and the rod bent over as I tried to stop the fish, I turned it and was beginning to bring it back in. It was thrashing about on the surface and then the hook came out!!!!! I could see a bulge on the water surface as it surged back out to sea. It was a very big bass, easily specimen size.

In future I will bring a spare spool, I may have still lost the fish but if I had more line I could have played the fish differently and might have landed it. A little later I had another strong bite again on the Slug-go. The fish fought strongly but this time it was well hooked and after a few minutes I had it at my feet. It was a well fed 59 cm bass.

I stuck with the Slug-go and had a few more casts. Then I spotted a lot of activity further out, but no way did I have enough line left on the reel to even come close. I did have a spool of 20 lb amnesia in my bag so I loaded that on and resumed fishing. I worked my way out along a finger of rock to get nearer the splashes. Then got a good size pollock. Maybe it was pollock that were breaking the surface.

At that point I spotted a lot of splashes back where I had been fishing previously. Ran back as fast as possible across rough boulder strewn ground and started casting. Then a seal popped its head up right in front of me and stared at me for about ten minutes. That killed off all the fish activity. It remained quite even after the seal moved on. I moved a little further along the shore and had one more small pollock. It was dark at this stage so I began to work my way back. I stopped close to the spot where I had the previous bass for a few casts. On the first cast the Slug-go was struck by a bass very close in, no more than 4 meters from the shore. As it was so close and it shallow water it was easy enough to land. It was a 51 cm bass.

I stayed on a little longer but there was no more bites. It was a better session than I expected, the last time I fished there on full moon tide in very similar conditions I had just one small bass, this time on the neap tide, when the fishing is predicted to be slack, I had two good bass and lost a potential specimen.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A bass milestone - 20th August 2011

After the successful session on Thursday I decided to try the same mark on Saturday. The weather had been rather windy on Friday but seemed to be much calmer on Saturday afternoon so I made my way down to the shore for the end of low tide. Unfortunately the sea was still rough, large swells were breaking on the rocks. This particular location does not fish well in rough conditions. But nevertheless since I was there I thought I may as well fish for a while and see how it goes.

I started off with some soft plastics, Xlayers and Slug-gos, but the surf was just carrying them in and even with a weedless set up I was still getting snagged. So I switched to a Feed Shallow. I put on a new one I got recently from Absolute Fishing, a silvey grey lure with a bright red belly. On about the fifth cast, directed diagonal to the shore and across several shore-parallel gulleys, the lure was snatched by a fish. It was putting up a reasonable struggle and when it broke the surface I could see it was a bass, although not big. I eased it onto the rocks on the crest of a wave. It was a 45 cm bass; it fought well considering its size.

It was my 120th bass of the year - so I now equalled my previous best annual total achived in 2009.

If there was one there I reckoned there should be a few more. I continued fishing, tried some different Feed Shallows and a few other lures such as Tide Minnons and Magabass X-140 but there was no more interest. As the tide rose the surf got bigger and I was getting hit by a few large waves so I decided to move on. I headed to a Cork Harbour mark, worked my way along the shore but had a big problem with weed. There was no sign of any fish activity so I packed up early.

Still I was happy to have pulled out the one bass given the conditions.   

Monday, 22 August 2011

Good bass session - 18th August 2011

Thursday was a calm partly cloudy day and I reckoned the conditions would be ideal for a good mark that I had not been able to fish recently due to rough conditions so I finished work early and headed off . The sea was quite calm, just a little choppy, and the water was clear with very little weed so it looked promising. I started out with some some soft plastics and after about 20 minutes I switched to a Feed Shallow. After a few casts the lure was grabbed by a bass. At first it was not struggling too hard so I thought it was a small fish but as I got it in close I could see that it was a decent size. As it approached the shallows it began to fight much more strongly and thrashed about wildly. I eventually eased it on to the rocks. It was a 65 cm bass, weighing 5 lb. It had almost totally engulfed the lure.

I continued fishing with the Feed Shallow but it was quite for about another 25 minutes then the lure was struck by another bass in close, this was putting up a better fight than the first one but was only 50 cm.

Shortly afterwards I had another, again in close. This time the bass dived into a gulley and the line was rubbing against the rocks on the edge but I managed to raise it and landed it without snapping the line. This was an almost identical 50 cm fish.

I cast across the same area and shortly afterwards was struck by another bass, this one erupted behind the lure, lept out of the water, crashed back in and fought fiercely. Then disaster - the line snapped and the bass was gone along with my favourite Feed Shallow!!!! The line must have been damaged when the previous bass dived below the ledge. I was kicking myself for not checking it and cutting off the damaged section.

I switched to a weedless Slug-go and lobbed it across the same area. On the first cast the lure was grabbed by another bass, this one was the smallest of the session at 45 cm.

Shortly afterwards I briefly had another on the same lure but it came off. Then a few minutes later I had the fifth bass, another 50 cm fish, which again grabbed the Slug-go from the edge of the same gulley that most of the bass had been lurking in.

I hooked another bass a little later, had it on for a few minutes but as I got it in close it came off. Next cast I had a good size pollock. This was followed by a few more pollock but the bass shoal seemed to have moved on. I moved further around the bay but just had another couple of pollock. I fished for a while in darkness but could only get one more pollock.

So I was very happy with the evenings fishing, that was my best lure session so far this year; 5 bass and 6 pollock.

Friday, 19 August 2011

More night time lure fishing - 16th August

I headed to a local mark after dinner, got there just after high tide at about 8.45 pm. I had a few casts across an area of shallow rocks that was now flooded by the tide. There was no sign of any activity. I made my way along the shore to an area of flatter rocks where the water was deeper and began fishing. I had a few casts with an Xlayer, fired out a Patchinko and then switched to a Feed Shallow. On about the thrid cast a bass struck the lure only about 6 m out, it lept into the air and did a brief tailwalk before crashing back into the water. The fish was pulling hard and stripped some line before I had it under control and gradually coaxed it into a shallow gulley where I could lift it out. It was a stocky 53 cm bass, weighing just under 4 lb.

I continued fishing in the darkness and worked my way along the shore and then back. But there were no more bites. I hadn't been that hopeful since the tide was now dropping fast but decided to try it on the ebb as I always fish this section of coastline on a rising tide, looks like I will be sticking to fishing it on the rise. Since it didn't look too promising I packed up before Midnight, but at least I did get one bass. 

Short session - 14th August 2011

I just had time for a short session on Sunday. I headed to a West Waterford mark that fishes well early on a rising tide. I got there at 2.00 pm just as the tide was beginning to push in. It was a bight sunny afternoon with a light light westerly breeze and the water was crystal clear.

As it is very shallow with lots of snags I used weedless soft plastics and surface lures. I started with an Xlayer, fished with that for about 15 minutes then changed to a Patchinko and blasted it out to the edge of the reefs. I covered the ground in front of me at a range of angles and on about the tenth cast a fish lept clear out of the water as my lure passed over it, the fish seems to hang in the air for a moment of two before crashing back into the water and then lunged at the lure again, this time it was hooked. From the fight I knew it wasn't a bass, it kept deep, all the time pulling downwards, but nevertheless it put up a good struggle. I hooked the fish at 60 m out it and it put up a fight all the way in. It was a well fed 55 cm pollock. I was very surprised to get that in bright daylight in shallow water.

I continued fishing across the same small bay until I was forced back by the tide. I moved to the left and fished a shallow gulley between two rock ridges but had no interest. Then I had to move back again as the tide rose around me. I packed up close to 4 pm, happy enough to have got one fish.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Fishing a new mark - 13th August 2011

There was a strong west southwesterly breeze on Saturday which ruled out fishing a reliable East Cork mark. There is a bay in Waterford that I have been meaning to fish for a long time so decided that the conditions would be suitable. I found a route down the cliffs and was on the shore at the northern end of the bay just as the tide was starting to push in. I was hopefully of a good session given the full moon tides. There was a moderate swell breaking onto the rocks at this end of the bay and oxygenating the water so it looked good.

I started fishing into an area between two large rock outcrops where the water looked a few meters deep, using Feed Shallows and Xlayers. After about twenty minutes I moved a few meters and fished the opposite side of one of the rocks using an Xlayer. After a few casts directly out to sea I changed direction cast parallel to the shore. First cast the Xlayer was grabbed by a bass that must have been hiding in the kelp directly below the rock I was standing on. It wasn't a big fish but gave a decent fight all the same. It was then I realized I should have brought a landing net. I worked the fish along the shore until I got it into a groove in the rocks and was able to reach down and lift it out. I put it into a rock pool while I went back to my bag to get the camera, got back lifted the fish out of the pool and just as I removed the lure from its mouth it gave a mightly twist and slithered out of my grasp and into the water before I got a chance to photograph or measure it but it was probably about 44-45 cm.

I continued fishing there for about half an hour but there were no more bites so I began to work my way along the shore. There were plenty of shallow areas now being flooded by the tide which looked ideal locations for bass to come in searching for crabs and other food but there was no interest, apart from a pollock on a Feed Shallow.

I continued working my way around the bay and reached the southern end just before high tide. There was a deeper water area here so I had a go for pollock. I had two on Xlayers, both about 2.5 lbs, and lost one easily twice that size on a small mother worm. I lost a few smaller pollock on Xlayers too. I also had a solitary mackerel on a Xlayer. By 6.30 pm I started to head back, saw some activity in an area of shallow water and fired out some surface lures but there was no interest. The fish splashing about were presumably mullet.

I packed up at about 7.00 pm. I had expected a better session, although there were a few other anglers there who didn't seem to fare any better. Despite that I will return since the bay contains an abundance of bassy looking marks.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Night time lure fishing - 9th August 2011

Over the last few weeks I have found bass fishing slow, probably as a consequence of the water clarity. The fish seem to have been reluctant to come close to the shore in such clear conditions. As there have been plenty of reports of bass caught on lures at night in recent weeks I decided to have a night time session at a West Waterford mark.

I got to the coast and made my way out across the rocks to the shore and was fishing by 9 pm, just at low tide. A westerly wind was beginning to pick up but the water was crystal clear. There was not much happening until the light started to go and the tide began its initial push in. I was fishing a weedless Xlayer across some shallow reefs when suddenly a large fish lept almost clear of the water to try to snatch it, missed, and fell back with a mighty splash. In the brief moment it was clear of the water it looked like a bass although in the twilight it was difficult to be sure. I continued casting the Xlayer across the same area but there was no more interest. I switched to a weedless Slug-go and on about the third cast it was struck by a fish in exactly the same location that the bass had lept out of the water. It fought strongly, tried to get around some rocks but I managed to keep control and turned it towards me and gradually brought it into the shallows beside me. It was a stocky 55 cm bass, weighing over 4.5 lb.

I had a few more casts with the Slug-go. It was dark at this stage although the shore line was well illuminated by a bright three quater moon. I switched to a Patchinko thinking that it would make a larger disturbance on the surface as well as rattle to attact any bass moving in with the tide. After 4 or 5 casts there was a massive splash behing the lure about 20 m out, but the fish didn't connect, I stopped the retieve and then the fish smashed into it a second time a second or two later. This time it was well hooked. Intially it fought very strongly, flattening out the rod and stripping line. I struggled with it for a few minutes, gradually coaxing it in. Then the fight stopped, at first I thought I had lost the fish, but could feel weight on the line and thought I might have snagged a clump of weed as the fish came off. I reeled it in close and then turned on my headlamp to see what was on the end. The bass was still there!! but as soon as I switched on the light it went into a frenzy, wildly thrashing about although as it was so close it was easy enough to ease it onto the rocks. It was a rather slim 71 cm bass, weighing just under 7 lb, about a pound under weight for its length.

I fished the same area for a few more minutes but was pushed back by the tide. I found a new spot close by and fished for another twenty minutes or so. The tide was rising fast now so I moved further back. I fished a little longer but there were no more bites so I packed up and was off the rocks before Midnight. Still I was happy with the result for a few hours lure fishing in the dark.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Saturday evening bass - 6th August 2011

I had to catch up on work at the weekend so didn't get out fishing until Saturday evening. I got to the rocks just as the tide was beginning to push in. As there were lots of very shallow rocks I could only fish with weedless soft plastics and surface lures. I started off with a Patchinko and on about the fifth cast the lure was struck by a strong bass about 20 m out just as I slowed the retrieve down to a stop. It gave a good fight, turned and stripped some line when I got it close to the shore. After a few minutes I got it back in and onto the rocks. It was a 52 cm bass with a weight of about 3.25 lbs.

Shortly after there was a large splash about 15 m out in front of me. I cast various lures across the spot but could not tempt the fish and was soon forced back by the tide.

I worked my way along the shore but there was no more interest and no sign of any fish activity apart from a few crusing mullet. 

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Bank holiday bass - 1st August 2011

After a poor session on Saturday at what is usually a reliable East Cork mark I decided to try an area in West Waterford where I have had a few bass recently. I got there at low tide. There was a light southeasterly breeze and the water was clear. At the low water mark there was an extensive carpet of kelp (growing on the rocks not loose) in front of me so it was only possible to fish with weedless soft plastics. As the tide began to rise I switched to surface lures, in particular a Patchinko which I could blast out a good distance against the wind. I fished around the first mark for close to two hours. It looked an ideal spot for bass to move in with the tide, a narrow gulley floored by loose rocks and some sand with plenty of kelp for cover, but there was not a sign of a fish. There was also no sea bird activity, a couple of weeks ago gulls were constantly diving not far out to sea but this time the few that were around were just sitting on the rocks. So it didn't look too encouraging.

I then moved a few hundred meters along the shore to another likely looking spot. I had a few casts directly out to sea with a Patchinko across several barely submerged ridges. Then cast diagonally along the shore, first cast the Patchinko was struck by a good bass about 40 m out. It fought strongly, dived and broke the surface again. I worked it over the shallow reefs in front of me and eventually eased it onto the rocks. It was a 57 cm bass weighing 4.25 lbs.

I fished the same area for a while but was pushed back by the tide. I moved a little further along the shore but had no more bites. High tide was at 6.30 pm so by 6 pm I decided to walk to the opposite end of the mark and try an area which I had not fished before. Access was easier here, the rocks flatter. As the water was deeper I switched to some shallow diving lures such as the Feed Shallow and Megabass X-140 but there was no interest. I moved about 30 m further along, and put on a weedless Giant Xlayer first to check the terrain for snags before using the diving lures. I had a couple of cast, then on about the third cast the lure was grabbed by strong bass. The drag was set a little loose and it stripped some line before I turned the fish. It gave a good fight for a few minutes before I landed it. It was a 55 cm bass with a weight of just about 4 lbs.

I stayed on a little longer but there were no more bites. So not a bad start to August, let's hope the fishing picks up from now after a rather slow July.