Thursday, 20 October 2011

Calm conditions at last - 19th October 2011

After nearly 6 weeks of blustery weather and rough conditions along the south coast we finally had some northwesterly winds which flattened out the surf and allowed the water to clear. I finished work at 4.30 pm and headed down to the coast. I got to the shore shortly after low tide. It was a nice mostly sunny afternoon but rather chilly and the sea at that location was the calmest I have seen it since June.

I started fishing with some soft plastics (Hazedong and Slug Go) and then switched to a Feed Shallow. Nothing was happening on the first mark so I began to work my way westwards along the shore. I reached an area with several barely submerged reefs with intervening deep gulleys. On the first cast diagonally across the gulleys a mullet-coloured Feed Shallow was grabbed by a strong bass about 30 m out. It stayed deep most of the way in and only broke the surface about 5 m out. It put up a good fight and stripped some line on several occasions. I eventually got it in close, surfed it over the reef in front of me on the crest of a small wave and eased it on to the rocks at my feet. It was a well fed plump 56 cm bass with a weight of 4.5 lbs.

A few casts later another bass snatched the Feed Shallow in much closer. This gave another strong fight, made a couple of darts for freedom as it stripped some line. I coaxed it across the same reef and on to the rocks. It was a 58 cm bass but was not as fat as the first with a weight of 4.25 lbs.

Shortly afterwards another bass struck the lure about 20 m out. It was a smaller fish but still put up a good struggle. I had it in very close, just at the edge of the reef but as I tried to surf it over the rocks the bass gave a strong head shake and shook the lure free. It looked like it was just hooked in the gill plate by a single barb on the lower triple of the Feed Shallow.

A few cast later there has a big splash behind the lure 5 or 6 m out as a good size bass attemped to strike the lure but it wasn't hooked. I had a few more casts with the Feed Shallow but there was no further interest so I switched to a Slug Go, followed by a Hazedong but I could not tempt the fish again.

I then spotted some activity on the surface about 30 m out so changed back to a Feed Shallow. First cast the lure was snatched by a bass. This again fought well although it was not as strong as the two earlier fish. I eased it in and on to the rocks. it was a 53 cm bass weighing about 3.5 lbs.

I continued fishing for a while into darkness but there were no further bites, not even pollock which normally are a pest on this stretch of coast at dusk on a rising tide, so I packed up at about 7.50 pm.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Feed Shallow strikes again - 13th October 2011

Today was warm and partly sunny, it seemed too nice a day to waste sitting in front of a computer. So I headed out at 2 pm. As it had been fairly calm for a few days I decided to try a mark that I have not be able to get on to since late August. In September-early October of 2009 this location produced some excellent bass sessions but with the windy weather of the last six weeks I reckoned it was not worth trying.

I got to the coast at about 3.15 pm just as a sea mist was beginning to roll in. It was not as calm as I was expecting, it would be relatively calm for about ten minuites and then the shore would hit by several large waves up to 2 m high . On one occasion I was hit by the full force of one of those and it came close to knocking me off my feet despite brancing myself with a firm footing.

I started off using soft plastics, first a Hazedong, then a Slug Go followed by an Xlayer but there was no interest. I switched to a Feed Shallow and on the second cast the lure was grabbed by a strong bass practically below my feed. It pulled strongly, stripped some line as it dived below a rock ridge and then was gone!!!

A couple of casts later I felt a brief tug on the lure but the fish was not hooked. A few casts later across the same area the Feed Shallow was struck by another bass. This one was securely hooked and after a short struggle I eased it on to the rocks. It was about 46 cm and weighed just over 2 lbs.

Shortly afterwards I had a second bass. This put up a better fight and was a little bigger at 50 cm.

I was pushed back by the tide after that and the frequency of the big waves increased making fishing difficult. I continued fishing until 5 pm but there was no more interest despite trying a variety of other hard and soft plastic lures.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A bunch of bass - 11th October 2011

I headed to a beach that I have not fished since mid-June. It had fished well earlier in the year but as I had concentrated on lure fishing over the summer I had not returned to fish there. I had also heard report that it was unfishable due to weed after recent stormy weather, but with the light westerly winds on Tuesday I reckoned the seaweed would have migrated down to the eastern end.

I planned to fish 2.5 hours either side of low tide and arrived at about 9.30 pm. There was a moderate surf illuminated by a full moon and just a weak cross-wind so the conditions looked good. I set two rods up, baited the first with crab and the second with razor, both on 4/0 pennel pulleys. I would normally prefer lug for this beach but I was too busy during the day to dig some. After about 15 minutes I had a bite on the rod with crab but it was just a dogfish.

Not long after I had a strong tug on the same rod. This was definitely a bass and fought strongly all the way in especially when I got it into the shallows. It was a good chunky fish of 52 cm and weighed 3.5 lbs.

About 20 minutes later I had a second bass. This was about the same length, but slimmer with a weight of just about 3 lbs.

Close to an hour after that, at about low tide, I had a very strong tug on the rod with the crab and the line went slack. I grabbed the rod and rapidly retrieved the slack and struck immediately I felt some resistance. This felt to be a powerful fish and it took me a few minutes to haul it in close. I could see a good size bass splashing about in the shallow surf before I eased it on to the sand. It was the best fish of the night, a well fed 67 cm bass with a weight of 6 lbs.

I quickly got some photos and as I released the fish it surged off with a powerful flick of its tail.

So far all fish had been taken on the crab so I switched to crab on the second rod. About 20 minutes after catching the 6 pounder I spotted a twitch on the first rod and noticed that the line had gone slack. This time the fish had run a long slackliner before I caught up with it. Then it put up a powerful fight and I was surprised that is was only a 57 cm bass with a weight of approximately 4 lbs.

A little later, after rebaiting and casting the first rod I realized that the line on the second rod had gone slack. I reeled in and eventually connected with a fish very close to the shore. This was a much smaller 42 cm bass.

I fished on for another couple of hours into the rising tide but the bites died off and I just had a small 22 cm flounder. I was surprised that it managed to get its mouth around a 4/0 hook.

I packed up shortly after that very pleased with the result especially as a few recent bait and lure sessions have been nothing to shout about.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bass on bait - 9th October 2011

Bass have been illusive on lures for me over the last few weeks so I decided to have a bait session after dark. I headed to a beach that has produced bass on an ebbing tide in the past. I arrived on the shore at about 9.15 pm. There was a moderate surf and the beach was weed free. I set the first rod up and baited a 4/0 pennel pulley with crab. While I was setting up the second rod I noticed a twitch on the first. I picked it up and felt a gentle tug, struck and hooked into a reasonably strong fish. A few minutes later I hauled a 46 cm bass on to the sand. That was a good start so I was hopeful of a great session.

About 15-20 minutes later I spotted another knock on the same rod. This was not putting up much of a fight in comparison to the first fish. It was a 38 cm bass.

A little later I had a dogfish on the second rod followed shortly by another smaller dog on the first rod.

It then went dead for two hours over low tide. The fishing only began to pick up when the tide started to push in more strongly. First fish was an average shore-size coalfish followed by two more dogfish. The last dogfish was a big one and I was convinced it was a bass until I hauled it out of the surf and saw it twisting sideways on the sand. I decided to pack up after that.

The night had not lived up to my initial expectations but two bass, four dogfish and a coalfish is not the worst session I have ever had. All fish were taken on 4/0 pennel pulleys baited with fresh peeler crab.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

More pollock - 8th October 2011

With light westerly winds and mostly overcast the conditions looked good for lure fishing. I headed to the bay I fished last weekend hoping for a better result other than a bunch of pollock. I got to the shore about two hours after low tide. I tried a range of soft plastics and shallow diving lures but there was no interest. I worked my along the shore and got to two fingers of rock with deeper water between them. I started fishing on the western flank of the ridge with a Slug Go and on the second cast something grabbed the lure. It pulled strongly downwards but came off after a couple of minutes. It was most likely a pollock. A few casts later I had another strong bite which again  pulled strongly downwards but this time I worked it close and on to the rocks. It was a 3 lb pollock.

I moved a short distance to the east and fished between the rock fingers. After a few casts I had another smaller pollock again on a Slug Go. I had a few more casts and moved to the next ridge and fished across some shallower ground hoping for bass. Then I spotted a huge shoal of tiny fish in close to the side of the rock finger. Then some splashes on the surface as some predators smashed through the shoal. Bass I hoped!!! But after a few casts I hooked another small pollock.

I moved back westwards to the western side of the next small bay. I spotted some activity, lots of small bait fish leaping on the surface.  I cast out a Slug Go and as I retrived I could see several mackerel following, they were making grabs at the lure but failed to get hooked on the weedless hook. I switched to a small hard plastic lure and on the first cast hooked a mackerel, shortly followed by another.

I then tried a Feed Shallow in case a bass was lurking on the perimeter of the mackerel shoal. But had no success. I moved to the western end of the main bay. As I approached I could see a lot of activity on the surface that looked like more mackerel. When I got to the edge of the rocks I could seem a huge shoal of tiny fish. The water was black with them, I have never seen so many in my life. Dark area in water close to rocks on photo below is dense shoal of bait fish:

Then it dawned on me why there were no bass - they were most likely stuffed to gills with bait fish and not interested in feeding any more. I thought I many as well catch a few mackerel while I was there. I caught 4 in a few minutes. That along with the two I had earlier was enough for tomorrows dinner.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Nothing but pollock - 2nd October 2011

Last Sunday was calm misty day and looked like the last opportunity for lure fishing as more windy weather was forecast for the coming week. I got to a reliable rock mark at about 4.30 pm just as the tide was starting to push in. Normally I would make my way down to the eastern end of the bay but rocks on the foreshore were quite slippery due to the misty rain so I decided to stick to a good mark near the western end. As the tide was still quite low it provided a good opportunity to study the terrain before it became submerged. That was useful as I could see some of the structures where I had previously caught bass.

I commenced fishing into a narrow deep gulley to the right. The water was clear, there was a bit of turbulence and it was overcast so the conditions looked perfect. First cast I had a small pollock on a Hazedong from beneath the kelp on the gulley margin. Next cast I could feel another fish snatching at the lure but it was not hooked. Third cast I had another pollock, again on the Hazedong. The fish totally engulfed the lure.

I changed to a Slug Go and cast it to the left of the gulley, after a few casts the lure was grabbed by another pollock. This was a bigger fish of about 3 lbs.

As the tide was now filling the small bay to my left I turned my attention to bass. I cast a Slug Go across the shallow rocky ground and on about the fifth cast something made a lunge at the lure but was not hooked. I was convinced it was a bass and continued fishing across the same area but could not tempt it again. I switched back to a Hazedong and very slowly retrieved the lure. This time the fish grabbed the lure and was well hooked but it turned out to be a small pollock.

I was pushed back by the tide and onto a small rock platform. This stage of the tide has been the most productive for me in the past at this mark so I was very hopeful of getting a few bass but all I could managed were more pollock. Then a shoal of bait fish swam into the bay and were leaping out of the water. Several pollock leapt clear out of the water as they chased them. I was hopeful that there might be a bass in amongst them and switched to a Feed Shallow but all I got were more pollock.

As light began to go I changed back to a white Hazedong with silver glitter but again only the pollock were biting, the biggest was about 3.5 lbs. When the light was gone even the pollock stopped feeding.

So while the pollock kept me busy I was disappointed not to have had any bass, particularly as the conditions looked ideal and there were plenty of bait fish around. That may well be my last lure fishing session of the year as there does not appear to be any respite from the windy weather for the moment.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Some photos from last week

Painted ray - 27th September 2011

Largest codling of ten (just under 3 lbs) from the same session: