Friday, 27 January 2012

Couple more bass on a cold January evening - 26th January 2012

I thought I would try fishing over high tide on the beach that I fished Tuesday night. I got there at about 5.15 pm and set up two rods both with 4/0 pennel pulleys baited with fresh crab. There was a good surf, much better than the previous night but it was very cold with a bitter westerly wind. My hands were numb after handling the wet crabs and it took a while to thaw my fingers out.

About 15 minutes later, just as the light was beginning to go, I had a sudden sharp pull on one of the rods, I grabbed it and struck into a reasonably strong fish which I reckoned had to be a bass. After a few minutes I hauled it out of the surf. Sure enough it was a 47 cm bass.

Just after recasting the first rod I spotted a slight knock on the other. This didn't feel to be a large fish and came in without much of a fight. It was a small coalfish. Just as I was rebaiting I noticed some subtle taps on the other rod. I picked it up and waited but couldn't feel anything. However, just as I was placing the rod back on the stand the tip buckled over. I grabbed it again and felt a very strong fish, but it came off after a few seconds.

After that it got very quite for a long time, apart from another coalfish and a very small codling. It was a clear night just illuminated by a narrow cresent moon and a multitude of stars but too cold to be sitting out admiring the universe and watching motionless rod tips. So at 8 pm, half an hour after high tide, I decided to pack up, reached for the first rod but found that the line had gone slack. I hadn't noticed a bite earlier. I reeled in a lot of slack line before feeling some resistance, then felt a strong tug as the fish began to fight. It put up a good struggle as I got it in close and eventually I could see a glint of silver splashing about in the foamy surf. I eased it in a little further and on to the gravel. It was a better bass, with a length of 57 cm and a weight of 4 lbs.

I fished on for another half an hour, had another coalfish before before packing up, and heading home to thaw out in front of the fire. It was a reasonable session for late January, with two bass, three coalfish and a codling.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Fine bass to start the year - 24th January 2012

As I had not yet got my first bass of the year I was determined to catch one this week before the end of the month. I was off to a slow start this year compared to last year when I had my first bass on 4th January but I have done a lot less fishing compared to the same period last year and much of the fishing I have done has been targetting cod.

I set off to one of my winter marks, the first time fishing there since last February. The wind was forecast to strengthen late in the evening. Before I left home there was a light breeze but not much, this particular beach needs a reasonable surf to bring the fish in close. However, by the time I got to the shore there was a strong southwesterly blowing. Unfortunately it had yet to whip up much of a surf; there were a series of short wavelength, low amplitude waves rolling in, but not the large breakers I was hoping to see. But nevertheless since I had made the journey there I thought I may as well give it a go since my possibilities for productive fishing late on the ebb and over low tide were limited due to the extensive illegal bass netting that took place off the East Cork beaches late in 2011.

I set up two rods, both with 4/0 pennel pulleys, one baited with fresh peeler crab, the other with razor and cast out. No much was happening and I was beginning to think I should have tried elsewhere. At about midnight I retrieved, put on fresh bait and moved the rods forward, closer to the low tide mark. The wind was progressively strengthening and the surf was getting a little bigger, but not much. As I was carrying my tackle box forward I spotted the tip light bouncing up and down on the rod with the crab, dropped the box and sprinted the last 40 m to the rod stand. The line had gone slack, I rapidly wound in the slack until I felt some resistance, struck, but didn't feel much weight, the line was slackening again, I wasn't sure if I had lost the fish or if it was swimming in towards the shore. I kept in contact and could feel some tugs, as I got it into the shallows I could feel something more substantial and then saw a flash of silver as the fish struggled in a few inches of water. I hauled it a little closer and then lifted it out. It was a fine bass, a large chunky fish with a weight of 7.5 lbs and a length of 65 cm so well above average weight for its size.

Weed bacame a problem after that over low tide. The wind had increased significantly and as it was blowing diagonally to the beach my line was getting dragged down to the left making fishing difficult especially when snagging clumps of weed. I was hopeful that more bass would show up when the tide made its initial push in but all I got was a dogfish, there were no more bites, so I packed up at 2.00 am.

Still a 7.5 lb bass is a good start to the season so I went home happy that I had made a good decision on fishing this beach.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

More Cod - 15th January 2012

I am a week late posting up this report from last weekend but was very busy all week. Last Sunday I headed back to Youghal for some more cod fishing. There was a strong cold southeasterly wind blowing which limited the locations that could be fished in comfort. I made my way to a mark that was relatively sheltered and set up just before dusk. I set up two rods with 4/0 pennel pulleys both baited with fresh peeler crab.

It wasn't until after dark that I had the first bite, a small codling that I released. Shortly after that I caught a slightly larger one, another I would have thrown back had it not been so deeply hooked. This was followed by a very small flounder which managed to get its mouth around a 4/0 hook!!!

As I was placing the rod back on the stand after recasting I spotted a small twitch on the other rod, this was another small codling.

The bites eased off for a while after that. The current was increasing at this stage and bringing a lot of weed with it. I could see one of the rods gradually bending over under the weight of the accumulated debris so tried to pull it in. There must have been about 20 lb of weed on the end, eventually I got it close enough to grab the shockleader and hauled it in the remainder of the way by hand. There was indeed a huge amount on seaweed which had built on around the clip at the end of the leader and extended down to the bait and weight. It took about 15 minutes to clean it all off and it was only towards the end that I discovered a small codling had been hooked. It wasn't big enough to keep but unfortunately it was fairly lifeless at this stage!

A little later I had a bigger codling of about 2 lbs, followed a few minutes later by another slight larger fish. Then I had a very strong bite, I almost had it in but close to the shore I could feel the cod digging itself into the steep side of the channel, as I tried to pull it free the fish came off. I lost a couple more after that. I then decided to use smaller bait, half a crab instead of a full crab so as to insure more of the hook was exposed. A few minutes later there was a strong tug on the rod, this time the fish was well hooked and after a few minutes I landed a 4 lb cod, the best fish of the night.

A little later I had another codling of about 2 lbs.

I stayed on a little longer, had one more small codling which I released. So not a bad session, 10 cod upto 4 lbs and 1 flounder.

A some stage of the night I stepped on the edge of a loose rock, it flipped over and whacked the top of my foot. I didn't think much of it at the time, it was only the next day that it became sore and got progressively more painful that night. I had to visit the doctor who sorted it out with some anti-inflamatory painkillers but unfortunately that put me out of action for the rest of the week. I had intended to have a few beach sessions although my foot seems fine now so I should get in some fishing over the coming week.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Cod fishing - 7th & 8th January 2012

Saturday 7th January

After returning from getting some good bargains at Absolute Fishing's weekend sale (including a very reasonable deal on a Anyfish Anywhere spinning rod) I headed to Youghal for my first fishing session of 2012. I hadn't done much cod fishing all winter, instead concentrating on bass. I had picked up a few codling off the beaches and had made a few attempts at cod fishing around Youghal Harbour in October-November but was beaten by weed.

I decided to try an estuarine mark which produced some good fish last winter. I arrived about an hour before low tide at 9.30 pm. I set up two rods with pennel pulleys baited with peeler crab. I had a small codling shortly after setting up but then it went dead until about an hour and a half into the rise. The next fish was a more substantial fat codling of 2.5 lb.

This was followed by another another slightly smaller fish.

The bites were much slower at this mark compared to last winter, it was about 30 minutes later before I had the next, a much smaller codling. The next fish was the best of the night, another chunky codling of about 3.5 lbs. When I cleaned it out its stomach was stuffed with sandeels. Interestingly of the fish I kept only one had a small crab it is stomach, all the rest had been eating sandeels.

I fished on for another couple of hours, getting a few more codling in the 2 lb range, and lost a few that felt a little more substantial. In the end I had six worth keeping. So fish for dinner for the next few days!!!

Sunday 8th January

It was a very mild day for early January. I had some crabs left over from the previous night so headed to another estuarine mark that can fish well over the last couple of hours up to high tide. I had some good codling there last winter but this time it fished very poorly. There was quite a lot of weed coming up with the tide and I managed to snag a large branch which I initially thought was a giant cod!!! I had the first bite close to high tide, a small chubby codling with a deformed spine near its tail.

I had a couple more fairly small codling after that, only one worth keeping, and lost another small fish. I should probably have fished a mark closer to the harbour area, still it was good to be out in the fresh air on such a nice January day.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Best lure of 2011

Now that we are into 2012 it is time to look back and review 2011. My best lure during the year was without doubt the Tackle House 128 mm Feed Shallow. I caught 63 bass on lures during the year, 36 of those were on Feed Shallows. The pearl No 14 proved to be best and produced the biggest fish although the Mullet No. 11 came a close second. Picture below is of a bass caught in early April on the No. 14 Feed Shallow:

My first lure caught bass of the year was on the No. 14 Feed Shallow, a 7.25 lb fish caught on 9th April, by far my earliest bass on a lure.

My largest lure caught bass of 2011 and a personal best (although I had an 8lb 10 oz bass on bait later in the year) was also taken on the same Feed Shallow on 30th April. It was a 79 cm fish but slim for its length with a weight of only 8.5 lbs. It had probably just spawned since a bass of the length would typically be well over 10 lbs.

My last two bass of 2011 were also caught using No. 14 Feed Shallows, both decent fish with weights of 5.25 lbs and 6.25 lbs. They were caught on the 10th and 11th December respectively. In previous years October was the latest that I had bass on lures.

I did try a large range of other hard plastic lures (Megabass X-140, X-120, Zonk Gataride, Duo Tide Minnows, IMA Popkey, Komomo and Sasuke, Zenith Z-Claw etc) but the Feed Shallow was the only one that consistently found the fish. Often I would try several different lures (I had spent a lot of money on those and was determined to get some value out of them) without a hint on a fish then put on a Feed Shallow and have a bass within the first few casts.

The surface lures which worked best for me during the year were the Xorus Patchinko and Xorus Asturie 110. Night time fishing with a Patchinko on a clear calm night in August produced the 7 lb, 71 cm bass below:

I had 22 bass on soft plastics; 10 on Slug-Gos, 8 on Xlayers and the remaining 4 on Hazedongs. I just started to use the Hazedongs in early September, and they were looking to be lethal in clear calm conditions but then we got hit by the tail end of Hurricane Katia and a series of Atlantic storms followed which ruined the lure fishing for the remainder of the year.