Sunday, 26 February 2012

Search for the elusive bass

I was delighted to see that my ray from a couple of weeks ago made "Catch of the Week" on IFI Irish Angling Updata Ezine:

However my fishing since then has been rather on the slack side. I didn't get out much since I was very busy with work but had about three sessions over the last week:

17th February 2012
I returned to the beach where I caught the specimen ray, this time planning to fish from early on the rising tide to an hour after high tide. There was a good surf, not too rough and the water was weed free. I set up two rods, one baited with fresh crab, the other with razorfish on 4/0 pennel pulleys. Shortly after setting up there was a tug on the rod with the crab. At first I thought I had a small bass but as I began to retrieve I realized it was coming in too easy. Soon afterwards I hauled a dogfish out of the surf.

As the tide began to push in more strongly the codling began to feed. The first one felt a lot bigger than it really was as it managed to get entangled in the rig, and pierced in the side by the upper hook of the pennel. It was only about a pound in weight so too small to keep, fortunately after I untangled it and removed the hooks it seemed to swim away without a problem.

This was followed by another three equally small codling in fairly quick succession. A little later I had another dogfish.

The incoming tide then forced me to move further down the beach. I probably moved too far to my right as the bites stopped and I didn't catch another fish. As it seemed fairly dead I packed up about an hour earler than I intended.

21st February 2012
After the previous poor session I decided to try a different beach to fish the last three hours of the ebb and first couple of hours of the rising tide. A strong southwesterly wind had whipped up a big surf by the time I got to the shore. I normally fish this mark in March and April but was hopeful that the mild weather and big surf might induce a few early bass. Lug has always worked well for me here so I dug some big juicy ones at lunch time. Initially I baited two rods with lug, cast one out as far as I could and the other in shorter. I then moved my rod bag back up the beach and as I was walking back I spotted a few tugs on the distance rod. I grabbed it and struck, but after a few turns of the reel I became solidly snagged, presumably by the gripper weight. As the tide was dropping fast I decided to wait until I could wade out to free the snag. But after a few minutes I spotted the line had become slack, reeled in the slack and found the fish was still hooked. A few minutes later I landed a 43 cm bass.

That was a good start so I was hopeful of a few more but unfortunatly that was it. I had a few bites but nothing was hooked. I tried some fresh crab and razor but that made no difference.

23rd February 2012
Thursday was a nice mild day with a light southerly breeze. I had a bunch of lug left over from the previous session so headed to that same beach early in the evening, this time to fish a couple of hours either side of high tide. Although there was not much wind, there was still a good surf. I set up two rods again with 4/0 pennel pulleys baited with lug. First cast I had a subtle bite, struck and felt a small fish on the end which didn't put up much of a fight. It was a 32 cm flounder.

Shortly afterwards I had a slightly bigger flounder of 34 cm followed by a smaller fish of 28 cm at dusk.

As it got dark the flounder bites stopped and were replaced by coalfish. There was a steady stream of bites, some just whipped the worms off the hooks but I did catch a few small coalfish that managed to get their mouths around 4/0 hooks, although towards the end of the session I switched one rod to crab.

The crab proved harder for the coalfish strip off the hooks and I got another three up to high tide. As the tide began to drop the bites died off so I packed up about a hour after high tide with a total of three flounder and six coalfish.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Specimen Painted Ray - 11th February 2012

Saturday morning was very calm but a southerly wind gradually increased in strength through the day. I decided to fish and East Cork beack for a few hours up to high tide. I got to the beach just after 6.00 pm. There was a nice surf. It was a cloudy dark night with a fairly strong onshore breeze so I was hopefully of a good session.

I set up two rods both baited with crab on pennel pulleys. As I was targeting bass I lobbed both baits out a short distance into the breaking surf. About half an hour later I noticed a few small tugs on one of the rods. I picked it up, felt another tug and struck. I felt something heavy on the end, but it didn't feel like a bass. At first I thought I had just snagged a big clump of kelp but when I got it into the shallow surf I realized there was definitely a big fish on the end as it began to pull strongly. Then as I hauled it out of the foam I saw a good size Painted Ray flapping on the beach. However, it was only when I weighed it at 11.5 lb I realized I had a specimen fish.

I took a few photos and quickly released it.

About half an hour later I had a very sharp tug on the other rod. I grabbed the rod and felt a strong fighting fish on the end. There was no doubtling what it was this time and a few minutes later I slid a 4 lb, 54 cm bass on to the shingle.

High tide was at 8.00 pm, I fished on for another hour until the tide started to drop and then pack up. I was happy with that session, only two fish, but two quality fish!!!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Taunted by a bass - 5th February 2012

As Sunday was very calm with only a light westerly breeze I decided to have a go at lure fishing, inspired by Pat O'Shea's success in catching a 65 cm bass on a Feed Shallow the previous weekend. I made my way to a mark with a mixture of deep and shallow water terrain. The sea was flat with just gentle swells and the water was crystal clear. I started fishing in a small shallow boulder strewn bay which was now been infilled by the rising tide. After a while I worked my way to the left and fished into some deeper gulleys using a variety of hard and soft plastics but there was not a hint of a fish.

Close to high tide I made my way back to where I started as this was often a time when bass move in close. Then I spotted the fish, a good size bass, probably about 6 or 6.5 lbs just lazily cruising about, 30-40 cm below the surface and no more than 2.5 m out from the rock ledge I was standing on. I had a Feed Shallow on at the time and made a number of passes of the lure right under its nose but the fish ignored it, apart from making one turn to look at lure passing by. I switched to a weedless Slug-Go, letting it drift pass the bass, but again there was no interest. I was beginning to think the bass was asleep!!! After a few more casts I tried an Xlayer, followed by a Hazedong and finally a Waveworm before I lost sight of the fish. I continued casting out in the direction I last saw the bass but there was no interest.

I fished on until darkness, close to dusk I could see some activity on the surface, tips of several fish tails swirling about just above the surface. At the time I presumed they must have been bass as I thought mullet would have moved offshore by now. But despite casting a range of lures across them they were not interested. However, yesterday I was speaking to John, my crab supplier, and he mentioned that there were still mullet in the Youghal Harbour area, so perhaps with the mild winter the mullet have remained close to the shore.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Cold and windy night - 31st January 2012

I headed out on Tuesday evening before the arrival of the Siberian weather. However, it was still cold enough with a strong easterly wind. I had intended to fish the beach where I had a few bass last week but at the last minute decided to try another beach close by. I had only fished here once before, and that was on a Sunday afternoon in daylight with a weak surf and on an ebbing tide so needless to say I didn't do too well!!!

This time I was fishing a rising ride with a good surf. I found a section of the beach with a lot of structure; shallow gulleys and depressions, just the sort of terrain where you would expect bass to forage for food. I set up two rods with 4/0 pennel pulleys, one baited with fresh crab, the other with lug. About half an hour after casting out I had a strong bite. The fish was putting up a good struggle and I was convinced it was a bass until I hauled a 2.5 lb cod out of the surf.

Shortly afterwards I had a second smaller codling again on the crab. I missed another a little later. I was getting nibbles on the rod with the lug, but it was most likely small fish pulling on the bait, which couldn't get their mouths around a 4/0 hook. About 20 minutes later I spotted that the line had gone slack on the rod with crab, picked it up and reeled in a lot of slack, before connecting with a fish. It fought strongly the remainder of the way in  - another 2.5 lb cod.

After that the bites died off as the tide pushed in and the current running parallel to the beach from east to west became stronger requiring a switch from 5 oz to 6 oz grippers. I was also beginning to snag some big clumps of kelp. About a hour before high tide I decided to pack up as the fishing was becoming too difficult and the wind gaining in strength. Still I had 3 cod for the next few night's dinner.