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.

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