With the recent wet and windy weather it was time to put away the lure fishing rod until next year and concentrate on bait fishing.
Last week I picked up a dozen crabs and went for my first cod fishing session of the winter. When I got to my favourite cod mark I realized there was a lot of fresh water coming down the estuary after the recent heavy rain and a huge amount of debris on the shore. But since I was there I thought I would give it a go. I was fishing for about an hour, catching nothing other than eels. I hate eels - too slimy to get a grip on to get off the hook and they make a tangled mess of your rigs. Then there was a sharp strong tug on one of the rods but the fish was not hooked. That was encouraging, at least there was something other than eels out there.
Midway into the rising tide I had another strong bite. This time the fish was well hooked and was fighting strongly. At the time I assumed it was a cod but as I got it in close it broke the surface and I realized it was a fat chunky bass of 51 cm. It weighed 4.25 lbs, well above the avarage weight for its size, it must have been feeding well over the last few months.
About 20-30 minutes later there was another strong tug on the same rod and the line went slack. I quickly reeled in the slack and connected with a very strong fish which put up a good fight all the way in. This time it was a 7 lb bass, another well fed fat fish. Its was 63 cm in length so again well above average weight for its size.
I wasn't expecting to get bass from here as I was fishing into a deep channel which normally produces cod at this time of the year. I fished on for a while but just had a few more eels.
Last Sunday I decided to fish for bass and with another dozen crabs made my way to a mark which I had only lure fished before but one that had a chance of producing bass on a dropping tide. Following the strong winds on Saturday the shore was blanketed with a mass of kelp but the water looked reasonably clean. There was quite a strong cold NW wind blowing and intermittent rain, I was thinking I should have stayed at home in front of the fire.
I set up and cast out the first rod. While I was setting up the second rod there was a small tap on the first. I reeled in and found one of the smallest pollock I have ever caught trying to get the crab off a 4/0 pennel pulley.
It was quite for about 30 minutes after that then there was a strong knock on one of the rods and the line went slack. I wound in the slack, at first I thought the fish was gone as I had to reel in a lot of slack before I caught up with it. It felt to be a very good fish and fought extremely strongly. As I got it in close the fish was thrashing about in the shallows until I eased it onto the beach. It was a fine, very fat stocky bass of 8.25 lbs. It measured just under 70 cm and must have been feeding very well over the summer. When I released it the fish gave one powerful flick of its tail and surged out into the bay at speed.
I had a couple of 1 lb coalfish after that. Then I had a more substantial tug. This felt to be a much heavier fish than the coalfish and fought strongly all the way in. It was a 3.25 lb cod.
I had one more coalfish after that before packing up.
As I had some crabs left I returned to the same mark last night but the coalfish were there in plague proportions. If there were any bass about the coalfish were onto the bait before they had a chance. I caught 10 or 12 and dropped half as many before all the bait was used up.