Persistence and lessons learnt

Sometimes as I put these pages together and see what everyone is catching I wonder where I am going wrong. In the past few months, I have persisted lure fishing for bass despite blank after blank. I have fished ground that I have enjoyed success at in the past confident that it would eventually come right.

Calm clear conditions
A weed strewn shoreline

Calm conditions, interspersed with rougher water and masses of weed. I fished early, late and at different states of tide. Its seldom that everything is right after all. One morning I arrived at the water’s edge on the early morning flood. Third cast and wallop a heavy fish hit the lure hard. After a few strong runs the bass that I estimated to be between 8lb and 10lb was wallowing on a short line. All was going well until in a sickening moment the hook hold gave way and the lure flew back towards me. The big bass was gone with a flick of its tail to linger hauntingly in the minds eye. Strange how the loss of a big fish often remains etched in the mind far longer than a successful capture.

The loss of the bass spurred me onto more sessions and yet more blanks. On one occasion I arrived to find a huge swell surging into the shoreline. Despite this I persevered  and found a slightly calmer area with no weed. I caught sight of a few mullet their flanks catching the evening sunlight. After two hours still no bass; a move to a second mark brought the same result.

A couple of days later I return to the same mark. A brisk North West wind is blowing into the shoreline but there is little swell just a fizzy wind driven sea. I wade out and flick out a dark coloured Mega bass spindle worm lure. Third cast and bang the rod tip slams round the line zipping out to sea the rod pulsing in the hands the reels singing in protest. After a short exhilarating encounter a bass of 67cm ( just over 6lb) is secured. In the next two and   a half hours I beach another five bass estimated at between 3lb 8oz and 6lb. Three of the fish are close to 6lb. I pack away after darkness has descended my soft lures depleted by the aggressive bass.

Confidence is restored in the marks, the lures and my own judgement. It would be easy to just plan trips based on tide, weather and time of day. Problem is sometimes we can only go when it suits us. Choosing those perfect conditions would be ideal but getting tide times, weather, water clarity and time of day to fall into place is difficult. Then of course there is lure choice or bait choice plus location.

The following day I headed to Ilfracombe Pier for a short LRF session with my good friend Keith Armishaw of River Reads and Angling Heritage. After a later than planned start we fished the rising tide to tempt a few miniature pouting and pollock. Keith added a shanny to list and totally out-fished me using fragments of mackerel. I stuck to ISOME imitation ragworm and failed to connect with several good tugs.

Grey mullet were next on the agenda and we headed off to our chosen mark electing to fish the sheltered area out of the brisk North West breeze. A friend arrived on the opposite shoreline electing to fish into the teeth of the wind. Lesson learnt four mullet to 5lb 1oz on the windward shoreline – Nil, from the sheltered shoreline!

Remember the fish will be where the food is and not where you are most comfortable.

Bass feast on spider glut

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Jamie Steward and several other anglers have enjoyed some great shore sport with bass. Large spider ray baits proving effective as these fish feast upon this annual abundance of food. As the spider crab finish their moulting bass will once again be worthwhile targets on the lures. Jamies has tempted eighteen bass over there sessions the best a stunning fish of 7lb 12oz.

SEA ANGLING RESULTS

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Bideford August Rover Results

1st Julien Stainer – smoothound 9lb 10 1/2oz

2nd Andrew Clements – thick lipped mullet 3lb 4oz

                                            3rd Julien Stainer  – smoothound 8lb

13 members fished in Appledore Shipbuilders  August Rover.
Michael Hammett took the honours with a fine specimen Smoothound of 13lb 10 1/4ozs. He also came second with another specimen Smoothound of 11lb 2ozs. 3rd was Keiran Jewell with another Nice Smoothound of 9lb 10ozs.

Down West for the Annual blues trip

Penzance situated at the far West of the UK offers a gateway to the rich waters of the Atlantic and the small fleet of charter boats that depart from the port put anglers onto some of the best blue shark fishing available off the UK.

I arrived at Penzance on the eve of what has become an annual trip. The sun was shining on arrival with the bright blue agapanthus and palm trees swaying in a warm summer breeze. Timing a trip with the break of the school holidays was probably not the wisest of moves as the resort was teaming with visitors. I am not a lover of driving longish distances before and after fishing so I had booked a room at a sea front guest house.

First priority was to have a short session after the grey mullet that thrive in the local harbours. Newlyn with its busy fishing harbour always holds a certain appeal with the hustle and bustle of a working port. Float fished cod flesh soon brought plenty of bites that proved frustratingly difficult to connect with. Several good sized mullet were observed swimming close into the harbourside. Positioning my bait close in I was able to watch as they nudged the bait suspiciously. After a couple of hours of enjoyable and frustrating fishing the float sank for the umpteenth time and I felt that delightful connection. A small mullet of around 1lb 8oz was safely netted.

The shark fishing day started early at 4.55am on a sour note. A whats-App ping on the phone brings news that the trip organisers car had gone into limp mode and he would not be joining us.

At 6:45am I arrived at the harbourside ready for the 7.00 am departure. Bruce, Dan and John were all ready and eager for the day ahead. Kieran gave us all a cheery greeting. I asked how the previous days fishing had been and was told it had been a chilled day with seven shark to the boat. The result of a combination of recent weather conditions and big spring tides.

The boat set out bouncing over a calm sea. Pods of dolphins entertained us throughout the trip to the shark grounds leaping from the water often seemingly in synchronized formation. On this occasion my efforts to capture an image failed miserably.

We chatted of fish and fishing as the land slowly faded into obscurity. Far off the land gannets and other sea birds glided as they hunted the ocean.

Eventually the engine note changed as Kieran eased the boat to a halt somewhere far out in the deep blue yonder.  Bruce, Dan and I were keen to see the baits go out beneath the optimistically bobbing floats. A glance at John told  the story of that the age old curse of the sea. Pale and drained of life it was not to be a good day as mal de mer took its toll on John who had a miserable day.

The aroma of rubby-dubby probably didn’t help as the sacks were filled with a fishy cocktail of fish, bran and oils. Within minutes an oily slick appeared in the wake of the boat. The bright pop bottle floats suspending fresh whiting at varying depths.

Bruce Elston keeps the bait coming

We drew the customary straws and I was pleased to get number 1. John had declined an offer of first shark. Baited feathers were sent down the sea bed to catch a steady supply of fresh whiting for bait. After half an hour a shark took the distant bait and I tightened into the first shark of the day. A few minutes later a blue of around 60lb was at the side of the boat the circle hook neatly in the scissors.

Enjoying the battle

A pleasing blue to start the day

A day’s sharking is always exciting with a constant suspense awaiting the scream of  a reel or disappearance of a float. In the vast rolling ocean, the mystery of what lurks beneath the surface entrances. As the day unfolds there are short bursts of activity and on two occasions we have double hook ups that give a few anxious moments.

Dan Miles Redmore takes the strain

A quick picture in the water

Bruce sets the circle hook

75lb of blues power

In Penzance terms today was a slow day with eleven blues to around 75lb brought to the side of the boat. The days of bringing these fish on board has passed with all fish unhooked quickly at the side of the boat. These beautiful fish look awesome in the clear water and its great to see them swim strongly away after unhooking to disappear into the aqua blue water of the Atlantic.

We lingered for a while hoping for one more shark but as always eventually it’s time to call it a day. We motor back to Penzance glimpsing dolphins once again in the wake of the boat. Gannet’s dive into the water undoubtedly feasting upon mackerel. I always find the vast sky and rolling waters fascinating and so alive.

As we approach the harbour Bite Adventures bounces across the waves on its twin hull and a party of anglers give us a cheery wave.

Penzance is bustling with summer tourists as staycations boom. Were already plotting next year’s voyages to the deeps.