Time to catch a bass

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September and October have always been prime time for the bass angler with every chance of that fish of a lifetime showing. If water clarity is good lure fishing could bring its rewards though a big fish bait anchored off a beach is a method with a well proven track record. Don’t rule the estuary either as big bass often prowl into areas that many consider the home of flounder and school bass.

Recreational anglers will be delighted to hear that the total ban on retaining bass is to be lifted from October 1st 2018 with one bass per day to be allowed for the table. Whilst the majority of anglers return the fish they catch most will be pleased that they can take the occasional fish for the table.

(below)Ali Laird enjoyed a successful session on a local beach beaching two small ray a brace of bass of 3lb to 4lb and this fine bass of 9lb 12oz.

(Below) Tony Slade won Appledore Shipbuilder’s Bass Competition at Westward Ho! with a bass of 7lb 4oz.

(Below) James Atkinson took second and third with bass of 3lb 5oz and 2lb 12oz.

Bass from boulder strewn shores

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First day of autumn probably the finest season for angling. One more try for a bass in Combe Martin SAC’s lure competition.

As I walk to the shore a few family’s are enjoying time beside the sea as summer fades. Its a balmy air as I make my way across the familiar boulder strewn foreshore. I arrive perspiring just before low water and make my way out onto a favorite  rocky promontory. The sea is calm, clarity good and I feel confident as I clip on a patchinko surface lure and launch it 40 yards or so out onto the water. After searching the water for ten minutes or so without any swirls behind the lure I clip on my favourite candy coloured shallow diver. After two casts I feel that electrifying jolt through the thin braid as a bass slams into the lure. The rod pulses in my hands as a bass of a couple of pounds fights for freedom. I relish the sight of the bass as it swims on a tight line in the clear water.

A couple more casts and a repeat performance as bass number two hits the lure.

As the tide pushes in I hop off the rock before getting trapped by the rising water and move fishing from boulders flicking a surface lure into the shallow water. There is a swirl behind the lure and I pause momentarily before twitching the lure and get an immediate response as a small bass nails the lure hard. I lift the bass from the water and on grabbing the fish impale my finger on a flying treble hook. Bass on one hook finger past the barb on the other; Ouch!!! I really should carry a small first aid kit..

A wash off in salty water and its time to resume fishing. I search the shoreline finding three more bass as I relish the calm water and the splendid scenery. I love fishing these shallow boulder strewn shorelines and the exciting encounters as the bass appear in the clear water sometimes smashing the lure just a few feet from the edge.

I end the session as the evening sun illuminates the steep cliffs pausing as I walk back to enjoy a hot coffee from my new drink pod.

The next few months are an exciting prospect for the angler with bass, mullet and tope on the sea angling agenda.

Big Bass in the dark

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Danny Watson of High Sreet Tackle Ilfracombe has taken the lead in Combe Martin SAC’s Lure Fishing Competition landing a fine bass of 70cm.

The fish was also weighed before being returned and scaled 8lb 9oz.

Danny has kindly agreed to award the prize of an HTO Nebula Lure Rod to the runner up in the competition if he wins as High Street Tackle are sponsoring the competition. So there’s a challenge to club members get out there and claim the top spot and save Danny the embarrassment of winning his own competition!!!

Congratulations go to Danny and Ross in getting out there after dark and having the confidence to cast a lure its something I have been intending to do for ages.

Danny story below :-

Absolutely bloody buzzing man! Got a message from fellow club member Ross Stanway – ” Did I fancy a quick lure session in the dark,” was hardly going to say no was I? He quickly got into a fish of about 2lb, we were pleased. Then about half an hour later all hell broke loose and I was into this beast! My second night time lure bass – measured 70cm and weighed 8lb 9oz! It went like a steam train taking line like mad – it was absolutely mental. Lots of people know I have banged on about doing this for ages – now I have and believe me it is pretty mad. I did not expect something like this! I can’t stop grinning!!!

The fish was tempted on a white do live stick – High Street Tackle sell Laggin Dragons which are very similar.

Bass on the lure winners

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High Street Tackle have been running a lure fishing competition over recent weeks and have announced the winners of the latest.

Olly Larvin and Peter Hayes both landed bass of 70cm tempting them on Size 4 Fillish Black Minnows.

Combe Martin SAC are still competing in their own lure fishing competition sponsored by High Street Tackle but so far despite catching plenty of bass there are three members on 55cm. With three weeks to go I am sure this will be beaten!

Big bass on Floating Crust

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Richard Jefferies caught this splendid bass estimated at 8lb whilst was mullet fishing in the Torridge estuary he caught it  on floating bread on 3lb line and a size 10 hook he also had a mullet just over 4lbs as well. After a quick photo the bass was returned to the water.

Combe Martin SAC – Get Luring

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Lure Fishing is one of the few growth areas in UK angling with this exciting branch of angling bringing new recruits into the sport each year. The crystal clear waters along the North Devon Coast this year are ideal for searching for bass and other species. Combe Martin Sea Angling Club Members are competing in a two month long competition that commenced on July 1st and culminates on September 2nd with the presentation of prizes at the clubs annual Fun Fishing Event. The competition is generously sponsored by High Street Tackle Ilfracombe who are providing a quality lure fishing rod and reel. Danny Watson is a keen lure angler and ensures that the shop has a vast stock of lures to tempt  bass, pollock, mackerel and a range of other species.

IMPORTANT – Please remember that there is a total ban on retaining bass for the table.


Some of the clubs anglers have already enjoyed some lure fishing success with Ross Stanway amongst members to land bass to over 5lb.

3lb bass on a fiiish crazy sandeel.

I have been lure fishing for bass over many seasons now and have enjoyed success from time to time with bass to almost 10lb. The excitement when a big bass hits the lure is undoubtedly addictive and the quest for the perfect lure costly. I am certain that lures catch far more anglers than fish but that’s all part of the fun. The most important feature of a lure is that it gives the angler confidence for a confident angler fishes with conviction and belief. In truth half a dozen lures will probably be all you will ever need; a few hard plastics,:- shallow diving, surface lures, soft plastics and metal lures.

My favourite hard plastic lure -IMA Komomo SF-125 in Candy Crush Colours.

Bass tempted on a surface lure.

Shallow boulder strewn shorelines are my favourite for lure fishing

Small pollock tempted with LRF Tackle.
Time for one or two more casts!

Sea Angling sport update

Sea anglers are enjoying mixed sport along the coast with bass, mullet and smoothound. It is also good to hear reports of  a few mackerel and herring from the boats.

(Below)Nick Job enjoyed a good night fishing with his mate Ian Hooper targetting smoothound they landed several hounds the best this fine specimen of 12lb 4oz. Ian landed hounds to 8lb 13oz.

(Below) Nick Phillips was targetting grey mullet when this 7lb 12oz bass seized his bread hook bait.

(Above) Nathan Clements caught this fine grey mullet on his first attempt after the species this season.

Daniel Welch took his daughter Effie fishing for grey mullet and they both enjoyed success with Dan landing the above mullet of 4lb 4oz whilst his daughter enjoyed success with a nice mullet of 3lb 3oz.

Luring bass amongst the boulders

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I set out on my first lure fishing session of the summer with Jeff Pearce and took him to a remote rock mark that has been kind to me in the past. I was pleased to see that the water clarity was excellent as we looked down into the bay whilst we strolled down the cliff path. We had timed our visit to coincide with low water and I knew that by the time we arrived at the far end of the bay the tide would be starting to creep in. Lure fishing sessions are generally determined by tide, light and water clarity.

By the time we reached our starting point we were both perspiring from the effort of rock hopping. Jeff was probably wondering if the effort was worth it. I clipped on my favourite shallow hard plastic lure and hopped onto a boulder. I flicked the lure thirty yards or so out and commenced an erratic retrieve. The water clarity was excellent and with my Polaroids removing glare from the water I could watch the lure as I worked it back to the waters edge. On the third cast a dark shape materialized behind the lure. The fish closed on the lure and I kept up a steady retrieve giving the lure a twitch before running out of water. Lure and bass converged, the rod hooped over as I watched the drama unfold at the end of my line. It is magical moments like this that feed the addiction of lure fishing. That moment of electrifying contact especially when its all clearly visible.

Success so early in the session was just what we wanted and ensured that each cast was made with optimism and belief an essential ingredient in any form of angling. Jeff was into a small pollock a few casts later that that further buoyed our optimism. Half an hour later I once again felt that thrilling jolt down the line as a fish hit the lure but this time the hooks failed to take a hold. Next cast into the same spot and bang! Another bass was gyrating on the line. A similar size to the first fish that I estimated as close to 4lb.

As the tide crept in we decided to make our way back along the bay. Sadly huge rafts of weed had drifted close to the shore and rendered a large portion of the bay difficult to fish. We finished the session fishing an area of the bay that I have found seldom brings any success but with a setting sun and a couple of fish under the belt we were not complaining.

My favourite ground for lure fishing for bass is shallow and boulder strewn. Bass will swim into water barely deep enough to cover their backs and in this terrain they do not have long to inspect the lure. There are thousands of lures to choose from and lure choice is important and needs to suit the conditions so give a little thought as to what you think will work. Confidence in the lure is vitally important and this factor probably influences what is successful. I carry a handful of lures in my Snowbee sling-bag and only use one or two for 90% of my fishing. This doesn’t stop me being tempted when I visit the tackle shop where I suspect the lures catch more anglers than fish.

(Above) A fine selection of lures in Ilfracombe’s High Street Tackle

Ilfracombe Shore Sport on the up!

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Summer fishing is on its way as temperatures start to rise with a few early bass showing along with wrasse. The first tope have also been tempted from the boats. Mackerel should arrive withing the next few weeks. Fishing after dark will bring ray so don’t forget the annual Putsborough Open next weekend. http://www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk/2018/04/19/putsborough-sands-open-fishing-competition-2018/

Danny Watson and  Pauline of High Street Tackle Ilfracombe have been out fishing from their local shore marks and have enjoyed success with  bass, pollock, rockling and small eels. These have been tempted using lug worm and fish baits. Danny hopes that these catches are indication that things are improving after a difficult spring.  Toby Bassett has also enjoyed success a good session of bass and wrasse on lug worm.  Paul Lorrimore has had a few spotted ray from the pier.