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 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.
A gentle surf pushed into the beach as I strolled in the shallow water enjoying the coolness in the late afternoon heat. I searched the water for the fish I had been told would be there amongst the bathers. Amongst a slightly foamy coloured band of water, I found what I was looking for hundreds of mullet darting to and fro apparently feasting up on an algal feast.
I cast expectantly with a team of flies designed to attract the wily mullet. As the waves turned mullet could be seen in the small waves some of them a decent size. I suspected that many were golden greys though the size of some indicated that thick lips were amongst them.
A couple of times the line zipped tight but contact could not be made. As the tide started to flood the activity increased with swirling mullet all around. I cast repeatedly trying slow retrieves, quicker retrieves and static drifts. Frustration grew, the tide flooded and all of sudden they were gone.
The following night I stood upon a boulder strewn shoreline armed with a lure rod. A surface lure was cast out and worked back across the still water. The sun was descending as the day faded a golden glow of fiery light. A large swirl behind the lure gave hope. Hundreds of fish could be seen dimpling the surface. Mullet again! The fly rod was in the van but I was too lazy or too focussed on the bass to switch tactics. Another night I will return with a few bread flies and some floating crust to get them feeding. Some would say that’s cheating; but perhaps we sometimes make things too difficult for ourselves.
As the light faded expectation grew as the tide gently pushed in. An hour after dark I heard a swirl in the calm water. Next cast my soft plastic was seized, a welcome jolt of life through the line. A bass of a couple of pounds saved a blank.
The moon slowly rose above the hill, lights reflected in the mirror calm sea. The cool night air, the aroma of seaweed and fresh sea air. These summer nights are to be cherished for all too soon autumn and winter will descend bringing different challenges.
Combe Martin SAC members are enjoying good sport along the North Devon coast. Daniel Welch tempted this fine bass of 62cm using a patching surface lure. He takes the lead in the clubs lure fishing competition. Sponsored by High Street Tackle.
John Shapland caught this stunning thin lipped grey mullet of 4lb 5oz.
General consensus is that the fishing year is running at least a month late with lure fishing for bass in particular only just starting to pick up. High Street Tackle in Ilfracombe is run by lure fishing enthusiast Danny Watson who tells me that interest in lure fishing is at an all time high. The shop stocks a vast range of lures from many major companies with hard plastics, soft plastics in every variation of weight size and colour. Advice is at hand as to how to rig and fish the lures. High Street tackle are sponsoring Combe Martin SAC,s annual lure fishing competition that runs from July 1st until September 5th. The competition is open to paid up club members with a first prize of up £200 of quality lure tackle with £100 for the runner up.