Having just finished a night shift , my time was limited but,the plan was to attempt to pick up some live bait and try out a float rig, falling back on some lures if necessary.
As I closed in on the intended mark, I could see that Clive was in attendance, and not wishing to disturb his fishing, chose to give him a wide berth and just explore the ground south of the 'numbers' with the sonar to see what was there.
Nothing of interest showed, so i decided to leave Clive in peace, and head off half a mile to my own mark, noticing that he was weighing a fish just as i left. Hopefully I thought..a bass.
When i arrived at mark 36, no other boats were about in the area, which suited me fine as I'd intended to scan the area thoroughly as i searched for bait, noting any interesting features. Down went a shrimp/feather rig, but it took some time before anything showed any interest apart from some aborted follows up to the surface by garfish-spring has arrived.
Eventually, after dropping off what i suspect was a herring, a fat pout showed, followed by a rather nice early bream, both of which were too big to use on the float rig.Eventually, a half pound whiting came up which was deemed perfect for the job and consigned to the temporary bait tank-a water filled bucket.
The kit comprised a four ounce weighted portland rig, suspended under a huge 10x2" cigar slider,and a 6/0 circle hook on a six foot trace which appears to look ridiculously small when attached to the bait.The float is capable of freely supporting the whole set up with the aim being to 'work' the bait within the bottom 10ft of water.
I'd come across a couple of big 'peaks' whilst scanning the mark, and decided to fish my live bait as accurately as possible over these.By now the ebbing tide had eased, and a building SW breeze slowed down the 250 deg drift to about a knot- a nice manageable speed which allowed the boat to be positioned relatively easily.I repeat, 'relatively'
I had a few false alarms on the first couple of passes as I adjusted the depth of the bait, but duly managed to get the rig working effectively and about 20yds away from the boat.Watching the big red marker like a hawk on the third or fourth pass, i soon noticed a sharp 'jag', followed by the float gliding away to the depths and line spilling steadily off the little Avet spool held under ratchet tension.
After a few seconds I decided that something more interesting than the sea bed had connected with my set up and, remembering NOT to strike,I gently tightened down to set the circle hook.I immediately felt something heavy, but moving, and recognised that characteristic 'head banging' signalling the take of a good bass.The fish fought strongly,but i was still taken aback when she finally appeared on the surface, and it was clear that a double figure bass was within my grasp, with my circle hook neatly embedded in her upper lip.
After a bit of fumbling with the landing net, and a couple of nail biting moments when the fish made some last thwarted escape bids by diving hard under the boat, she( a cracking looking fish like this must be a female)finally slid into the mesh, and was mine.
Having brought her up from nearly 50ft, my immediate priority was to get her back in ASAP so , thinking I'd left my scales at home, I took an accurate nose to fork flat measurement with the B.A.S.S tape and, not wanting to waste further time setting up a self take photo-snapped a couple of 'deck' shots before sliding her back over the side.
I must have held on to her in the flow ,with my thumb locked over her bottom lip, for about three minutes before I could feel her strength return, .It was a fantastic sight seeing her finally 'kick off' down into the depths of the gin clear water, obviously fully recovered.
Punching the sky a couple of times as you do(Thankfully nobody else was about for miles)I settled down to tidy up the boat and duly found my scales-bugger!
The B.A.S.S tape showed a measurement of 80cm and a weight of 11lb 8oz. Because she was a heavily built fish, I'm more than happy to settle for this.The exact weight is really not that important. She was a fine double figured fish, and an amazingly fortunate start with a new method-my first bass on live bait and confirmation indeed that the method would sort out the better fish.
After consulting the plotter and following the drift trace, it would appear that the take came only yards away from the spot where last August's twelve pounder was caught.Mark 36 now takes pride of place at the head of my waypoint list, and will be surveyed more thoroughly on my next visit.
The whiting had survived the ordeal relatively unharmed so was sent down again for another pass but, I was running out of time and shortly had to leave the mark in order to safely make it over the bar at the harbour entrance. Naturally, I was grinning like a Cheshire cat all the way home.
So a good start with a new method and I'm sure, If I'd had more time, I could have put a bigger catch,numbers wise , together.The bigger tides do indeed seem to be the key,and if I can hone my feature finding, and boat positioning skills , and also return to marks and their features with some accuracy , I'm sure more big bass will show up.
Clive did extremely well, although obviously getting out quite some time ahead of me, and fishing both lures and lives at the same time, he still put together a mightily impressive catch of ten bass, from a pound, to ten pound and an ounce.I think I've got a way to go before I can match these sort of figures.
11-00 - 1415 hrs
HW 1038 5.9m