Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Four Days In November

In truth, this entry covers six trips during late November but ,only four are of any consequence.
 I do very little beach fishing  . Not that i don't enjoy the odd outing on the shingle , its just that owning your own fishing boat spoils you somewhat in that the fishing can be quite spectacular although, at times, i do question whether boat fishing is any easier than shore. Let's just say that more opportunities for success exist when afloat if indeed, you can actually get afloat.
Despite my kitchen door being a mere hundred yards or so from the high tide mark,the only shore fishing i do nowadays with any regularity, is autumn surf fishing for bass. Recent south westerlies has meant the surf during the early part of the month was excellent but, for various reasons , I failed to be able to take advantage and get out. Unfortunately i missed the boat somewhat as some very good bass were taken from beaches local to me with some excellent results from a mark that I was first made aware of nearly twenty years ago. In those days it was a far more popular spot  and not just when the sea was 'active' either. In calm conditions, I would often see lure and fly anglers chasing 'silver' mostly in low light conditions at dawn and dusk.
Nowadays it is rarely fished apart from a few hardy 'surfers' -mostly known personally to me. They score some very nice bass but put in some extreme effort in the form of rod hours so deserve everything that comes their way.
Although the surf wasn't 'up' , one evening i fancied a bit of a 'sesh' on the shingle, so hit the beach outside my back door. The weed was a pain,(when is it not!) and the fishing not particularly exciting (i caught half a dozen whiting) but, i enjoyed myself nonetheless and it was fun watching the rod tips rattle even if i couldn't really tell whether or not i'd hooked anything until i 'd retrieved the rig!
If the surf does kick up again before the water temperatures plummet, I'll be ready for it.
A boat session with baits in search of cod at a mark some nine miles off produced two lost 'greenbacks' (bugger) and a whole heap of dogfish. I guess it was just one of those days and it occurred to me that the water was sufficiently clear to be thinking about chucking plastic around.

 Plucky wrasse

a brace of fours for the pot.

 4lb 8oz wrasse

 7lb bass
This time of year can provide some of the best bass fishing in our locale. The fish are fit and fat, tend to gather in large numbers, and due to water temperatures still being relatively warm,are more often than not in feeding mode.
My first trip with just a lure rod on board and no bait, was to be very brief. A snatched session with merely two hours wetting a line and the first port of call was a known mark where the tide would be at the 'right' state. I didn't have time to go searching.
The first drift produced a nice chunky bass to a four inch pink manns (top pic)but no further takes occurred in the proceeding runs and very little was evident on the screen. I suspect they were there, but i didn't have time to locate them. A move was in order.
A mile or so distant,the second reef mark showed more life,however they were wrasse and among them,a splendid specimen of four and a half pounds, again on the manns,which came to the boat on the first drift.Two good fish in a short time-bonus.
Bass guru Pete had generously donated a new super thin braid for me to test. This was its first outing and what a difference it made. Even in fast drift speeds approaching two knots,with depths of up to 60ft i was able to keep the lure directly under the boat near to the sea bed with just 30-40g of nose weight. With little or no wind to hamper me today,i was able to fish far more effectively with the new line and it certainly saved on lost lures despite the fact that i was using open hook patterns.
Two days later I returned and, with much more time to play with, scored thirty odd bass in the two to four pound range. Things were indeed looking up, my confidence was building, and i was starting to feel that my lure fishing was progressing mostly due to getting a feel for the method.A combination of the will to search for the fish, and a little patience helped because the fish weren't forming big, easily found shoals. I had to work to find them.
Another two days later and i joined Martin on the 'Blueprint' once again for a lure only session. We fished two of his favoured marks and although at first I couldn't match his catch rate, by the end of the session i was starting to catch up. We caught about forty bass that day as well as a handful of wrasse on a variety of lures including a prototype that we're testing for Pete.
One notable capture when things were a bit slow was a bass on an aniseed scented paddle tail. Who knows whether the smell made any difference but its something that i'm going to introduce to my own lures in the future.
Frequenting one of the marks were two commercial bass rod and line boats from Shoreham and Newhaven one of which was the Warrior 175 that i'd previously come across in the spring.
I know these guys are much derided by some but personally, i cannot help admire their skill and efficiency at killing bass using their live bait methods. I'm certainly happier with this sort of fishing rather than the indiscriminate methods used such as pair trawling.They seemed to score with big fish on every drift and although we were fishing much the same line, our lures could not keep up, particularly as the tide slackened.
The following day I returned to the same mark with Dave setting off in the dark to catch the tide at the bar and hopefully get a few quiet hours fishing before any other boats showed. We arrived as the tide was slacking and as Dave thoroughly enjoyed himself by picking off a few wrasse on plastic, i set about trying, and failing, to catch some live bait on baited feathers.
A few bass were caught but it wasn't until the tide started to move again that things picked up. We'd had the place to ourselves up to this point but it wasn't long before one of the previous days commercials showed up.His live baits immediately found the fish and, unexpectedly,and rather generously he called us over to join him on his drift line.He obviously didn't consider us a threat to his fishing as we put most of our bass back but its likely that our lures could also act as attractors to his own baits.
By that time i did have a small pout in the bait tank which had taken a shad not much smaller than himself and this was duly sent out under a float and literally 'smashed' within a minute by a very decent bass indeed of six and a half pounds.
We did continue to catch on lures and, some very good fish were taken but, we could not get anywhere near that commercial.
In time several other boats, all known to me personally, joined the drift although not all were catching.Dave and me had had our fun so we decided to head off somewhere quieter to a different mark.
Here the bass were slightly more difficult to locate and we were picking off the odd fish here and there rather than finding them consistantly but we'd had a very good day anyway so weren't too bothered.
The live bait method definitely deserves more consideration and what i need to do now is find a way to get a tankfgul of whiting or pouting without wasting too much of these ever shortening days. A plan needs to be hatched on that score.
Overall the four trips were a resounding success and, although no monsters were taken, i can only remeber one bass being less than about a couple of pounds and several decent fish were in the mix up to about seven pounds.
Things are improving.

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