Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Not quite to plan!
With the onset of Hurricane Bertha conditions have changed a bit. As the wind increased a couple of days ago Bill, Nigel and I decided to try an evening session at high water for bass and/or mullet. The mullet turned up but they were too far out and the wind was too strong to make fly fishing a proposition so Nigel and I decided to fish bait on top of the flat ledges - sometimes productive at this time of the year. Bill continued spinning. To cut a long story short none of us caught anything (Bill had a bite). The bait fishing was tricky. We were freelining large mackerel and squid baits but the tide, waves and wind were whipping the lines round and loading the gear with loose kelp. We gave it a good hour or more but the writing was on the wall and we all packed in - fishless.
Two days later the worst of the wind had subsided so I decided to try the incoming morning tide. From the fridge I dug out the last two of my year-old mackerel heads and armed with my freelining gear (4Surespin, Stradic 4000, 30lb Whiplash and 6/0 circle hook) I ventured down to the coast. I also took another spinning rod with a large Slandra lure - just in case. When I got to the shore there was a stiff westerly wind blowing and all the bays were full of drifting kelp and wrack. The sea was pretty murky with suspended sediment and there was no visible sign of bass (tails, fins, swirls) so I decided that bait would be my best bet. I speared the largest of my mackerel heads through the very tip of its lower jaw and the end of the snout so that virtually all the hook was exposed and hiked along the rocks. I was looking for a gully where the wind would be at my back and the waves damped down by a big ledge.
The first place I tried looked promising but there was more crap in the water than I'd bargained for. The line quickly picked up lots of weed and the surf dragged my bait into the edge. After a couple of fruitless casts I walked further along looking for a better spot. I came to a big east facing gully where I knew that the bottom consisted of flat rock clothed thinly in wrack. The waves were just beginning to sweep into the depression and I estimated that there were probably two to three feet of water. I stood at the windward end, lobbed the bait perhaps ten metres into the gully and stood holding the rod and waiting for a bite. It wasn't too difficult to control the line and after perhaps ten minutes, lo and behold I had a take. I adopted my usual approach of letting the fish run off line but I hadn't taken account of the amount of drifting weed and after it had had run out a few metres through my fingers the bass clearly felt the drag of weed on the line and dropped the bait. Bugger!!! I wound in to find the bait was still there although the hook had torn free from the lower jaw. I fiddled about and rehooked the bait lightly through both jaws as before. I decided that if I was to avoid another abortive run I would have to try and minimise weeding up so I simply dropped the bait about a metre out from where I stood to keep most of the line out of the water.
I didn't have to wait long before I felt the tell tale pluck of a taking fish and then there was the magical few seconds as braid was coiling off the spool faster and faster. Typical bass bite. I waited until it had taken a fair amount of line before gently closing the bale arm (I generally drop the rod point towards the running fish as I do this to minimise resistance). The line drew tight, the rod began to curve round, the reel gave a screech and I was in. Straight away the bass thrashed on the surface and I could see that although it was a decent size it was no record breaker. I played it carefully as it made a succession of surging runs for the open sea but it was probably only a couple of minutes before I had the problem of how to beach it. I could see that the big circle hook was in the scissors so I wasn't worried about it coming unstuck and at about the third attempt I was able to slide it ashore on a wave and pick it up. I layed the bass on the rock until I nipped up for the camera and the tape measure. It was 60cm and 2.5kg (five-and-a-half pounds) and it swam off strongly when I released it. Very satisfying! An hour-and-a-half's fishing,two bites and one nice bass. Then I went home for breakfast.
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The evening session.