, nylon leader
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).
Success at last - one good morning!
My last Saltwater web page was a catalogue of not catching fish, which ended with a schoolie on a softbait - better than nothing. Well this week's results have not been a lot better. I've mostly tried seatrout fishing in my local river and the 'net' result was one or two small pike and perch on the 7cm, jointed Rapala. To be fair I did miss a couple of decent seatrout, neither of which was attached for more than a few seconds before their frantic leaping shed the hooks. I also lost one really big pike which took the little plug (attached by my usual anti-pike trace); I played this fish for a long time, in and out of lily pads and weed beds, before it escaped and swam away just as I was wielding the net. To be honest this was a bit depressing, and things were looking rather grim. On Sunday, despite the rough conditions, my pal Bill went spinning, and in a short burst of action landed three bass on softbaits. Encouragement!
That evening I checked the tide tables to find that it would be low water at about 04:00 hr, just after first light. I decided to have another go at free-lining for bass the following morning. Before going to bed I put a mackerel fillet into the bait bucket in the car, to thaw overnight, and then set the alarm for 03:30. When I arrived at the coast at dawn it was dead low water and although the little bay I had chosen to fish was reasonably calm due to the ledges on either side, there was a fair old swell running outside. My venue was shallow (only centimetres of water at low tide) with a muddy/stony bottom. I was using my old 4Surespin rod and (almost as ancient) Stradic reel. I nicked the bait through the thin end onto the 8/0 circle hook and flicked it out about five metres, avoiding the mass of drifting weed to my right. For perhaps ten minutes the bait lay undisturbed but there was a slight left-to right movement of water as the tide began to rise. My line pulled round to the right gathering drifting strands of sea lettuce and japweed as it went. I reeled in to check that the bait was not smothered (it wasn't) before lobbing it gently back into the same spot.
A couple of minutes after recasting there was a big swirl near the bait - clearly a good fish had moved into the shallow water. I then noticed another disturbance to the left of the first one, so I knew there were at least two decent fish present. Now my heart was in my mouth, with bass foraging so close to the bait. I stood stock still and waited for signs of 'action'. Sure enough the line twitched and began to run out through my fingers. The movement was steady but not violent and after about ten metres had gone it stopped. I looked in the direction of the braid and could see some more turbulence where I guessed the fish and bait were now positioned. The line was still twitching and knocking so I was sure that the bass had not dropped it. I decided to tighten gently, assuming that, by now,the fish should have the bait well inside its mouth.
Closing the bale and slowly winding the rod began to bend; now I could feel the weight of the bass. It was on! It would be good to say that the bass took off for the horizon ripping line off against a tight clutch - but it didn't. At first, as I pumped it slowly towards me, I thought it might possibly be a small conger or even a wrasse with a liking for mackerel bait. There were one or two fragments of weed on the line, but not enough to cause me any problems. The fish came steadily closer with very little resistance and then I saw it, it was a big, beautiful bass. I led it into the shallow water and it flapped a bit as I picked it up. The big hook was neatly lodged behind the middle of the lower jaw - fantastic!
I carried my catch up to where I'd dumped the bag and before unhooking the fish I measured it on the tape; 76cm fork-length (I still measure fork lengths, a habit from forty-odd years of fish research). The bass was in good nick so probably well over ten pounds (my old rusty spring balance was consigned to the scrap heap earlier this year). I propped up the camera on my bait bucket and set the timer to take a selfie. The only disappointment was the lack of resistance by the bass to being caught. Excellent stuff! I didn't even bother to use my spare piece of bait; twenty minutes fishing and one fine bass was sufficient. I drove home well satisfied.
Not the best picture but a really good bass.
The selfie - I don't look as pleased as I felt.
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