After my last blog I had an email from Carl asking for some guidance for himself and mate Glyn on fishing for bass. Neither had caught one before but after success a couple of weeks before I was pretty confident of getting them into some fish. We got down to the mark and set up in plenty of time, although not quite where I first hoped to be. I wasn’t expecting much for the first hour or so but that gave me enough time to go through different rigs, preparing baits and approaching different marks for bass, as although they turn up anywhere, almost every mark requires different tactics.
Once the guys were happy preparing crab baits themselves, and negotiating the pincers of some lively ragworm we were able to fish hard, in the hope that with more bait fish around, the bigger fish would start to move through the channel.
Glyn broke his duck early on and followed it up with the first doggie I’ve seen at this mark, while Carl was having a bit of a harder time, finding snags on more than one occasion, fish coming off in the weed, and bites not developing past the initial rattle. We weren’t going to leave until he had one though, so we swapped a big pennel rig for a 3 hook flapper. The change of tactics did the trick and Carl’s first bass was landed. Despite steady knocks for the next couple of casts no more fish came and with it getting very late the guys decided it was time to call it a day. Although my own expectations for the session weren’t met with the bigger fish again failing to show, the guys were incredibly chuffed to get their first bass a piece, and now they’ve broke the ice I’m sure more will follow for them.
A couple of days later I decided to revisit the mark, this time using lures to try and tease out a bigger fish. I covered a lot more ground than usual, with the smaller tide the fish wouldn’t be as concentrated in the channels so I would have to go looking for them. The improvised patch over my waders just holding the water at bay I was out waist deep, fanning casts out from several spots. It was one of those perfect still, silent nights until a fish broke the surface with a mighty swirl off to my left. I speed retrieved my lure to hit the same spot, only to realise that fish had probably already made an attempt on my lure! Safe to say it didn’t return! There was another couple of swirls but I was starting to get frustrated with the lack of hook ups so made my way back the way I came. A change to a more flashy lure did the trick after a few casts I had a hook up. There wasn’t much fight but I took it steady until a schoolie about 3/4lb, not much bigger than the lure was on the bank. This was followed by two more the same size. With the feeling that the bigger bass weren’t going to show again I made a move, but happy to get my first on a lure this year.
Monster tides at the beginning all this week made planning a bit tricky, but on Monday me and Paul headed out early doors, starting out after bass on the lures before trying for garfish. The water was perfect at our fish mark, just a bit more swell than I would have liked but clarity was good and I was optimistic to say the least. I fished hard as the sun rose, chopping and changing lures but nothing seemed to be happening. As Paul arrived I saw a follow from a fish 1-2lb size and Paul had a follow not long after but still nothing positive. I swapped over to fish a crab bait for a couple of casts and instantly had a series of short rattles. The culprits were confirmed as mirco schoolies again with one hanging off a 2/0 hook and bait nearly as big as it!
We decided to make a move, trying to catch the best part of the tide for garfish. Unfortunately were were already a little late in the tide and no amount of ground bait, lures or bubble floated mackerel strips could tempt them out of the deeper water. The persistent wind in our faces adding chop on the water I feel definitely didn’t help. Paul moved to the Straits while I went home for a while and met up with him again later on, but I found myself leaving at what would have been the best time to be fishing.
The next day was another early start, this time back on the rocks trying to get into the rays again and have a little species bash close in. A gnarly swell pushed me away from the ledge I wanted to be on but the higher ledges were safe and I could still fish close without losing too much gear. Action on the big rods was none existent, with just a single doggie. I put this down to the water being so clear and also the May bloom of algae choking the water of oxygen.
With the action far out so slow, I concentrated on bumping up my species count. A couple of ballan wrasse were the first to come, followed by the biggest tompot blenny I’ve ever seen. Even the action close in was steady so I moved position over a gulley in an effort to tempt further bites. One drop I thought I was snagged on some seaweed so pulled up slightly. There was a bit of weight on I pulled up and there was a fish on. At first glance below I thought it was another ballan but as I lifted it out I was gobsmacked that I had a tadpole fish hanging from the line. Its a fish I’ve wanted to catch, but had like idea where to start tracking one down, to be effectively handed one like that was a definite bonus! I added a couple of shannies, but I was still riding the high of the tadpole fish.
I made a quick visit to Holyhead Breakwater that day as well, but very clear water and the algal bloom seemed to have put off most of the fish. 3 corkwing wrasse for my efforts saw me return to the rocks, I felt like there was a ray or two out there but time was not on my side and I had to leave before the potentially best time. However theres plenty of time for rays this year, I’ll probably never see another tadpole.
At the beginning of the week I had an email from Chris who was keen on some bass lure fishing guidance. After speaking on the phone I felt Chris had plenty of experience lure fishing, and had even fished the mark I was going to take him during the week with some success, but was after a little more local knowledge. We met Friday morning and what a morning it was! Barely a breath of wind, clear skies, sunshine, and the bass were feeding! Most were the seemingly ever present schoolies but he did manage a better fish of 3-4lb which looked great fun on the light trout rod. It was a pleasure to fish that morning with Chris, sharing ideas, techniques, marks, and a few fish; all before most people leave for work in the morning. What its all about and why I started this venture!