Today the windows and doors a rattling and the lights occasionally flicker as a storm passes over lands end . Twenty four hours ago we were heading out at 20 knots over a flat calm sea with high hopes. The great thing about fishing this deep into the winter is that you can quite easily find yourself fishing at dusk and a dawn in the same session. You have to drop everything and grab those holes in the weather and make the most of the day . Were always learning and improving and that was certainly the case this year . At times the fishing was tough and we had to dig deep to get the results. My target for Zen2 is 10 or more Bass a day. I always maintain you learn more from the hard days than you do the bonanza days , we could quite feasibly sit in the Falmouth Harbour limits and catch 20 twinkles every day . I hunt big bass on lure and fly , we catch plenty of small ones but always in the pursuit of quality Bass fishing.
The words for the day yesterday and perhaps this year were PRECISION and STEALTH . This has really hit me hard this year. We all know that accuracy helps , positioning of a Fly or lure or Bait can make a big difference , we all know that if you drive over a shoal of fish in shallow water in your boat its not exactly going to improve the fishing ,(BASS DONT LIKE BOATS !!) likewise running down the beach then wading out into the water before fishing the margins is a mugs game ! Bass will often hide out in incredibly specific spots on a reef at a certain stage in the tide. I remember fishing a shoal of quality bass tucked into the bottom edge of a small reef one day in July. We landed an 8 lb fish from that corner . The next day I returned to that tiny spot perhaps 20 foot wide and yes there they were again, we landed an 8 lb fish and my PB at 13 lb according to the BASS ruler and lost a very large Bass on the surface . I have been fishing this area for a few years and certainly had a few ”proper ” bass from this spot but I know understand how it ‘occasionally ” works at this location . I have finally got to grips with another spot this season. I think a few guys who have fished with me this year will know the spot pretty quickly from the description and possibly grimace at the number of lures we lost there ! Its hole between two pinnacles. The bass can be seen tight into the structure , penned in by the racing tide . We fish 60 g Fiiish Minnows vertical and awareness of the topography is essential . I have to call this one out the boys as we race through the drift .Yesterday right on cue they were there , a bloody huge shoal of Bass below my boat in around 50 foot of water . Here we go boys I thought hold on tight ! 1 1/2 hours later the bass were still there , we had offered every lure and metal jig we have on the box. Not a sniff !?? My boat partner questioned me ‘ Are you sure they are Bass Austen ?” No I replied . I know this fish finder inside out and those bent sausages are Bass !!
I decided to pretty much leave the shoal there and return later and see if they had switched on. I moved perhaps a couple of hundred feet further North and tried casting lures . I had spotted a few bits and bobs on the finder , there fish were mid water . We were soon back down tide and now adjacent to the area we were previously drifting . Sometimes you need a little clumsy luck and first cast produced a hook up , next a double hook up etc etc . We were casting our lure across or downtide into the same area we had previously fished vertical. **** (see footnote about compass casting ) We fished light lures for the location at 25 g . These were well clear of the bottom . The light wind against tide held the boat off the shoal and were able to fish the same shoal from 70 or 80 feet away. Those Bass had previously refused every offering and here we were now into a fish every cast . The light was fading and my boat partner had other engagments so we left a large shoal of feeding Bass and went home ! 15 Bass landed to 60 cm . A nice way to spend a winters afternoon !
**** Compass Casting
This may or may not be useful to someone out there ? This is very much how I work a fiiish Minnow into 20-50 foot of water
When you are fishing obvious structure ( Visible to the eye ) Its easy to know or at least make an informed guess as to where the fish may be and where your lure is in relation to that . In a 3 dimensional world hidden below the waters surface this can be far more challenging . If you are fishing using your GPS and fish finder with no visible structure it can still be hard to be precise . These days what I do almost by default is look at the compass all the time I am fishing. I am looking at the electronic map , perhaps there will be a waypoint I created where that shoal of monster Giant Bass is waiting for me ? Its nice too fantasise ! I will drift casting distance into the hot spot , (rather than spook the shoal by constantly drifting over ) reference the chart to get a bearing , quickly look at the magnetic compass and make that shot. This sounds complicated , it isn’t and it makes life easier and happens really fast even with my small brain ! . It really helps if the boat starts drifting off course or worse still slowly spinning around in a vortex . So as the boat drifts the first cast may be West . If we are drifting South and I want to hit that spot again then it may well be North West , next cast north and so on. Covering the water is useful but if you know where the fish are don’t fish in the next postcode and don’t stand on their heads !!