May 2017 signalled my 5 th visit to Plymouth , well 6 actually as in 2015 I fished May and September. Every year is slightly different and I always have a few hard days but enough great days to keep me returning year after year. The Stone is a unique place it has an atmosphere of its own . It can be crowded when the bite is on and it can be tedious when the bite is off , one thing that has remained consistent has been the vast volume of fish out there , if these fish were there to feed we would land hundreds of fish in a day. Finding the fish is the easy part , catching them can be a whole different ball game .
I can only ponder as to why these fish are there in such numbers , the volume of sand eel out there can be equally staggering but the weird thing is that the Launce live at one end of the reef and the Bass live at the other , its rare to find the bass attacking these shoals or at least I have never seen it . I will never forget my last day of my 2016 campain, we were struggling and after several fruitless hours we decided it was time to move off and try and make the best of a bad situation and fish for Pollock or anything that might put a bend in our rods . I moved off the reef and fished about 6 miles away . Things were equally torturous and my 6 mile diversion resulted in one cuckoo wrasse on the boat , things were going from bad to worse .I felt frustrated and embarrassed . As we fished the deep water my eye kept glancing towards the lighthouse and despite the additional cost of the fuel I decided to head back . It was boiling hot , flat calm and slack water . The vast shoal of bass had decided to sunbathe and soak up a few rays of sun and even better we had the place to ourselves . I’ve seen this elsewhere and its always an amazing spectacle when it happens . They started chasing tiny baitfish on the surface , it was awesome to see so many bass shooting past the bow of the boat . We landed plenty and the day had turned into a success .You have to play the long game on the Stone and wait for the bite .
So I have just returned from what I must say has been a very tough 10 day campaign, 4 slow days followed by 4 days lost to bad weather and then 2 pretty unspectacular days to finish off . Luckily quite a few of my clients have experienced the highs of the Eddystone so hopefully I have a little credit and track record to fall back on . The first obvious difference was the lack of fish out there . I would say that when it was at its best it was still only 20 % of the usual volume , as the days went by the shoal thinned out . Not only were there less fish but my God this fish just refused to feed.
If theres one thing that still gives me a big buzz after all the years Bass fishing professionally is finding new marks with bass on them . A shallow area close to shore with heaps of tide and rather ominous rocks has been catching my eye year after year , yesterday it was far too rough to make our way out to the Edystonne so we were forced to fish inshore , we landed 4 Bass on Patchinko . I still love surface lure fishing as much as I did when I first started lobbing out Allie Mags and Chug bugs for Bass in 2001 .It always get the clients excited too . They were not huge fish but they certainly hit the lures hard in 12 foot of water
Bass refusing to feed is something I have experienced just about everywhere I fish for them .Sometimes the more Bass you find the harder it can be to get a bite ! They just shoal up , lay up and stem the tide and sleep in the safety of numbers . You can drag live eels and lures past their noses , they must literally have to move out of the way of the lures at times . It would be fascinating to be down there with scuba gear observing this behaviour. Then as if a button has been pressed they switch on and suddenly every rod will be bent over at the same time , those are the magic moments that draw me back year after year .
Reefs can be clicky places but I think my Zen2 is respected and welcome out there now . Its starting to feel like a home from home. Likewise at the Marina my face and the boat are well known and I look forward to my City lifestyle for a week or two .I have unfinished business and I certainly don’t fancy waiting another 11 1/2 months to be back out there . So with that in mind I plan to return this October as I know its a special time to be bass fishing on these reefs .