Treble hooks suck !
Jul26

Treble hooks suck !

Im not too sure how long it is now since I made the decision to switch to single hooks on my hard lures ? I guess it has to be a couple of years now . I do still have a few lures in the box with treble hooks but as they corrode they always get replaced with single hooks . Heres the reasons why and my  findings and feelings on the subject Fish care  If you fish with treble hooks its only a matter of time until you will experience fish getting hooked in the eye , gills ,face . Its pretty grim to witness . In the old days I was 100 % catch and release . I do ponder as to how many Bass I sent swimming off to a watery grave or at the very least seriously affected their chances in the harsh world I returned them too ? How well can a one eyed Bass hunt or avoid predators ? The vast majority of the fish I catch annually are returned. I owe it to myself and the fish to make this process as pain free and stress free as possible(for a fish and angler !)  . I want that fish to survive the event and get bigger and hopefully return to my hook in a few years time . I hate that solemn feeling when I return a messed up fish and the sense of farce  around the event .   Fewer lost fish  Making the switch to single hooks  required a leap of faith . I remember a long discussion years ago on the UKBASS forum . A few guys waded in and were quick to discount the idea, suggesting that the net result of the switch would be less fish landed. I completely disagree with this now  having hooked and landed so many on singles and lost so many  fish on trebles .Its logical . If I cast a hard lure its invariably a surface lure . Bass will slash and swipe at this and try to stun the prey . With treble hooks we often hook our fish in the cheeks or flanks , sometimes even the tail ! When a Bass attacks a lure with a single hook it will often take quite a few hits before its is on , but when its on, `ITS ON  ,  its hooked fair and square in the mouth. I am now playing a fish on a size 2/0 hook ,  with trebles I may be playing a 10 lb bass on one size 2 prong hooked in the cheek  . No thanks !! You will...

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Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival 2015 ( THE SALT)
Jul06

Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival 2015 ( THE SALT)

Help !! This crazy lady with a crazy idea just wont leave me alone !! Let me explain.   September is prime season for Fly fishing for Bass in the UK and as result I am on the water day after day. The ansaphone machine bleeps and flashes at me in an attempt to get my attention   , the emails start to pile up . I should take a day off but I don’t. I have a terrible fishing addiction and equally terrible bank balance  so I just keep fishing away , day after day . Its the storm before the winter calm for me . I am a hamster and my cheeks are full of nuts this time of year !!! Last September a lady from St Mawes on Roseland Peninsular called me . This rather well spoken lady who I didn’t know caught me off guard , tired and rather unreceptive . My tired hamster brain just could not accommodate anything that she had to say. She wanted to organise a Saltwater Fly fishing Festival and wanted all the help I could afford her . What did I do ? Im afraid I coped out I sent her in the direction of another person ” Fly fishing guide ”  that I thought might be better equipped to help via his esteemed list of fishing dignitaries .  Its amazing that Amellia is still determined to make this happen as she has had nothing but time wasting and demands for money to deal with . Amelia Whittacker knows very little about fishing , yet alone Saltwater Fly fishing . She runs a successful Bed and Breakfast in St Mawes . This well spoken , determined lady is obviously one of life’s organisers and she does run other ” Festivals ” . Something about saltwater fly fishing scene has captured her imagination , she is hell bent on getting a festival going . Its time for me to make up for my lack of input at the early stages and get involved and also look for other guys I know or respect to help out . It’s a good thing and it could be great fun . 100 Quid , Bloody 100 Quid !! Every time I bring up the subject of the festival I get hit with the same reply . At first I was somewhat in agreement  as I just couldn’t get my head around ” THE SALT ” . I recently met up with Amelia and her partner Tim . By the time we were finished I realised that £ 100 for a 4 day  event with various BBQ , Live music , drinks...

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Used and Abused #1 Daiwa on  Zen2 (season 3  )
Apr22

Used and Abused #1 Daiwa on Zen2 (season 3 )

In this day and age every review or mention of fishing tackle tends to focus on the  new , whats hip and in many cases what is effectively untested gear . Nice photos, nice words but often full of speculation rather than experience.  I’ve been in the game for over a decade now and somethings never change. Daiwa sponsor me or should I say Zen2 . We use and abuse  Daiwa gear , not exclusively I should add  . I like to flirt with other products from time to time . It can be tricky being sponsored and being able to speak your mind in a negative way about your ” donor” gear. If and when I come up against a product that lets me down or doesn’t suit my  style of fishing I will always be honest and tell the guys I work with .This may not be what they want to hear but I don’t feel comfortable playing  games with the truth.   I may not go public and rant and rave about how bad something was , theres retaining integrity then these plain stupidity ! So hopefully this precursor to a product review will set the tone . It’s spring and I am now making my preparations for the intense season ahead . I had the first Bass of spring  a couple of days ago, My first spring Bass has come from the exact same reef and even the same part of that large reef  3 years in a row !! Zen2 will be out there hunting Bass for somewhere in the region of 120 days a year , well it has the last 2 years . I will be pretty depressed if I don’t achieve the target again this year . I still have plenty of gaps to fill in the diary but then that happens every year . They should fill !! ?? GULP . I want to look at the gear Ive been using over the last few years , there are products that I dont rate but as I explained I prefer to keep stum and focus on the goodies . Daiwa Certate reels  We use the 2500 series and 300 Series Certates on Zen2 , its actually the Pollock that put the real strain on the reels and we certainly have landed plenty now . The drag systems have been 100 % faultless to date ,they also have a very powerful drag system (Certainly powerful enough for UK Bass Pollock .Cod etc ) Bail arms are still clicking over perfectly and the reels are still light and silent to wind. This was a very pleasant surprise. I did wonder if they would...

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Something old , Something new
Mar11

Something old , Something new

This time every year I find myself sitting at the vice tying flies . The vast majority of which will be used on the boat over the season , after years of pontification I finally got my act together , clamped my vice onto the table , tied my arse in the chair and tied up dozens of new patterns, many of which have been trapped in my head for years . Something old something , new , something borrowed and yes there are a few Blue ones awaiting release from the kitchen  . I have been obsessed and completely absorbed in the process. It hasn’t been easy , there is a big difference between bashing out 20 clousers and crafting  dozens of Tarpon  flies . Last time I tied a fly in public was 2010 in Galway . As I sit here tying these flies , all that data from the trips around the globe is manifesting itself in front of me . Its been great fun scraping the rust away . I should have around 20 patterns online soon . I have 10 or 12 here ready to go . I just need to try and get a half decent stock of these flies before I release all of my puppies .`I hate owing people flies . The first time I released the Livebait fly online I sold 350 in 2 days . It was a disaster . I only had 36 in stock , some people had to wait months !!   My traditional fly tying heroes . Tim Bosrski , Enrico Puglisi and Bob Popovics need a mention and I can see its influence over my tastes  . Florida Keys guide Don Gable introduced me Pete Smiths Fox Fur Tarpon fly and his luscious toads in 2009 . I have had a great deal of respect for his efficient tying methods . I now tie toads ”V Style” This is a direct  SS Flies influence ,  thanks ! Mobility and resistance are high on my list so expect to see a few  synthetic muddler style flies , on the subject of which Johnny King deserves a mention, that guy amazes me with highly polished perfection  . Jono Makim has emerged from the shadows over the last few years . I admire his deceivers and this has influenced my approach to finishing off the head of a fly. That one was one of the toughest challenges and still work in progress !!   First out of the closet is the Black Death Tarpon Crab . Ive never seen one out there but no doubt some bright spark will take great pleasure in showing me one someone...

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”Inanity ”
Sep06

”Inanity ”

It quite funny really how we can all get sucked into all the hype and commercially driven excitement in  magazines or ” Blogs ”. I can be just as easily led up the garden path as anyone else and take the odd look at a blog to see which  latest ” must have ”  lure is being heralded . I can easily forget that I have a load of great unfashionable lures jammed into the archtrave of the door to my fishing warehouse, come stock , room come disaster zone . All this talk of lures and tackle is inane . What if I  wrote about the sunrise across Mounts bay , the porpoises and the reflections on the water and the community of cranky, weird  , crusty old gits I often share the water with?  What about Nigel Hill eh ? Who’s Nigel anyone reading may ask. Well Nigel is one in 10 million  . The real deal , as Cornish as they get . He lives for that reef and to be on the water . Saltwater runs through his veins , and it seems to leave him with a permanent smile on his face . At certain times of the year I may meet this fisherman every day ,its is  ritual that I cherish . We were recently out of sync. He was fishing early doors and I was fishing PM shifts . After 3 weeks I start to worry about the old goat  . I actually made calls to people to check that he was ok !  Suffice to say he was fine . I would miss Nigel out there . I used to have a complete and utter disregard for bass commercials , its hard to hate people when they are so nice to you !  The deep West  is far less friendly . Proper Pirate country down there , Penzance is rough tough town , Newlyn is a serious fishing port . I updated my lifeboat training this week . I shared the class with two , 50 year old career trawler men , those guys are hard men ! 10 days at sea  and 2 days off, 2 hours on and one hours kip . Imagine that ? We came different worlds . I would not dare question their philosophy towards marine management or the environment for fear of a verbal kicking , regardless I had a great deal of respect for these guys , they were both very polite and had a strong moral code . Band of brothers stuff , proper men that work the sea . Back to the Penzance fishermen...

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Go Big !! Fiiish Minnow finesse Part 2
Aug22

Go Big !! Fiiish Minnow finesse Part 2

Here we are now getting towards the end of August . Its been a great summer. A zillion Tons of Whitebait and Mackerel are drifting back and forth on the tides. Its great to see so much life in the water but it can cause problems at times, theres so much food around that the Bass are just feeding in short intense bursts then laying up in between . It can be hard to tempt a 15 year old fish to eat some plasterzole when it has a bounty full supply of real food all around it . A great bass angler and friend who I suspect would rather not be named told me that the larger Fiiish Minnows have a profound effect on larger Bass . Not being the brightest pin it took about 6 weeks for this important information to sink in . First cast of a 160 mm /30 g Fiish Minnow produced this huge Bass . What more can I say !!   WhatI love about the 160/30 g Combo is the way it flutters in the tide .These days I prefer to fish a big bait up above the fish rather than fish a smaller bait down amongst the shoal. The bulky 160 body almost offsets the lead jig head adding buoyancy . This means the lure sinks slower than say a 25 g /120 body or my traditional go to Fiiish Minnow the 140 m / 40 g combo. By dropping the bulk to weight ratio we can fish the lures slower  MUCH SLOWER ! This slow larger approach seems to be the catalyst for great things . It also means we are snagging far fewer lures these days . So the added expense of the 160 Minnows is counter balanced by the reduced fatalities. Also by fishing big lures we pick up far fewer ” crap fish” . I hate ripping my baits on baby wrasse and Juvenile Pollock . The 160 bodies are lasting far longer than the 120 bodies without a shadow of a doubt . ”BIG BASS DONT LIKE  BOATS”  If my boat is drifting at 1.5 knots (wind and tide together ) I will make a very long cast across and up tide and slowly retrieve the lure . Fluttering the bait mid water . Obviously there are times when a short cast may be required depending on the structure around us and whereI think the fish may be laying . Once that lure (Or Fly ) is close to the boat I ditch it and re cast . Every day I say the same things over and over , one phrase...

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Cod don’t take poppers
Aug03

Cod don’t take poppers

If theres one thing that defines Bass fishing its fishing disturbance lures and flies on the surface , its just the best ! I never tire of watching Bass large or small follow and boil around a surface lure before sucking it, the next fish may just smash the lure at like a torpedo . I had one Bass take the lure in the air the other day !  It also makes the process of ”Guiding” that much easier as I can interpret exactly what my clients are doing with the fly or lure rather than try to guess what the lures doing based on how they are using their hands to work the rod and reel or strip the fly  . The last few days have all been about surface lures , actually despite my best efforts I cant actually find any bass willing to hit anything else . Its all a bit weird out there right now .Acres of white bait but only a couple of reefs that are holding resident fish . Ive had to resort to fishing the same spot 80 % of the time for the last 4 days . Im amazed that the fish are still tolerating our presence and have not moved on . I set myself a target of 10 Bass per day and we seem to be teetering around that number everyday. One day we never raised a Bass all day . I hate that when it happens , clients sympathetically say to me ” Hey Austen thats why we call it fishing and not catching” Yes I know that but its not something I ever get used too , yes Zen 2 is an awesome boat , the rods and reels too boot and the scenery can be epic . No matter how you dress it up , clients want to catch Bass .Fancy photos of scenery and casting , close ups of lures are no replacement  for big fish and happy smiling anglers   The next day we hooked a Bass  first cast . What can you do !? Lure of the week    Daiwa Pop and skater 11 Ghost Olive  I recently purchased one of these Daiwa lures , Daiwa UK sponsor Zen2 but in this instance I just figured I would grab one of these while  I was purchasing a Hearty Rise landing net . Credit where its due . I purchased the net etc from Monster Tackle in Jersey . Its how you deal with lifes screw ups that defines custom service. We had a problem with UK customs . Joe kept in touch and...

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Someone flicked the switch  !
Jul08

Someone flicked the switch !

June can be a sketchy month down here . The large Spring Bass have been and gone , where do they go ? I just don’t know  . Once we go into Summer mode I would regard any bass over 7 Lb as exceptional . I also believe the Bass will become far more ” house trained” and will stick to their favourite spots provided the larder stays stocked and they don’t get harassed by seals or humans . These resident fish form the basis of  a days summer fishing for me , if i find happy ”slob bass” then that makes my job far easier .  September and October can provide me with big fish . Soon after  Christmas lights of Mousehole harbour are switched on and miles of  monofilamnet gilnets  are deployed on the Western reefs . Cornwall will attract vast numbers of 1- 2  KG fish  prior to spawning The glut of fish on the market sends the price tumbling . Steve Cullen and I fished together one day last week , all hopes of a shark on the bait or Fly were dashed by a stiff  Southerly breeze , we slogged it out for 2 hours before opting for plan B and heading inshore to Fly fish for Bass . Steve is a Demon caster , a rare commodity  these days , as more and more Salt water fly fishermen go to the dark side and pick up the lure rod in preference to the Fly . If you want to catch on the Fly you need to have patience , skill and self discipline . You cant catch a Bass on the Fly with a lure rod in your hand !!    June 2014 was a tough month and certainly not the first one I have experienced . Well the good news is it July . Its as if someone just flicked the switch , vast shoals of whitebait are now in Falmouth Bay. Mackerel and Bass are hitting these shoals hard , a few quiet shore marks I visit have resident shoals of Bass and these fellas are very friendly indeed. I am now booked solid for the next fews weeks , if the weather  remains stable I think that we are going to have a lot of fun ! The brains fried already . It becomes hard to remember who with ,  where or when I  fished as the days start to almost overlap. I finished late on Monday and early today. I slept in my van last night . Im not knocking it but it is pretty demanding, my clients go home...

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Shallow water tactics on bright sunny days
Jun16

Shallow water tactics on bright sunny days

Today I fished with Roger , Dave and Dave . These guys friendships span back to the school days and its always a pleasure to become part of the gang for a day. I have a job to do but I always enjoy the banter . Its a busy task managing 3 guys and a boat on the drift in shallow water around submerged rocks . You drop you guard at your peril ! I rarely fish in such circumstances . When we struggle to find the fish I hunt for them with my rod as much as I do with the boat. Todays sport was sufficiently busy to keep me on the console full time. I re tie all the leaders , change the lures and keep the guys supplied with a fresh rod as soon as a rod goes out of action. We made the decision to fish for fun in the shallows rather than slog it out for Large Bass on the reefs . I just love those white sand beaches and rough ground patches . It reminds me of the Permit grounds on Los Roques or even Seychelles at times I find Bass will stick to the cover of the darker patches of weed and rough ground like a limpet on these brights sunny days. Low tide and high sun enables you to identify the sweet spots with ease A great presentation if possible is cast the lure to the perimeters of these reefs and draw the fish out. They may hit you by the side of the boat but invariably they have followed the lure out into the open water from their hidey holes . Roger is great friends with Robin Morley the Marketing Director at Daiwa UK . It was Robin who referred the guys to me. As it happens today the killer lure really did turn out to be the Daiwa D Tail 4 inch we landed fish after fish on this soft plastic . These lures are softer than soft , super mobile . The pearl white has what I suspect is a UV colouring, They are quite unique. I like to rig them with the Decoy Bachi 5 g Jig heads , size 2 / 0 hook. In my opinion the rig better with jig heads than they do weedless style. When the sun is high in the sky and Im fishing shallow water then I prefer to lengthen the 15 lb Fluro leaders to 5 foot and fish small baits and quite often work them a little faster . Tap – Tap – Tap ,Take up the slack ....

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Fiiish Minnow Finesse (Part 1 of many )
May22

Fiiish Minnow Finesse (Part 1 of many )

When someone invests hard earned cash and free time on a trip on Zen2 the last ting I want to do is take any chances .Failure is not an option !!!(It happens but not too often) I use Fiiish Minnow extensively for mid depth reef fishing or tidal race work and the Kaki  colour always fills me with confidence.  I prefer Fly fishing or shallow water soft plastic or surface lure work , thats my heritage with Bass , but the Fiiish Minnow style has transformed my catches . Add to this the 2013 upgraded code on the boat and I can  access offshore reefs that ” other guides can not reach” We zig zag from the shallows to offshore and back again all day every day . It makes for a day of mixed methods and styles of fishing. Some may think that fishing a Fiiish Minnow (Paddle tail lures ) is easy ,well yes it can be, but I have learned that there is an INTENSE level of finesse and technique with this style of fishing. I am learning all the time. I can sit at the helm and watch a client work a fly or surface lure and dish out various instructions and easily identify  good and bad technique. When we fish Paddle tails I often need to actually fish and feel whats going on below the surface . I often get the client to cast at the same time as me ”in sync” . He or she will follow my lead while I try to unpick the lock and find the fish or the retrieve and angle thats working . Its so hard to teach someone this method without a rod in your hand. I recently experienced a master class from a commercial rod and line Bass fisherman. This guy is a legend on the water. I wont name him out of respect for his privacy, a few reading this (assuming anyone does ) will know his name. Anyway I am heading off course here, Casting and retrieving can wait for another day and  that’s complicated ! This was all about the lure colour. I tend to stick with what I’m confident with rather than take chances , perhaps to my expense at times. Early this year we saw a couple of good Bass seduced on Zen2  by the Orange Fiiish , fishing super slow close to the bottom. The Kaki and Blues were ignored. Last week we played cat and mouse with a  vast  shoal of fish, imagine a shoal so tight that the fish finder misreads the depth. I see bass on my finder...

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