Truly Madly deeply – The Art of Dredging with Saltwater Flies or at least trying too
Jul21

Truly Madly deeply – The Art of Dredging with Saltwater Flies or at least trying too

Fly fishing in deep water is not easy . It requires patience and heaps of practice but the rewards are out there if you can master this discipline . I have a few techniques and observations I can share within this blog . I hope it all makes sense and gets you motivated to get down on it !  Fly fishing in 50 to 60 foot of water with 1.5 knots of tide , wind over tide is an art form and something that I have been trying to perfect for some time now . Its requires a great deal of patience , intuition and a sixth sense to figure just where your fly may be  in the water column at any given time  . I still have a long way to go to be able to say that I have nailed it . The problem with being the skipper all the time is its hard for me to spend a great deal of time with a fly rod in my hand. I can fish a lure rod quite effectively while controlling the boat around the rocks , the fly rod is long and time consuming and the fly line catches every conceivable snag around the consul. .Sometimes if I don’t actually get on the bow and have a cast and watch the way that the wind and tide are working and the angle and decent of the fly line . I just don’t know what I need to do with the boat and how best to set up the drifts for a client. Lure fishing transformed my catches   7 years ago and even more so the mighty Fiiish Minnow .The ability to hold a lure down in the tide and control its depth via a mixture of density , tide , wind and retrieve opened my fishery and my results bloomed , at last I was catching those bigger Bass that I had only ever bumped into once or twice a year at best when I fished the fly rod  . It was an piffany so to speak  A Paddle tail shad catches big fish with almost zero input from the angler at times , when my clients over work the lures despite my advice I have been known to use shock tactics to get the message to’ mellow it out’ by proclaiming that’ if i put a rod in the rod holder and let the lure flutter away out there  it will catch more fish than everyone else on the boat combined ‘ That tends to get the message across . The ability of these minnows to scour the depths and cover so much new water also brought...

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Fiiish Crazy eel
Jul19

Fiiish Crazy eel

There are plenty of signs that Im getting older , my beard is grey , my eyesight is diminishing , a couple of rouge hairs have even sprouted in my ears . Perhaps more worrying is the fact that I am becoming somewhat set in my ways . The crazy eel might be another example of this.  Its been around for a couple of years now ,my ever kind sponsors Fiiish  UK sent me a batch to play around with and if I am honest I didn’t really take to the lure which did leave me feeling slightly awkward . Everything I read or saw on the internet suggested that I needed impart massive movements into the rod and fish the lure way faster than my normal super slow approach . The result being that when I did use the lure I only ever landed small Bass . I don’t think this big ones like to burn more fuel than is absolutely necessary .Well this year after a chance encounter on the water I have finally got to grips with the crazy eel and actually I think that it is now sitting level with Fiiish Minnows when it comes to my catches .   So whats changed ? We have some really cool new colours out there .I personally love the gold bodies , it just looks like the real thing . I am also becoming increasingly confident with the pure white bodies . Bass love white lures and wrasse don’t , I love a big wrasse but they do chew through so many of my soft lures over the course of a fishing season . If people want to catch them thats fine with me but personally I would not set my alarm for 3 am to pursue them . I want Bass and big ones preferably !  At this stage I have been almost exclusively fishing the 150 mm version . Thats big enough to tempt momma but small enough to entertain and 2 lb bass . Its the way I fish the eel that I think has made all the difference , rather than sweep the rod or impatiently crank the lure I have taken to slow Fiiish minnow style retrieves with the occasional mellow sweep , or at times even dead sticking the lure and letting it flutter about on the tide ,  a light wind against tide is perfect for this as it allows you to fish the lure downstream of the boat”  on the hang ” .You can retrieve the lure 50 feet then open the bail arm and let it drift away from the boat on the tide . One...

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Homelands , hopes and fears
Jun06

Homelands , hopes and fears

After the disappointing Eddystone campaign I really needed a good days fishing so yesterday I went out with fingers crossed  . The tides are dropping out into weak neaps . I have found that the evening flood tides best suit this situation so I decided to fish 1 pm to 9 pm .  My first suggestion was we try surface lures in around 35 foot of water and the first cast of the first drift pulled a big bass straight to the top . The take was huge . This was a much needed big bass with a Patchinko in its mouth. Over the years I have learned that big fish are so often lost due to over tight drags , if you hook a bass cleanly in the top lip you can easily rip a big enough hole in the mouth that a good headshake will throw the hook, my screw up but my drag was set too tight , as I fumbled for the drag the fish pulled hard and she was gone ! GUTTED ! My diary is down this year and a big bass with a surface lure in its mouth is always good for business . The next cast produced a big boil at the side of the boat , despite the lack of fish on the fish finder there were obviously a few Bass around . An hour or two trying various spots had produced nothing more than Pollock . So it was time to move on to an old favourite of mine , the ebb tide was pretty much done and we drifted at only 0.5 knots over the ground . When we  drift large open areas I try to cover as much water as possible by long range casting in opposite directions with one guy either end of the boat . Steve was on the bow casting out into open water and Mac was at the blunt end casting towards the shore . I call this a ‘searching drift’ .  Steve soon  hooked and landed a lovely Bass on the Fiiish 150 Blue rigged with the 30 g jig head . After my tight drag screw up earlier in the day I could not have been more concerned that Steve did not suffer the same fate and I loosened  his drag twice during the fight . When you hook a fish at long range theres only so much pressure you can exert on a fishes mouth , as the fish gets closer I loosen off , I would rather spend a couple of extra minutes with a loose drag than haul hard and pop the hook. I know I am  labouring...

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Bass fishing Eddystone May 2017
May31

Bass fishing Eddystone May 2017

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...

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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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First Decade
Feb18

First Decade

It has only this week suddenly dawned on me that I have managed to pull this off for 10 years ! I have just had a quick scroll back through some images from various chapters within the last decade , some of which seem like 20 years ago. I guess that means I have been keeping busy . Ten years ago I launched uksaltwaterflies.com from the spare bedroom at our old house overlooking Porthleven harbour . I had run out of options in Cornwall as every other avenue had back fired on me so I decided to follow my heart  . In the early days Cally went to work and I looked after our baby boy 3 days a week . (He’s not a baby now , he’s talking too his mate on his mobile phone !!) It was hard work juggling a website and a baby . The business grew 2 fold year on year from 2005 to 2009 it was an exciting chapter and I worked my nuts off .  Then the recession found its way to my door. The fishing trips seemed to balance on a knife edge as more and more people put a stop to the exotic holidays in the salt. I had a great run of luck but I knew that that chapter was drawing to a close. 6 or 8 weeks a year out of the country was starting take a toll on my heart. I just seemed to miss my family more with each new trip. . 7 years of fishing 2 – 3 weeks on Cape Cod was starting to wear thin too. Ive landed every Striped Bass I ever need too . I had a deal with the landlady of my base camp on the Cape. It was simple . I said the day she solicted  my customers was the day it ended , she let me down  , it broke my heart to be let down by someone I had come to treat as family.  Cape Cod was over . I said goodbye to that lady knowing I would never return .     I think the greatest pinnacle of my travels was the second trip to St Josephs Atol in the Seychelles, Everything about that trip was epic. We had great bone fishing in the flats , we fished for GT’s with Popping gear, we drank ice cold beers at lunchtime . I slept out on deck under the stars and listened to music on my first generation i Pod staring up into space every night .Cally was heavily pregnant with our  daughter and holding the fort at home .  It was the great company...

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Fiiish Minnow Finesse Part 3 — Precision and Stealth
Dec17

Fiiish Minnow Finesse Part 3 — Precision and Stealth

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...

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2015 Tidal Curves
Dec08

2015 Tidal Curves

Ok here we have the 2015 tidal curves , I always seek those up curves from neaps to spring tides first when booking charters on Zen2 . Lets hope for another great year !!                                     ...

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Gold Bars
Oct01

Gold Bars

September was crap ! What a wash out it was. I cant remember a worse one ever. We only had one bass over 6 Lb from a month of solid fishing , not even that many around either . Well its now October , the days are getting much shorter , the air is clammy and damp after 6 pm at night . Even the air is getting ‘Bassy” This is it now , let prime season begin .The last couple of days have been 10 plus Bass days and  after a month of endless 42 – 45 cm fish a few decent fish have decided to show up . At last i have some Gas to cook with .  I just love Bass when they take on those golden Autumn colours , today we had several golden bass, they are all so fat and healthy right now, its been a great year for baitfish and it shows up in the girths and the strength of the fish when hooked. The fish are still in the shallows and really responding to surface lures . Talking of which Ive been experimenting with the MegaBass X lush . I read a very negative blog about this surface chugger. Well first cast of this lure yesterday resulted in a near miss from a large Bass and 10 more fish landed . Likewise today this lure stood out to the fish. Obviously Bass don’t read blogs ! Its an odd surface lure but great for beginners , just draw it across the surface with a straight retrieve and add the occasional dampened  plop and splash , thats all that you need to do. `Bass seem willing to do the rest for you ! if your looking for a choppy water surface lure  , then this may well be the one for you !! Its unquestionably the people that make this job so special and especialy guys like Mark who have become regulars and fish with me year on year . At the end of this month my diary will completely bottom out, thats it game over . Yes there will be a few charters here and there but fundamentally thats it. The fact that there will be thousands of tons of Bass swimming past my front doorstep  between now and Christmas will have no influence over bookings. Ive flogged the ” Fortune favours the brave ” motto to death trying to get the message across with little impact. Well at last I have just accepted that fact . I have decided to give up worrying about it any more .   It will all fall...

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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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