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...

Read More
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 ....

Read More
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...

Read More
A sneaky rig for sneaky Bass
Apr11

A sneaky rig for sneaky Bass

Zen2 sneaky rig Its amazing how long we hold events in our minds like hi Definition video clips ,and yet other things just fade away . I can still see that side on take from a 7 lb Bass in 2006 as if it happened seconds ago. I can still see that bow wave to the 10 feet to left of the lure , next the spines were breaking the surface. Then the explosion. An exquisite moment to cherish .  I have seen so many bass take surface lures but that one will always be wedged in my mind . Sometimes things don’t always fall into place . There are plenty of times when they will follow a lure , swirl , slap it with their tails but refuse to eat the bait. These days can be most frustrating . They won’t quite hit. you can almost imagine just how alien and un natural a hard plastic lure must feel in the mouth in comparison with a natural bait. Soft plastics have a wonderful soft ‘’ Organic’ texture. You can work a Sluggo or Waveworm through the surface film and they will often take Bass either from the top or inches below , a fish that will turn away from a hard lure will slap a soft bait and then come back and engulf it. I’m a big fan of waveworms these baits have a high salt content and are very dense so they cast miles . They sink fast and get amongst the fish without the assistance of jig heads. They are inevitably quite hard to keep close to the surface. I had the idea of rigging soft plastics with foam popper heads that I use for fly fishing. As soon as  I looked at the action of the lure on the top and just knew it was going to be a killer method. These days if I come across Bass that wont quite commit to a full assault I fish my ‘Zen2 rig’ . The real sneaky way to fish this lure is to pop the across the top and as soon as you sense there are fish following just stop retrieving and leave a little slack out there past the tip. Just let the slugbait drop back through the water column. Have faith and I promise you that a Bass will come back around and swim off with the bait. It’s really exciting when you pause and wait for that take . I had a rather smug grin on my face the first time I watched one of my clients catch a a decent fish just...

Read More
4.8 Dot Crawler – The Game changer for 2014
Apr09

4.8 Dot Crawler – The Game changer for 2014

Im quite excited about this ugly lump Plastazole .I think it will be a serious game changer or  at least enhancer in 2014   , it has so many positive attributes crammed into a mould . I’ve already stumbled upon something quite unique that this lure can do  .I just need the Bass to show up and make the same discovery . The Dot Crawler is very dense and has amazing aerodynamic abilities , thats the long winded way of saying it casts miles ! It flies out. I mean this lure will cast as far as quite a few hard lures . It sinks fast , Not too fast but an impatient weightless soft plastic fisherman like myself  will find it pleasing to use . The sink rate will be perfect for Kayak and Boat fishermen . I find many weedless weightless baits soon curve up as soon as the boat starts to drift or we have wind against tide forcing my unweighted Sluggo or Xlayer up through the column. Colour wise Im a happy Bunny if I have anything olive with a pearly or Yellowy belly , The Xlayer Ayu was a classic  for that reason. Remember the Arkansas Shiner Sluggo  ?  The Fiiish Minnow Kaki is a Classic colour combo .  The Dot Crawler Ayu is spot on colour wise and fills me with confidence when i watch it swim past my rod tip. The shape is just so clever and thought through. That long extended skittle shape sends it cutting through the air, when fished subsurface it all balances out perfectly and swims nice and horizontal . The rear weighting seems to effect how it works on the surface if you work it fast. The heavy end seems to anchor the butt firmly in the surface while the front end waggles (Think soft rubbery Patchinko ! )So heres the fun twist with this lure Sluggos are excellent if you work them weightless and twitch them across the surface (Like a surface lure ) They do however tend to lack casting weight  in the smaller sizes and will fly back at you in an onshore wind. The Mighty waveform has the density to cast miles but it doesn’t quite cut the mustard if you surface twitch it .The Dot Crawler as we know , will cast into infinity . What I discovered was that if you go straight into a retrieve when it lands, High stick the rod and work it in the walk the dog style . It will stay up and slash and splash around on the top , its the best looking  small...

Read More
Fiiish Sponsors Zen2
Mar07

Fiiish Sponsors Zen2

Ok its official ! This will not come as a massive surprise to the anyone who has lure fished with me over the last couple of seasons. Fiiish UK and I are working together . 2013 was a great year and the mighty Fiiish Minnow certainly helped to make it even better. Its a Killer lure !! This all started when Fred the designer sent me a few samples to try out in July 2011. I was instantly taken by the lure , so were the bass on the Lizard Peninsular ! I will borrow my own words here …. As a guide I’m always on the lookout for a lure that will catch an idiot a bass’ so to speak ‘. I don’t want to look into a tackle box and have to choose between 30 different sizes ,shapes and colours of lure. I would rather just have one killer lure that covers the bases . Fiiiish Minnows do that ! What does this mean ? It means more of the same hopefully. I have a few media / creative projects lining up by the look of things. I hope to be able to share some of the methods that we have figured with Paddle tail shads over the last few years on Zen2 . (Not all of them mind you .I need to keep something back ! ) It will be great to work with Fiiish , cross promote and hopefully develelop ideas ? Lets see where it takes us ! Nick Roberts from Fiiish Uk / Topwater has so much enthusiasm for the product and the UK Bass fishing / lure fishing scene. I think he has made a significant contribution to where we are right now in the Uk ” Tackle trade” . Its a miracle he manages to get to sleep at night with so much energy. That Spring vibe is here ! Thanks for reading...

Read More
Stinky Water  Bass Fishing -(Part 2 )
Jan23

Stinky Water Bass Fishing -(Part 2 )

Continued form Part 1 – Shallow water Bass  I remember one particular Bass around 6 lb . I  fished the bay from dark into dawn. I worked a gurgler(Surface )  fly on floating line. After a while I decided to move 40 yards along the beach. If I move location along the beach I will often cast the line out onto the water rather than leave the line piled up in the line tray, its far less prone to tangles and falling out of the tray around your feet. This time I cast out the fly and the put the rod across my shoulder , in the same fashion as a soldier would do with a rifle. As I walked along the beach I suddenly felt the tug and hit .  I had hooked a fish with my back turned to the water ! Was it the smooth snaking action of the lure on the surface rather than my step strip splash splash retrieve  ? Was it the curve of the line across the water  created by my change of direction ? I guess it was both. Happy days indeed . I remember I was back home in Porthleven by 7 . 30 Am The smell of Cornish Pasties filled the air. It was  going to be a gorgeous summers day and I  had already landed a very decent Bass on the Fly , forgive me for being sentimental ! I forgot to say something important. These Bass Marks fish really well on neap tides. Into the Blue  There is a light that you get just before day break . Everything is a grey Blue  Colour. Thats the time I love to be fishing , it can be exquisite . If I can combine optimum stage of the tide over a reef with the 15 Minute Blue Grey Hazy start to the day ,   then its quite likely thats when it will happen . I have had some amazing fish from his ground in the middle of the day in bright sunshine . I do however tend to find the fish will drop back into 20 foot or so once the sun starts to rise past 10 O Clock in the sky.  Muggy grey days with light winds are great . I remember a veil of Fog engulfed Mounts Bay for around 4 days one July.  I fished the same shallow reef every day and every day we had Bass on the fly . Bass can sometimes become obsessed with Gammarus (Sand hoppers )  Weed rots When the air is thick with the sweet smell of rotting weed...

Read More
Skinny Water Bass Fishing  – Part 1
Jan23

Skinny Water Bass Fishing – Part 1

So much has changed since I started fly fishing for Bass , in the old days all I had was my trusty copy of Mike ladles classic book ‘ Hooked on Bass’ and  a pile of Ordinance survey maps and that was it . I had no background in sea fishing . I was also a terrible fly caster . These days we have Google earth and anyone who aspires to catch bass can survey potential areas from the comfort of the living room or on the train . Once you start to understand what works ,where and how it looks from space you can pretty much find bass marks without ever getting your feet wet . If I find a location that looks good I then try to find images of the beach or the area. Google earthling has changed everything. I can look at areas and know they will produce bass if the structure is obvious.  When I started out I think I went fishing 20 times before I landed a Bass on the fly. I must have covered the whole Cornish coastline looking and then it was ironic that my first six pound bar of silver was landed from my home beach of Porthleven at 11.30 at night using a black a silver sand eel fly . Just writing this brings all the memories flooding back . I couldn’t contain my excitement and I actually took the dead Bass up into our bedroom and proudly displayed it to a half sleep girlfriend . A month later I fished in Ireland and had bass to 11 lb ,not bad for  beginner !     Fly and Lure fishing for Bass – Part 1 of Many  Shallow Rocky reefs If there’s one thing I would try to covey is that if you want  to catch a Bass on the fly you need to find places where the fly will work to your advantage . In the right situation the fly will completely eclipse every other method. I have seen this countless times over the years both from the shore and from my boat.  Bass are incredibly resourceful fish , they feed in so many different types of location. One Bass speciality is hunting in shallow reefs . Bass love to forage through bouldery weedy areas that dry out at low tide and cover up again on the flood. This is the perfect territory for a fly fisherman to make maximum use of the fly rod. We can present a lifelike imitation right into the middle of the feeding area, we can control the depth and movement of the...

Read More
12 is a magic number
Jan23

12 is a magic number

  The Golden rule of Twelfth’s    The 6 hour tide speeds and slows down . This curve is the curve by which our fish live. The rules change every day but I find that maximum flow generally coincides with maximum bites from fish. Its feeding time . Its pretty obvious stuff  once you have been doing it for a while but there are plenty out there who seek this knowledge ,so hopefully a few readers will find this helpful .Just understanding this simple fact will help you to identify the optimum stage of the tide and quite often maximum fish activity regardless of species. Divide a 6 hour tide into 12 units. Up or down it makes no difference, the tide does not just flood in at the same rate. The tide will have peak flow during hour 3 & 4 of the cycle. Hour 1 = 1 /12th Hour 2 = 2 /12th Hour 3 = 3 /12th Hour 4 = 3 /12th Hour 5 = 2 /12th Hour 6 = 1 /12th   The dreaded neap tide Everyone looks to the big spring tides when making plans. These days I get as excited by a gutless neap as I do raging Spring tide. If I can figure out how this will affect the fish I can plan  accordingly The reality is that most of my best SHORE BASS have come from neap tides .Big Bass are lazy creatures and if they find a quiet spot where they can escape the attention of predators and a supply of food they will hold out. When you move you are vulnerable, when you stay put you can focus on staying safe. During these smaller tides the baitfish will tend to stay in one place also and are less susceptible to the effects of strong currents.  Look for deeper holes close to the shore and you may find a big bass hiding out. I have seen bass buried in the weed on low water, completely motionless, if you find plenty of weed growth and boulders then I would be very optimistic.  Imagine a Salmon in a deep pool just out of the main current.  These same neap tides can be great for Bone fishing; the tide does not go high enough for Sharks and other predators to access the upper reaches of the flats and does not completely drain out on low water.  The fish can stay put or only have to move a small distance. A Thirty pound Permit may need a spring tide to access the same water that the Bones can access on neaps. So if wanted Permit...

Read More
Dropshotting in the salt
Nov18

Dropshotting in the salt

Dropshotting in the salt (So far ) The last month has been very quiet on Zen2 , she has sat there gathering dust or should I say leaves. The bookings really did tail off towards the middle of October , the few days booked were lost to rough seas anyway. I jumped for joy when 2 bookings coincided with perfectly calm seas and at last we were on a mission ! James has been on a few trips with me this year. That  horrendous cold spring made for a slow start , we did however have an  epic day together in September . James is a good ‘ thinking ‘ angler and keen to experiment while aboard.   I pass on  my knowledge to a large number of clients but I do also capitalise on the experience of a percentage of my boat partners that grace the decks on Zen2  We also have a good giggle when we fish so he makes for the perfect customer really . James and I discussed dropshotting earlier in the year. I did try it but my initial  trials were disappointing. It does have its limitations and when the wind blows hard and the tide rips the boat along at high speed on the drift  it becomes difficult to add the necessary finesse to the method. The one thing that dropshotting  allows you to do which is bloody critical at times on a boat that drifting is it allows you to leave the lure in the hotspot(Strike zone if your American ! ) ,  for example . Some spots I fish have very strong currents, the Bass and other species will often be found deep down tucked away out of the current hiding behind a rock or pinnacle. Traditionally I will be driving close to the pinnacle and then casting or dropping  a weighted paddle tail, into the zone , counting it down and then trying to judge the depth, feel for snags and then retrieve the lure .it’s a constant juggling act between getting the lure into the ‘’Zone ’’ and  losing lures . On Zen2 I got through roughly 600 Fiiish minnows this season ! Were only keeping the lure in the sweet spot for a short time due to physics . So if we can drop lures in the zone , leave them there and wiggle them while drifting away its going to increase the chances of a hit .   Saturday was a slow start .  We had zero wind and a tide that refused to kick off . Slack water seemed to last an eternity. I tried a number...

Read More