For me, in the sea is where my fishing started, I needed something to do over the summer holidays when the surf was flat. So what better way to spend a boring day than dig lugworm in front my house then cycle or nag for a lift to my nearest pier to try for whatever was there? Needless to say, these trips were never that successful…and since I’ve put a lot more thought into my fishing. As much as I do enjoy my bait fishing, there is something unique and exciting about lure fishing. I feel more connected to the fish I’m targeting with a lure, a higher sense of interaction and achievement. Call it poxy, but it’s a feeling I cannot describe but thoroughly enjoy.
Now there’s one thing that no matter what it is in life that I’ve always enjoyed, and become mentally over ruled by, and that is; A challenge! I love learning, thinking and figuring out how to make things work. Lure fishing gives me my fix of this!
I suppose my first taste of fooling a fish you could say was casting out a set of feathers for mackerel. Probably the most crude form of, if I could even call it lure fishing…but hear me out on this! This was the first time that I had imagined what was happening underwater, how the string of feathers lifted and dropped through the water, where the mackerel would be and how would they react to how much feathers were acting, did they look right? This captured me like no form of fishing I had done before, there was a third eye active in my mind which previously had not been activated outside of Surfing where I would mind surf how I would perform each turn, daydreaming watching waves roll in at my local beach.
I quickly decided that Bass would be my quarrel, they were the elusive predator and I would regularly see photos of my Surfing peers with what to me looked like monster Bass. I had to cut my teeth on this. I spent a few sorry evenings spinning with metals and rubber eels on rock marks round Mumbles, attempting to hook the Bass that “must’ve been there”. This led me to bait fishing, which I spent a few years learning.
It wasn’t until I was 16 that I attempted the lures again when I headed down to a mark show to me by a very experienced Bass fisherman during my time solely bait fishing. Conditions were completely the opposite to what at the time, I would have chosen for lures. It was a dreary, drab, dismal day, a strong SW blowing had coloured up the water and there were waves to contend with. I had just invested in a new lure that looked too good not to work (we’ve all heard that before) a Fiiish Black Minnow…After a few casts I headed for a deep hole at the end of a gully and it could have only been my second cast here when I was hit, right in the “fizzing” water. I couldn’t believe it, tunnel vision set in, my world turned a joyful tangerine tainted gold as I slid a bar of silver in with the waves! That was my first Lure caught Bass from the shore and one that became a true milestone for me.
I’ve since devoted hours upon days that have turned to into many months and moons to the art of Lure fishing for Bass around my beloved Gower coastline. No form of fishing had got me excited in the same way as this, it was mobile, I could go when I wanted, it had no fixed rules, anything could work and it completely captured my overactive imagination.
The love of interacting with the fish I catch has since expanded, I cannot Bass fish year round on my coastline, and even the “off-days” during the season drive me mad.
So the only option was to diversify, find something else that could satisfy me. I’ve been very lucky that my best friend has two lakes on his land and even better is that these are full of Perch, they were far from the stamp of Bass that I was used to pursuing round Gower – now by no means am I saying the Bass I have dedicated myself to are huge, but a lot of these Perch are what get nicknamed “wasps” – small aggressive and stripy. BUT…I could target them on an ultra light lure set up! Presenting a lure to these aggressive buggers often required a certain amount of thought, would they be high or low in the water? Are they feeding on fry or hitting out of aggression? Do they want to chase or be enticed?
It really became finesse fishing and although there wasn’t huge fish, a few hitting a pound and the occasional one and a half pounder along with a very special two and a half on my first session (beginners luck or what!), I feel this fishing has taught me a lot, especially how results from tweaks and changes could be directly assessed as the fish were always present it was just a case of doing what appealed to them.
The love for this ultra light fishing took me into LRF fishing, targeting Gobies, school Bass, micro Wrasse and one of my most exciting captures, Flounders. It required the same finesse as my Perch work but a wider variety of species in a whole manner of locations. Needless to say the scent of Isome was something I became very familiar with.
There are two catches that stand out in my mind in my LRF fishing, starting with my first flounder on the gear of close to two pound that really fought well, the undulating body of a Flounder in a bid for freedom is something that really must be experienced on UL gear it was a real eye opener to a fish I once hauled in on a beach caster. The second was a three and a half pound Bass, fishing a 70mm Black Minnow, this really got the heart going in a rod bending, drag screaming battle, that was nearly robbed from me by a Seal…which even waited around for the fish to be returned, to prevent him getting too much of an appetite for Bass it was kept, now a rarity for my shore caught Bass.
But this year is when the Bass lure fishing really got serious for me. When I properly got on a mission and thrashed my local water. Having a constant eye on conditions was essential. I cannot stress that enough! When the conditions come together the South Wales coast really does produce some phenomenal Bass fishing and when the window was right I would often fish two tides a day. First and last light where possible!
I spent a huge amount of time during July getting to know a local mark, that when the fish were there was electrifying, a spooky wade out to a channel that drops off sharply sees you casting into a raging flow of water. Casting soft plastics up this and bringing them round in the flow proved lethal and although there were many blanks between superb sessions, perseverance often paid off…
This Summer had an evening I will never forget, let me share it with you!
It was a still evening, after a warm day it had clouded over. I had rushed down to my mark from work in order to catch the “golden hours” when the fish pass through. There were already a few anglers there, two of whom are very good Bass anglers and have passed a lot of invaluable knowledge on to me – Stan and Richard. There was also a few other anglers present about the place, but after the first hour of “prime time” had passed and no fish shown, one by one the anglers started to leave.
This left myself, Stan and Richard wading up to our chests in water flinging lures into the current. It had hit slack water and the tidal flow was dying so I moved along to a slightly deeper drop off when first cast here after just a few turns of the handle something absolutely inhaled my lure that put a full power curve in my rod to the butt. After a few authoritative head shakes the fish came up to the surface where i saw a head splash followed by a tail a fair distance apart. Rich was first to say it, but it looked a very good fish. Suddenly it got its head down and turned down flow in a bid for freedom, “keep your rod high” was the guidance from Stan and Rich as they looked at the curve in the rod and the reel that had started to let a drag to the fish.
Keeping the rod high and pressure on I was able to stop the fish heading towards the channel and gaining confidence in the current, which judging by the tail we had seen would’ve been a one-way story. The fish was soon out tidal run, as I walked backwards towards the shore gaining a few turns of line on the reel as I did. Once in the shallows I could see the fish, my heart stopped, there was a lump in my throat and as I wound down to apply some pressure preventing the head down run I feared it may be about to take, I looked at Stan who had his Boga grip out ready for securing and unhooking the fish and he said the words that I had been whispering in my mind for the last minute. “I think she’s a double…”
The fish then quickly thrashed on the surface and I lowered my rod to prevent pulling the hook as it shot off to my right before I put pressure on to stop it. The fish was then head up with its cavernous mouth waking on the surface as I continued to walk back (only now a little more “trembly”) until Stan swooped in, and got the fish grip on the lips to secure the fish , but just as the grip was secured…out fell my lure, a moment slack and the lure that was so lightly in the corner of the fish’s mouth would have fallen and the fish of a lifetime gone. With the fish landed, supporting the belly Stan lifted it up out the water and passed it to me. It was quickly weighed which saw the scales read bang on 12lb. My legs wobbled, something felt very molten inside of me, as I took the fish back into the water where I held it, admiring its beauty letting it get some water over its gills before having a photo with it. A few quick snaps courtesy of Richard and the fish was back in the water, and with a flick of its tail..gone!
It was a moment I will always remember and may not ever experience again, and to have shared that moment with two great anglers, whom without I may not have landed the fish and definitely wouldn’t have had photos was extremely special and something I am eternally grateful for.
I write this suffering badly from cabin fever (writing this almost made it worse), I haven’t been out on the Bass with the lures since October due to poor conditions once November arrived and although I’ve been out chasing Perch, Trout,and Pike in Freshwater. My fishing needs that can only be completely satisfied by Bass have not been met and I count down the days until we get the first days of Spring when the water warms, the seas calm down and baitfish shoal up…with this the Bass return with vengeance and my lures get salty again.