The year gone by…looking back over 2016

Let me start off with an apology for letting this blog slip away…I was thoroughly enjoying writing but Summer came and with it work, fishing and surfing took over and I just lost the flow of regular writing. I guess once you fall out of rhythm it is a hard thing to get back into.

2016 then…it’s been a great year for me in terms of both Surfing and Fishing, I’ve had some awesome surf sessions along with fishing ones.

So to pick back up from where I left things in July…

The end of July saw some pretty good Bass fishing round my beloved Gower coast, there was alot of small Bass about and it became hard at times to find a way of avoiding them and targeting the better Bass. This is where luring in the dark came into its own. Simple tactics, focusing on being in the right places at the right time and complete focus over where and what your lure is doing in the water yielded success.

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Ignore the gloves, I had hands that were falling apart from being constantly damp fishing, surfing and working in all weather.

This year really has opened my eyes to night fishing and how much it really is about confidence, a lure with a confident angler on the end will always out fish a lure fished by an unconfident angler (believe me I’ve learnt this the hard way). Something else that I really believe in at night is the power of a WAKE. A waked lure at night has done some real damage this year, not just for myself but a lot of the guys I fish with. A calm flat night, a wake along the surface just seems to drive the Bass mad. Slow but not stupid slow and your sub-surface lure will be just in that surface film waking and enticing the Bass with something to home in on.

August came and the Bass fishing dropped right off…we had a few unseasonal summer swells which saw the likes of Langland and Gennith pumping on quite a few occasions in the sun. I spent a day in Pembrokeshire with Matt Powell of Bass Fishing Wales on the hunt for some of the big Bass he had been both seeing and hooking into but on the day only a few small Bass played ball but we fished some stunning ground and got pretty adventurous. Wetsuits on clambering along cliff edges, near to swimming out to the mark, stuff a navy seal would be proud of.

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In August I had my first piece of published work for Sea Angler writing on behalf of BASS, I was really stoked with this and how the piece turned out, and its something I will keep for a long time. With my passion for writing still strong, its something I would really like to make more of and continue and improve on. Hopefully there is more to come. IMG_6852.JPG

September saw the Bass fishing at home start to pick up, with local estuary marks that hadn’t fished all year start to produce once again. Once again the Fiiish Black Minnow in the deadly yellow and white combo proved its worth, picking out Bass consistently in water you just wouldn’t look at for lure fishing.

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It does get a little clearer further out but not by much…

September is meant to be the month when we get some of the best waves of the year with clean ground swells straight off the atlantic rolling to our shores, yet this year they just never arrived…so with this in mind I headed off to Ireland with a group of Welsh Boys I didn’t know all that well but welcomed me along and made me feel apart of their friendship group along side some awesome Bassing. Here’s a taste of some of the fish had throughout the week across some stunning Irish coastline.

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Returning from Ireland, and October on the Horizon, everything should be at its prime, perfect clean autumn swells and Bass hungry on the feed before the water temperature begins to drop…well only one of those turned up, the autumn swells. October was an awesome month for surf and plenty of Autumn session were had. It was also when I headed to Newquay, Cornwall with the Swansea Uni Surf Team to compete in the BUCS Surf Competition, an annual comp that sees universities entering teams of surfers from around the UK, this year had a huge turnout with well over 350 competitors for a weekend of surfing and partying. As part of the Swansea Uni team, I took 5th place individually and as a team we took a respectable 2nd place in the team rankings. I was happy with my performance although I would really like to return next year with my eyes set firmly on making the final.IMG_7044.JPG

The waves were consistent back home there after with windy, stormy Langland being a regular thing, something I do thoroughly enjoy as it’s what I grew up surfing.

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Photo – Chris French

Into November, on the back of October’s swells it went flat for what seemed like an eternity. This gave way for calm, gin clear water, something I have rarely seen in November, just look at the image below!! Yes I did use my sunnies as a polarising filter, but it can only show whats there.

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The fishing, with the conditions we had, really came on fire. It seemed that the East winds, and sudden drop in temperature drove the Bass well and truly mad. When you found the fish they really played ball, smashing lures in the pitch black with sheer aggression with the average stamp of fish definitely up on what is was for most the year.

Its interesting what has been working at night, far contrast to what you will be typically be told will work at night, again confidence it a huge factor. Not forgetting that deadly wake. But the black at night concept hasn’t seemed so true is all I’m saying…

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Winter slab of silver…

December has been a surfing month with plenty of good sessions round Gower, with the crowds of summer dying off as after work surfs are no longer possible. With a new stick from long time shaper John Purton – JP Surfboards, I’m amped to get in the water as much as possible now on my small wave shredder and impressions so far is that it definitely turns crap, gutless waves into waves worth getting wet for. The fin set up also lends itself perfectly to laying down a hard rail and surfing this in small clean waves I can definitely feel an improvement in my flow and rail game.

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With the temperatures now dropping rapidly as winter takes its hold, conditions have definitely swung towards surfing, and that will be mainly what I am doing now until April. Piking, stillwater fly fishing and Grayling will be the targets over winter with their sessions taking place when flat or surf is poor. Grayling on the fly is something I am very keen to pick up and learn, theres something oddly satisfying about wading a river in the depths of winter while the ground is frozen and icicles hang from the overhanging branches on the far bank. I also find the czech/french nymphing methods captivating and something I am very keen to learn the ways of.

So to all those reading this, I apologise for the length of this post, but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as I took you back over my 2016 season. It’s definitely been one to remember and I have a lot to take away from it and continue on with into 2017.  A late Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year.

Nathaniel

The Finger of Blame

So as some of you may be aware there is a Bass Ban going on at the moment where no anglers may retain fish…but commercial fishermen may fish for Bass by rod and line and FIXED nets… find out more here

So when last night I saw a boat I presume from Burry Port laying two drift nets across Llangennith (something they aren’t permitted to do until July) last night I was pretty gutted to say the least. I’ve kept to the Ban for Anglers returning all my Bass so far this year yet to see this last night was a kick in the balls.

I did ring one of my local fishery officers when I saw it but being out of hours there isn’t much they can do but pass the information on…shame as all they really need to do it catch these boats coming back into the harbour and board them and check the gear being used.

At least when the stock collapses and the scientists call for a complete closure of all Bass fishing we will know who to point the finger of blame at! 

Louvine Collective Interview…with founder Phil Richardson

When I started up this blog, interviews and opening up others to different people, brands, projects and events was something I really wanted to be able to do, it hasn’t been instantly but I feel that there is enough of a following now to warrant it.

IMG_2579_1024x1024If you haven’t heard of Louvine it’s a pretty cool brand hailing from Hossegor, France. They’re starting to gain some traction over here in the UK and there’s a growing amount of crew seen repping their threads. Myself included…

I caught up with Phil Richardson – Co-founder of Louvine and fired a few questions his way to shed some light on what his brand is and what it’s all about!

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So Phil, you’re the founder of Louvine…Tell us a little about the brand. What inspired the brand and what was your background before Louvine…

It started a couple of winters ago on a dark and stormy evening in Seignosse, France. I was having a Jack Daniels with Mike Mailman – a good mate from way back. I told him I’d been casting my mind about creating something called LOUVINE. Mike; originally from Newport Beach in southern California happens to be a very talented, creative guy. A few days later he sketched out the OG logo design and we were away! We started the company SAS LOUVINE COLLECTIVE and opened our shop in Seignosse, France a bit over a year ago.

So the name ­ Louvine. Aside from sounding good, what’s it mean. It’s French isn’t it?

Only in the South West pocket of the Bay of Biscay, Atlantic Ocean are Seabass called Louvine (pronounced Louveen ). It’s a word from the Gascon language, an old dialect. The name has a local identity and rings well in a variety of languages. In other areas of France Bass are called ‘Loup’ or ‘Bar’.

From what I’ve seen on your social media pages (Facebook and Instagram) you seem to have a pretty good lifestyle. Fishing. Living by the sea. Surfing. Good food and beers.    – Tell me a typical day with the Louvine Crew. (We will say the fishing is on great weather and surf pumping)

Hossegor/Seignosse is a beautiful part of the world and I’m extremely fortunate to live here. The surrounding environment has inspired our brand

My day always starts with a strong coffee, that’s why I put some camp mugs in our range.

Our shop/office is across the road from the beach so if the surf is good and/or the bite is hot I try to get amongst it, sometimes only briefly if the day has a full program.  If I’m too busy there’s always tomorrow.

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Sounds like a pretty good day – good mix of Business & Pleasure.  How do you see things for the UK market. Been seeing the brand popping up more and more over here!

I’ve just returned from a 2 day road trip to Cornwall.  My first stop was Ben Field’s The Art of Fishing in Wadebridge. He will soon be stocking the Louvine range and I couldn’t wish for a better place to start our UK retail adventure. There is nothing more rewarding than getting out on the road and meeting the crew. The ‘Louvine Collective’ are all the people that support our brand. I dropped by FOWEY for round 2 of the Cornish LRF League. We send the guys over some prizes and our program is all about supporting grass-roots events. I’d really been looking forward to meeting everyone as I want Louvine to grow organically by building relationships with people. In the UK a handful of cool guys have supported us from the beginning and without them we never would have got anywhere. I am very grateful.

Sounds good, there’s a growing number of surfers/anglers round Cornwall. I agree, great place to start! Let’s get talking fishing then,If you could only fish for one species for the rest of your life. What would it be?

Dunno….It would have to be a species that takes lures presented in as many forms, styles and situations as possible. I am originally from Western Australia and it’s hard to beat land based Samson fish (Seriola hippos). Tough fighting, tricky scrappers that can dust you into the reef at any moment.  Have to bring your A game to bag one.

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Phil wish a hefty Samson fish over in Aus!

Since moving to France a good mate Benoit Claverie has introduced me to bigmouth bass fishing.  Les Landes, the local county has several bass stocked lakes and if you love lure angling I recommend you have a go someday.

Both species, from different marine environments take surface lures (bass more than Samson), plugs, jigs, soft plastics et al and fight like hell. Probably have to give Sambos the nod as they do massive runs and bass don’t. Can’t beat a big take and a screaming reel!

But you’re not just into fishing. As with me surfing is a big part of your life. How long have you been surfing. Are you a longboarder or Shortboarder?

My first memory in life is at the beach. My brother and I used to carry an old single fin down to the water’s edge, one on each end because it was too heavy. I still surf a 5’10” fish/shortboard but if it’s 1 foot and clean longboards are fun.

What’s your favourite wave or place you’ve traveled?

For a surf and fish holiday CAPE VERDE.

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OK…maybe I can see why he chose Cape Verde!

Ok so let’s have some quick fire questions…

Salt or fresh?

Salt because it’s across the road

Boat or shore?

Shore because I don’t have a boat. But after seeing that 13 pounder that Rob Boxall caught on his boat the other day I defo need one.

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Hard or soft plastics?

Either/Or

Beers or spirits?

OUCH! Look out!

Wetsuit or boardies?

Boardies 4 sure

Haha, Sweet! Good answers…that is hell of a Bass Rob has… fish of a lifetime. Bet you’re stoked to see a Louvine hat in the shot too.

The best part about that is I have followed  Rob on social media for a while and always enjoyed seeing his passion for fishing and life.  I finally met him at the European Fishing Trade show in Nantes earlier this year with the Jersey Lure League crew and Mick from Mr Fish and now I count the crew as good mates. As I said earlier meeting people and interacting around the lifestyle we all strive for is what motivates me with the brand.  When I see a friend catch a huge fish of a lifetime I am super stoked and feel part of it.

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It’s easy for Phil to be stoked for Rob when he’s had his Bass of a lifetime already!

Thanks for your time again Phil. Just to wrap things up… Anything final you’d like to add? What’s next for Louvine, with the summer ahead I take it you’re going to be busy!

Spring has been epic in the shop. Our event THE LOUVINE STREETFOOD FESTIVAL went off with a bang!  The upcoming Exposition LA VIE AQUATIQUE fish art show on 18th June will also build momentum rolling into summer.

I am thankful everyday for all the support. The little things add up and slowly the jigsaw puzzle takes shape.

Our clients are immensely important and we try our best to deliver and show respect. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and I apologise. Our mission is to constantly improve the range and find better supply chains. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It is a tough environment for small brands but I see and believe in our future. To use a metaphor -­ It’s day one of a test match with a damp, green pitch. The ball is seaming around and wickets are falling cheaply. We have survived the opening session and got ourselves a start. But, a lot of concentration and effort is required to build a big score.

 


 

Well there we have it…that’s Louvine

Check their site out here or their pretty active on Facebook and Instagram sharing some interesting stuff daily!

Major Craft Skyroad 902 ML Review

Major Craft are a Japanese brand famed with making some of the finest yet value for money lure rods on the Japanese Market. They are widely available in the UK from most tackle shops that specialise in Lure fishing.

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Modern lure rods are a world away from the original british spinning rods and japan has lead the way for the slimmest, lightest blanks and a true inspiration for the UK market that is dominated by supremely light fast action spinning rods, the majority of which are Japanese.

My first taste of these light Japanese rods was with a Major Craft Solpara. A stunning rod for under £100, a bit of a steal if you ask me…

In the back of my head though I had always fancied a skyroad, but I had the Solpara and it suited me well. It was light, the action suited my casting and the butt handle felt the right kind of length. The temptation was avoided even with most the guys I fish with back home using and praising them. 

All that changed though when I headed to Kerry, Ireland last year on a co-guided trip with Henry Gilbey and John Quinlan. Henry had bought with him 2 Major Craft Skyroads, the 8’6 and the 9’ for us, the clients to use if we wished. As you’d expect I couldn’t resist getting my hands on them to give a thrashing it’s great that Henry can provide rods of such quality high quality for customers on the trip to use! (and you can see yourself putting a nice bend in them once the camera comes out) 

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Putting the 902ML Skyroad through it’s paces punching a lure into a strong headwind © Henry Gilbey

The first I tried was the 8’6, this length has always been my sweet spot. Not too long, not too short. A fairly fast action that loads up very quickly but there’s no sweet spot to have to find, it just wants to be cast and it’s easy. First session out with it was some topwater fishing for Bass in a shallow rocky bay, this rod just suits topwater lures down to a tee, the lure responded to every little twitch “walking the dog” instantly due to the tips fast recovery, it’s a wand that makes animating your lures truly magical. I then used it the following day on a morning Bass fishing where once again Bass were happy to take lure off the top resulting in 3 fish landed on the infamous IMA Salt Skimmer, this 8’6 really is a joy for surface fishing, it feels great in the hand very light, quality fittings, comfortable handle and a fast action that really punches lure out with ease.

The rod also makes a very very good boat lure rod as I found out later on that afternoon when John took us out on his boat to fish some inshore reefs for Pollock in less than 50 feet of water…

What an afternoon we had with easily over hundred Pollock caught. In the shallow water (for pollocking at least) the fish didn’t blow their swim bladders as is often the case when fishing for pollock over wrecks and offshore reefs, and all fish were easily returned especially with the barbless hooks and the sport they provided was far superior to that of standard “Boat Fishing for Pollock” with the fish not giving up the ghost easily and following up to take the lures within sight just under the surface.

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No mercy was shown to the Skyroads on the boat this day. Double hook up!                                © – Henry Gilbey 

It was the 9ft that I really connected with though and although I originally thought the 8’6 would be the rod for me, the 9ft was just that little bit more perfect (to me). It has a slightly softer feeling tip that gives that extra feel with soft plastics, both weightless and jig heads, with it being extremely nice for the touch and feel of bouncing soft plastics. To me casting felt that bit better with this 9ft and the handle length everything felt right. After 2 days fishing with it I had one on order from Cian at Absolute Fishing ready for fishing with back home.

As with all carbon rods though there is every possibility of getting a flaw in the carbon and it snapping. Unfortunately this is what happened to me first session out with the new rod. I was casting a 4” TT Shad rigged on a 3g weedless hook (total of 18g i believe) and the rod snapped clean above the second eye from the tip. This was replaced free of charge with zero hassle, and it must’ve just been a dodgy blank that slipped quality control. I have before snapped rods due to my own error, tip tangles, over loading and through transport but they have all spliced as such, whereas this was a clean snap and only a few casts into the session.

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Since this replacement though, I have had no issues at all with the rod and it is still an absolute joy to fish with. It’s had plenty of use and landed enough fish for any faults since to have been found, so feel confident saying there is no fault in the model itself, just that I got unlucky, but there could well be a few going round that were from this same dodgy batch I had. Luckily it was replaced so smoothly and no issues have come since. It can happen with all carbon rods and no grudges held.

If you want to get a taste of the modern lure rods and are looking for upmost quality in terms of fittings, blank and weight then you really won’t go wrong with the Skyroad with the length depending on your personal preference. There’s even a 9’6 which is pretty tempting! 

Kerry Ireland – April 2016

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As some of you (or just those that read the previous blog post) may be aware, I headed off to fish over in Kerry, Ireland at the end of April for 5 days guided fishing with John Quinlan of Thatch Cottage.

Just a few days before heading over to the Eire, the Bass fishing back home in Wales had just turned on and confidence was high as my tally of Bass for the year so far hit 8, considering last year it wasn’t till May I had my first of the year, I was pretty happy with this. Warmed up nicely for Ireland I thought to myself…

So rods, clothes, gear and more tackle than I could ever need packed I headed off to catch my flight from Luton to Kerry.

Upon landing I was greeted by a different sight to last year, the grass which was once the typical emerald green was a straw like beige and the man I was sat next to on the plane told me it had been a cold start to Spring and the grass was late growing back. This cold start was confirmed as I stepped off the plane and a bitter cold breeze chilled my neck resulting in shimmering shoulders and rubbing hands. Never the less John had been catching Bass consistently and if anyone could find fish in tricky weather it would be him, “you’re in safe hands I told myself”. Outside the airport I was met by the grinning Irish man himself, we caught up, headed back to the Cottage where we were greeted with some of his wife – Lyn’s fine homemade cooking. 13092099_1009036092522413_7569311496874629222_n

So the fishing…

The Pollock fishing I experienced here last year was phenomenal and the trip begun with the hope of big Pollock as we waited for the afternoon’s flooding tide that would see the Bass coming in on the feed as it passed over the sun-warmed rocks.

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Some of last year’s Pollock fishing ©Henry Gilbey

We hiked over 5 miles of tough steep terrain to reach the ledge were we hoped the Pollock would be queuing up to hit my lures…stunning scenery as we looked out at the famous Skellig Islands (where some of the scenes from the latest Star Wars The Force Awakens was filmed) unfortunately the Pollock just weren’t there or if they were…they were just plain rude, no lure could tempt them. Perhaps the bait the Gannets were diving for a mile offshore had something to do with it…they were out there, not in close.
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Never the less we made up for this with an afternoon of Bass fishing the really got me excited and the fishless but scenic hike was soon forgotten, just as we got down to the water I spotted a Bass sitting in the foaming whitewater at the edge of a gully. This got me proper excited as my tongue poked half out the corner of my mouth in concentration as I hunched over and lightly cast my lure just beyond where it saw it. This happened a further 2 times, the fish were obviously about but with the temperatures low, gin clear water and bright sunshine, they weren’t feeding or easily fooled. Never the less, on we moved. As we clambered down to our next mark we could see some tidy fish cruising about, mullet we agreed, any Bass angler will have seen this time and time again. Mullet doing their best to fool us into thinking they are Bass. But wait…there was a fish deeper there, it’s head far chunkier…that’s a Bass! As we got our feet secure on the rock and the waves crashed around us, we could see a whole school of Bass and not small “schoolies”- good Bass, all well worth catching as they cruised across the sand path between the two reefs. Really heart in mouth stuff!! First cast, follow. “DAMN TAKE IT!!” I shrieked in my mind, as I bounced the soft plastic along the bottom and we saw in the crystal clear water 3 Bass following the lure, as if inspecting what it’s doing there but nope, not feeding. This happened repeatedly for quite a few casts. John informed me that the Bass here can often be tricky and that there is such an abundance of Sandeels that they can be picky about when they feed and what lures they hit. It was at the mention of Sandeels that I remembered I had some Sunslicker Gibbon Paddle Ups, a unique lure with upside down paddle tail but wow it looks like a Sandeel in the water. So on it went and second cast crawling it along the bottom on one of John’s home poured jig heads. WHAM. Fish on!

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After a tidy scrap, the fish was swung up with the surging waves and landed, a quick photo and the release was filmed as it swam off strong to give another visiting angler the joy of such a stunning fish. Check out the clip below!


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/165852707″>Kerry Bass Fishing – Thatch Cottage Ireland</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user7271313″>NathanielSurf</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

With the cold weather though, the Bass fishing became hard. We persisted on through out the week. Surprisingly it was the shallow reefs where we saw the most Bass, which in theory should’ve been the coldest areas in the bitter north winds, but as is always the case in fishing, you never really know. I recall seeing a particularly nice Bass sitting in the shallows cruising in and out of the weed looking for prey but a few casts towards it saw it swim back out towards the deeper water, not interested.

Weightless soft plastics were the order of the day over this ground, with a new lure to me being highly impressive – Keitech Sexy Impact (bit of a funny name but it does look like a pretty sexy Sandeel in the water!) this lure yielded success in a few lost Bass, follows and one landed. A lure that will stay in my box! There was also a very nice fish, that would have easily been my best Irish Bass to date that followed in my Dolive Stick fished snail pace slow but last minute as I saw it homing in on the lure it flicked its tail and decided it didn’t fancy playing.

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Tricky fishing but nice to pick them out on weightless soft plastics, something I’ve not had a huge amount of success with before.

Staying with me was also a very talented Dutch fly Angler – Anton Hellings, he managed a few on the fly, something pretty exciting to see and very commendable working so hard to get a fly out in tricky conditions.

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A nice Bass on the fly in tricky conditions for Anton… I think he was impressed with the size of their mouths or ready to give it a kiss.

As those who know me or read this blog will be aware, I’ve got a growing interest in fly fishing, especially for trout, so being in Kerry and having multiple Loughs at reach, a day on a lough was in order. Making the most of having two very talented fly anglers with me to show me the ropes of this lough style it wasn’t long before I got the hang of it and we were managing multiple fish per drift. Nothing big, but some stunning wild Brown Trout using traditional methods, flies tied by John that morning while surrounded by stunning scenery. We even had a sighting of a Sea Eagle, a bird that was once native to this part of Ireland before hunting wiped them out, they have since been reintroduced and to see one so close up, then into flight was something special.

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Small, Pretty and Acrobatic – Irish Brown Trout

Seeing Bass is something I’m not quite used to, back home we are rarely blessed with gin clear water and we rarely if ever see the Bass we catch. But seeing Bass you weren’t catching or would half heartedly follow your lure really was something else, anyone that spots Bass puts a lure in front of them and then catches them, I take my hat off to you because just three days of it showed me just how tricky fishing it can be when Bass are solitary in clear water.

It often seemed the case in these clear water scenarios to give the fish something different. One evening session in particular showed me this, I had been getting follows on Fiiish Black Minnow’s, Komomo’s and other soft plastics worked fairly slow but it wasn’t until I clipped on a Shoreline Shiner and cranked it pretty fast through the foaming white water that a beautiful conditioned Bass showed interest, this was in an area I had thrashed with a manner of lures but followed or ignored. Something different was done, and it became fruitful. Food for thought!

 

All in all, I had a superb week with John at Thatch Cottage, the food was superb, comfortable stay, and he did his best to ensure the fishing despite tricky conditions was productive. Not to mention his encyclopedia mind of fishing knowledge that I did my best to pick dry over my stay. Yes the Bass fishing wasn’t what it could have been for Kerry but that’s no fault of our own, simply mother nature was against us but John consistently put us where the fish were.

I’ll be back!!

If you’d like to find out more about Thatch Cottage and fishing with John, visit their website http://kerrybassfishing.com/

Back Out With the Fly Rod…

So in response to my quest for a Sea Trout this year I felt, rightly so I need to get out with the fly rod a little more in preparation, I like to think I am competent with a fly rod…impressive no, but competent yes.

I’ve also under taken the task of tying my own flies, I say task, ones you get the hang of it, it is kind of a pleasure…like sitting painting a piece of art as you watch you blank canvas of a hook slowly turn into the image (or fly) you had in your head.

So I put these two things together, tied a bunch of buzzers and emerger buzzers in preparation of heading to a stillwater on the weekend for some Trout action on the fly and blow the cobwebs from my fly line.

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Now I’ve heard plenty of good things about a stillwater trout fishery not far from me in Llanelli – Garnffrwd but until now I had not been there.

After an evening tying a few extra flies in preparation I packed my gear and loaded the car with my kit ready to set off for action the next day at a new fishery.

Garnffrwd is only 5 minutes off the M4 at Cross Hands but it feels a million miles away from the busy fast paced action of a motor way with its setting in the outskirts of pure Welsh Carmarthen Countryside.

As soon as I got to the lake in the morning I could see fish cruising round and “supping” from in the surface film…hatching buzzers I thought, this had me excited from the get go.

I got my first few rusty, if not slightly embarrassing casts out the way in time for the owner Jamie to come round to collect payment, not before giving him a glance in my fly box for his opinion on what would best suit the hatch the fish seemed concentrated on. Small skinny Black Buzzers were his suggestions. So on one went.

I fished round a few platforms and before long other anglers were into fish, obviously they’d found the obliging fish unlike me, never the less I persisted and it wasn’t long before one of my black skinny buzzers (as Jamie had recommended) was engulfed by a nice hard fighting rainbow.

This was my first fish on the fly for a while and I had forgotten how good it feels to play a fish by hand as opposed to off the reel as 95% of my fishing is, it fought very well and there’s no doubt the fish in Garnffrwd are fighting fit and those tails on them…well it was turbo charged kicking violently until it was within reaching distance of the net.

It’s interesting, people often claim fly fishing not hard once you find what the fish want and the next 2 minutes after unhooking the first fish definitely held true to this, second cast after my first fish of the day, the same buzzer was hit by another slightly smaller but still hard fighting energetic rainbow. I hate to feel cocky in fishing but I will admit I had a slightly smug grin on my face here as my second fish in 5 minutes was netted.

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I continued on before calling it time for lunch in the fisheries cafe, good service, nice food and had some time to chat with Jamie and thank him for his fly advice.

Fuelled and ready for round two I headed back on the water. There was a nice afternoon breeze and the fish were now taking confidently off the top on emerging buzzers.

This was my change to get try get a fish on my first ever tied Dry Flies – CDC Emerging Buzzers. I found a corner where the fish seemed to be confidently taking and offered shelter for casting into the breeze but the fish seemed uninterested…coming up to the fly raising my heart to my throat and then turning away last minute…frustrating but exciting at the same time.

 

After persevering a fish eventually homed in on my fly and with a large swirl my fly was gone and I lifted up into a nice fighting fish, I was now into the Catch and Release part of my ticket and this fish swam away strong after giving me huge pleasure.

I persisted a little longer and missed a few fish on striking into them but a great day and the fishery is truly superb and I’ll be back for sure. What really impressed me was their Catch and Release policy. I had request for a trout for tea so opted for a 2 fish ticket but the fishery allows catch and release after your first two fish which is superb and maximises your day out! Something it would be great to see more fisheries follow suit of.

Been back on the Bass again recently…run of blanks so far but it’s early days still but there have been a few caught so there is a glimmer of hope and hopefully soon I’ll open my season with a tidy fish.

 

Tackle Box Treasure – Savage Sandeels

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In the world of soft plastics, there is an ever growing list of paddle tail lures available, but I would hazard a guess that there are very few seasoned anglers that haven’t come across the humble Savage Gear Sandeel!

There isn’t much to it, its a slim bodied soft plastic with a elongated paddle tail. Heck as far as soft plastics go they’re hardly the most supple softest plastic lures, but plain and simple they work!

Pearl and Lemonback have been the top colours for me…Pearl in clear water or bright sun and Lemonback in murkier water or low light situations, but it seems all colours do well in all truth.

There is a mind blowing amount of soft plastics available but the Savage Sandeels just seem to continually prove themselves, why? I don’t know, when I first picked them up yes they looked good but they’ve got no extra features like say a Black Minnow, no hollow “rippling” belly, it comes on a fixed jig head, no articulated rolling inducing head, and as I said personally I’d love to see them in an even softer plastic to enhance the action at lower speeds, but they do something right and for all species Bass, Wrasse, Cod and Pollock… On the boat they’re one of my top lures, often in my opinion sorting out some of the better Bass when schoolies dominate the shoals and from the shore they’re very consistent and simple to use.

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This Bass couldn’t resist a Savage Sandeel in Lemonback on a weedless head – just check out the stunning blue tinge to its fins!

The introduction of the weedless heads for them this year got me very excited, I really like the weedless set up and I don’t feel like it results in any less hook ups and also I find fish always to be nicely lip hooked with weedless hooks. Savage’s weedless heads have seen me be able to fish the Savage Eel in a lot more situations than I once would have but I do have a few dislikes to them, they are far from the most “Wide Gape” hooks available and I think that a wide gape is essential for exposing the hook once a fish takes. They come in at 16g which I personally like in fast currents but would prefer something lighter for fishing shallow ground, this is added to by the actual shape of the jig heads, (still an issue with the standard open jig head)…the pointed face I find often digs into any snags and I think a fair few losses are down to its pointy face becoming wedged into a rock.

I have come across these Xorus Texas Power 3/0 Weedless Jig Heads which Mr Fish claim fit perfectly on the 10cm bodies…these are something I really like the sound of and they really float my boat, they look like they will swim shallower than the savage designed heads (look at the location of the heads eye) and they are available in both 7g and 10g options suiting shallow ground and faster currents. I look forward to trying these this season to see if they suit me even better than the already “sufficing” SG heads, another combo that I must give more water time this year is the 10cm bodies rigged on a 3/0 belly weighted weedless hook, know anglers that have had great success with this set up and it adds another dimension to the humble Savage Sandeel! 

A simple, easy to use lure that works very well despite no thrills and I think could easily be improved on, for me it will always be over shadowed by the ever superb Black Minnow but well worth having and I’m a big fan of its slim profile, and that very nice lemonback colour!