Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Me 5, Bass 1 !

This was another trip decided on the spur of the moment around 8pm the previous evening.  Unfortunately in my rush I forgot to charge any of my device batteries.  This meant my waterproof camera, phone and VHF radio all ran out of juice while out at sea which wasn't clever and a shame really, given the incident and fish packed trip, as it resulted in just two photos taken with the last few seconds of battery life left in my phone.  Still, what I can't do in pictures, I can do in words, eh?!

Conditions were near perfect on arrival: gloomy and overcast, with a light breeze.  The sea was a touch cloudy more or less everywhere, after a week of heavy rain, but while that didn't put the fish off it did mean I couldn't see what ground I was fishing over.

Started the day using a baby Zonk 77, which netted me a nice fish on my last outing.  The fish came more or less steadily, one every 20 mins or so, but nothing much over a pound.  By lunchtime I was into double figures, but for the life of me couldn't locate any better sized fish.  Despite my predjudice against 3 treble hook plugs, I first tried an IMA Susuke 120 and then a Zonk Gataride to see if they would find some better fish.  To be fair the Gataride did bring me a couple of marginally bigger fish, but it also caught far fewer fish than the baby Zonk.  Plus both fish on the Gataride came in all tangled up in the trebles which isn't pretty (apologies for photo quality, it was from my phone through an Aquapack, making it look misty which it certainly wasn't!):
One treble hook in the right place, the others just causing mischief.
But to be honest, the Gataride really slowed the fishing up.  Even though the fish I caught were marginally bigger, I prefer catching to not catching and so decided on another change.  On went my favourite plug for the kayak: the Rapala SRX10 X-Rap in blue mackerel.  This radically improved my catches, particularly when I was trolling it behind the yak while looking for new marks.  For some reason this plug is really attractive to bass when trolling, and I generally go back to where a trolled fish was caught and try to catch more by casting around the area, as bass often go around in small groups.  But either the fish were solitary, or I couldn't replicate the speed or manner of retrieve when trolling.  It was quite frustrating - as soon as I gave up and headed off to a new mark, bang!  A fish would grab the trolled X-Rap! 

It was while fishing with the X-Rap the bass got one back on me.  A lively little fish came in, thought I won't bother with the grips this time. I lifted its head above the water against the side of the yak and tried to grab the top of the plug. Fish goes bonkers just as I got hold of the plug and bang, the top treble hook sinks into the end of my thumb near the nail, right up to the bend of the hook, well past the barb.  Luckily I had a good grip of the plug and the fish wriggled off, leaving me with an X-Rap in my thumb. I tried pulling the treble out with my right hand and I couldn't do it. So I got my pliers out and tried with them. Still couldn't do it. Thought I wasn't being man enough, i.e. just wasn't pulling hard enough.  But I gave that hook a massive tug with the pliers and it didn't move.  It's tough, rubbery flesh just there and that hook wasn't moving so much as a millimetre, it was almost like it was stuck in bone.  Pain getting worse each time I struggle with the pliers. Thought about snipping it off but it wouldn't have been any easier to paddle back, and might have worked its way in even further. Plus the hook was in that deep it would have been hard to get anything under the bend of the hook to cut it, so I would have had to cut the two other hooks off the treble and then the main stem of the treble, which seemed like a lot of hassle.

I remembered something about having to make the entry point twice as large as the size of the hook's barb by pushing back against the wound on the opposite side to the barb. I pushed hook shank until it ripped the opening wider.  This sounds easy, but it's actually incredibly hard to do as the bend of hook is blunt and deep flesh wounds don't just "rip" open easily.  It was bloody hard work (literally) but eventually I got it out, though not after I nearly had a "turn" while doing it and felt a bit faint!!  Fainting in the kayak with a plug in your hand wouldn't have been wise, but I gritted my teeth and got back to it.  It knocked the breath out of me for a bit but I was so glad it was out.  For a while afterwards I couldn't reel in or even think but again forced myself and after a while got used to it.  Needless to say, every fish after that was landed using my lip grips!

It seemed to be a day for stray trebles causing trouble.  Next up, a sea gull dived on my X-Rap and got hooked.  It came out of nowhere and was too fast for me to react.  Generally I can pull the lure out of the way, but this bird was too quick and grabbed the lure before it had dived deep enough to escape and ended up with a hook in its beak.  Luckily it was a young bird and quite light.  I gently brought it in and it was surprisingly calm, the hooks more or less fell out as soon as I had it in my hands and I let it flap off, a lot less worse than myself for the experience of getting hooked up!

Anyhow, it was about time to go and I had just two fish in my bag, despite having caught plenty.  Trolled the X-Rap on the way back and you can guess what happened.  First, rod thumps over and line rips off the reel.  I quickly land the best fish of the session and paddle back to where I hooked it.  First cast, another decent fish.  Bang that one on the head and get back to roughly the same place.  First cast again another good fish.  Paddled back again after dispatching that one and then lost them. Tried casting all around the area, but I hadn't made a good mental note of exactly where I'd been hooking them and I must have drifted off the mark.

Decided it was now time to call it a day and came ashore to gut the fish.  With literally seconds of battery life left on my phone I managed the last photo of the day:
Wet seaweed and sea bass.
All in all a good session, despite the hook in the thumb incident and the dead batteries of my various electronic devices which has meant a diminished blog article!  It would have been nice to have a photo of the hook in my thumb as it was quite impressively gruesome, and one of the sea gull just for novelty value, but my main camera was dead and you can't operate my phone's camera in its aquapack with one hand!

There will be a bit of break now from the blog, as I'm spending time out from fishing for family stuff.  The blog will no doubt return in about a month, weather permitting.  Tight lines to all and a good summer's fishing!

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