Monday, 24 September 2012

Last of the summer bass...

As luck would have it, there was a tiny window of calm amid the 20mph plus winds and 3ft swells that seem to have lasted all August and into the start of September.  Last year, a bad year was only saved by having one fantastic session in September, when the fish were virtually jumping into my kayak.  Could this year see a repeat?

First of all let me apologise for the absence of photos.  I'd been messing about with my camera, and sure enough forgot to put it back in the bag for my next trip out.  So the only photos I can show are from my phone inside its waterproof case - hence the rather blurry photo.

Anyhow, back to the fishing.  It was a good day, but nothing like as good as last year.  This year the fish were much harder to come by, couldn't find any shoaling up like they generally do at this time of year and instead they were spread out very thinly across a wide area.  I eventually located a good patch, but so had a whole bunch of other anglers, all of whom were fishing for bass.  Must have counted 3 from the shore spinning with plugs and another 5 or 6 boats trolling lures all in the same place.  Not really my scene to be fighting in amongst the crowds, but unfortunately I couldn't pick my time or place, given the weather.  And it looked like everyone else was in the same boat! (sorry, couldn't resist that one)

Started out with soft plastics, which were working well and certainly seemed to outfishing those who were trolling using hard plastics.  But it was only when I changed to first to a Saltiga Minnow 120, and then to the Tide Minnow of the same length, that I started to hit bigger, more aggressive fish.  I lost a beautiful fish of somewhere between 5 and 6 pounds right at the edge of the kayak.  It fought like an absolute demon, and for a while I couldn't get it anywhere near the yak.  Then finally, it came up close for a moment and stopped thrashing and spinning about.  I tried to get my lip grabbers in its mouth, but as soon as it saw them it started again and flipped out one of the trebles.  Then, with one hook still in place, I had another go and the same thing happened.  I actually had my hand round the fish this time, in the vain hope I get a grip on it but it was too big to get my hand round.  One good kick of her tail and she slipped through my fingers and away!

Still, the very next cast I had the pleasure of watching my lure coming towards me and another good fish come up behind it and grab the lure, and then shake its head like a terrier with a rat!  Fantastic to see in the water like that.  This time I got it safely in.  I kept fishing for a bit, adding the odd fish, but eventually the wind picked up and things got a bit too hairy to stay out there.  I paddled for home in what turned out to be really tough conditions.  In fact by the time I got back, it was too rough for me to try gutting my fish out on the water.  I opted to come ashore and do the job on land.  Doesn't always go down well with folk on the beach, but I firmly believe in feeding the crabs, rather than chucking that stuff in the bin.  Anyhow, here's the fish on a bit of bladderwrack, just before I start gutting them (the knife in the foreground is the No. 12 Slim Bubinga Opinel - a good knife for this sort of work).
Best was around 50cm+ nose to tail fork, which is right on the limit of what I can freeze whole.  Not huge, but I don't like taking them much bigger than this.  Each year I try to take about 15 fish.  About a third of those will be eaten fresh, and the remainder go in the freezer for the winter months.  Bass keep pretty well in the freezer, not as well as cod or other white fish, but certainly good enough for 4 or 5 months.  We generally eat bass about once or twice a month (we eat fish at least once a week).  So that's either two small bass per meal or one large one shared between two, which means I usually don't need to buy any until about March / April time, just when they'd be getting a bit tough from the freezer anyway.  Plus buying them from the supermarket around then whets my appetite for the coming season!   I'm one of those who prefer small bass for eating as I like to have the option of serving them baked whole.

So far that makes 11 bass for the freezer this year, so a bit less than usual, but I'm hoping the current storms will stop at some point, giving me one last chance to get back out on the water.  It's been a total disaster this year for me in terms of cod and pollack, but there's still an outside chance I may get another late bass or two before the dark nights descend on us again.

Best wishes and tight lines to all those able to fish!


  1. Good stuff Kester - nice fishing.... the good old Tide Minnow - one of my favourite 'go to' lures - a classic in my book :)

  2. Yes, the trouble is there are so many variants of Tide Minnows that I'm sure people get confused about what they should be using. The short, fat-bodied TMs are great from the kayak, fantastic action and they only have two trebles, which is a big consideration when you've fish flapping about between your legs! I'm also hoping to try out some of the models designed for shore work (the SLDs) before we lose whatever's left of autumn...

  3. I like fat minnow,good action,long cast and mostly deep diver..
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