Start of the autumn bass fishing!Well it's that time of year again when the 'cod goggles' finally get taken off and I start to focus on sea bass. My sea bass window is surprisingly short, just a few weeks, as bad weather can be a curse at this time of year. You might ask why I wait until now to target them as a species? The reason is that although you can pick up several fish over the course of session during July and August, you only really start to hit the good sessions later in the year. Besides which, before that there's plenty of great fishing to be had with the cod, pollack and mackerel.
Anyhow, it's late September and now the chances of picking up decent bass starts to increase. I set out yesterday to try some of my favourite marks despite the unpromising forecast. Winds were predicted to be westerlies with gusts to 30mph! However, the average wind speed was meant to be around the 15mph max. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for.
If the winds were a tad on the big side, so was the tide. The two flowing in the same direction made fishing almost impossible in the morning session. With my apologies for the poor quality photographs, you can see the short steep chop making the sea messy and unpredictable. Couple that with the wind knocking off the tops of the waves and you had some pretty challenging conditions. One factor of the Pro Fisha 575 which is usually a boon worked against me yesterday. The 575 is known to weathercock in strong winds so that you end up with your back to the wind while fishing (this behaviour is due to the classic Stealth yak design of low backside and nose being clear of the water). Generally this is what you want. But yesterday was a strong westerly and as the sun rose bright as a button in the east, I was forced to fish into the dazzle. Even with good sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat, staring into the choppy glitter for several hours was not much fun.
|Short chop and strong winds made fishing difficult.|
Fortified with food, the shifting position of the sun and noticing a slight drop in the wind, I set out again determined to find the bass. The tide had slowed a little as low tide was approaching, and all of a sudden the bass started to appear in numbers. The frustrating thing was that I just couldn't find them while casting! The only way I could catch any was to troll my lure behind the kayak. Inevitably this would result in an immediate hook up. I landed fish after fish, each starting to fish immediately in the area where the fish was hooked, but I couldn't entice a single fish. Eventually I'd give up, cast out and start trolling back up to the start of the mark and bang! Another fish on!
I don't have the explanation why trolling sometimes beats conventional fishing. It must be something to do the speed, depth of the lure, etc. But it might also have something to do with the rocking action of the kayak imparting just the right movement to the lure. I tried everything I could think of to mimic the trolling action of the kayak, but I could not get a fish to bite. It's bizarre, but it's happened to me before. One of the problems when you try to recreate the action of trolling is that it's very difficult to judge the speed at which your kayak moves through the water when trolling and to then copy that using your reel while trying to counteract the effect of your drift speed. The rod too points upwards in the rod holder, meaning that the lure probably also rides higher up in the water than usual. Then there is the rocking motion of the kayak. Generally it's pretty slight, but yesterday the conditions were as rough as I'm prepared to paddle and the rod tip might have been moving more than usual.
|Rare underwater shot that actually worked of a bass coming in!|
|Black minnow 120 doing what was it was bought for.|
- They're cheap and effective. About three to one against hard lures in terms of their price.
- They use a single hook. This is so much safer in a kayak that there shouldn't really be any discussion about the matter. Why risk landing a flapping fish with three sets of trebles in between your legs? It's bonkers! Stick with single hook lures and let's have no more horror stories of treble hooks embedded in thumbs while at sea and needing to paddle home. It's an accident waiting to happen.
|Another slab-sided Yorkshire bass. Cracking!|
So despite the weather, I ended up with a bag of eight fish, with probably double that caught over the day. I've probably one or two more sessions left before the season closes for me personally. You might think that just three bass sessions per year barely counts as fishing, but it's all in the timing. I will catch more in those three sessions than I would have if I'd been ten times earlier in the year. Trust me, I've done it. Fingers crossed that the weather is kinder next time!