From the water’s edge

Artificial

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August 2010 - Utopeian bass

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Bob had the next one on for a short while but they weren’t really biting freely today and his fell off as well, so when Wadey struck the hook home, we all had our fingers crossed. It worked and he quickly had a beautiful tope under the rod tip for the skipper to hand land. It was neatly lip-hooked and after an energetic photograph, quickly returned. By the now the tide was moving again and we began drifting over the wreck with our bass tackle.
We use 30 gram rods carrying small baitcasting reels for bass on this shallow water. Our lures range between 1 and 2.5 oz in weight according to the strength of the tide and we arm our jigheads with an assortment of pale soft plastics and shads. Without a doubt the most effective lures are those that Neil recommends - Fladen Norden pirks of around 60grams; sometimes with a white-gill sandeel on the dropper.
But we can’t just use what works best (at least until we are desperate); it is not in our natures and I find that 4” white curly tails work well . My favourite lure however is home-made. A 1.5 - 2.5 oz torpedo shaped jighead with six inches of white rabbit zonker strip tied to the hook has a fantastic supple action when it is thoroughly soaked. Two of my three biggest bass have taken this lure and the one I caught today was number three. A superb fish of around 7-0 which fought way beyond the abilities of any freshwater fish. It made several long runs diving hard toward the bottom, but there is no excuse for a breakage on 20 lb braid and 12 lb nylon unless the fish reaches a snag and out here over the flat ground, up-tide of the wreck, I could enjoy those runs. The Norden ‘stinger’ pirks produced a few pollack to around three pounds and several quite surprisingly large pouting with the prize for the most colourful fish of the day going to Wadey’s wrasse.
It was a difficult day but Neil’s local knowledge and willingness to keep trying fresh ground in search of feeding fish meant that we all caught and had a great day afloat. I can’t wait for our next visit in October, it makes an interesting change from struggling on a filthy canal  and there is always something new to learn out there.
when it was explained that we could jig over the side whilst awaiting interest from the monsters, we went for it and I am very glad we did.
Sharkey had first strike and as the take developed he picked up the rod and struck into a good fish. A bit of tugging and heaving and we were all leaning over the side to catch our fist glimpse of a real shark. Sure enough a superb tope came thrashing to the surface , but in true lure angling style it threw the hook at the side and we watched it turn back
down and swim lazily away while the mackerel skipped back across the waves.
Clearly Sharkey must have got his nickname for some reason other than his ability to land small sharks.
As die-hard fans of light lure angling, we are always looking for new things to try and over the last three years we have been drawn to the south coast in search of its superb bass. We struck gold immediately when we booked with Neil French, skipper of the Spirit of Arun and we have never needed to look elsewhere. He knows the bass fishing around his Littlehampton base as well as anybody else and he has the patience to deal with anglers who don’t take life anywhere
near as seriously as they take their lure fishing.
For this trip Wadey, Sharkey and I were joined by LAS treasurer Bob Tweedle for his first trip afloat. Just for a change, Neil persuaded us to go a little further out to a wreck where we could fish the early, slack water with mackerel flappers for tope and conger. I admit we were perhaps less excited at the prospect than most sea anglers would be, but
Neil French
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