Sunday, April 28, 2013

Single hooks on lures

I've had a mess about with a few lures and re-rigged them with single hooks. Pluggin' Singles have big eyes, so you can fit them on a split ring. They're quite expensive, as in a Lady for eight hooks, but they're pin-sharp and have a tiny whisker barb.

Assuming I ever manage to actually catch any bass this summer, I plan to return most of them. So instead of a couple of trebles on my lures, I'm going to try singles on some of them, to see how they fare.

You can get them in sizes from #1 to 2/0 from Veals. I bought a pack of each size, but only the 1/0s and 2/0s look big enough to do the business.

Depending how they perform, I may keep them on a few lures when I start pike fishing again - I reckon two singles on a lure the size of a Rapala J13 or a single on a spoon would be a breeze to unhook. That's assuming they go in - and stay in - when you get a hit.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The cruel sea

I was looking forward to tonight. Biggest tide for weeks, top of the flood around dusk - I know it's early and the sea's still cold, but it had to be worth a go. Or so I thought, until we walked down the path through the dunes and the wind hit us.

With an icy northerly blowing almost straight in our faces, I could barely heave my biggest Dexter 30 yards. While the lure was landing just beyond the breakers, it was in barely two feet of churning surf, rather than out in the promising-looking gully I found the other day. Spindrift was piling up around the high water mark. No chance whatsoever of catching anything, in other words.

Issy found a huge dead eel at the foot of the dunes - getting on for three feet long, as thick as your wrist, curled up in a circle. It had a hole the size of your thumb in its belly.

We found a big chunk of rotting oak, black as peat, pitted by piddock clams. The beach was littered with the shells of razor fish, which had died in their thousands, as we crunched our way home. Cruel place, the sea.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Life's a beach

I didn't expect to catch anything, mainly because it's too early for bass and the tides were all Pete Tong. So I decided to fish within walking distance rather than drive to a mark further around the coast.

I wanted to give the new rod a few chucks to see how far it could throw a lure. While I was pleased with the distance I was getting with a Dexy, the rubbers didn't fly half as far.

They had another problem I hadn't thought of before I forked out on them - the attachment loop's on top of the head, slightly back from the nose, rather than being at the sharp end.

This means rather than bounce along the sand as you retrieve them through shallow water, they dig in and plough through it, meaning they're probably best reserved for deeper water.

The beach is shallower than I remembered, with just a couple of feet of water at today's 5.7m high tide even 30yds or more out.

We're coming out of neaps, so the springs on the way will see another two metres or so, meaning three times as much water over the beach, which would give me a bit more confidence. There were no gulls, fulmars or terns to be seen today - I guessed that meant there wasn't much on the move out there food-wise, either.

I'd forgotten how lovely the beach is, as the tide came in over acres of clean sand, helped along by the slightest of swells. On a sunny late spring day, I hadn't bargained for the amount of people who'd be on it either - or the paddling kids and dogs chasing balls thrown in the sea. But it was good to get out for an hour, try something a bit different and learn a little more along the way.

Among other things, I'm going to drop down from 50 to 30lbs braid. This should put a few yards on my casting without massively increasing the risk of cracking off on the cast or busting on a snag or a fish (assuming I ever get to actually hook one...), bearing in mind most of the places I'm planning on fishing are pretty snag-free.

The Drennan Spincast rod feels like a lovely bit of kit as well. Light as a feather with a crisp, tippy action. It's also the first 8ft rod I've ever owned, unless you count the time I broke the top foot or so off a 9ft rod.

Perhaps it needs teaming up with a slightly lighter reel than the Baitrunner I borrowed off one of my drain rods.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thoughts of bass in a rare old blow

It's blowing a gale from that rarest of quarters, seldom seen on the Norfolk coast. A warm southerly that bowls us along the mile or so of banks and board walks that thread across the salt marsh from the harbour. When we reach the dunes, the marram's dancing wildly and the sea's in full retreat, tide receding as the wind quickens the ebb.

As soon as I unleash the dog, he's off like a furry rocket down the beach. Turning to drink in our windswept surroundings, I'm engulfed by powdery dry sand lifted up from above the high tide mark, carried towards us in knee-high dust clouds.

The beach might look featureless, but it shelves quite steeply. The picture above was snapped from a spot that would be five or six feet under at high tide, within easy casting range.

But look at the narrow gully at the bottom of the beach, beyond which a sandbank stretches away into the distance.

It still holds a couple of feet of water, at the very bottom of the ebb. Imagine things the other way around, with a fast-flooding tide running from right to left.

As the waves creep higher up the beach, there's a seriously-interesting  feature there after all, amid the saharan wilderness. A deeper channel 30 or 40 yds from the high tide mark, which might be the bass's back door.

I wonder whether schools move in to hunt along it, fanning out as this otherwise barren beach floods. I have no idea whether this will turn out to be right, but amid the shifting sands an idea's already forming when it comes to how to fish it. Worth a go..? Why not.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

More bass potential..?

Here's a pic of a well-known Norfolk beach. Click on image to see as a full-sized panoramic. Bass potential..? I can see them hunting through the gaps between the rocks.

Yew jus' foller the coast path round

Yew jus' foller the coast path round. An' then yer gew round a bit more. An if yer keep gewin', yew git ter the beach evenshually.

Provided you park in the right place, for starters. And follow the right bit of the coast path. Because if you follow the wrong bit of the coast path, it goes round in a lazy right-handed circuit of the salt marsh, without ever getting anywhere near your actual sea.

In fairness, you can actually see the sea, in the distance, in the picture, if you look carefully. Getting to it would probably have Bear Grylls chomping on his woggle in frustration.

Looking at various online maps brings home how far you're going to have to walk to fish what look to be some of the most promising-looking bits of coastline. Miles in old money, in other words.

Unlike one or two far-flung pike fishing spots, you can't really do the yomp and then fish your way back to civilisation. This will therefore require some planning, along the lines of check out how long the walk takes, to allow time before the tide floods.

The gear might be pretty basic, but the logistics are a little more complicated. Parts of the coast carry the added risk of getting cut off by the tide until the ebb comes.

So catching anything is going to be as much a battle of wits with the tides as a struggle against my woeful knowledge of the ways of the bass along some of these far-flung shores. At least the weather's going to turn warmer over the weekend - or so they reckon. Time for more exploring.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Bass fishing - at least the lures don't cost much

I half fancy these to catch a few. Savage Gear's first saltwater lure - a rubber sandeel - looks the business straight out of the box. Not too expensive at £5.99 for one ready-rigged, plus a spare tail. But they seem quite robust compared to some and with a 42g head, they ought to cast like a cross between a condom and an Exocet missile.
These weren't all that took my fancy. Weighing in slightly lighter and a quid less for three ready-rigged, Berkley's new sandeels don't look too shabby either. I doubt they'll stand up to sea fishing as well as the Savage Gear versions, but a couple of packs should see me through a few trips.
I've found a couple of old favourites lurking in my study too. I bought some mackerel-patterned Toby spoons a few years back, which I never got around to using. Dexter Wedges were the in-lure on the coast a couple of summers ago, so be rude to leave them at home.
++Click once on the lure pics to see the detail...
+++All I need now are a couple of shallow-diving plugs and surface lures and that's hopefully all bases covered. One good thing about bass fishing - the lures don't cost much.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Coastal recces #1

Checked out this place down the road from where we live the other day. Looks glorious as the tide turns, but the bass are a fair old walk from here - or so the locals reckon.

So I set off with the dog for the beach, which is getting on for a mile away. Imagine if everywhere you went pike fishing had a mile yomp thrown in.

New boots and yet more scaling down of kit needed...

Monday, April 01, 2013

Fresh pastures and a whole new challenge

Sometimes, you need to take your fishing in a new direction to rekindle your love affair with it. So this summer, I'll be having a bash for bass amid the sand dunes and the salt marsh of my beloved Norfolk coastline.

Despite being surrounded on two sides by the sea, I've hardly bothered to wet a line in it for years. I've still got various beachcasters and most of the other gear needed left over from my last flirtation with sea angling. But I fancy something different this time around. So I'm switching to lures, to see if I can track down a few fish with them.

It's amazing how far lure fishing for bass has come from the days when it was basically a choice between a Redgill, a Toby or a Rapala J13 at the sharp end. Like lure fishing for pike and other freshwater predators, it's spawned a whole new generation of kit to cash in on the boom. Fads clearly come and go. And there are other similarities.

Savage Gear have just brought out their first bass lure - a soft rubber sandeel that really looks the business. Several other companies make cheaper 'eels in different sizes and colours, along with an array of hard baits (plugs, in old money...).

A trawl of the net reveals one or two of these that bass anglers around the coast seem to swear by, so a little more of my hard-earned is invested on new shiny things with hooks on.

I didn't need to buy another lure rod, but... Even with a sexy new two-piece eight-footer, rated up to around 30g, and a spool of 20lbs braid, the whole shooting match cost me less than £100 - which isn't bad for potentially three or four months of fishing until the autumn comes around.

I can busk the rest of it, with a couple of reels borrowed off my pike rods and an ageing Daiwa spinning rod, that dates back to the days when lure fishing was called spinning and the Big S ruled supreme.

Bass don't tend to show until early summer, so I've got six or eight weeks to check out a few potential marks and plan some trips. Tides are an integral part of sea fishing. All life in Norfolk's coastal waters revolves around them, from the shrimps and the shellfish, to the seals and the seabirds.

Imagine if they drained your favourite pike water twice a day, giving you an hour or so when you could inspect all the bottom details within casting range that are normally hidden underwater.

Low ebb offers the chance to scout for features and check out the lie of the land. I like this side of it too, so I've decided to take pictures of a few marks at low tide for future reference.

I'm looking forward to this one. Look out bass.