Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Are flavours key to catching bass on lures

Does flavouring your lures make any difference..? While I remain seriously sceptical on this front, people say it does.

"They've come in for a bit and now they've been and gone and went again," one veteran bass angler told me today. "That's 'cause the sea's still right cold that is, that's still taters when that should have started getting warm by now..."

Meanwhile, rubber lures now list scent among their selling point. The ones I bought today smell a bit like the inside of your car when you've gone through the full monty £15 inside and outside job at the Hand Car Wash at the garage next to the chinese takeaway on the Heacham bypass.

Does a fish honestly smell this..? Does it think OK, I'll hit that bit of plastic because it carries the unmistakable mixture of whatever they clean your car's upholstery with, along with a tantalising hint of egg-fried rice and chicken chop suey..?

I doubt it somehow. As in I doubt whether the fish can tell the difference between chop suey and the Number Nine egg-fried special rice, with mushroom and extra prawns.

How on earth does a bass smell something in the sea, as you drag a lure past it..?

I'll buy a bottle, just in case. But...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Weed, damn the blasted stuff

When we rolled up an hour before high water and clambered down through the dunes, there were already people in the best swims by the rocks, beachcasters pointing skywards.

A few casts in, I'd worked out this was no big drama because the sea was full of annoying, hand-sized bits of weed which seemed to foul the lure every cast.

The weed was on the top, but I couldn't seem to get under it. I couldn't really feel what the lure was doing in the stiff breeze and strong pull of the tide. Every now and then, it dinged the bottom in what I guessed was eight or ten feet of water at the bottom of a stiffish slope.

Half an hour of this and the hook on the bar spoon was bashed and blunted beyond sharpening. Instead of wasting another Owner or an even more expensive Pluggin' Single, I changed to a rubber sandeel and tried bouncing it along the bottom.

Less weed, as in every second or third cast instead of every chuck. But I could only cast it half the distance and couldn't really feel what it was doing on the end. Still enjoyable, after a day back at work.

The wife and Daughter Three enjoy the excursion as well, throwing stones in the sea for the dog to chase and beachcombing along the weed-strewn high tide mark for interesting shells.

A fish would have been nice, but I've still got a lot to learn about the quirks of the coastline. Its sandy expanses look flat and featureless but gullies thread through the underwater terrain.

I need to get a good look at this beach at low tide, because it seems to have changed quite a bit since I last visited it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Missed the bin, did you..?

You get into a rhythm after a few casts. Chuck the lure out, watch the sea. Wind it in and do the same. There's a seductive simplicity about the whole thing, despite the fact I still don't really know what I'm doing other than I want to catch a bass. On a lure.

I'm now watching the birds, to see where they're diving. Fulmars hurtle up and down, encouraged by raucous calls from their mates on the precarious cliff edges where they make their nests.

I keep casting and retrieving, watching the sea. The birds aren't diving. But one scores a direct hit on a holidaymaker on the prom behind me, judging by the screams. Faa-aa-aa-aa-aarkin' 'ell, she yells. Th'ass a new farkin' top, that is.

Fulmars are now my favourite sea bird, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. If they've got a fan club, I'm in.

A man breaks wind loudly behind me, before turning to urinate on the sea wall. Cor, blast, bollocks; he shouts - I only farkin' bin and farkin' pissed on my shoes.

One of his mates throws a beer bottle into the sea. In sympathy, presumably. Oi, you cnut, he shouts. Missed the farkin' bin did yer, hwah-hah-hah-hah you dozy cnut.

I find myself nodding. People who throw litter in the sea are cnuts. As if to prove the point, the rod top hammers round, I pull into stiff resistance and find myself playing a disposable nappy.

Then things change, as sunset nears and the idiots depart. The birds are diving, but they're a long way out. As in two - maybe 300 yards out. Then they're drifting round to the right of me.

I can't get anywhere near there, too far by a country mile to cast to. So I spark up a fag, fold down the rod and start the climb up the cliffs for home.

Spider Wire EZ braid review

I've used braids of one kind or another for nearly 15 years as my reel line for pike fishing. After trying various brands, I settled on Powerpro and have fished with it ever since without any problems.

I wanted something thinner for sea fishing with lures and plumped for 20lbs Spider Wire EZ braid to load up a new reel. First impressions after its maiden trip is the stuff's brilliant. The coating's very slick and it just flies through the rings.

I'm not sure how long the coating will actually last, but by the time it goes the line should be well bedded-in on the reel. This probably sounds daft, but I've noticed the dreaded tangles you get with braid almost invariably happen with new braid. Once you've used it a few times, it's usually fine.

Pike fishing with the stuff's taught me to spool it on tightly, slightly under-fill my reels and exercise a bit of care after casting, ie shut the bail arm manually and check the line's going on tight.

It's that slacker coil or two that gets onto the spool if you close the bail arm by winding the handle and don't make sure the line's tight that can get you into trouble in a cast or two's time.

After a few chucks, I was seriously spanking the Spider Wire last night, casting those little 35g Storm spoons as far as I could throw them with a whoosh of the rod. No tangles, no problems right from the word go.

This is one of the cheapest braids you can find at the moment - it's £19.99 for 300 yards. I'm going to get some of the stronger stuff for using bigger lures when I get round to it. I'll probably end up using the 30 or 50lbs for pike fishing, when I get round to that again.

Bass advice from Mick in The Tackle Shop

One of the R's was in here asking about you the other day, says Mick in The Tackle Shop. Wanted to know if you've caught any bass yet. Not yet, I reply.

MiTTS runs through the growing roll call of local anglers who've been catching bass five minutes' walk from my house. They're not catching them on lures mind, he adds, opening the door of the fridge behind the counter.

Peelers, that's what they're getting 'em on. At 80p a pop, I politely decline, shelling out for yet another lure instead. I'm determined I'm going to catch one on a lure. Apart from the fact I was pretty useless sea fishing with the bait gear now gathering dust in my study, I never really enjoyed it.

Blast a couple of baits out until either the crabs stripped them or you caught a flattie. Spend hours before every trip tying rigs. No thanks - been there, tried that.

In contrast I'm now enjoying sea fishing in a way I never did when I lived on the other side of the country 20 years ago and did catch plenty of bass. I can't remember the last time I went fishing and didn't learn something, for starters.

I'm also enjoying solving the problems it throws up. The biggest one, which I've now got to grips with, being how to get my lures out a decent distance, so I at least stand a chance of catching one. Having arrived at what looks to be more of less the right set-up, it's surely only a matter of time.

I could just head five miles down the road, sit by a lake with a float or feeder rod and enjoy what is relatively easy fishing for carp, tench and bream. Buy the right stuff, fish the right pegs and catch. Where's the challenge in that..?

MiTTS offers more sage advice on tracking down the bass. Watch the sea birds, fish where they're diving. It's a bit early for lures, but when they're on 'em, it's electric. I'm happy to bide my time 'till then - probably because I'll be so chuffed when I actually catch something.   

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Berkley Trilene Fluorocarbon

I've also invested in some fluorocarbon. You can get 50yds of 20lbs Berkley Trilene for a fiver from Veals - along with some far more expensive fluorocarbons.

This is the stuff which is meant to be invisible to fish because it has the same refractive index as water, whatever that means. I'm struck by the fish that turned away from the lure the other day and wonder if the leader spooked it.

It's around the same thickness as the 15lbs clear Amnesia I've been using, but I've read mixed reviews when it comes to knot strength.

Most bass bloggers seem to swear by it all the same, so I thought I'd give it a pop. It knots up nicely, forming a neat grinner first pull. Unless I encounter large numbers of suicidal bass this summer, I'll be surprised if I get through 50yds of it.

I've also invested in some smaller swivels to attach my leader to the main line. Genie Snood Swivels look like size 10s but they've got a BS of 45lbs, which should be more than adequate.

Once I've used it and - hopefully - caught a few on it, I'll let you know whether it's up to the job.

ABU Cardinal 504i reel review

VERDICT: What a lovely bit of kit. By the time I start pike fishing again, these will be on most of my lure rods...

Years ago, I used ABU Cardinals for a while - as in the green ones with a stern drag knob. Today's Cardinal has the same name, but it's a very different beast, which I'm hoping will double up as a reel for lure fishing for pike once I get bored with bass.

First impressions out of the box are it's a nice little reel, smooth but with that chunky ABU build that seduced plenty of pike anglers away from Mitchells before Shimano took the specimen world by storm with its first incarnations of the Baitrunner.

It comes with two machined brass spools, one deep, one shallow. I've loaded the latter with 20lbs Spiderwire Easy Braid, which I got 300yds of for £19.99 from Veals. The shallow spool takes around 100 yards of it after backing it with some 15lbs Amnesia I had lying around.

I can't see me losing that many lures by sacrificing strength for much finer diameter that should enable me to chuck them out a bit further than the 50lbs Powerpro I've been using.

I was quite looking forward to fishing with the ABU after resuming my bass fishing career with a pair of 12-year-old Baitrunners borrowed off my drain rods. You get a lot of reel for £70 these days. 

Its makers claim the Cardinal is "all water-protected". I don't bother with the wash your stuff every time you use it in the sea business, so this should help ensure its survival.

The bail arm snaps shut with a positive clack and the roller, um, rolls like it's meant to. The clutch on these is meant to be nice and smooth, but mine will be screwed up solid as I prefer back-winding when I need to give a fish some line.

The handle's robust and has a pair of generous-sized grips which feel like duplon. These grips are my one gripe, as they clack against the body of the handle as you retrieve, although it's the reassuring clack of metal on metal.

It might be built like the proverbial Volvo, but the makers are Chinese, not Swedish. And ABU is now a division of Pure Fishing, which in turn is a US-based subsidiary of something called the Jarden Corporation. The fact most of our kit now originates in the Far East is part and parcel of fishing these days.

+++Wow, wow, wow - what a great reel to fish with... I gave it a try off the beach tonight, loaded up with new braid, and it's a delight to use. After a few gentle chucks to check the line wasn't going to pull any nasties on me, I started giving it a bit more welly.

No tangles, despite fishing into a stiff-ish head wind. The line lay looks spot-on, the roller runs nicely as you retrieve and the reel feels as smooth as a Swiss watch. The grips sit comfortably between your thumb and forefinger. Chunky and easy to grip, even with wet hands.

++++This has lovely reel written all over it, after a few brief sea fishing sessions. I've given it no TLC whatsoever when I've returned from a trip, yet the roller's still going nicely and the braid's lying perfectly despite chucking different lures into a head wind.

I like the metal spools as well - not the usual one decent spool, one plastic spare which now seems to be par for the course when you actually get a spare spool with a reel these days.

What a lovely bit of kit. By the time I start pike fishing again, these will be on most of my lure rods.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

And when the Lord spoketh to Malcolm

OK, OK - I've got it, says Malcolm, my friend who works as an architect. Why don't we do one of those job swap things, you know, get it sponsored and stuff. You're the local media tycoon, ring Channel Four and see if they want to do a documentary on it or something.

I look down at my half-finished pint of Shuck. Neil by the Way hovers near the optics, spotting the obvious potential for doubles all round by way of celebration if this meeting of minds can only find a way forward when it comes to the challenging question of the church roof fund.

The Vicar, my friend who is a vicar, weighs in while we're still mulling this one over. Why yes, says the Vicar. I could design a building. Malcolm could run the Village Pub for the day, as guest landlord. Chris, who has a way with words, could write my Sunday sermon.

Sheer genius, as the Good Lord would doubtless say were he among us tonight. I mean, he's obviously with us always, he walks among us, but...

I can't see this one working, to be honest Vic, I say - puncturing the uneasy silence which has whose round is it written all over it.

Um, like, what am I going to do, says Hawkwind Sid. The bar remains silent. Neil by the Way refills our glasses, in a bid to break the deadlock.

I take a slug, noting how the ale in the Village Pub's initial bitterness gives way to a more complex blend of flavours.

I've got a better idea, I say. How about we all stick to what we're best at, but chip in for some collecting tins. Maybe we could do a float at the Village Carnival. Malcolm's mate's sister's ex-husband's brother runs a haulage company, which has lots of lorries.

Malcolm surrenders to common sense and stands his round, as I begin composing the Vicar's Sunday sermon on the back of one of the Village Pub's limited edition beermats.

ROGATION: The Epistle, St James (Village Pub, 22...) Lo, when Jesus spoketh to Malcolm, he sayeth it was Malcolm's shout...

What matters - tides or timing..?

Puzzling out the tides, they don't look too bad as a run of days off kicks in. I'm still not sure if the tide's the most important thing, as in fishing either side of the top.

People catching bass seem to be out before dawn or after dusk, regardless of what the tides are doing. So maybe I need to just concentrate on being there at the right time, as opposed to around high water.

Apart from seeing a fish the other day, as in your real, actual fish etc; I learned quite a bit about the creek.

Maybe I'll hit it near the turn of the ebb this time, and back-track as the tide starts flooding it.

I reckon that'll give me enough time for a bag of chips and a pint of Shuck somewhere, before I hit somewhere else at high tide.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

More of them amazing lure making videos

Here are a couple more YouTube vids from the lure making fella - how to make a crankbait this time.

Not sure I'd ever have the patience for this, but the handiwork's pretty amazing. Hat tip Paul for sharing some of his secrets, you can check his blog out here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fishing..? I'm afraid that doesn't count as exercise

I do go fishing quite a lot, nurse - does that count..?

"No, I'm afraid it doesn't," says the nurse. "Sitting on the riverbank doesn't exactly constitute exercise, now, does it..."

But I'm getting into lure fishing at the moment. It's a highly mobile method of targeting predatory species, and, um...

"At your age, you need to take exercise. Regular, moderate exercise - preferably daily," says the nurse, typing something into her keyboard. *bing* goes the computer. Something flashes up on the screen.

"I have a flag saying that your blood pressure was a borderline concern last time you came to see the doctor," says the nurse, attaching one of those velcro inflatable things with tubes coming out of it to my arm.

Phwurrrr, phwurrr-urrrr, phwurrrr, phwurrrr-urrrr-urrrr, it goes as she pumps it up. *bing* goes the computer. Something else flashes up on the screen.

"Hmmm, I see," says the nurse, typing something else into her keyboard. "I'm afraid it hasn't come down yet, it's still borderline. Still a smoker..?"

Well, yes, but...

"Then you need to stop," says the nurse, peering at her screen. "I just need to weigh you now to help me get a better picture of your overall health, to see what changes we might need to make."

I empty my pockets. The nurse looks disapprovingly at the Zippo and baccy tin.

"We need to look at your diet as well," the nurse says as I get off the scales.  "You're not obese, but you're borderline over-weight. You need to cut down on the fried food and probably your salt intake.

"Turning to your urine, your urine came back fine, so no problems there that I can see. But I think we'd better book you in for a blood test and an ECG just to be on the safe side," she adds, with a final flourish on her keyboard. *bing* goes the computer. "Thankyou, I'll see you next month, that's all for now."

The receptionist hands me a leaflet as I book a series of appointments. It advises me to shave my upper chest before my scan.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Drennan Esox Spinflex lure rod review

My first impression was I liked the rod a lot, action-wise. It's light, crisp and tippy. What I don't like are the single-legged rings, which are a little on the flimsy side. I seem to end up bending at least one of them back to where it needs to be every other time I go fishing.

I understand why single-legged rings are fitted to rods - it makes them cheaper to produce. But when you're paying around £50 for a rod should that not mean the rings are at least up to the job..?

Beyond that gripe, I like the rod a lot. Regardless how the sea fishing goes this summer, it's going to be the rod I kick off my pike fishing with come the autumn. I like the slim blank, the well-built reel seat and the hybrid cork/duplon handle.

You barely notice it's in your hand - I'd probably notice it even less if I teamed it up with a lighter reel than one of the old Baitrunners I've blagged off my drain rods. It casts nicely - even when  you overload it's stated max recommended casting weight of 30g. I've pushed it to nearly 50g and it doesn't seem to care.

Not that I'm expecting to be using many 50g lures when I start pike fishing again. I'm undergoing quite a sea change on that front too, as I look to different tactics come the autumn. I'll need a couple of rods for this, so I've also invested in its sister ship, the Spincast.

This another nice rod to fish with, flimsy rings - again - aside. It's slightly lighter, with a full duplon handle. I've ended up with one of each, in 2lbs and 1.75lbs test curves respectively.

The Esox rods are priced between £45 and £55, depending whether you go for the 1.5, 1.75 or 2lbs test curve, while the Spinflex versions come in around a tenner cheaper. I was going to say reasonably-priced, but see above regarding the rings.

++Found a great reel to use on them - click here for review of ABU Cardinal...

Monday, May 13, 2013

I saw a fish - as in your real, actual, genuine...

The wind's gone round to the west but it's still blowy and there are rain squalls sailing in from seaward. That means I've got the place almost to myself as the ebb quickens and the creek drops back between the sandbanks.

I wonder if this will put me in reach of a fish, as they must surely find themselves in the confines of the creek as the tide retreats from the beaches on either side. This is the latest of my many bass fishing theories,  one of which will hopefully prove to be a goer sooner or later.

I walk downstream with the tide, working my way through my lure box, covering different depths and speeds. Dexter, Toby, J13, Jointed Thunderstick. The latter comes back all the way without catching bottom, as beds of wrack and other green stuff become visible as the sun peeps through the clouds.

I've found my rhythm, casting and retrieving the lure with the rod high, watching it snake into sight, flashing in the sunlight. Roseate terns flit up and down. The first swallows flash past.

What's that..? A dark shape follows the Thunderstick as it snakes into the fast flowing shallows - I nearly jump out of my skin. A fish..! As in your real, actual, genuine, definite, one hundred and one per cent fish, a yard or so behind.

It turns away in a swirl. I think it was a mullet - I reckon a bass would have put its foot down and hit the lure instead of bottling it. I cast again, but it doesn't reappear. Well, at least I've seen a fish. It peps up my interest enough to fish on into the rain as the squall rounds the dunes.

The wind's fierce by the time I reach the shoreline. I turn tail and trudge back towards the car. I've seen a fish - as in your real, actual, genuine etc etc. I've also got my head around the creek a little more, as far as the lie of the land's concerned. Good day all round, really.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Leeda, Snowbee, Daiwa lure box reviewed

These double-sized boxes are great, compared to some I've used. Lures sit in Y-shaped compartments with a keel slot for the hooks, which have drain holes. The idea is when you get home, you rinse the box under the tap and the water drains off via said holes.

I'm not sure how well this is likely to work in practice, as whichever way up you store it to dry, I can't see how all the water's going to drain off.  But lures in the box seem to dry out without hooks or split rings rusting if I stash it behind a radiator when I get home.

The catches lock nicely and the box has 14 compartments big enough for a single lure up to 14cms or a couple of Tobies, Dexters etc. They also seem immune to the problem of lure melt with soft plastics.

They cost around £8.99, depending which name they come under - my box had Leeda on it, but Snowbee and Daiwa both offer what appear to be identical boxes.

They reckon two of these will fit in the Snowbee Sling Bag - click here for review of that brilliant bit of kit.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Wasn't this windy when I was digging me worms

"Wasn't this windy when I was digging me worms," says Matty, as we look at the swells crashing onto the beach. "Don't know where this wind's come from."

Lincolnshire, in a word. As in blowing almost straight across Mussel Bay right in our faces.We plump for a bit Matty fancies anyway, me on the lures, he on the lug.

It's hard work casting the lure, with the biggest Dexter in my box again the only thing I can cast any distance. There's no current between the groynes that stretch 40 or 50 yards out from the Prom. The sea works itself up into a foaming chop as the tide builds instead.

I can fish, sort of. The turbulent water throws the lure around and I've got no control over its speed or depth. I can see the braid stretching across the wave troughs between the tops of the breakers.

Matty's landing his bait near the end of the groynes with what looks like an effortless lob with his beachcaster and multiplier slung low on the handle. He misses a rod-wrencher - the only bite of the evening.

As high water arrives, the waves are bouncing off the sea wall and colliding head-on with themselves, sending explosions of foam into the air. It doesn't take us long to get soaked, despite retreating up the concrete slipway.

For all the frustrations the last few trips have brought, they've also whetted my appetite and left me thirsting to crack the sea - or at very least catch something. I look at the beachcasters gathering dust in a corner of my study and wonder whether I'd be better off resorting to worm or crab, propelled out by six ounces of lead, until conditions change.

But I decide to stick with the lures, perhaps with a tweak or two including lighter braid so I can add a few yards to my casting. I've also murdered a new hook on the lure I was using tonight in little over an hour's fishing.

I sharpened the points up every time they were blunted by bumping into the sand or the hand-sized lumps of chalk and carrstone that litter the beach. You can only touch up the points of chemically-sharpened (etched) hooks so many times before they're beyond salvation when it comes to getting a decent edge to them.

I'm gradually changing lures over to singles, but encountered a problem I hadn't expected with them when I briefly tried a surface lure rigged with two of them tonight - they seem adept at catching around the leader when you cast into the wind.

I think I'm having a heart attack, says the wife

The wife stumbles and falls against the wall, clutching her chest. I think I'm having a heart attack, she says. It must be the shock.

We admire the bathroom cabinet I have just screwed to the wall of the bathroom, agreeing that it is not only screwed to the desired part of the bathroom wall with pinpoint accuracy, but is also no longer on the wonk.

Apart from offering the man that came to fix the roof a cup of tea, this is the first DIY project of any description I have had a hand in for five, maybe six years.

This close season is already turning into a memorable one, which I will look back fondly on whenever I clean my teeth.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tony Martin burgled latest

Hello, Hi There - is that Chris..? We understand you're a bit of an authority on the Tony Martin case. Could we do a live interview about some of the issues in the light of the latest on the story, we understand he's been burgled again, is that right ..?

I turn down the chance to bore for Britain on the lunch-time news show and ring the man himself to check out the happs. Nearly 14 years after he shot two burglars,  killing one and wounding the other, the story's hitting the headlines again.

Tony explains what's happened, adding his own take on the situation. I'm guessing it will be all over tomorrow's papers, as I start writing. As soon as I put the phone down, it's off again and again:

"Have you got his number, can you let us have it, have you spoken to him, how is he today, what did he say about what's happened, can you let us have some quotes, can you tell us where he is, is it true he's moved, do you have a postcode we can give the camera crew, will he do an interview, do you know if he's on Twitter, have you got his e-mail address, could you pass on our details and ask him to ring the studio so we can get him on air...?"

I wrote this a few years ago, on the tenth anniversary of what the tabloids called the Bleak House Bloodbath:

"The branches still bend double on the trees as the apples swell in the orchards. Out in the wheat fields, a combine whips up a dust storm as the late summer sun sets over Emneth Hungate.

"On the surface little has changed in generations in this corner of the Fens, let alone the 10 years since a farmer went to bed wondering if the weather would hold long enough to cut the corn and a car-load of burglars set out from a sink estate for a very different kind of harvest.

"Fred Barras would be in his late twenties now - if he had not joined two seasoned thieves on a foray to the flatlands. Instead of celebrating his night’s haul with a spliff and a can of cider on the way home, he died sobbing for his mother - shot dead for the sake of a few silver jugs."

I sometimes wonder how much we ever learned from what happened in that remote corner of the flatlands, as Tony Martin grabbed his gun and made his way down the stairs. The rest, as he's told me several times since, is "history".

Tony Martin:No Regrets *linky*. Today's story: *linky*.

A slightly different kind of sea

The wind's moved a few points further to the west and the sea's a different kind of sea tonight. There's a rolling surf building on the last push of the flood and for the first time I find other people fishing my intended spot.

I check where their lines are and move 50 yards or so up the beach. This puts me out of range of the feature I fancied - the end of a patch of rocky ground I'd spied on a recce, where the sea's scoured a deeper gully.

That means I'm in the rough stuff, with five or six feet of water over the top of the rocks. Ideal territory for diving plugs, when the wind's not this strong. No chance of getting them any distance into the gusts blowing into my face, so on goes a Dexter, which flies out like a good-un.

There's no finesse or presentation to this. As soon as it hits the water 40 or 50 yards out, I have to wind like mad to collect the slack braid the wind's blown into a big bow, and then crank the lure in fast enough to stop it fouling the rocks.

It looks too crude to me, but I know people catch on these lures, worked fast like this. Perhaps not when the wind on the braid and the swell make it kite off to the side. I can feel what the Dexy's doing through the braid, but I've no control as it carreers along through the crests and troughs of the waves.

I remove the hook for a few casts, to see how slow I can go before the lure bumps the rocks. A lot slower than I thought, before I feel the tell-tale ding and the hook-less spoon comes back with a few fronds of green weed around the swivel.

As the tide turns, the pull of the water quickens as the wind pushes the ebb along. Too late in the day, I decide on a move. One of the anglers a little further along tells me he caught two bass this morning.

A text from a mate says someone else had three off the same tide half a mile or so away off another feature. I check the tides and decide to try again first thing.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Whale I'll be blowed...

Pictures of the last couple of whales which have washed up on the coast up here seem to be popular tonight for some reason, looking at my stats - is one of the schools doing a project on 'em or something..?

Click here for more on both whales... The Thornham whale was much bigger than the one on the left, which washed up on Christmas Eve, 2011, on the beach near our house.

Too rough tonight

It was what you might call a little bit on the rough side tonight. High water just before 7pm, with a big-ish tide sounded promising. But when I got there, the gale was blowing along the shore and the sea was an ugly maelstrom of mud-coloured waves and spindrift.

The waves weren't that big, compared to the swell you get on a big, northerly sea. There isn't enough fetch - the amount of open water for the wind to blow along - to form big breakers when it's coming sou-westerly up the estuary. The waves don't travel far enough to build.

It was pushing the surface along against the tide instead and there was a foaming running chop along the beach. I'm not sure what was going on under the surface, but the water looked cold and turbid.

I don't see how you could fish this churning, surging sea with lures or bait and abandoned the idea without even putting a rod together.

I know a few had tonight pencilled in, but one texted to say it's going to be a waste of time and the fancied spots were all deserted. The only people out were a few wind surfers racing along off the esplanade.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Technology - and how times change

When I started out as a reporter more than 20 years ago, the newsrooms sang with the clatter of typewriters. Within little more than a decade, they'd been replaced by computers and the internet was changing the world so fast it was almost mind blowing.

I sometimes hanker for the good old days when you lived off your wits, your expenses claims and the largesse of the licensed trade. Fishing was different back then too. Like the nicotine-stained newsrooms of my younger days, the internet had yet to make its mark on the river bank. Ditto mobile phones.

I can still remember when my first-ever mobile went off while I was tench fishing with my Old Man and his mates - '94, '95 maybe.

A year or two later, a slightly smaller phone than the old brick went off as I was unhooking a jack, which a much bigger fish had swirled at as it neared the net on the weirpool I was fishing.

I can't talk now, I remember saying, as one of the Sunday desks in London rang to query some shock horror I'd filed. I'm out fishing. I'm sure it's all in the story if you read down through the quotes. But, but, no, hold on, hold on, we're going big on it, we just need to know if, did he really say that he ......

I hung up, lit a Benny Hedgehog and stuck a half pound chub on, like you did in those days. But the phone went off again and again, the old der-der derrr derrr, der-der derrr derrr Nokia tune as the float buried and I pulled into a brute as it hit the bait and dived under the weir sill like a U-boat.

I fished the future of communication out of my pocket, still ringing, and threw it in the river, as I pumped the pike to the surface and slid the net under it. Der-der derrr derrr, der-der derrr derrr *plop*. It's probably still down there somewhere, in the depths of that weirpool.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Fishing boat sets out on a calm sea

Fishing boat setting out from Wells on a calm sea between the sail boats. Bass fishing takes you to some great places. Click here for more non fishing-related pics of the Norfolk coast and the Fens.

Another day, another world glimpsed on the beach

Checking out another stretch of beach at low tide brings home why I'm starting to get so interested in what's a very new kind of fishing for me. It looks featureless when you stand on the flood bank, looking across the estuary on a low tide.

But down on the foreshore, there are distinct zones stretching from the mud flats pock-marked with worm casts, to the groynes where life teems in the little pools left behind by the retreating tide. Shrimp and tiny shore crabs hide in the shade of the rotting pilings.

It seems like every bit of water left behind has something that swims, wriggles or walks. No wonder this is such an important feeding ground for all the wading birds - most of which I struggle to identify as they strut along the water's edge.

I wonder what I need to do along the edges of the estuary within casting range, to turn my newly-discovered fascination with what lies on my doorstep into a few fish.

Blast lures out as far as I can, or work closer in, imitating different creatures that make up this rich larder's diverse delicacies. As I scrape the mud off my shoes and head for work, I can't wait to give it another go.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Empty beach first thing

The beach was deserted as I hopped over the sea bank to check out the lie of the land first thing on the way to work. It didn't stay this way for long on Bank Holiday Monday, as the sunshine drew thousands of day-trippers to the coast.

One or two interesting features lay within casting distance come high tide, but fishing's not an option when the beaches are full and high water falls in the middle of a sunny afternoon.

Things look more interesting towards the end of the week, when the plum tides creep closer to dusk on the coast.  The shoreline should hopefully be a bit quieter by then.

I can see why people who do catch bass along this stretch of coast favour dawn and dusk, rather than going shoulder to shoulder with the grocks to fish.

It's great to be out fishing on a sunny afternoon, as I did on Saturday, now that things have finally started to warm up. But chances of catching are probably close to zilch with all the disturbance going on.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The tide is high and I'm moving on

I used to love it up here, where the creek spills into the sea by the lifeboat station. It's changed a lot since I last fished here eight or nine years ago. There's a new harbour, for starters, built for the boats which service the growing number of offshore wind turbines you can see whirling on the horizon on a clear day.

There's another harbour a mile or so inland, with signs saying hooks are banned. This is presumably to stop holidaymakers doing any damage to themselves or any passing  locals using the crab lines piled up outside the souvenir shops, with the flip-flops and the buckets and spades.

I'm hoping the new harbour has a more relaxed attitude to modern-day health and safety. If not, I decide I'll just fish anyway, as I can't quite see how you can allow fishing provided you don't use a hook. Norfolk's a bit mad like that, in places.

I start off in the sea just in case the health and safety police are on the case. I clip a rubber on the trace, keeping a weather eye out for the rozzers.

The flood's bombing along but the lures seem to be getting down and working quite nicely in the gentle swell coursing into the creek. I'm more impressed with the Savage Gear sandeels now they're not ploughing along the bottom.

I get quite absorbed with this for half an hour or so, ringing the changes with lures which work at different depths from Thundersticks down to Dexters. I've no idea whether this is a better way to get a take than persevering with the lure which most closely mimics what the bass are actually feeding on.

But changing lures injects a bit more hope to proceedings all the same. I'm also learning a bit about how they work. The new abache wood Rapalas don't seem to go down anywhere near as deep as the old balsa versions, including the only lure among the 20 or so I've got to choose from which has actually caught a bass - a ropey 10-year-old J13 with its diving vane re-glued with yellowing Araldite.

The rod top rattles as I crank one of the newbies against the flow, but the leader swivel's breaking surface as it waddles along three feet beneath the surface.  I look behind the lure, just in case I spy a follower, but the water remains empty.

Near the top of the flood, I move around to the harbour mouth. I wonder whether the bass head in here as the tide comes in, hunt around the new structure and move out to sea again on the ebb. A few casts with a shad and I realise how much I'm enjoying this complete change of tempo where my fishing's concerned.

It's a glorious day. Take a deep breath and you can smell the summer coming. I've overlooked what's on my doorstep for so long that I'm loving exploring it with a rod and a bag of lures. Bass fishing's the perfect excuse to take to your toes and take a closer look at Norfolk's incredible coastline.

I'm at the bottom of a very steep learning curve, trying to second guess a fish I haven't caught for 20 years or more in any numbers. Between you and me I'd be thrilled if I catch just one this summer, before my thoughts turn to pike again.

Snowbee sling bag review

This is probably one of the best bits of gear I've bought in years. It's not the biggest of bags, but it  swallows up all the lures, end tackle and tools you need for a bass session and stays on your back while you're fishing.

Instead of impeding your arms like a rucksack, or continually slipping like a shoulder bag, the hybrid sling design means you can swing it out of the way until you need to get something out of it; when you just pop a clip and swing it round for easy access.

The main compartment has room for one of those double-sided lure boxes, plus a couple of mesh pockets which will accommodate a few bits and pieces. You could probably squeeze two lure boxes in at a pinch, but one's enough to carry several Rapalas, Thundersticks, Dexters and a few rubber sandeels.

When you open it with the bag slung around to your waist, you can get at the lure box and the interior compartments, meaning you can change lures without needing to take the bag off and put it down.

There's a zipped front compartment, with room for spare traces, scissors, spare hooks, clips etc; and a smaller mesh pocket for your sharpening stone.

It also has a pocket for a drinks bottle and a top compartment with room for a camera and a pastie or a couple of sausage rolls. There's also a slightly awkward flap with a velcro retaining tab you can keep your pliers to hand in.

I wondered if it might be big enough for pike fishing, but you'd struggle to get more unhooking tools, weigh sling, scales etc in. If Snowbee made a slightly larger version it would be a boon to freshwater lure anglers who walk and fish. Then again, I guess you could fit the extras in a bum bag.

Not cheap for £49.99, but I'd expect it to last a few summers. Hat tip Bass Lure Basics, whose review convinced me to buy one.

I'm also getting into the double-sided boxes Snowbee, Leeda and one or other firms now offer, where lures nestle in boat-shaped sections with a keel slot for the hooks.

They make much better use of the space available and also stop the lures tangling, like they do in other boxes when you cram two or three into a square compartment.

There are drying holes, but I'll still get the box out to open it out and let the air get to it after a sea fishing trip, along with rinsing any lures I've used under the tap before drying them out.

I was going to say they're (again...) not quite big enough for pike fishing, but I plan to use smaller lures and lighter gear this season after Ash showed us all the way home last winter, so it's bound to get pressed into service come the autumn.

Friday, May 03, 2013

First bass of the year in Norfolk

The first reports of bass being caught have got me fired up for a bash tomorrow - even if they're from somewhere which probably won't be fishable once the grockles descend on the coast for Bank Holiday.

I mark down the spot for a go towards the end of next week and plan a recce somewhere else, where they might not be around yet, but I need to get my head around the lie of the land, in terms of whether you can actually get to where I fancy fishing.

I want to see how the tide floods the place in daylight, to plan ahead for summer. I also want to see how the lures work towards the top of the tide and when it turns, to see if I can get them where I want them - ready for when the bass rock up.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Heavy metal night in the village

There have been a number of changes since my last visit to the Village Pub. I understand that life must move on and as the social fabric of rural Norfolk changes, the licensed trade must move with the times.

Hawkwind Sid has been allowed to organise a trial evening of musical entertainment, during which it is rumoured there will be a "special geust", according to the Parish Magazine, whose editor Veronica, the Vicar's wife, has still not mastered the use of spell-check.

A number of retired rock stars live in these parts, some of whom Sid - who once jammed with Hawkwind - claims to be on nodding terms with.

Neil By The Way, who is now the Village Pub's bar manager, is discussing the finer details of said *soiree* with said ex-hippy as I walk in.

"So, um, yeah Neil," he says. "He's a busy dude man, but he's, um, said he'll definitely turn up and like, um, play the drums if he does, like, um, turn up. Um, like, Hi Chris. You, like, um, coming to my rock night..?"

I, um, think I might be otherwise engaged, I reply as Neil By The Way slaps a Shuck and a Jack chaser on the bar.

"It's like, um, next Friday. It's a fiver to get in - but we've got, like, a special guest," says Sid. "He was like, um, bigger than Deep Purple when, um, like, they were really big, during, like, their really big period. And we're, um, like doing food too."

"We've got a Black Sabbath tribute band playing in the Beer Garden," adds Neil By The Way, by way of clarification, as I hand over a tenner and take a long sip on my Shuck, noting how the initial bitterness gives way to the complex blend of flavours associated with said ale.

"It's gonna be rockin' - they're gonna play all the hits. We've got an eat all you like buffet and the Vicar's mate who used to play the drums is coming."

Lemmy, Sid's dog, takes a lengthy wee against the end of the bar. The yellow puddle flows menacingly towards my new brogues. For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I don't fancy food.