A long lost memory…

November 4, 2010

I have recently been given a CD full of old photo’s following the death of my Gran. A nephew gathered all the pictures from her home and then scanned them onto a CD. Amongst the many memories found was this old photo of me holding a bass. But not just any old bass – no sir. 35 years or so  later, this happens to remain my largest bass caught to date!

check out the hair

It's going to pull me to the Isle of Wight!

If you have followed my earlier blogs you may have picked up on a running theme throughout, and that is I don’t have a great deal of success. There are a few reasons for this, one is the area I chose to fish is not recognised as a big-bass spot (that is not to say they are not around) another is that I am incredibly unlucky. For over the years I have hooked, played and lost bass which I believe far exceed the one I caught all those many years ago. Having just re-read that line I think I should replace unlucky with stupid as for a number of years I continued to use a batch of line that had the combined strength of  2 strands of cotton, and not even very good cotton at that.

I have now got to a point that before I move on to pastures new I need to conquer the local area with a bass that will easily replace my earlier memory, and it doesn’t look like I will be doing that this year either. The night in question I can still recall with vivid detail. My Dad had promised to take me fishing but on this occasion my younger sister was to come along with us as well…

Unfortunately the weather that evening made a turn for the worse and it was decided that we would have to postpone. However our insistent pleads of ‘can we go’  finally made him relent to great cheers of joy around the house. When we arrived we were both kitted out with a rod each, both baited with rag. It wasn’t long however for my Dad, who used to smoke roll-ups, to take a wander as it was customary for him to take a walk along the shore line with a powerful torch to see if there were any shoals working close. It was always a relief to see the red glow of his cigarette signaling the return of the wanderer.

It was on one of Dads returns that my sister yelled-out that she had a fish on, quickly he ran and helped with the rod. I can still recall the noise and the white spray in the darkness as the rod and bass battled it out, but seconds later the rod fell limp. My sister was to recognise that sinking feeling that a rod against all odds had suddenly come to life, was then to suddenly spring back straight and lifeless with the rejection of a lost fish.

It was after the loss of her second bass that my Dad decided to check the hook, and discovered it was blunt. Off it came and soon resumed its place amongst the others kept in a small cardboard box about the size of a small toy car and maybe twice as high. A ‘new’ hook was selected and was soon out into the action. I can still remember those hooks so well. They were bright silver with two small bards up the shank of the hook designed to stop the ragworm from coming off. Out of interest lead weights in those days were made out of lead borrowed from a building site, melted into the back of a small dinky-toy flat-bed lorry with the eye for the knot placed at right angles in the end.

Un be known to me Dad had been baiting my sisters rod with mackerel, so after reeling in he said ‘try this you may have more luck’. A short cast and I was fishing again with all the excitement of a child at Christmas. Sure enough it wasn’t long before I too was to get into some action, as a bite  soon became a lunge, which soon became a ‘Dad I’ve got one’. Years later Dad would recall that I shouted-out that if you don’t come quick I am going to be pulled to the Isle of Wight!

In those days (the age before conservation and the digital camera) everything was taken  home to proudly show Mum. If I remember correctly we ended up with three bass that night with two being caught by my sister and her new hook. Some years later Dad would recall that those two earlier losses were from bass far bigger than mine and that if it wasnt for us he would never have gone.

My sister never went fishing again.

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… a great day to be out

September 28, 2009

What an amazing day. I felt absurdly confident as I made my way down to the beach. However the first thing I saw as i walked round the corner was the weed. Where has that come from! In the space of 48hrs it has re-appeared back to its normal summer levels.

I hoped that due to the small tide that it wouldn’t cause too much trouble (in fact it was hardly an issue) and quickly set-up the usual carp rod and lobbed out a large piece of mackerel on a 5/0.

Conditions were amazing for the time of year. The seagulls were out in force diving and feeding on something, but I couldn’t work out what. I almost wished I brought my plugs with me.

Unknown to me I got the tide wrong by two hours (!) which would probably explain why the weed wasn’t an issue, and why I ran out of bait before prime time, however I did miss one great take. The rod pulled, then pulled again and I watched the line cut through the water from right to left; surely I couldn’t miss? But rather than feel the satisfying solidness I just watched my lead and bait skip in towards me!

Once again I saw a small bass jump from the corner of my eye (maybe a sign that I am failing to interpret) but I packed away happy as the moonlight shone its reflection over the sea towards me… it really had been a great day to be out.

A small Bass jumped…

September 26, 2009

Went out today feeling sure that a bass was on the cards. I set up quickly and soon had half a mackerel out on a light lead. The weather was great and my confidence grew as I soon discovered that most of the weed had gone! At least they would be able to see my bait now.

The small tide made its way up as I sent out a succession of casts exploring every area, but alas nothing. I did see out of the corner of my eye a small bass jump but that was it… but a great day to be out though


An old clipper boat was bobbing up and down in the Solent like a recently spent cork tossed into the sea, not a cloud over head to disrupt the blazing sun, even the seagulls were just lazily floating around, christ it was hot and not a breath of wind either.The waves from a day or to earlier were now barely managing to roll onto the beach as I cast a fresh mackerel into the making tide. According to some not the best conditions but I was hopeful none the less.A day or two earlier I had manged to literally pull the bait from a taking bass that my son was fishing for in a local creek. He was holding the rod awkwardly so I help him to get more comfortable just at the same time the lined pulled tight and a small vortex in the shallow water showed how close he had come to catching a good bass.We had been watching two bass earlier working the tide, one was about 4lb the other had to be over 6lb. A split second later and my actions would have been a strike and I would have been his hero, but try explaining that to a very disappointed son. Lady luck is a very fickle creature indeed…

Talking of luck, after my recent loss I have replaced my line (which I should have done some time ago) and I have upgraded my carp rod to a slightly more beefier model.

The clipper had barely moved as a succession of mackerel chunks were cast into the smooth bulging sea. Now normally on this mark you can get a very good idea if there are any bass around by the amount of crab activity. I often imagine the bass moving in on the strengthening tide and the crabs keeping covered for fear of being the next meal. Today they were out in force so it wasn’t looking good.

Out of the blue a sudden knock on the rod brought me back to reality followed by a succession of rod lunges, a quick strike and it was bass on. Initially I thought it may have gone a bit bigger as it put up an excellent fight on the new gear tearing up and down the beach and staying deep which is normally a good sign.

A lean bass was pulled from the edge of his domain, quickly unhooked and returned to fight another day

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Funny how it seems that for the whole summer I have been waiting for weather like this but it was just getting too hot. So I too vowed to come back; to fight another day.


The short cast was only visible for a split moment from the splash it made on entry. The wind soon whipped away any evidence and started to make music from the line now held tight to the lead. The night sky was incredibly clear revealing more stars than I have seen for a while – which is why it felt so bloody cold. I was wrapped up more for winter rather than an early morning session in August. Holding my rod I turned my back to the wind and watched the waves race across in front of me. The prime time would be in about an hour so for once I had plenty of time to be prepared, none of this dashing around for me this morning.

Standing alone in the dark I started to reflect on my year so far. It has not been my best with only a couple of bass for my efforts, but only last week I lost a fish that still upsets me now and I know will for a very, very long time. It hit the rod like a bag of cement and then tore off taking line from the clutch. Very rarely do you hit into a fish and feel that the tackle you are using is in adequate, there was nothing I could do until the line parted.I’m not one to stamp and swear but normally I would have had a few words to myself, on this occasion however I just sat down on the beach muttering to myself what the hell was that over and over. It took an age for my hands to stop shaking before I could re-tackle.

The prime time had passed and so had the darkness. The light was starting to glow on the horizon and the wind had calmed down a touch. Suddenly there was a rattle on the rod and I watched the line dart across the waves in the strengthening light, a quick strike and nothing. Cursing my stupidity I reel in to see the line dart away for the second time, the bass must have moved towards me. After a spirited little battle a small schoolie of about a 1 1/2lb was beached.

I contemplated going home as the morning grew brighter but after a succession of last casts I hooked into another just slightly larger, roughly 2 lb. As the first I unhooked the bass and held it in the waves until it decided to make a dash on its side to freedom.

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I opened the car door and got out, what’s this no wind trying to force the door shut?  Blimey.

A quick walk along the beach confirmed that the conditions were just about perfect. The sea had a nice colour with a slight chop running along the shore line. Things were looking good.

I set up my rod and cut a large fillet from a side of a frozen mackerel. I found myself admiring the clean-cut and thought to myself I really should have sharpened the knife ages ago!

A 1.5oz lead was attached to a simple running ledger and a size 4/0 completed the outfit. A gentle lob out and I was fishing.

There are occasions lately that I’m finding that I just need to go fishing, it doesn’t matter whether I catch, and recently I’m not even that bothered about the weather. Maybe its just an age thing.

The sun, still low in the sky turned the clouds into fantastic shades of red giving us a great parting, and maybe just a promise of a better day tomorrow. The last of the geese flew past, noisily showing their appreciation of a rare glimpse of summer.

Time had past and it was starting to cloud up and turn blustery, however tonight I didn’t mind. In the gathering darkness I was glad I bought along with me an extra top, and was soon enjoying its warmth against the steadily strengthening wind.

Now I was alone standing on the beach just listening to the rhythmic pounding of the waves, it wasn’t that long ago I was stood here listening to the fizz of the mackerel shoals hitting the whitebait and wishing I had brought my rod with me. The sun was hot that day, too hot…

Was that weed on my line? The rod felt heavy and out of sync with the waves. Suddenly I was alert and waiting, but after a few anxious moments I started to think that maybe I was just getting tired and imagined it.

No, there it was again. My heart started to race and I was willing the bite to develop further, the rod nodded again and instinctively I struck and stepped back at the same time… fish on!

In the dark I could see white water being created as it tried to make its break for freedom, and just for a split moment I thought that I had hooked into a bass that I have been waiting for a very long time. However the initial power of the fish was subdued and I was soon using the next wave to help me beach it onto the shore.

The size by most people’s standards was probably small, but this was the 2nd biggest bass I have landed in over 30 years. Sure I have hooked and lost larger, but at that moment I couldn’t care less.

A quick photo and weigh before I carefully carried the bass to the water’s edge. Unusually I had to hold it upright for quite a while before it suddenly seem to realise that I was going to return it, as it dashed forward into the waves just in case I changed my mind!

I considered a recast, but the wind was strengthening still further and the thought of a warm home became very appealing.

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The alarm woke me up with a start, why am I doing this? It really was touch and go, but in the end I forced myself into auto mode and made my way down to the beach.

I’m glad I did, it was a beautiful morning. All my earlier thoughts were banished as I looked out across the smooth bulging sea and saw the sun just starting to show what the day held in store.

With excitement I set up my carp rod with line stepped up to 12lb due to some recent losses. A small lead weight completed the outfit as I gently swung out a strip of mackerel into the quiet of the dawn.

I sat back and thought of my earlier decision, I so nearly stay in bed! What a fool, mornings like this are why we do it. Bang, without warning my rod was nearly wrenched from my hand and soon took on a satisfying bend.

My last couple of trips I have missed some frustrating bites and lost some big bass but this time I had no problems, and was soon admiring a bass of around 2 lb. A quick photo and returned.

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What a start, the bait could only have been in for about 3 mins and was probably still slightly frozen. Everything felt great with the world! 20 minutes later I had a whole ‘stripped-down’ joey on as a bait and was watching a large shoal of mackerel working along the shore.

In the quiet of the morning I could hear the ‘fizz’ as they worked the fry on the top, and just like my last report I resisted the urge to have a go with a plug.

I’m glad I did, as 5mins later, bang, and I’m into another bass. This one was a bit bigger and I could see in the gathering light it twisting and turning as it tried to make its escape.

Frustratingly my batteries chose this moment to run out as it was a great specimen of about 3lb with an amazingly plump stomach.

Again like my last trip the bass had moved on and were followed by the ever eager pollack. I kept with the large baits but no more bass action came.

As I packed up the sun was already hot on my face, the earlier promise of a lovely day had come true.

… the bass had moved on

August 23, 2007

Got away at last, grabbed sessions at short notice always feel great. Arrived at about an hour before high tide and set up my carp gear with a large side of mackerel. Things were looking good as I cast out and I felt expectant.

One hour later despite several recasts with fresh mackerel I had not received a touch. The wind had now started to pick up and was getting a little cold, what a summer we are having.

In the corner of my eye I notice a small shoal of mackerel working along the shore line, I debated with myself whether to put any feathers on but decide to keep to my original plan. Just as I am about to reel in for another re-bait the shoal re-appears further out. I don’t think I will ever tire of watching them darting in and out of the waves, just then a small knock on the rod brings me back to reality.

The knock turns into a strong pull which feels unmissable…but I did. My attempt to recast was delayed as I had to retie a new lead weight as my weak link had snapped. Eventually cast out and on tightening up to the bait I miss another bite. This was getting frustrating.

Another cast and another bite, but this time the quick knocking indicated pollack. Sure enough 5 min’s later and I reel in a plumb pollack of around a pound.

Despite a quick recast that was it, the tide had turned, the bass had moved on and it was time to go home. A frustrating but thoroughly enjoyable session.