Like a cheap coffee

October 25, 2014

Following a recent storm I was eager to get out. On arriving the sea was like the colour of cheap coffee from a roadside café, but after a couple of hours staring at motionless rods I was starting to think that maybe it was too coloured, when bang in quick succession the following decided to make an appearance. The first came in at 7lb 15oz despite juggling and standing on one leg and was still feisty when it came to its picture being taken.


The second weighed 4lb 15oz (what is it with the missing once, and does it really matter?)


And the third a good 2lb + which went straight back without a picture. Really keen to get back out again I was back out on the next tide and unbelievably into another good bass, which at just over 27″ made 8lb 3oz


This was turning out to be a great month so I was back out for more, but that has been it. Despite 4 trips I’ve not had a touch but I’m keen to keep going while the weather holds to see if I can connect again on the next set of decent tides.

All bass were returned to provide sport for future generations



Big waves pounding the shore, the heart beats faster as the line detects life. A lone mackerel who has yet to shoal hits one of my feathers and fights beyond it size. Later in a small quiet bay I’m captivated by 3 large mullet working an area that tomorrow morning will have a carefully laid trap. Until tomorrow…

Tea or Bait?

May 23, 2012

Finally loaded my new Diawa with braid today and considering the mini heat wave-like conditions, thought I would have a speculative try with the lures for an early bass.

Having never used braid before and reading about all the horror stories (wind knots etc.) I was really surprised at how easy it was to use and the casting distance’s achieved with my little 8ft BushWhacker rod. I was quite happy working through my brand new shiny lure collection when a man in his mid 50’s turned up on his bike, rod already made up with a set of feathers ready to go.

Despite having the whole beach he choose to squeeze in next to me, nodded the customary greeting, let fly and immediately reeled in 2 hard fighting spirited mackerel. After gutting the  mackerel at the water’s edge he said his farewells and left on his bike. I swear I could hear him whistling a merry tune as he rounded the corner. I stood there for a moment and considered my choice of lures before rummaging around my bag for an old set of feathers.

I suppose if you can’t beat them – join them!

It wasn’t instant success though, however 20 minutes later I managed one of about a pound. The fight on braid was fantastic, so much so I was convinced that I must have hooked into more than one but watching from a slightly raised position I could see its every twist and turn. Time had moved on and with it the best of the tide so I decided it was time to leave  –  and I also decided to have this one for tea.

I was whistling a merry tune as I turned the corner for home.

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.

Distant memories re-visited

September 13, 2010


This report from 09 was from a mark that I used to be able to rely on for at least a bite or two. Not this year though! Looking out at the weather tonight I can hardly believe its the same month, the weather that day was really hot, not the best conditions for a bass but after a relatively successful summer I was hopeful none the less…

… and I would have been his hero. September 8, 2009
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 and 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 helped 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. Earlier we had both been watching two bass 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 pulled from the edge of his domain was quickly unhooked and returned to fight another day

The droplets sparkled like a firework on the 5th of November as the mackerel head splashed into the smooth bulging sea. The sun today was very hot, much hotter than I expected as I walked up and down the shoreline trying to find a spot that wouldn’t  cover up the bait within seconds. This weed is becoming an absolute nightmare.

After holding the rod through the supposed ‘hot-time’ I leant it up against my tripod and set about getting the second rod ready. As the conditions were so still I decided to freeline a whole side of a large mackerel on a size 4/0. For the last few years there have been a few marks that I could almost guarantee a bite or two even down to the time. So much so that I started to call it ‘my window of opportunity.’ I got quite blase about going  fishing for half an hour or so and with luck catching a bass or two.

But not this year. The famous carp angler Richard Walker once said ‘there are no such words as always and never in fishing’ (or something very similar) and how right he was. In the distance a small dingy was making its way to the shoreline creating waves far bigger than it should in these calm conditions. The boat arrived with the skill of an old hand; how easy he made it all look. It wasn’t long before I discovered that he had a successful morning catching various species including some good-sized early whiting.

A small flight of swallows and house martins made good use of the calm conditions and gave me an aerial display that despite my best intentions was unable to catch on film. Leaving for home an old man with a floppy hat and a sun-beaten face appeared riding his bike, his rod (of excellent quality) tied with what looked like red ribbon, was carefully placed in the centre of the handle bars. I assumed the rest of his gear was neatly stored in his brown leather saddle bag. After a quick anglers chat bemoaning our combined lack of success this year he bid me a cheery farewell, and as he rode off into the distance I could hear him shout  ‘still this is much better than gardening’

Old Man And Bicycle Stock Image

A quickie…

September 2, 2010

I woke earlier than expected. Laying there I thought I really must take advantage of this before springing out of bed and dashing into action. In what felt like moments I was soon watching the smooth sea slowly making its way out in the early morning freshness. Looking around I noticed an earlier hunter who had already beaten me to it and was drying out its wings on a convenient pole.

The mackerel still heavily frozen was cut to make a bait for a 5/0 and then gently lobbed into the waiting tide. If I am being honest the tide wasn’t great; it was only small and had already passed its prime time but if I hadn’t gone I would only have spent the day regretting it.

Casting along the shore line I used the weed to soften my footsteps, there was miles of it. Unfortunately it wasn’t just along the beach either, as a succession of casts revealed it to be just where I wanted my bait. However I soon found a spot where I could fish with a reasonable chance of it not being covered within a few seconds.

miles of it

The mackerel had now thawed just enough for me to present its head and guts on a freeline rig as the tide was starting to retreat with earnest. But even the crabs couldn’t be bothered to make an appearance today, so I lent my rod up against my bag,  allowed the line to gently sway in the breeze, sat down on my jacket and just enjoyed the morning.

... the line swayed in the breeze



Distant memories re-visited

August 29, 2010

The Bass hit the rod like a bag of cement – August 29, 2009

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.



waiting to be held in the waves...

Distant memories re-visited

August 25, 2010

... its just an age thing

 August 2, 2008

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 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 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.


Distant memories re-visited

August 22, 2010

...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.