So some modest success in finding bigger bass in the last couple of trips, but of course there have been some exceptional shore catches on our coastline in recent days too.
It blew over the weekend and I fished before and after the winds. On the back end off last week we had gin clear seas, and enjoyed the sight of loads of bass chasing and competing for lures on the top, followed by excited garfish chasing and leaping over hooked bass. The sounder was alive with bait and fish arches and, although the images are 'still' shots, you could sense the drama of hunting predators on the screen. Although I'm new to this game already I am seeing patterns that mean 'fish' or possibly 'no fish' . For example lots of bait is a good sign and this shows up as a sort of red cloud on the sonar. Sometimes it looks chilled out and spread about. Some times you see the arches of the larger fish close by but appearing equally relaxed, almost as if some fishy armistice has been called. This is always a temporary affair. When the bait starts to bunch up in a long tower that may well mean the small fish are now being harassed by the hunters. As well as this I like to see swooping lines where the sonar has captured movement of the larger fish actively hunting. When I see this I feel confident enough to tell the crew to expect a take or two and it usually comes good. The icing on the cake of course is birds diving , having a right good bust up when the bait gets pushed desperately upwards towards the surface and the gleeful gulls. We saw several of these bust ups last week, and you'll probably notice the gulls expectancy hanging around waiting for the next one. I feel like a junior doctor trying to make sense of an X-ray to make a diagnosis. the more you do this the more you see patterns emerging. Apologies to any old salts who know all this stuff inside out, and also apologies to my crews who get a constant commentary of what's happening on the screen from me... ( too excited)
Nursing a cold beer after the trip , Brighton Marina felt like Spain, and I had dug out a box of Rob's favourite Heddon one knockers ready to enjoy the surface action. However it wasn't to be quite yet. The weekend brought cooler temperatures and a right stir up. The sea went a bit soupy inshore and the bait and bass dispersed and spread. I went out on Monday with my good friend and excellent fly angler Silas Maitland. Silas quietly catches more big bass than anyone I know and has several doubles every year from his own boat. I kind of wanted to produce a fish or two for him, but I found it hard going in the day, with takes few and far between and a single fish or dropped fish coming from every mark.
Noticeable was how many fish come on the drop and if you are not controlling the speed of the drop and actively waiting for a take, you might miss all your fish some days. That slightly better fish in the top photo took the HTO minnow midwater, and the only noticeable indication was that the line stopped falling through my fingers. Other takes have been coming higher in the water too. But with few fish about its hard to learn anything much and separate the flukes from the useful patterns.
The evening trip was with three customers and friends Laurie, John and Jason. who had joined me for a three hour exploratory trip. . As you might know I am building experience as anew skipper, and trying new things, so offer a discount rate for those keen enough to come along with a spirit of adventure. It was such an enjoyable session. In my quick hour break the sea had got up with a naughty, and unpredicted, easterly wind which only left one option, to fish in the shelter of the west arm, thus reducing our fishing options to an area that had held zero bait and very few fish in the day. Happily the bait fish had piled in along with the wind, and the bass, mackerel and scad had followed. We were inundated with schoolies and had a happy time catching small fish on light gear, keeping a couple of mackerel for tea.
The wind died and we had a few drifts over reef finding small pollock. John hadn't fished a whole lot before and its always useful to whip out some stick pot baited sabikis just to get a feel for the whole thing and get a few bites., Those stick pots from HTO will catch anything. I do think muppets of any kind can put off the bigger bass though. Overall it's preferable to stick with a single lure most of the time. If there are numbers of schoolies I encourage people to nip off the barbs on hooks. I will be looking also at a carp type landing mat and a more fish friendly net... we want them to go back lively !
Everyone onboard caught and had a truly great time, and its so nice to be able to end a working day like this in the summer. Good times...
If you feel like a coming out for a relaxed trip like this one, (or a more determined effort to catch bigger fish) then drop me a text on 07561 845458 and I'll call you back.
Trips are running this Friday 30th, Monday 31st, July 1, 3, 4, and 5th with spaces for individuals at £15 per hour. Trips are 3 or 6 hours ( or 6 or 12 if you're nuts enough) - Fish won't catch themselves !