July / Aug Newsletter 2008
Wind is the word !.....
Well, June & July have been breezy to say the least with some rest bites in between but generally it’s been force 4 beaufort up to 7 on most days which has been very testing for us flyers and a perfect example as to why you need to be able to double haul your lines. Water temperatures are high (19 degrees+) and even though the latent energy of the water is high there is surprising clarity through the water column which has been to our advantage.
June total was 432 Bass and 1 Sea Trout, whilst July gave us a total of 218 Bass and although the catch numbers have dropped the ratio of mature fish to immature fish has rocketed to 15% and some of the better female Bass have been running up to 7-8lb. In line with this has been the long liners who have also been catching well and I have witnessed more double figured bass being landed this season than in the last six years – it would be interesting to see if any of you have noticed a similar spike in inshore data?
Lunar Cycle and tidal velocity
The hardest part about catching Bass is being consistent and one of the advantages of guiding clients on a 225 day cycle is that you are able to start to build a picture of what happens at various states of not only the tide but more importantly at what stage in the lunar cycle, be it a Spring period, Neap or Intermediate part of the calendar.
Firstly it is important to understand that tidal velocity or water volume moves bait around and the food chain on the South coast is “Plankton whitebait Predator”. Therefore it makes sense to understand that wherever the tide pushes food you may well find a Bass closely behind. This is why traditionally you will fish a flooding tide as the food is actually being brought closer to you. If however you are mobile (Kayak / Wading sand bars / Boat) an Ebbing tide presents a similar opportunity just in reverse.
When do you fish?
In order to understand when the best time to fish is, it is important to understand the way tidal velocity works – i.e tide moves in symmetry similar to a Normal Distribution Curve and is not equally distributed along it. Therefore from LW to HW tidal velocity builds momentum in 12th’s (1/12th volume in the first hour 2/12th’s in the second and third hour and 3/12th’s in the last half of the tide).
What does this mean?
Simply, this means that the greatest velocity of water moves in the second half of the tide on flood (i.e the steepest part of the curve see diagram) and on the first half of the tide on Ebb. Therefore at 3-4 hours flood you may well find a trigger point for feeding and another trigger point after slack water in the first part of the Ebb–
In order to understand why you’ll need to go back to your food chain as tidal drift moves food and in my view the strongest part of the tide create opportunities for predators as the bait simply loses control and therefore Bass can feed and capitalize on these periods (greater reward for less effort) – every Apex predator does this and predates when a marginal advantage is presented to them – Humans especially!
Where do you fish?
If you’ve decided to fish you now need to decide to fish. Remember that you’ll need to be mobile as a productive session one day may be totally unproductive the following week – why? This is answered simply by the fact that the Lunar cycle will have changed from maybe a Spring cycle to an Intermediate or Neap cycle thereby flattening the curve or indeed put simply reducing the tidal velocity – could it be that you are fly fishing in an area which holds little or no bait as the tidal drift is too weak to push it into your target zone. Therefore expect to fish in an area more to your mark on a Neap Tide and towards the on a Spring cycle as where you concentrate your fly fishing time should reflect where the bait gets pushed to and especially at those trigger periodsof the tide.
Just one more thing
Neap tides concentrate bait unlike Spring tides which distribute bait, my logs show that clients fishing Spring tides whilst wading can get frenetic periods of hooking up for maybe 20 minutes at a time coupled with the same periods of inactivity. Neap tides can offer fantastic fly fishing opportunities if you can find the concentration of white bait as it will naturally herd into huge numbers (safety in numbers) allowing Bass to simply annihilate it.
Expect to be mobile throughout your fly fishing session and if revisiting an area again, check what stage of the lunar cycle you are on – if it is different expect to fly fish at a more extreme point on a Spring or more central on a Neap – don’t learn about Atlantic Bass, learn about telemetry or it’s food source and the rest will follow.