As this season draws to a close I thought it worth while to reflect on what has been one of the hardest seasons since starting the guiding 4 seasons ago. The Spring arrived late and although the season started well it seemed to falter half way through, water temperatures were cool and I remember thinking the Horse Chestnuts trees were lacking leaf as were the Apple trees missing the blossom... the Bass seemed to notice too and early season catches were light with April and May producing just over 200 fish.
June arrived soon after and we couldn’t put a foot wrong with over 400 fish coming to the fly and some fish up to eight pounds were an added bonus, many flyers took 30-40 Bass in their session in amongst some very big shoals but also by this time a trend was starting to show and there were many occasions where fish seemed to just vanish , to this day I have no idea how you can hide three separate shoals of Bass in excess of 300 to 400 meters in length, which makes me think that either one of two things may be happening: they either move out of the harbour with bait fish or they’ve fed heavily and rest up having sated themselves, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions to which you think it may be .
By July we were in full swing and as well as achieving some pretty good catches of 50-75 Bass per session throughout the month, the harbour started to really heat up and cook the water causing de-oxygenation on some of the shallower ground. This forced us to work outside the harbour in the surf where we had a whole week of catching very good quality fish up to the 27 inch gauge, some clients during that month just couldn’t put a foot wrong and July ended up with just under 400 Bass but the ratio of mature fish to immature fish rocketed to 8% !
August was on target and we started hooking in consistently to Bass over two large kelp areas by drifting into the shallows, these fish are still there and it will be interesting to see if they continue to hold over the next few months as the water temperatures slowly drop. September was excellent and produced some the best numbers of fish since beginning the business in 2003, a lot of the catch was taken over the weed beds which was located during the latter half of the season so we’ll know next year if this is a consistent holding area or just a one off.
Worth noting here that a lot of the returns we were making were showing excellent results on some very poor tides almost as if the fish were far less distributed around the harbour but concentrated into big shoals on these more passive tides allowing us to hook up and capitalise on numbers when we located them.
Late Season News
October too has had some nice fish and we’ll continue to cast South for the Bass until the end of the month and with water temperatures still at 15 degrees the Bass should continue to oblige as long as the clarity remains good.
Overall the season to date has returned 2000 Bass and although this is approx 10% down from the average, the ratio of mature fish is in line with other seasons (3-4%)…. To summarise, this year has been feast or famine – you either scored really well or it was slim pickings. Very few clients had consistent catches, some couldn’t believe their eyes when the harbour came alive with fish whilst others had to play the waiting game – I would be interested to know from any of you if the inconsistencies of this season have been experienced elsewhere around the coast.
I was approached this season by Richard Hewitt and Simon Lewin to join a team of professional sport fishermen and become a part of a much larger business called “Fish and Fly” which I agreed to and will be contributing to over the foreseeable future in both Bass fishing and article writing.
www.fishandfly.com has been around for some years now but has only just re launched to provide some of the most up to date information on Salmon, Sea Trout , Grayling and Salt water species. The site is designed around your chosen species of interest and has a template which is universal in its navigation – John Bailey is my artistic director and I will be working alongside him in the coming seasons. As well as information there are some links into Sportfish (Farlows) which gives paying subscribers the opportunity to buy all brands of fly fishing equipment at some of the best rates available so please log in when you can and take a look, the subscription this year is at a heavily reduced rate of £29.99
As well as “Fish and Fly” I have just written another article for Orvis which will be printed in their new hard copy 2007 brochure and is all about some of the observations over the last Bass season. Ian Maclean has done a great job in differentiating Orvis UK from its American parent and has been unbending in his support for www.bass-fishing.co.uk via tackle sponsorship over the last few years and I hope this has been reciprocated in their retail outlets throughout the seasons.
Just to mention that Christmas is only a couple of months away and Bass fishing “Gift-Vouchers” are already selling for the 2007 season – if you fancy giving friends / family or clients something different this year then just drop me a line and we’ll send them through as well as any gifts you may have in mind from the “Bass-Shop”.
I hope your season was enjoyable and rewarding and I thank you for visiting us on the South coast this year, if you didn’t manage a visit during 2006 I look forward to hooking up with you next time.