Monday, September 26, 2011

Float-fishing Soft Plastics.

We've all been there, you turn up to fish your chosen mark and find yourself confronted by the anglers enemy, WEED !

At times it can be impossible to fish conventional methods , even weedless rigged lures can be covered in seconds leaving you no option but to walk away or wait until the weed has past.

One method I use ,for situations like these and also for fishing in clean water, is float-fishing with lures.
I like to rig up using a pike float(though most floats will work fine), bead ,a bullet weight, a strong piece of mono 25 lb+ (as it needs to be able to handle a bit of wear) and a couple of swivels .
Tie a swivel to one end of the mono, slide on the bead, then the float coloured end first. Next slide on the bullet weight and tie on the last swivel.
The whole rig is about a foot or 30 centimetres long and can easily be stored in a container in the lure bag, ready to be attached onto your lure-clip and thus avoiding the hassle of making it up at the venue.
            All you have to do now is make up the business end and tie it to the swivel that supports the bullet weight. This is best done at the venue when water depth and conditions have been taken into consideration.
  In very clear water I will use an 8lb Airflow flourocarbon hook length about 5 feet or 150 centimetres long . I don't generally add any shot to this but if the tide and wind were going in the same direction, or the float was just travelling very fast, I might add a few to keep the lure down. I prefer to leave off the weight though, so the lure can move with more freedom.
    Choice of lure is something I would encourage you to experiment with as different venues and situations will favour different lures and only you can work out what suits your marks best. Just to get you started though ,a natural looking soft plastic like the smaller Slug-go will behave well in the water and takes fish.

One of my customers Cuan playing a bass ten minutes after I'd rigged him up with a float and lure, and showed him what to do.He was pretty impressed at the time.
       If you're fishing off rocks or wading on sand into an estuary, casting uptide and letting the float carry the lure down past you until it stops and swings in, can be the best approach . Retrieve it slowly ready for the next cast, you never know what might follow ?
 If its very weedy cast into a clear patch of water and the float and lure will travel at the same speed as the weed. This will help to prevent the lure getting clogged up until it stops and the weed catches up.
  It will also flow with the water like a natural bait might ,getting sucked into eddies and currents that form in the band of water infront of you and hopefully on to waiting bass.
If there is a chop on the water it will work the lure making it flutter up and down, while travelling in the current.
    Some venues you can walk along with the float , "trotting" it for long distances until you find fish.
On clean ground you can also rig a lure to be trundled along the bottom , the float will dip as the lure hits a ripple or bank in the sand but will then pop back up and keep floating on working the lure behind it .
   There are so many possibilities with this method from using shrimp lures on the bottom, to paddle tail shads raced through strong current near the surface, it just takes some use of the grey matter to design a hook length/trace to suit your venues unique geography.

This fish took the small slug-go on my first cast fishing on an open surf beach .
I offered this technique to a journalist, to use as an article, before, as it can be a very good method at times and is something different from the norm? As I recently wrote Cast, Retrieve, Remove the weed , Cast,Retrieve,............................ well you know it by now,  can get boring at times too.
    Shame it didn't come off because they would have made a much better job of it than I have here .
 Anyway you guys get the gist of things, ..........float fishing might not be for everyone and I'm not going to say its a killer technique. At certain times it works well and, as I've said, a float plunging under the water does it for me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rounding off with a bit of variety.

The wind stayed offshore for the weekend so I managed to squeeze in another couple of sessions.
   My favourite one was plugging into the waves on a surf beach . Anyone who has done a bit of bait fishing into the surf knows that the rhythmic pounding of the waves can put you into a state of mild meditation.
  Lure fishing the surf doesn't quite allow you to switch off in the same way but it still eases the mind and a lack of snags makes for a very relaxed angling experience.

Covering the features in the formation of the sand on the beach including banks , drop-offs and gullies created by run-off or streams was keeping me occupied but after more than an hour had passed I was beginning to doubt my prospects .
    Suddenly though the lure was hit two or three times in quick succession but no firm bend was registered on the rod. I stopped winding and could imagine the shallow diver I was using rising to the surface while being pushed around by the moving water hopefully imitating a stunned bait-fish , it induced another take and this time the rod let me know the fish was hooked .
  With the fish easily 60 yards out from me, it used the waves to aid its movement reaching ferocious speeds as it kited from one side on a long run, then turning and heading back again. Often its silver and gold flank would be visible travelling along the face of the peeling wave , its dorsal fin cutting through the waters surface as it powered along . It was a delight I have to say and all this from what we'd call a small bass over here at around 3 lbs or so.

Two more fish around the same size were landed during the next half hour , then the dreaded mobile phone called me away just as my anticipation levels had reached fever pitch , just aswell maybe ? I'd gone from nice and relaxed to heart pounding with excitement . Years and years of bass fishing and it still gets the pulse racing !
    Even though it wasn't outstanding when sizes and numbers of fish are taken into consideration , it was still one of my favourite sessions of the season so far , something different venue-wise than the norm I suppose ?

I rounded off the weekend on more familiar territory with a couple more fish taken off the rocks into nicely fizzing water.
     Apologies for the boring photos , I don't have a "Henry Gilbey" standing around ready to use his magic when needed and I don't like keeping the fish out of water for timed shots , so its a quick point and shoot and get the bass back in.

This fish, number 10 from the last few days, took a fancy to the 7.5 inch slug-go creapt through the rough ground and like the one pictured above , it hit the lure a few times without hooking up ,it was only by pausing that I managed to persuade it to really grab the lure properly thus ensuring it a photo opportunity.

So we got a break from the wind but 10 bass over a few days in September is not great fishing , you'd be hoping for those kind of numbers a day usually.
   It's said that after a blow is the best time to go fishing but I'd say if the wind has been blowing hard for a long time then most bass have already eaten well by the time it calms down.
  I look out to sea watching that seething mass of coloured water and often think to myself , those bass must be gorging themselves on worms , shellfish and anything else that is unlucky enough to stray into their paths.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Break in the weather atlast.

     So we had a bit of a blow over here and fishing was put on hold while we kept an eye on the forecast.
One good thing the bad weather did over the spring tides was dump large quantities of kelp on the high tide line.
    With a week or so of rotting time it could make for some decent angling opportunities when the weed gets lifted again on the next spring tides, with all those maggots , hoppers and slatters creating a natural feast. Ofcourse thats if its not blowing a total hoolie again.

  Julian was fly-fishing down in Kerry and over the two days that himself and two others managed to get out 25 seatrout and 2 salmon were landed between them ,with many other fish evading the net. All in all they were very pleased considering the conditions.

I myself ventured out once the wind gave us a break back here in Cork. I gambled by taking the dog (short haired border collie)with me as a new fishing companion. He must be a lucky mascot though as I found some satisfying fishing .

   His desire to lick the bass made it tricky keeping him out of the picture.

I float-fished some live sandeel for the first time this year and my lack of practice showed as I missed plenty of takes and lost a few fish that looked like they were coming ashore. I wasn't in the slightest bit put out by this as it was such a joy just to be out fishing again, as many of you will also know having been stuck indoors aswell.
  They didn't all get the better of me and I also managed to lure a few fish on a paddle tail shad , while plugs, slug-go's and other softs were ignored by the fish ?

Final tally was 5 bass landed around the 3-4lb size range ,  another day I would of landed a dozen as it was hectic action from the off, but I'm certainly not complaining at missing a few fish. There's always the next time the weather breaks ???

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grip Shit.

Thankfully the wind has dropped as we're halfway through September already and not a great deal of fishing has been done by ourselves.
   Saying that Julian nearly landed a 12lbish salmon yesterday but his braid parted after the fish found a snag , ofcourse this was not until the fish had leapt out of the water right in front of him just to wind him up!
   He's in Waterville for the week with a group over from Scotland and as can happen they've been unlucky with the weather so far, hopefully conditions will improve for them now.

The last time I fished was when I caught the bass in the last post, luckily another angler was there to take the photo and it was a nice picture. The reason I mention this though is the said angler had a fish grip with him and offered to hold and weigh the fish for me during and after hook removal .
  I have never used one before and watched with interest at the process.
   Now I haven't always looked after fish perfectly in the past but I do make more effort nowadays , one thing I will not be doing is buying a fish grip though ! I was horrified at the damage done to the inside of the fishes mouth by the hard stainless steel , F'me they are some torture device ! Now maybe this was a rare occurrence but the grooves literally torn into the inside of the lower jaw were bad . It was a fine fish in its prime but the use of that implement did nothing to help its prospects on release.
  A pair of forceps are all you need for handling hooks around lively fish , I've managed just fine without any fish grip so far and am satisfied that atleast I've been doing something right by not using these contraptions in the past .

Now time to get back to fishing .................

Monday, September 5, 2011

Job Done.

We took Mike from Galway on his first night lure session , this guy is a great all-rounder and is normally found stalking mullet or tope fishing for 50-60lbers from the shore up on the west coast ! 

His best fish of the night at 6lb ,there seems to be a few of them about around this weight at the moment , the photo doesn't do it justice though......
 He's already planning on hitting a few venues around Galway at night now that he's got a taste for it.

The Joy of Fishing.

         Fishing can drive you insane sometimes and I recently had 24 hours that took me close to the edge.
First mark, jagged would be an understatement, the rocks here are so sharp like nothing I've seen anywhere else.
 Replaced the 20lb 8 strand for 30lb power pro and a long 15 lb mono leader , checked the knots and started fishing confidently. Hooked a bass over 6lb close in on a feedshallow, it took a few metres of line then came to the surface and gave me a clear view of itself. Quick thrash and it cut the mono so easily with what I can only presume was its gill-plate? It made a complete mockery of my attempts to beef up my gear and it hadn't even touched a rock. I was gutted , nothing is more upsetting than losing a fish with a lure stuck in it , or so I thought!
Fished on for a bit longer but my head was wrecked. Headed off to a second venue and met up with Julian and Mike . The guys made vain attempts to break my leader as I told them the story , I took some stronger line off them and changed it , just incase.
I was still feeling gutted and sat and watched the lads while they covered the area . Julian missed a fish straightaway and then it went quiet. Decided to give the water a break and sat around chatting for 20mins.

It was a misty dark evening by now and there was a good swell on the shoreline. I fancied trying a big lure and picked out a Storm Wildeye Live Anchovy ,at 6 inches long and 1.5ozs it was the biggest shad I had .
  A gentle lob put it out there and I started the retrieve before the lure touched bottom. Steadily winding  slowly with the rod held high, I could picture the lure in my minds eye swimmining just above the rocks , its big paddle-tail working away and sending out vibrations. I had no desire to "work " the lure and was just waiting for the nose to touch off a rock to signal to me to increase retrieve speed slightly.
 Slam ! the take was strong rather than violent and I knew it was a good fish, atleast 6 I thought to myself. The lads wound in quickly beside me as the fish made a couple of surging runs, they knew I'd have to make my way past them to land the fish. As it came closer to shore it seemed to get stronger and stayed deep in the water, I realised my first guess at its size had been an under-estimation.
    I was standing on the rocks in the pounding water up to my thighs , a white foamy fizz all around me when its head came out of the water 3 metres away , F*** ! was the only thought that accompanied the gasp I had on seeing the beast at close quarters , Mike standing next to me thought the same , it was a very big fish.
     Its mouth was still closed (no sign of the lure) and it was nowhere near ready to come in, but it was on the surface a swell was coming, my line was strong , my drag was set and my reaction was to lift the rod and pull as the swell picked up the fish and brought it towards me. I was hopeful of a quick landing as I wasn't comfortable with my position. Even though I had landed many fish into this gully/pool behind me before the swell made me feel uneasy on my feet and I just wanted to get out of it .
     Then for the first time in my life the rod I was using snapped.............

Right on the large eye on the butt, I remember the sick feeling as I write.  A false hope came over me as I grabbed the line and realised the fish was still attached and somewhere in between us was most of my rod . Could I hand-line it in ? .......With no leverage and little control the braid parted easily on a rock to rub my face in it in the most excruciating way,....... bye bye rod ,lure and definately the biggest bass I've caught in a good while . One cast and it was game over , the lads tried to raise my spirits but they were nearly in as much shock as me , I went home to bed .
   The head was tortured all night and after a poor sleep I got up went straight to the van , grabbed what was left of my rod attached a weighing scales to my line and tested the drag on my reel . I steadily pulled and I jerked , I could only get just higher than 3lb pull on the scales , it didn't help my confusion.
    I needed a fish to ease the pain and stop me feeling like the biggest numpty to ever cast a rod ,so after lunch I set off to the shore once again where I managed another first in my fishing career .
   I caught a seabird ! A cormorant to be precise , I could only laugh like a mad man losing the plot as I removed the hook from its wing , my other hand clamped in its mouth like a pacifier , it was time to consider new hobbies.

Eventually though I did what I'd planned to do when I started fishing over 24 hours earlier, I actually caught and landed a fish , relief would be another understatement ...........

A lovely fish as you can see but it was no consolation for the one that got away ! not in the same league at all I'm afraid.

As I drove home I pondered over the worst fishing experience I'd ever had ,but was happy now I'd broken the curse as catching a fish was obviously the sign it had ended. Then I ran over a cat (another first),............
I broke into a cold sweat......................