Despite the fact that fishing is all about relaxing & getting away from it there is no doubt in my mind that the most successful anglers are those who put in that extra little bit of effort … especially when the going gets tough. Take this weekend for example.
I was guiding Neal & Jeff for a two day stint. My recommendation had been to steer clear of the Bass as recently it has been very tough. But these guys were keen to see what fly fishing for this species was all about and were prepared to risk a blank in the hope that just maybe the fish gods would shine upon them.
Day 1 was just as I had expected. Tough! We did see a gull attack which prompted a boot camp style march to the scene of the excitement and although the fish were small it wasn’t long before Neal had landed his first ever Bass on fly or should I say “Basslet” Jeff meanwhile worked a topwater popper. A very experienced angler, Jeff has fished all over the world so it was just brilliant to see him fishing with fury in the hope of that amazing moment when a Bass smashes into the surface. I have said it before and I will say it again; there is nothing quite like visual fishing.
We got a few more small schoolies and it was fair to say that the guys were impressed by the scenery and the speed of the tide. The fishing had been slow, but there is a real excitement about fishing the salt and it had certainly captured the guys imagination as the unanimous vote was to do it all again the following day!
Let’s go for it then! I made a slightly different plan and we met early to see if we could improve upon day 1. If nothing else it was a stunning morning and how much better does it get than casting a fly into the unknown with scenery like this? And it’s even better when that shout goes up “Fish On!”. This time Neal had found something a little more substantial which coupled with the tidal conditions gave him a proper scrap on the fly gear. I think the smile says it all and from that moment on Neal seemed to go into hyper casting drive, fuelled by adrenalin and a new found obsession for saltwater fly fishing! As the tide changed things just looked better and better, with the water clearing and some beautiful tidal races to fish. Jeff took my advice and dropped the fly in favour of a soft plastic lure, but even his experience could not winkle out another Bass for us. It was time for another plan.
Leaving the estuary I directed us towards a rock mark which I had heard was holding a few Mackerel shoals … great fun on fly and perfect Bass prey! This was a new experience for the guys and after a lot of fly casting I suggested a lure approach to give their arms a rest. Jeff got going with a mixture of Hawg soft plastics and Komomos, while I set Neal off on a mission to track down a Wrasse using a Texas rigged Hawg Stick, in that very cool watermelon purple swirl. When the rod hooped over and line began tearing off the reel it looked like he had accomplished just that … but no, one better it was a cracking little Bass of around 3lbs! Quite a large grin, a few pictures and back she went … I think stoked was the word!
Later on in the session a bunch of Seals showed up and then right on cue the Mackerel began to go nuts on the surface. Very exciting but also frustrating as the shoals were often out of range. But again the guys just got stuck in and finally enjoyed a shot or two with fly before tired & weary we headed back in the fading light. We discussed the two days and agreed that Trout fishing would have been the easy option but there is something about the coast, the feeling of the unknown and the opportunity that if you work hard enough and wait long enough …. maybe …. just maybe a Bass will come along. Your turn next time Jeff!!!