David Porter Sea

Bass Fishing Using a Sliding Float

In this weeks blog, the focus switches back to those hard fighting bars of silver, the bass and float fishing in saltwater. It’s been really difficult for me this week to synchronise available fishing time and the local tide table, but tides and weather were favourable for a spot of float fishing at one of my marks. As usual I planned a short early morning session before breakfast. So it was the case of a 05.15 alarm and arriving at Ness Point in Lowestoft at around 06.05.

I have mentioned Ness Point in a previous blog and it is the most Easterly point of the British Isles.The low bulk of the point is characterised by buildings from Lowestoft’s present and historical industrial past. Over the years to protect industrial complexes such as the Birds Eye factory, a substantial granite rock sea defence has been placed in front of an existing concrete sea wall. This barrier extends several metres out from the seawall into the North Sea and as the tide ebbs more of the rock structure can be seen. I was extremely disappointed initially when the civil engineering works completely changed a fishing mark I had known since I was a young lad. Most of the mark is difficult to fish now unless the angler is prepared to clamber out on rocks and fish with the natural balance attributes of a mountain goat. Such risk taking is not for me, so I tend to seek out the places where I can fish with a high degree of safety. The granite rocks are covered with seaweed and have matured over the years providing an environment that attracts a diverse community of sea life. Many stretches of our coastline have been subject to similar sea defence works, so you may have a suitable location local to you, or other man made structures such as piers and jetties: and of course not forgetting natural rock structures. All of the aforementioned are suitable for the float fishing approach.

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A man made reef that is particularly attractive to predatory fish such as bass

Bottom fishing amongst the rock boulders is possible, as I know one or two anglers who specialise in it, but I much prefer using a sliding float method, as I can alter my depth, have more control and find the fish easier.

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The fluorescent orange tip of my float is just visible a couple of metres out from the side of a concrete breakwater seeking out gaps between the rocks

I use my trusty twelve foot AFAW lure and bait rod, as it is light to hold but has sufficient backbone to handle a decent fish. A robust fixed spool with a good drag is essential and I use a Penn Captiva 4000, loaded with 8 to 10lb bs. The float rig setup is easy, as they can be purchased as a kit from tackle shops and they come with everything you will need and a set of instructions. I always replace the hooks with my own preference, as the hooks that are supplied are often quite crude and heavy. I normally use a size 2 or 1 hook, but this very depends on the size of fish targeted and bait used. Most kits supply an elastic band as a float stop, but a stop knot made from monofilament or preferably power gum is much better. Essentially in a kit you get a suitable float, a bead, a swivel, an elastic float stop, the correct bullet or ball weight designed to cock the float and a hook. I tend to use ragworm for bait, as it is easily obtainable and fish two worms making sure that a significant amount of tail is left wriggling attractively, as we are relying not so much on the fishes sense of smell, but rather on sight. Baits such as live prawn and sand eel are superb natural lures for bass if they can be obtained. A stiff extendible landing net handle is required and mine came as a subscription gift from the Match Angling Magazine and was designed for commercial carp fishery angling. A decent sized net is also a requirement. On piers and other man made structures, a dropnet may be more suitable.

Where are the fish is the next question? And my observations seem to suggest to me that the fish patrol certain areas and from that it can be possible to deduce where they will be at a certain stage of the tide. The mark I was fishing more often than not produces bass at low water, yet approximately half a mile away along the seawall I normally contact the bass for a short period around half flood when bottom fishing. The fish seem to patrol an area moving north along the line of substantial debris remaining of an old smashed up concrete seawall. From that I can glean enough knowledge to have at least a better than random chance of contacting with a fish.

Other species of fish will appear from time to time such as one of the wrasse family, which although they tend to be small they are nevertheless a welcome sight.

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A very colourful male Corkwing Wrasse. The male fish are very bright in their coloration, but the female is more subdued

Most of the bass I connect with are in the size range 30 to 40 cm in length, but every so often a larger one shows. If you catch one of the smaller bass the likelihood is that you will bag several. The larger fish tend to be more solitary.

One for my son Thomas, from last summer.

So what happened this session….the result was one bite and a beautiful hard fighting bar of silver of 50cm in length, which was 8cm over the size limit and weighing somewhere in the region of three pounds. On the light tackle the bass gave a good account of its self, but on this occasion I messed up a bit by allowing it to get into the shelter of the boulders. With patience I managed to play it gradually out so that I could net it . Mission accomplished, with a bass caught before breakfast. The fish was neatly hooked in the corner of its mouth and the hook was easily removed without any fuss. I took a quick photograph and admired the natural wild beauty of the bass for few moments and returned the fish to its environment. I was back home at 07.55 and enjoying a cup of tea.

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A nice 50cm bass caught by me during a recent trip to my seawall last week. The fish was subsequently returned.

In this case the bite was positive and this tends to be the case on most occasions. Be prepared because the bass tend to go ballistic especially on light tackle, and this is an obviously a entirely different situation to dragging a fish through the surf in tow with a 175gram sinker. Bass tend to run in the opposite direction to any pressure, so that fish will tend to run into clear water, which allows you to play the fish out in clear water away from the rocks. Once the fish is played out it can then be eased gradually towards your preferred netting position. I mentioned about messing up and sometimes things don’t go according to plan, so it is crucial not to panic and rush things. The most important thing and I cannot stress this enough, is do not take any risks and jeopardise your own safety.

Now is the time to target these fantastic wild fish and I hope that you are successful. Tight lines!

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