Ryan Dabbs Guest

The humble bass addiction

As I stated in my first blog I’m relatively new to lure fishing and lure fishing for Bass was something that i had never even thought of.
It all started around this time last year after meeting a rather good local lure angler. In the lure world he is pretty well known and has even fished for England.
Wayne Fletcher has become a very close friend and I have a lot to thank him for (if he reads this i will say I didn’t write it) I can talk all day about how he has shown me tips and tricks to target the dozens of species I’ve now caught on lures, but this is about Bass.
Going back to the first ever session for the humble bar of silver, we arrived at a very nice and secluded section of our local estuary. We had a plan to target them on the surface so I acquired an array of top water lures ready for the session, what I didn’t have was a rod that could actually impart the action needed for such lures, it was too “soft” well I didn’t think much of this and had to use what I had.
Now many don’t like to talk about blanks but that’s a huge part of our fishing I believe, its also a great way to learn.
Well I blanked that session and the following two! The rod was way to soft and wasn’t setting the hooks properly. I also learned not to strike, a huge learning point that I now tell anyone who comes out with me, let the bass and rod to the hard bit you just keep that lure working!
That 4th session when I swapped rods was one to remember, we hit the water straight after work on the flood (incoming tide) the weather was clear skies and a lovely 23° with a 4mph westerly. We watched the bass coming in from the distance and after 20 minutes Wayne had landed 1. Next cast he had another and then so did I, we were hitting small schools every 15-20 minutes and each time landing 4-6 fish we only stayed there for about 3 hours as my girlfriend was rather hungry and as we know us men don’t want to have to deal with a Hangry missus! We ended up with 31 bass between us and I couldn’t wait for the next session.

Fast forward to last month and I had asked my neighbour if he wanted to come bass fishing, he is a carp angler as probably many of you reading this are but and angler none the less we donned our waders I set him up a rod and off we went well 1st cast for Lewis and he only went and bagged 1 a lovely schoolie. To say he was hooked from that first fish would be an understatement as he then had 2 more fish that evening and was grinning ear to ear. I had a text from him the following day “any chance we can go again tonight mate?” of course I obliged and that week we went 4 times and landed over 30 bass between us. Not bad going when the sessions were only just over an hour each due to the tide. Lewis has now got his own set up and still comes with me at any opportunity!

July 23rd after a brief meeting with a like minded angler Darren we were planning a perch fishing trip on the river. The day before we were due to go the weather had changed and we had the first day of the heat wave, knowing the perch would be shy biting I asked if he fancied giving bass fishing a go, he had never caught one and didn’t realise they were readily availble on his door step. We had wicked conditions that evening not getting to the water until just after 5pm, the wind was slightly up on what the weather man had predicted but it was blowing the right direction so we had a nice wind with tide scenario where the water is almost like a mill pool and a slight overcast sky it looked great. The bass were deffiently biting but if we could call them bass I’m not sure, we had fish just bigger than our lures being super aggressive and trying to eat them, luckily the single hooks were sharp and we had half a dozen fish up to around 30cm within the first hour.
The wind had started to pick up as the low pressure front crept in and with that the bigger ones came onto feed. Darren landed his 3rd pb a healthy fish around 34cm and I had 2 of similar size.
Then Darren had a take that had me reaching for the net, an explosive hit that pulled drag as it turned and went with the tide, although we are using stiffer rods there still fairly light with mine being a 10-30g and Darren’s a 7-20g, the rod was bent the braid singing in the ever increasing gusts and as it surfaced Darren’s face lit up, to many all out bass anglers this is a schoolie but for where we are fishing its a really nice fish and at just over 40cm an absolute cracker! It was a stunner dark olive green back petering down to an almost golden flank and a snow white belly what a fish, just like Lewis Darren now enjoys joining me for a session and today (August 7th) he is picking up his new bass rod!

Just 3 days after I took Darren out for his first encounter with the bass I had some friends coming down who also fancied their chances with the bars of silver that surround the Essex coast. Rob and Sam.
Now these gents know there way around a lure rod fishing the Thames and surround London rivers for all manor of species, this session was actually me repaying the favour as they had taken me on a wild brown trout hunt in their urban environment!
We had a whole day planned with the first high tide at 05:30 we planned to fish the ebb down to low and then change marks to fish it safer on the flood. They arrived at 5:30 and by 5:45 we were down at the mark, there were mullet everywhere and the odd bass creeping through the weed too. We all opted to start with surface lures but after 20 minutes we were all routeing around for a different lure to try. I now don’t take more than a handful of lures I’m the worst for chopping and changing and not sticking to a lure long enough. Sam’s zara spook was deployed and as we watched the sun rise over the marshes we saw the awesome sight of the bow wave coming from right to left which then sunk down just before Sam’s lure and then erupt as the fish came half out the water shaking its head. A hairy battle ensued as it darted for every bit of weed it could find but finally Rob had it in the net, what a start to the day! The fish was another cracker around the 40cm mark.

The fishing went a bit stale after that fish and as we followed the tide out I noticed something that got my heart racing and my little legs pumping even faster through the waist high water.
At this point I would like to say I know this mark very well and wouldn’t recommend doing this if you don’t know the hazards that are out there where you’re fishing! I wouldn’t fish this mark on an incoming tide as I feel the risk of injury or worse is increased tenfold.
But back to my excitement. We had Gulls diving! This is something I’ve only seen when out on the boat and never this close to the shore line. All 3 of us were wading as fast as we could trying to get as close as possible, we could see from about 200m away the fry leaping out the water followed by big bars of silver! We knew we had to get to them! The closer we got the further out to safety they drifted, we reach a point where there were still a few birds working and we peppered our lures along there, nothing for 4 casts, lure change (I’m terrible for this) first cast with the illex water monitor and I was in, the fish felt really good but with the speed at which the tide was retrieving it was hard to tell. It surfaced and I was elated, a fish pushing 50cm was a brilliant bass for the area I now wanted Rob and Sam to get in on the action, I held the fish in the net to recover hoping one of them would snare another for some brilliant photos after a few more casts from them, nothing! I pinned the net between my legs and flicked my lure back out I had just put the bail arm over and started to turn the handle when the rod tip arched right round, I was in again! 2 casts with the illex and 2 fish, this second fish was bigger too just over the 50cm mark I had a brilliant brace shot thanks to Rob and we carried on until low tide!

We had fished around 4 hours and between us we had managed 11 bass what a start.

We went back to mine where we had breakfast waiting thanks to my girlfriend.

We hit the road and drove the 20 minutes to the parking area, unfortunately we stayed and chatted for to long over breakfast and missed the point of tide I was aiming for, but that didn’t matter after a fruitless hour and the wind picking right up to almost 25mph we decided we would explore further along the coast, presenting surface lures was now impossible and we had changed over to shads and metals to allow us to punch through the wind and still give us a chance of a few more fish, well we fished hard for the next 5 hours and although we all landed a few more they were alot smaller but still good fun. I had now found a potential new mark that needed some more exploring and the twins were more than happy with their efforts for the day! We finished on 17 bass with loads of new skills and alot of laughs. I will end on the equipment used but please remember this is more of a guide, if your local shore line is littered with rocks and snags step it up a bit, I also enjoy fishing light. I have a 7ft 10-30g which covers me for most lures and a slightly heavier and longer one for fishing metals and bigger shads. The 10-30 is my go to for surface fishing I use lures between 90-120mm mainly heddon spooks, illex water monitors and the gunki megalon. Braided mainline is a must as it cuts through the wind and pick up off the water much easier than mono. I have 2 sizes, still heavy ish but I use 16lb on my lighter rod and 20lb on the heavier. Fluro carbon leader this is what changes the most depending on where I’m fishing. I carry 3 spools with me 10lb 14lb and 16lb each have their uses in different situations. Most of the time I find the 14lb my go too I would rather have a slightly heavier leader just incase I do get snagged or rub against a rock, it could be that slightly thicker line that means you land that fish! Reel wise you’re looking for something around the 2500-3000 size for beginners I can highly recommend the daiwa ninja in 2500 it’s what’s on my surface rod. Then after that it’s all down to how much you want to spend.

If anyone has any questions please feel free to drop me a message on any of my social media’s, I may not be a pro but I will help where I can.

Tight line and wet nets

Ryan Dabbs

My life of angling

Fishing for me started almost 27 years ago, at the ripe age of 3 when I am pictured with my Grandad float fishing on the River Lea.
Since then I’ve targeted hundreds of species from all over the world.
I would say the passion really took hold when I was around 10 and I found myself constantly asking my parents to take me to the local rivers and lakes. I was happy catching anything perch on float fished worms, carp on luncheon meat (isn’t that an under used bait now days) tench on the ever faithful sweet corn you name it I pretty much fished for it (fresh water wise)
I had moved to Suffolk at this point and attended a school in Bury St Edmunds where I met my first fishing partner in crime.
We fished almost every weekend predominantly targeting carp, but didn’t care what picked the baits up.
I had grown to love carp fishing and I would say I was a carp angler from the tender age of 14 up until I was 25/26
But in my early 20s I travelled to Australia this is where I got my first real taste of lure fishing.
I met my Girlfriend out there and we would fish the Murray River still targeting the carp but the fish that really peaked my interest was the Murray cod. It took me almost 6 months to actually catch one, casting 12″ lures and having 3 to 4lb carp hit them got rather frustrating. I got there in the end with a fish around 35lb I couldn’t belive it.

There is a varient of our perch out there and there larger cousins the yellow belly that were also great fun using lip less cranks and halco poppers!
The year we came back from Australia we attended The Big One show at Farnborough where we saw a really cool stand Amazon Angler. The two gents there were Gareth Purnell and Steve Townson we got chatting and I said my number 1 bucket list fish was an Arapaima. It took all of 5 seconds to pay our deposits as Steve showed me some of the wild ones they had caught from the Amazon and its Tributaries.
The following year we were on our plane and heading to Guyana. To say the trip was a success would be an understatement, I landed my target a stunning fish around the 175lb mark with loads of back up species and my Girlfriend landed pretty much everything else, ending up as top rod on the trip.

That winter I turned to pike fishing, not with baits but lures only, and big lures at that!
We found a honey hole near to where we lived that was stacked with good sized Jack’s and pike to around 18lb this was the perfect place to get my confidence up with handling and techniques.
We are probably around 2017 at this point and we had just moved to Essex. Not knowing the area we joined a club and as it was spring carp and tench took hold once again, that was until October! The pike were feeding I was eager to beat my pb (14lb) and the lake we were on had rumours of a 20! Well I never did land a 20 but did have a very ill looking 16lb 4oz new pb pike which I came to the conclusion was the big girl but on her last legs. For my birthday that December my girlfriend had brought me the ultimate gift a St croix bait casting rod and an okuma citrix reel! That was it pike were my new favourite and that’s all I wanted to catch…..
Fast forward to February 18th 2019 and I had the wonderful idea of entering my first ever predator match on a local river that I hasn’t really fished but though I have to start somewhere!
Well I blanked for the entire match and was just near the final meeting point and gave it a few last casts with an over gunned perch outfit 2 casts later I was looking at a 2lb 6oz Sargent a new lure caught pb.

The Perch was now my New Favourite species…..
I went back just after a week from that competition and fished that same swim, and at just after 5am I rudely awoke my girlfriend to ask (tell) her I needed her to come to the river and photo a fish for me.
At 45cm and 3lb 10oz this perch was like no other fish I had seen, people say they are the best big fish and my god are they right!

The pike took a back seat as I found myself entangled in the new world of bfs/ul fishing for perch. Later that year there was another predator comp I landed the biggest perch again at 42cm and 2lb 4oz and a lovely 82cm pike which secured me 2nd place! Not bad for less than a year targeting the species.
The love for perch is still as strong as ever but December just gone I got absolutely blown away with the best birthday present I will ever receive, again my amazing girlfriend had pulled it out the bag!
A 2 week trip to Brazil but with 3 days Marlin fishing. I don’t know what I expected but told the skipper Shawn Wallace I would be happy with a 200lber he laughed…… They wouldn’t even call it a marlin its a rat!
I won’t drag this on much longer as I could write half a book on this trip but we had our first Marlin to the boat Catherine my girlfriend was the capture and the fish weighed 800lb then I had a 750lb fish along with a Dorado and a sail fish (day 1)
The next day we set out and cat had a 80lb white marlin a few bonito on my medium pike set up and then I had it, the Holy grail of Marlin fishing a 1000lb+ blue we couldn’t believe it but it didn’t stop there i had an 850lb that day too.
The final day afloat, in all his years being a skipper Shawn has never had this whilst fishing me and cat consecutively landed 2 1000lb+ blues I still get excited thinking about it and find myself rewatching the footage and staring at the pictures all the time!

This brings us nicely the the roller coaster of 2020. The year had started well with a social at farlows where I landed a 29lb carp, then the filling week I was on my synidacte and landed another 29lber, hit the river once again for perch and pike to land 2 15lb pike whilst after the perch 6 2lb perch and another 3lb 10oz monster. (I’ve just realised I have missed out my actual perch pb of 4lb 1oz from the reservoir but my ramblings are endless)
As I am writing this all those fish are at the back of my head as at the minute for me it’s all about Bass fishing.
This was meant to be just an intro and I hope it comes across OK to you guys and girls reading it and when I next get a spare hour will put the rods away and talk bass fishing
Tight lines and wet net