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David Porter Sea

Bass Fishing From The Shore In North Suffolk (part two)

The weather has been extremely frustrating with frontal systems sweeping in that seem to produce air temperatures more applicable to early Spring than mid May. Normally by this time we would expect that the summer visitors, such as the bass and smoothhound are well settled in our coastal waters. The signs are good with the fish showing in some areas, but they do not appear to be widespread on the East Coast at the time of writing.

I decided to chance my arm at one of my local marks for a crack at an early bass. It was to be an extremely speculative session lasting all of fifty minutes or so of actual fishing time. I had allowed myself forty minutes of travelling time, which was a bit optimistic with the Lowestoft Town Bridge a notorious traffic bottleneck to negotiate, but I managed it. The chosen venue was the Lowestoft South Beach, which is a shallow sandy beach bordered by a concrete promenade that stretches into the distance towards Pakefield. There is ample parking along the main road route. I would be fishing two hours from high water.

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Lowestoft South Beach as it stretches South towards Pakefield.

The weather during that early morning session broke the mould as it was windless and warm as the Sun’s rays broke through a thin veil of cloud. The previous day had been cold with gusty winds blowing from the North turning the sea into a churning vindictive maelstrom.

The tackle requirements were simple and I could travel a light, with a rod and all of my other tackle and equipment contained within a bag hung from my shoulder.

I chose to use my Anyfish Anywhere 12 foot lure and bait rod which will cast up to 90 grams and my small Akios 555SCM multiplier loaded with ten pounds monofilament line and a twenty pound casting leader. For a rig I used a single hook running paternoster with a two ounce Breakaway Flattie pattern lead and at the business end I tied a size 1 Mustad offset Aberdeen match hook. Bait was lively ragworm purchased three days earlier at the Gorleston Tackle Centre.

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The moment had arrived for my first cast to catch a bass in 2021, and I lobbed the bait out thirty metres into the flat calm sea. The fish are often in the calmer water behind the rollers or they congregate in the vicinity of a feature, such as a gulley, depression in the sand, a patch of stones or a breakwater; all of which hold food. This being the case it is good practice to observe the beach at low water regularly, but be aware that storms can alter the topography of the fishing mark. When I fish using a light hand held rod I stand parallel to the surf line so that the line is at ninety degrees to my rodtip.

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My stance with the rod parallel to the surf line. This photograph was taken on a much colder day in more like early Spring conditions with an onshore wind.

I did not have to wait long for my first take as the tip of the rod violently wrapped around, similar to the take of carp in a commercial fishery. A sharp strike and I was into my first bass of the year. It swirled on top of the water and made for the sanctuary of a nearby breakwater. After a delightful couple of minutes of furious swimming and thrashing on the surface I guided the fish onto the shore. It was small and plump, but measuring in at 40cm it was a very satisfactory result. A good point to make here is that this fish taken on a standard surfcasting rod would not have provided such enjoyment, as the fish would have been overpowered and not allowed to show it’s true mettle. Twenty minutes later I landed a second bass of a similar size and this fish was trapped because of its own curiosity. I always try to overcast when fishing light and gradually retrieve the end tackle by recovering a small amount of line every so often, and this is done not so much as to give movement to the bait, but to disturb the bottom raising a column of suspended sand near my bait. The idea is that the curious fish will investigate the disturbance. This tactic dictates my choice of the Breakaway Flattie lead as it is designed to achieve this effect.

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A great looking bass in perfect condition.

After landing the second fish it was time to pack up, but it was a case of mission accomplished so I was quite pleased how things had worked out. The fish were in residence and I had caught a couple which had been returned to the sea, so roll on the next session.

The next session turned out to be four days later and again it was to be a short session of about two hours actual fishing time at the South Beach. This time the conditions were totally different and the weather had reverted back to its changeable pattern, and the wind was fresh and blowing from the South East. The sky was grey and overcast and that was no visible sign of the Sun’s warming rays. The sea state was choppy and surf was rolling in, hopefully providing perfect conditions for a bass hunt. I was fishing the middle part of the flooding tide. The tactics were exactly the same as during the previous session, but this time I choose to use a two hook paternoster with shorter snoods because I expected fish to feed freely in the prevailing conditions. I was quickly into fish taking one of 35cm the first cast on a cast of about twenty five metres. A short while later I hooked and landed a slightly larger fish of 40cm.

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I started to get a number of bites which were distinctly different to the violent wrap around takes of the bass and these comprised of the lifting and settling of the lead usually following the retrieval of a small amount of line when displacing the lead. I ignored a couple of the bites expecting a bass to grab and swim quickly off with the bait, but nothing happened. I finally struck at one of the bites as the line slackened and was instantly into a fish which was not so dramatic nor vigorous in its attempts to escape.

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The answer to the puzzle was a plump flounder in superb condition and this first one was followed by two more, with all of them falling to the slowly retrieved bait technique.

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A fine conditioned flounder that has spawned in deep water during the early Spring and is now packing on weight before returning to the East Coast estuaries.

I was very pleased to see a flounder or two as I rarely catch them during my sessions on the open beach targeting the larger species. I have had good bags of flounders from this beach before during the late Spring and early Summer period but not recently.

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I look extremely well wrapped up against the wind and for good reason as the fresh onshore breeze was chilling. Still with the fish feeding well the uncomfortable conditions were not such a problem.

I topped the session off with a fine plump bass that measured 49cm and probably weighing somewhere in the region of three pounds. The bass hit the bait hard and went ballistic when hooked, by first swimming quickly through the water one way and then running in the opposite direction as I played it and applied pressure. The rod took on a dramatic bend as the fish tried to escape taking a bit of line against the drag. Gliding it in with a wave was an exciting moment, as it thrashed about on top of the water before finally submitting to pressure. I carefully lifted the fish by hand and held it while admiring its beautiful silver profile…what a great looking fish! After a quick photograph the fish was carefully returned to the water, and after a few seconds of recovery it flicked its substantial tail and headed back out to sea. All the fish I caught were carefully returned to the sea.

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The best of four bass caught from the Lowestoft South Beach.

I finished the session with the smallest bass of the day, and my two hours of angling bliss had ended, as it was time to head for home as promised. This light tackle fishing for bass is addictive and most coarse anglers who fish for tench and carp will have appropriate rods and reels amongst their kit, so it’s a great opportunity to try something different. For me, it won’t be too long before the sound and smell of the sea and the dreams of the silver bass tempt me to fish again; perhaps tomorrow?

Next week my fellow blogger Alan Stevens, will entertain you with his recent sea angling adventures from the shore in South Suffolk, and it is sure to be a great read.

Categories
Tom Baird

The Dream

Afternoon all, I hope you are all safe and well on the bank. As anglers we all have that one dream fishing experience, well most of us have a couple. Whether it be fishing for giant Carp in sunny France or a huge Red tail in Thailand. The enjoyment and excitement of actually doing it can be life changing.

I would like to share with you some of my fishing dream which I will be doing this year and in the future. But whatever your dream is make sure you get the most out of it and don’t let it stress you out getting there.

So, up first is my ultimate fishing experience to fish for Sturgeon on the Fraser River in Canada. Now these beauties can go up to 200lbs and more. Staying in a top hotel and fishing for around 7 days (9 days including travel). With wonderful settings and surroundings, what a way to unwind with a friend or family member. Now I have been planning this trip for a few years now (over 10 lol) and have been looking and talking to anglers who have been. I have found an operator who looks good and the reviews are amazing. It is also for a reasonable amount at around £2,500. Cascade Fishing Adventures which are online have all you need to know about your trip. https://www.sportquestholidays.com/fishing-region/north-america/canada/

Up second is deep sea fishing in Sørøya northern Norway for Giant Cod and Wolf fish. The main season for catching enormous Cod is March and April. This is when the massive shoals of Cod travel from the Barents Sea to the spawning grounds located around the north of Norway. After fishing from the boat. I would then hit the shore line for Wolf fish which hide in the rocks waiting for prey.

Finally, but by all means not last is my own trip I am doing here in the UK for a birthday treat with my Dad. After watching Mortimer & Whitehouse Gone fishing on BBC 2, it gave me an idea to travel around the UK to different spots targeting different species from Grayling to Trout. From Scotland to Cornwall, we will travel the country in a camper van and hit some amazing spots.   

Categories
Tom Baird

The Beach was Calling

Evening all. Now we are coming to the middle of lockdown, I thought it was about time to dust off the beach casters. Off I went down to the local beach. Now I am quite lucky I live in a coastal town and have this facility on my doorstep.

The hightide was at 09:30 this morning, so I was ready to go. I went for a pully rig today, which was already made up. It was windy and the waves were crashing, so chose a breakaway weight. This then digs into the sand and helps my bait stay where I cast it.

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My bait for today was Rag, lug worm and squid (Bait was from Colchester Bait & Tackle and Clacton Angling). Once fishing I sat back and soaked in the amazing sunshine. Even though it was windy, the sun was out in all its glory. There were quite a few sea anglers out today, which is always great to see. But you do think that they might strike into a shoal and not you lol.

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First on the line was the beloved Bass, what an amazing fish. That amazing silver shimmering in the sun and the fins on display. Hook out and admiring over, back it went. Then another Bass came in, this one was smaller but still put up a fight.

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Then came the Whiting; 6 in total. I love their little teeth and how soft they are to hold. Reminds me of holding a Tench. Nothing big, but great to have two species already. Then I had a fish I had never caught before. It was a nice little Pouting. At first, I thought it was a Codling which I haven’t caught in years. But was happy that I had ticked off a Pouting on my list.

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Sea fishing has changed over the years. With different habitats these days you are more likely to catch a variety of species. Some say we have lost fish like Cod etc. Have they just moved on to colder waters or are they really in decline? Some blame the wind farms and some say they act as an artificial habitat, which attract fish like Bass etc. The amazing Tope, which was once in abundance around the East Coast is now hardly seen. But we do get Thorny backs, Dogs and Smooth Hounds. Let’s hope we see these amazing creatures return to our area and that sustainable fishing helps in some way.

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In total we had 10 fish, which isn’t that bad really. It was better than blanking and 3 different species was good. Hope you are all staying safe out there and might see you on the bank.

Tight Lines…….