Yep, there’s many paths you can take with bass fishing that echo the many traits in it’s behavior, the last few years I’ve put some time into sight fishing for them in the upper reaches of estuary systems where a decent population of bass reside during a certain period as they actively, & aggressively seek out a big food resource in the shore crab through May/June, catches were small, disappointing at first, but I’d seen some big bass, and I’m a determined fellow you know….. Watching is learning, & learning is always better than just catching, & learn I did, I logged every encounter, tide, weather, time, fish activity, etc, & a pattern emerged that you wouldn’t normally associate with bass fishing, I got the best results on the smallest tides, in bright sunshine around midday, & best of all with a crab lure. But it all made perfect sense to me, firstly smaller tides meant less crab would be available to the bass, plus they would gorge on the biggest tide, & probably take a few days to digest before it needed to hunt crab again as I had seen many bass just lazing in the weed showing absolutely no interest in any lure just after the biggest tides on that cycle, secondly bright sunshine would mean the fish won’t see you as good as it would on a dull, overcast day, a big advantage, thirdly the crab lure was an obvious choice as that’s what they were looking for, though it took some fine tuning to balance it correctly for a killer presentation…… A typical session played out last Friday, slack tide, bright sun, around midday. I noted all the mullet cruising in the sunshine on the last of the ebb as I made my way to where I would start from, a spot that had been good to me in the past, as I climbed down the bank to starting walking the low water mark half a dozen mullet lazed with their backs barely out of the murky water, clarity wasn’t too bad I could see about 18″ into the very still, long, 3ft deep pool, I rigged up the crab on a sturdy 3/0 hook, flicked it out to make sure it was balanced correctly, it slowly sank into the motionless, still, murk, a quick twitch, & it rose into view with its legs moving in unison looking very forlorn, & helpless, perfect, the trap was baited.
The whistling, wheezing calls of Buzzards caught my attention for a minute as I tried to spot them high above, mullet started to leap around indicated the start of the flooding tide, a dark shape only 4 yards to my left caught my eye I froze as a lone wolf well in excess of 70cm made its way along the margin with sharp, purposeful movement, “a hunter” I thought to myself, game on, I dared not even blink as I waited for it to pass me by………It had gone 5 yards past me before an under arm cast landed the crab 10 yards ahead of it, I paused for a second to make sure it was going to continue its path along the margin before drawing the crab into its view, I drew the crab closer to it slowly before giving it a twitch to make it rise up into its view, the fish veered out to close the 3 yard gap in a split second as all its front fins stuck out as it braked, gills flared, when it stopped dead, diving slightly revealing its white underside as it inhaled the crab OTD, I tightened up quickly lifting the rod as it buckled over, the fish held its ground as it violently shook its head, & flared its gills to rid itself of the crab, then it started to run, & dart from side to side throwing up plumes of mud, as it dashed around taking line which I didn’t as it wouldn’t get far in the low water, after a few minutes it began to tire but continued to shake its head, I steered it away from an old tree bow that was half in, half out of the water to slide the fish up onto a clump of Bladderwrack, placed my rod down to unhook it…
I gazed down its throat to find a very light hook hold which took less than 5 seconds to remove, a couple of quick pics, & it was back in the water.
As I held it upright in the water to recover I felt the tepid water temp I guessed at around 20c, 4c warmer than the estuary mouth the day before, ” Won’t be long now until its too warm up around here” I thought to myself, the fish regained some energy after a couple of minutes being held, it was eager to be on its way. It melted away into the murk to continue its safari around the upper reaches, right on the borders of the species range. I’m always happy with just one fish on these sessions, & always head home very contented, with a real sense of achievement that sight fishing gives you that I don’t get from any other form of fishing, it brings out the hunting instinct in you for sure…. Anyways, the Horseflies started to home in on me, & the heat was starting to penetrate my wellies as I made my way back home I seen Hooded Crows, & Herring gulls tossing around bunches of Bladderwrack looking for crab on the killing fields as the tide flooded, they were also well tuned into the banquet that occurs throughout May/June in the upper reaches. Now I ain’t saying the future of bass lures has legs, but its my first choice for close up eye to eye combat when I walk this way with my rod.