Monday, 22 July 2013

Irish Bass Festival 2013

The Irish Bass Festival was set up by the lads at Absolute Fishing, James and Cian, last year. What started as an idea between the 2 of them in the shop snowballed into a roaring success and it was to be the first of its kind. Last year 120 anglers took part with a total of approximately 250 bass caught over the weekend. I was away travelling last year and so missed it but this year I couldn't wait for it and anticipation levels were going through the roof!
I met up with Paddy on Thursday and we spent the day looking around some marks before the festival begun on Friday. We fished 1 mark on the rising tide and although it usually fishes best on the drop we caught a couple of small schoolies which helped us get our bass fishing minds into gear.

Delighted with the results of our efforts we took it easy that evening as we were going to need all of our energy for the weekend ahead. We made a trip to the shop to stock up on some "festival winning" lures, created a plan of attack for Friday and set the alarms so we would be down to the shop and registered by 5 in the morning. 
Done and dusted with registering Paddy, James' friend Kenny and I made for a mark which had been kind to us before. Arriving on the mark conditions were much flatter and calmer than they had been the day previous, which was to be the theme for the weekend. Still we remained confident as the sun was just starting to rise and we knew these first few hours would be the most important of the day. Starting off on hard lures I got the ball rolling with a fish of 52cm's which hit the lure first before doing the decent thing and hooking itself. It's important that if you feel a fish hit the lure don't continue winding, instead stop the lure dead. This makes the prey look injured to the bass. Sure enough after stopping the lure for a moment, one turn of the reel and the fish was on. 

It was a great feeling, and a relief, to have the first fish under the belt. The aim of fishing this festival for us was to just enjoy our fishing and to hopefully get a fish or 2. Having sport so early was a bonus! As you can see above each fish is measured, photographed with your own individual I.D. and returned to the water.
Another 2 hours passed by with no hint of action for the 3 of us. Moving around the rocks trying to locate fish, everything was quite until we noticed disturbance to our right. All of a sudden the water was erupting with bass going crazy and bait fish flying everywhere! What an amazing sight!! I've heard of it seen plenty times by fisherman but I have not been bass fishing for very long and this was a first for me. No hanging about, the 3 of us set off on a sprint! Kenny was there first and on approaching saw 2 bass at his feet. 1st cast bang and Kenny was into his first fish of the weekend. The buzz about the place was now surreal! I was next up with a fish and this was on a surface lure, my first fish on off the top. Twice the fish came for it and as I mentioned above each time I stopped the lure. Luckily third time it engulfed the lure and the fight commenced. This was a good fish, certainly no schoolie and eventually, after a few heart stopping moments, I had my prize on the rocks. This was the biggest bass I had ever caught to date, talk about good timing! She measured 69cm on the ruler and brought Kenny's scales down to 6lb 12oz. 

Ecstatic was an understatement, it was probably the most exciting fish I ever caught, visual wise at least as by using the surface lure you get to see everything unfold in front of you. Paddy was beside me as we watched it take the lure, the air blue as we willed the fish on! Without further a do the fish went back. As soon as it went back Kenny was in again with another fish and then Paddy, after losing 3 fish one after the other, managed to register his 1st of the day. And then that was that! The frenzy switched off as soon as it switched on, the 20 frantic minutes had passed but we were very happy with our results. We fished on for a couple of hours more but at this stage we were hitting low tide and the sun was really beating down on us now. The best thing for us was to head back to the shop, get some rest and head out again for a night session. 
Kenny had to leave that evening and so myself and Paddy hit the rocks with another one of the lads, Ross. This was my first time night fishing for bass and I had been looking forward to it for a long time as I had heard how lethal it can be. Having the experience of sea trout fishing at night time helped me but unfortunately we drew a blank. An empty car park on the way back showed we probably weren't the only ones. Still we did manage to register a beast of a different kind on the way home!! Wave worm, slow retrieve did the trick!! ;)

With a couple of hours sleep myself and Paddy were out on the rocks again before day break, same mark that had been treating us so kindly. Its funny how fortunes change with hooking and losing fish as the pair of us switched roles! Paddy got the ball rolling with a 55cm bass and a while later beached a lunker which he needed help with; another 65cm plus lump of silver. What a fish this was too, coming to a shallow diving lure and a steady retrieve. I went on to lose 2 in quick succession, one which felt really good, and eventually I had one that stuck.

At this stage the sun was up again and it was Paddy's turn to leave, very happy with his results! We now had 3 fish each and were able to enter the best 3 fish section of the competition. I fished on for the remainder of the day with Ross and a couple of more lads at various marks, a few hours either side of high tide, but we didn't see as much as 1 fish. Talking to other lads the fishing was tough going, only results coming at night and first light. 
Evening approaching Kenny made it back and the plan for the final day was to hit the only mark working for us at 3 in the morning. Quick couple of hours kip and out to the rocks for one last throw of the dice. With confidence high we were expecting a nice bit of action, especially since we were fishing in the dark, but we didn't meet a single fish in 8 hours fishing. Everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at them and although plenty of baitfish were in evidence the bass had eluded us for the final day. But sure how bad, we had had great sport the previous 2 days and we felt even luckier to be in the right place at the right time when the frenzy of the first day had occurred. 
A great crowd turned out  for the evening prize giving. In a world of my own (as I was still hanging with the fatigue), I heard my name being called, as I had just picked up 3rd prize for 3rd biggest fish!! I was over the moon and received a great prize including new lures, costa del mar sunglasses, tshirts and a hoody. What a way to finish off an awesome weekend! 
Overall, 117 anglers participated with about 200 fish caught, although I don't know the final figure yet. Below is a photo of the 2 lures that did the damage.

The top lure is the IMA Salt Skimmer in the Bora colour and the bottom one is the IMA Komomo SF-125 in the Sardine Red Belly colour. The SF-125 really was on fire for the weekend and it took most of our fish. It was my first time catching on it as the shallow diving lure which had done most of the damage previously was the Tacklehouse Feedshallow. Here is a link to the Bora colour of the SF-125 that caught me a couple of fish the day before the festival also. 
Bring on the Irish Bass Festival 2014!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Summer Grilse and Bass

Well haven't updated this in ages as moved house recently and we didn't have broadband for a while but all is sorted now. To go with the lack of broadband I did also have a lack of fish which I have now thankfully put right! For the last month and a half I have stuck to the Bandon river and over that time the runs are slowly getting stronger. Low water dominated the end of May and start of June making fishing difficult. I hooked and lost one salmon on the last day of May on the fly that shook the hook after vigorous head shaking  and I lost a belter of a sea trout that came unstuck after 5 or so minutes of electric runs and jumping. Moving on from these 2 fish the river then experienced 3 rises in water in quick succession. During this period the bad luck continued and I lost a further 7 salmon, 4 on fly and 3 spinning. 2 of the fish on the fly I was into for over 10 minutes and they still managed to shake the hook, be it a Salar or Ken Sawada double. One mistake I did make was, after losing a fly, attaching a treble to my conehead that wasn't fit for the high water. These are the Partridge X3BL that I use for my swing tubes and now sea trout fishing. They weren't up to the challenge and the fish I hooked bent 2 out of the 3 hooks. A couple of these hooks have also broken off rocks before so now I am sticking to the Partridge BMD Big Mouth Double hooks for high water fly fishing with tubes which look the job.
Getting over that the last 2 days of the month came good and I landed 2 fresh grilse over a weekend and another one at the start of July. I retained 2 fish and left the other go to continue its journey.

The above fish were 3 and 3.5lbs respectively. As you can see they are well made fish, solid and bulky. No need for the big spinning rod in this water, I had great fun on my bass lure rod, the Graphiteleader Argento RV. Fishing in the middle of the afternoon with the sun beaming down still didn't stop these fish from taking, just stepping down the gear and the size of flying c to a size 2 did the business. One fish I caught on worm was great fun as I could see all the action of the take unfold in front of me. Casting out a bait of 3 worms the grilse kept on coming over and nudging the worms. Once the fish even took it in its mouth and spat it back out! Holding the nerve and not striking when I felt these very short runs, I decided to take the worms off and put on one small worm. 1st cast over the fish and whack the fish took the worm, very exhilarating fishing when you have such clear water and it proves again you don't need to be wasting your worms by putting 3 and 4 on together all the time!

On the bass front, I have only been out once to a west cork mark that has produced in the past. This time it didn't fail to produce either. The 1st hour of the push was tough going with all the suspended weed, 1 in 10 casts coming back with a clean lure. Even the weedless weightless soft plastic were picking it up. But perseverance paid off in the end and I managed to pick up this fish around the 3lb mark.

To end this blog, on the Bandon a couple of weeks ago I witnessed a huge migration of elvers (juvenile eels) heading up river. These haven't been seen in years and it was great to be lucky enough to see it. Looking closely, right at the edge of the bank, you could see them swimming up in their hundreds and a friend of mine, a good few miles up river, was watching them at the same time, which gives a picture of the sheer volume of elvers going up that day.

Next blog I will put up a report from the Irish Bass Festival, a savage weekend all round.