Tuesday, 22 November 2016

From Salmon to Bass

As winter begins to creep in on us with the ever increasing frequency of frosty mornings, now is a good time to reflect on the last month of the salmon season just past and the bass fishing which is still in full swing. Fishing on the Bandon was very good for the remainder of September, with water levels ensuring excellent angling conditions on many occasions. All summer, patchy rain led to small floods which lasted only a day or two but the final four weeks saw more consistently good fishing water. Many nice salmon were landed by anglers and it was great to see that most of these were returned to continue their upstream migration. The vast majority of fish caught were stale with only the odd fresh salmon encountered. This trend has established itself over the previous five years, where autumn runs of fresh, sea liced salmon have dwindled to a trickle. However, the river did witness a significant improvement in the number of spring salmon running this season, so hopefully this upturn will continue.

Iconic, rich autumnal colours line the riverside as trees begin to lose their leaves.

Spey casting on the Bandon. (© Ebor Benson @ www.eborbenson.com)

A nice fish taken on a single handed fly rod, slow sinking tip and small, sparsely tied Willie Gunn in low water.

Fly fishing provided the best sport for myself and most others in September. Using my switch rod or single hander, I enjoyed catching a few salmon to around seven pounds. All sport came to slow sink tip lines and as the final few days approached faster sink tips and short leaders worked better. As most salmon seemed to be stale and leaves were a bit of a nuisance at times, a nice few fish came to a small Willie Gunn tied by Denny Brennan on a single hook. Chucking lures elicited a few more takes from salmon, one of them being a nice fish between twelve and fifteen pounds. Alas, every fish shook the hook and sprinted for freedom. The DUO Realis Rozante  63SP accounted for all hook ups and my fingers are crossed that better water conditions coincide with runs of fresh salmon in the 2017 season, so I can get the best out of these lures.

A salmon with a belly as gold as my reel!!

Last day fish chilling out.

Bar one visit to the Argideen in October, all my attention has now turned to bass. It has to be said, October is probably the best month of the year for bass if the weather remains relatively settled. A convenient time for transition from salmon to bass fishing! Last year the southern coast line fished its socks off. Would 2016 be the same? It has to be said that bass fishing this autumn has also been spectacular for many whilst roaming the shoreline for Dicentrarchus  labrax.

James Barry with a pristine bass from the West Cork coastline.

Paddy Thompson holds aloft a fish in prime condition (© James Barry @ https://www.instagram.com/jbarry_fishing/).

Speaking to friends and reading reports, bass behaviour has been slightly different this year compared to last. Whilst night fishing last year accounted for the lion’s share of fish, this year has seen a shift to better day time sport. My own experience this year saw good night fishing in the first half of October but even then bass seemed to be a little tentative at times. Hard and soft plastics attracted fish for friends and I off rocks and beaches but sometimes they were a tad reluctant. Fishing Wave Worms off sandy beaches enticed some fish but there were many more nips and plucks than actual hook ups. Water temperatures remained unusually high, but maybe the lower air temperatures and the greater difference between the two put them off a little.

One of only a few bass taken at night time, a white Wave Worm proving to be the downfall of this fish. 

Many of the bass my friends and I have caught have been scale sampled for the National Bass Programme, established by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Moving into the end of the month and into November, day time fishing proved to be very productive! My best lures were the ever reliable IMA SF-125 and DUO Terrif. Both of these fished over very shallow ground accounted for plenty fish with the best session seeing seven fish come to hand in a short two hour excursion. Sport with these fish was exceptional as they are in absolute mint condition after feeding on the abundance of herring present. Even now, bass are still chasing lures as this weekend I had some more fish employing the same tactics- a slow, steady retrieve interspersed with pauses. As the water temperature is still around 12 degrees Celsius, there is no reason why we won’t see sport continuing for another while longer. 

A bass from icy waters last weekend.

The DUO Terrif was responsible for many bass landed along the southern coastline this autumn.

To end this blog, a further two issues of 'Off the Scale' has been released jam packed with brilliant articles on game, sea and coarse angling. A big well done to all the contributors and especially to the editor Bill Brazier. Every issue released is bigger and better than the one before and Bill's effort, skill and dedication to the publication is hugely evident to all. Check it out and enjoy!!

Issue 12 'Bass in the Bay' with Peter Aspinwall in Clonakilty.

Issue 13 'Trout on Lures'.

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