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General

Game

Coarse

Sea

Coverstory

Tackle

Rookie Bass Angler

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Bumping Plastics for Bass As the season pushes on, Steven Neely continues his search for bass on the south coast. This month he explores the use of soft plastics in our estuaries and back bays.

O

n a recent bass trip I found myself standing up to my waist in water, surrounded by a few friends and waiting for that unmissable smash of a bass when it dawned on me – despite its renowned open coast fishing, Ireland offers some of the best estuary and bay fishing in Europe. These places are not only a last resort for when the weather kicks up, they are legitimate marks in their own right. Standard plugging methods will work, but a change in tactics may well produce that silver wolf that makes the season.

‘The Black Minnow has a seductive rolling action which the fish simply cannot resist.’

62 Irish Angler October 2013

Current and moving water There are a few key factors to take into consideration when fishing these estuaries and back bays. Bass love moving water. Not only do they use it to move around but it provides the ideal spot for foraging for food. Tide rips, channels and outflows all generate suitable movement in the water which the bass will take full advantage of. Once you have located moving water it’s time to analyse what

features are present on the bottom. Like all predatory fish, bass like structure. Boulders, weed, sand gullies and holes all become likely ambush spots for a hungry bass to lie in wait. Remember big bass are relatively lazy. They like an easy meal – using structure and current to their advantage. As with all types of saltwater fishing, the tide plays a pivotal role in where fish are and when they feed. Moon phases influence the tidal height variants and in turn have a large bearing on the strength of the current – with spring tides providing the strongest flow. Determining the strength and direction of the tide and current will enable you to select a lure suitable for the task. Lure choice Once you have found moving water the next task is selecting a lure which can be presented in a natural manner to the fish. Presentation is key in these scenarios. Before choosing a lure, think about what the bass may be feeding on. Maybe they are chasing shoals of sand

October 2013 Irish Angler 63


General

Game

Coarse

Sea

Coverstory

Tackle

it to start bumping down the current. Using short, sharp flicks of the wrist, twitch the rod tip up and towards you creating a hopping motion in the lure. Repeat this process throughout the drift. You will need to continue a steady, slow retrieve to maintain contact with the lure on the bottom.

‘Often the fish will hit as the lure drops back down the water column.’ Strong curren ts provide the hunting grou nd for a hung ideal ry bass

hopping

My preferred method however is ‘sink and draw’. This works epically well with paddle tail lures like the Fiiish Black Minnow. Again, cast up current and allow the lure to sink, picking up any slack in the line. Once the lure starts to bump the bottom, lift the rod up in one steady motion. This ‘draws’ the lure upwards off the bottom. Once the lure has reached its peak, follow it down with the rod tip, slowly reeling the slack as it falls – this is the ‘sink’. As the lure drops, the paddle tail will vibrate rapidly, appealing to the bass. Often the fish will smash the lure as it drops back down the water column. eels or perhaps hunting juvenile mullet? This will have an impact on both the profile and colour of your lure. Sand eel imitations will tend to be more slender in shape and can vary in size from 4-6 inches. Browns, olives and greens often work well with flashes of silver. Mullet or baitfish style lures will often have a paddle tail which works well in current. These lures usually have a two-tone effect with a dark back and a lighter under-belly. With your lure profile and colour chosen, it’s time to select a suitable weight and presentation. Moulded lead jig heads come in all shapes, sizes and styles. Try to opt for a rounder profile like a football or rugby ball shaped head – these bump nicely along the bottom. The weight of the lure needed will be determined by the strength of the current. Try using the lightest weight possible to give you a more natural presentation. Ideally you want enough weight to keep in contact with the bottom and still have the lure bump down the current. Too much weight will keep the lure static and kill the action. The stronger the current the heavier the weight required and vice-versa. You may need to change the weight throughout the session to take into account the ever-changing current. A 10-12g jig head is a good starting point.

J

ig heads come in two main forms: exposed/open point, whereby the hook will sit proud of the lure when mounted, and weedless, where the hook point will be flush with the lure or buried to reduce snagging. Weedless jig heads are advantageous when faced with weedy bottoms or suspended/floating debris in the water. The Fiiish Black Minnow – the ultimate soft lure for current? Since its release, the Fiiish Black Minnow has taken the lure scene by storm. Amongst bass anglers it has become one of the ‘must have’ lures in the tackle box. Ever since I started fishing with them last

64 Irish Angler October 2013

w a r d & k sin A prime conditioned September bass.

season, I have had immense success, especially in fast paced water, due to the paddle tail. There are several factors which attract me to this lure. Firstly it is weedless, allowing it to be fished over rougher ground with reduced chance of snagging. Secondly, the heads are interchangeable which means you can customize the lure to suit your needs. The articulated head is also a nice feature allowing for more movement in the lure. Perhaps its greatest appeal is the deadly rolling action it has in the water.Unlike other shads, the Black Minnow has a seductive rolling action which the fish simply can not resist. Although it comes in a range of sizes, I find the two I use most often for bass are the 5g/90mm and the 12g/120mm versions. Methods Now that you have found your spot, selected your lure and rigged it up, it is now time to cast out. In my opinion, the two most effective techniques are ‘hopping’ and ‘sink and draw’. ‘Hopping’ a lure is quite simple. Cast the lure out, allow it to sink and pick up the slack line until you make contact with the lure. Allow

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A 5lb bass with gold tinted gill plates.

Some bays and estuaries can seem vast and unmanageable but do not be put off – break them down into smaller areas and marks. Be methodical in your approach and start applying some of the principles outlined above. Sadly there is no substitute for putting in the hours and gaining experience. Every time I go out, I am constantly learning and discovering new tactics and approaches. Searching and exploring these estuaries and back bays will open up new fishing opportunities and who knows just what lurks in those channels and gullies. That double figure may just be lying in wait1

October 2013 Irish Angler 65

Bumping plastics for Bass  

Chasing Bass in estuaries and back bays - the use of plastics in current.

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