So you have got the bass fishing bug and you want to catch your first Bass. You have got your new rod & reel loaded with braid along with your 36 shinny new lures. So you hit the beach, work the new kit, but day after day your having no luck. The days turn into weeks and still no bass, and slowly but surely your loosing that special spark to catch and land your first Bass. A month passes by and still no catch, the rod makes it way to the garage and gets put on the shelf, as the last glimmers of your hopium fizzle off into the summer eve sky, you resign yourself to the standard bait fishing once again thinking that “this whole bass thing” must be a scam and that you have not be born with the skill nor ability to bring a bass to the net.
Does this sound familiar ? Have you began the epic chase of the most mystical fish in Welsh waters, but yet the gauntlet has got the better of you? Then just pause right there. We need to sit down and talk.. to straighten some things out and give you the metal boost and confidence that you will require, to fulfil your destiny of becoming a bass fisherman extraordinaire.
Before I set of in outlining some of the quickest ways for you to up your game, and put the odds in your favour, we need to chat about something, its called perseverance. With a world filled with fast data, fast food, fast money, fast cars, fast jobs, I feel the world expects everything on a fast-paced agenda, and unfortunately nature works on a very slow and rhythmic pace. So unless you slow down , your patience will run out before you even begin.
A story briefly, humour me… My family ( extend) live in Scotland, they are Gillies, ( Salmon fishermen who coach paying clients) and some of the best in Scotland.
They have fished for 50+ years and are still learning. Colin the father, was one of the my extended family who accelerated my love for fishing at age 13 again. I began with my mums brothers at age 6. Colin was the head gillie of the river Spey and took prince Charles fishing personally every year, with the boys at his prestigious beat. His son Ewan is now her had Gillie at balmoral estate. Accumulatively they have over 80 years fishing under the belts maybe even 90 I dare say. The have carved their salmon fishing craft, through decades of trial and error, experimentation and perseverance and now stand in the halls of fame as masters in their craft. They do things slow, day in and day out. They test, they refine and the repeat over and over and over again. That’s how they build success on the fly.
The moral of this story is patience. A few short seasons back that was me, 7-8 years ago, wanting to catch Bass and wanting it now. The reality of it came after a few seasons work, which eventually brought rewards. Good things take time and a great deal of effort to reap the rewards. The Instagram and facebook catch photos just show the best parts in seconds. They don’t show you the ten years fishing that preceded that, in the glossy photos, only the glistening monster of a bass that lies on the bladder wrack after a mighty battle.
Ok, now that I have re-aligned your expectations in check with natures timeline, I want to offer you a few ways to shortcut your success, so you can shorten the learning curve in your favour.
I have a few golden rules that I use, and they add to my 80/20 principles. By the 80/20 principle, what I mean 80% of the results are caused by 20% of my habits in bass fishing. Put another way, 80% of the fish will come from 20% of the locations I fish or 80% will be caught on 20% of the lures and 80% of the results come from 20% of the tides I fish. I can’t tell you how well this works, and by no means is the limited to bass fishing.
So let me just write out things you can do right now that will increase your chances of catching. bass by 80% straight off. Forget glossy lures and fancy kit, its BS you can catch a bass with relative ease on basic lures if your in the right place, at the right time, on the right tide, at the right hour, end of.
So lets focus not on the kit, but the where and when more specifically:
- Be an early riser or a night owl
I have had most of my best catches not in the midday sun, but in the evening sundown sessions and morning session. Organise your sessions around the evening or morning tides and I mean right at dawn or dusk, be at the spot in the dark if necessary. Predators don’t like to be seen, so to stalk them you have to be stealthy. You will increase your chances of catching bass by 50% plus, just by doing this alone. If your heading to a spicy rock mark in darkness, then go with a buddy.
2. Pick your tides carefully
The lunar calendar is what controls the fish feeding and you must take advantage of that. Fishing every tide under the sun won’t work. Bigger tides work best in most cases, as the residual flow of water is greatest and so are fishing feeding activity. Spring tides are the ones to target so stick with those for the time being, you have two every month. Use them wisely in summer months.
Each spot you fish will fish will work at a different time, thats presuming there are bass there in the first place (See point 5 below), you have to find to when the bass show up at our spot, it’s very rare that bass will stay start during an entire tidal cycle in one spot, so why would you? They will arrive for a short period at a specific place on the rocks and move form there to the next spot. I can attest this from spear fishing. They arrive and go in minutes sometimes in small shoals. How do you find this info out? Ask, enquire, test and experiment at each of your locations and keep track of what you have caught. For me on rock marks, it seems to be low water or two hours after low water, on beaches it can be four hours up, In estuaries it can be on the turn of the low tide…
3. Pick your moon cycle carefully.
The moon effects fishing put simply. Best catches can occur on full or new moon cycles. Look at your calendar and plan out your next 3 months tides when you have a full or new moon and the two days preceding and after each one. You have 5 days every two weeks to fish then and you can plan out what time to hit each spot tide -wise. Greater fish feeding activity always occurs on these moon phases, so capitalise on them greatly. Look up the solar theory for more info.
4. Pick your time of the tide VERY carefully
Each spot will work at a different state of tide, some work at low water, some work at two hours up on the tide and some marks won’t work until high water. It all depends on the location you are fishing from. There is a huge difference between fishing some marks at HW compared to LW as the fish have been an gone 6 hours before you arrived. Its imperative that you pin down when the fish arrive. Find out from other anglers, when they caught and keep a very close eye on this, repeat what they did and test it. Test at low water and test mid tide and test high water at the same time of day, see if results vary..
5.Pick your spot carefully
This is the biggest hurdle for any bass anger and I get it. People are not going to give your spots and rightly so, you haven’t earnt or learnt it yet – but there are tips to get your on your way.
Take up a little walking at dawn or at dusk to some of the spots you know where the bass are being taken, pay close attention to where the good anglers are fishing, what states of tide they are fishing and what size of tides.
You have the three key bits of information there WHERE, WHEN and WHAT! You have to ask, read and doing your detective work to short cut your learning curve. Befriend some of the good anglers, ask their opinion, get a mentor and see what they do. Success leaves cues (See point 7)
With so many Anglers leaving rubbish, being greedy and decimating stocks and leaving a stain on the angling community, bass anglers are very wary that their sport will fall prey to the same hemorrhoids (pain in the arses) that plague the normal fishing world. Sorry to break that to you- but this is why are spots remain under lock and key. Fishermen are a secretive lot and with good cause.
6. Drop the kit, scale back, choose a lure and stick with it.
Most of the confusion in bass angling comes from the volume of kit available for the common angler. It’s simply not helpful in some ways. By adding more variables to your kit bag, you now, decrease the levels of success by adding too many choices. Keep it simple. As long as your rod and reel can punch a lure out, you have some good braid line on your reel and you have a semi descent lure, you should catch if you have placed your self in the right place, at the right time on the right tide… Yes of course lures do make a difference, but have maybe 5 that you use. I have maybe 5-6 that I will use consistently and catch fairly regularly on.
They are :
A Black and silver stripped Abu toby lure
A Savage range and green paddle foot lead head (top right)
A Savage white and silver paddle foot leadhead
A dexter spinner
A very small Eddystone eel in black
A Yozzuri mackerel diver lure
A Sidewinder minnow (second one down)
7. Follow the leaders
Find out who the best fishermen in the community are, befriend them and ask their advice. Most people are willing to give all but their marks away to you, which means you can get 80% of the information you need and figure thereat out yourself. You must conducer this last part a quest, your quest to unravel and the dsatisfaction you will feel, will make it all worth it when you land your first silver beast.
8. Get a mentor
Like the point above, but find an angler who you can go with who is willing to spend time helpng you raise your level. If your the best fisherman in your group, your in the wrong group. Be around people who are way better than you are. Then you will grow as angler and learn to become more well rounded as whole. Fishing is a life long quest to learn and you may need a few mentors along the way. Fishing clubs, fishing events, online forums and walking along the foreshore you will find more of your tribe.
8. Failing to plan is planning to fail
So with the above we can no narrow down the odds in our favour right..
So tying this all together…
Pick your moon cycles (spring tides or on the build to springs).
Pick your tides times (as in LW or LW +2 – or what ever the time your spot works at).
Tie in your (LW / LW +2 Fishing window ) in with a dawn, dusk or night session.
Pick your spot that you have heard that works, arrive with an hour to play with.
Test one lure and work it through the session don’t change anything.
Hey presto. We should have upped the odd in your favour. not get disheartened if you don’t catch, keep asking questions, refining your style, your approach and your knowledge. Read, study tides and the moon effects, and go explore the shoreline, keeping an eye on all things fishy. Soon you will piece the puzzle together.
I hope I have given a few nuggets as how to narrow the odds in your favour and slow down the anticipation a little, to create a more long lasting endurance akin to a marathon mindset. Things won’t come quick, but you can speed things up as long willing to put the hours in, chase down the good guys, ask the right questions and remove the clutter from your tackle bag. The old boys kept it simple, so should you!
Also, if your wanting to sharpen you skills in the sport, I do run one on one bass fishing lessons. If you feel you would benefit from some tuition and coaching, click here or click the image and drop me a line.
Tan Y Tro Nesaf / Until the next time,
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