In previous years I used to waste parts of my summer messing about for bass too early in the year. These days I know better and don't even head towards the bass grounds until at least August, but more usually September / October. There is a risk with this strategy, in that in bad years you might only get one or two chances to go. But in most years, you'll get three or four chances, and that's easily enough to get my yearly quota of bass for the freezer (generally around 10-15 fish).
This year, September was frankly a bit of nightmare work-wise, with barely a free weekend, which meant the few opportunities I did get I was straight out there catching fish. Not much has really come on the scene this year with regard to new lures. Yes, a couple of late additions to what have become de facto weedless type minnows and sandeel lures have come along from Sidewinder and RedGill, but they've both arrived a little too late in the year to get a thorough testing. So once again I was down to the perennial favourites the 120 Fiiish Black Minnow (shore) in various guises and the 125 SavageGear Sandeel. There's been a fair bit of 'ummming' and 'ahhhing' over which of these is the best lure. The SavageGear is slightly cheaper, but the hook is exposed so you lose a lot more in the thick kelp that infests our marks. But which catches more fish?
Well they both work, there's no doubt about that. Casting from the kayak isn't an issue, so doesn't concern us here. The resilience of the BM 120 is possibly a bit better, but I've had half a dozen fish on one SG sandeel without it getting totally wrecked, so they're probably about equal. True, you can't really fish through the kelp with the SG eels, but provided you go gently over the top you won't loose too many of them.
|Click to enlarge|
|Another engulfed SG sandeel|
The fishing this year has been steady rather than spectacular. No red letter days of catching 20-30 bass or anything like that. Instead it seems to be all single fish in small patches of water. But over 5 or 6 hours, picking up a fish an hour gradually starts to add up. It doesn't make for a wildly exciting day's fishing, but at least it's not a total blank. My three sessions this year:
In terms of new tackle, the two recent entrants to the weedless category of soft plastics I spoke of earlier do seem to have come a bit late in the year, no idea why companies can't get their production sorted out during the winter months to have stock ready for the summer months. What is the point of bringing a new lure to the market in late September? True the world's a big place, and it's not all about the UK, but for a company like Redgill I would have thought its main market was here and that the company would have wanted to test and try out the lures early in the season, so that they could be recommended to others for the rest of the summer!
|30g Sidewinder Weedless Super Minnow in Pearl|
The Redgill Evo Stix sandeels are a more interesting addition. Redgills have always been a staple in the boat angler's lure box and I think this is possibly the first time they've done a weedless variant of their famous sandeel which is known to every sea bass angler that has probably ever lived. But their high point of fame was probably back in the 1980s, when many good bass were taken on the lure. Since then, the soft plastic lure scene has exploded, particularly in the last decade and Redgill gradually lost their way amongst the plethora of Japanese and American imports.
So what does their latest soft lure, the Evo Stix offer? And I must say it looks good and it's a good price too. The soft plastic used is the very tough type, you can really feel it gripping the hook, so I'm quite hopeful they'll outlast even the SG eels. The hooks seem slightly on the short side, but one good thing about them is that they are a standard worm style hook. Unlike lures like SavageGear's 4play, that require the company's own, slightly odd hook, as standard hooks tend rip through the noses much sooner. One nice feature is that the Redgills come with a variety of weights for the same lure. The weights are simply hollow cones that slide up the line. Sometimes this type of weight can wear on the line, particularly around the hook knot, so it's worth checking them to see if there are any rough edges on the leads that could damage or fray your line. The 10g weight in particular looks perfect for skipping the lure along the top of the kelp beds.
|Mounted Redgill Evo Stix 145mm in mackerel, shown with the three included weights of 5gm, 10gm & 15gm|
All we need now is one last spell of calm weather before the season comes to an end and I can test them out and report back! Until then I'll leave you with another new item of tackle, my Penn Spinfisher. This sealed reel is only in its first season, so it's a bit early to say but so far so good. It has survived a couple of dunkings in the brine, the drag is lovely and smooth (it needs to be, there's no backwind) and it feels as smooth as when I bought it (which Penn critics will say isn't much, but it's smooth enough!). If I'm still doing the blog, I'll report back before start of the coming year, which is when any ingress of sea water will have done it's damage.
Until next time, tight lines!