Mike Ladle’s contribution to today’s blog shows how a change of tactic can make all the difference when the chips are down. Enjoy!
How much longer it will be worth going bass and mullet fishing this season is yet to be seen. Even though, of course, you CAN continue right through the winter and in years gone by I have done just that. However, in the colder months everything tends to slow down and I prefer to go to the river or to my local ponds where results are more predictable. Anyway, the number of tides when the fish will come close in to feed on maggots is now reducing so I take every chance that I get.
The other day I met my pals Bill and Nigel in the cliff top car park, to fish the first spring tide of the series which was big enough to reach the maggoty weed. By the time we arrived at our chosen spot, about an hour before high water, the fish were already showing on the surface. I stopped at the first mound of weed and my pals walked on another hundred metres or so to the next spot. Nigel had brought his fly rod in hopes of mullet while Bill and I both chose to spin. I started off with a big Slandra and Bill was using a weedless Evo Stix lure modelled on his home-made Slug-gills. Neither of our lures seemed to interest the fish, even though we could see that there were bass among the surface skimming mullet. Every so often small shoals of fry would spray out of the water, presumably disturbed by the bass or mullet beneath them.
None of us were catching anything so I stopped fishing and rooted about in my lure box. At the back end of the season, mullet will sometimes feed, almost as aggressively as bass, on small fry, so I put on a size 2, silver Mepps to try and imitate the little baitfish. It worked. With the braided line I could cast beyond the shoals of surface feeding fish and by keeping the rod up and winding steadily the tiny spinner flickered along just under the surface. After just a few casts there was a fierce pull and I was in. Of course I expected a bass and it was a couple of minutes before I saw that it I was playing a good mullet. For five minutes the fish ran and kited about repeatedly before I could beach it on a breaking wave. All three points of the treble hook were inside the mouth of the mullet so I carefully eased them out before taking its picture. The fish was 62 centimetres long which on my length/weight graph is about six-and-a-quarter pounds although it probably weighed a bit more as they are in mint condition at this time of the year.
Encouraged, I returned the mullet and started fishing again. The next bite proved to be a titchy little bass which I quickly returned. For a few minutes I had no more bites so I walked along to see how my pals were doing. At this point neither of them had caught anything but as I watched Nigel’s fly rod arched over and he hooked a cracking mullet.
After he’d beached his fish I decided to pack in and leave them to it. There were still some fish moving as I walked back so I HAD to have another cast with my Mepps. It wasn’t long before I had a bite and landed a bass of about two-and-a-half pounds but that was my last fish of the session.
Bill emailed later to say that although he’d blanked Nigel had caught two smallish bass.
The following day I couldn’t go but, understandably, Bill and Nigel went again. The conditions were excellent with lots of surface feeding fish. Unlike the previous night the bass were keen to feed and Bill’s plastic eel caught him nine fish including a few three pound plus ones. Nigel, again fishing a dry fly or a tiny Delta on his fly rod also had nine bass, including one of four-and-a-half pounds and once more he landed a chunky mullet. All in all it was a wonderful couple of hours’ fishing. Pity I couldn’t join them because the following day it blew strongly from the south and the weed piles were all washed away.