Tag: Sea Fishing

Fishing the Floating Pontoon, Saltash

I took a trip over the bridge and set up shop over at Saltash in the hope of a better session. It was either that or head over to Salcombe as I know that the Plaice have started to show there this month.

Anyway, Saltash was closer and sounded reasonably promising so I gave it a go.

saltash river tamarI fished a couple of hours up to slack high water and then fished the tide right down. Again, like my recent session at Eastern Kings, things were pretty slow for the main part but at least I wasn’t also losing tackle hand over fist with nothing to show for it like that which happens regularly at rough ground marks when the going is slow.

Since it was pretty quiet angler-wise, I fished the floating pontoon just up from the bridge. Out of all the Saltash marks, this ain’t a bad on in my opinion. I prefer the little grassy area right under the bridge (I’ve always done better from there) but I guess slightly changing the venue doesn’t hurt once in a while.

I had a couple of rods out and regularly chopped and changed tactics (as you do when the going is a little slow) and, pleasingly, got a few knocks from time to time.

The shore crabs were a bit of a problem – a bit moreso than usual – and fishy baits were getting decimated by them within 10 minutes of them hitting the water. It was like a race, you just hoped that a fish would find the bait before the damned shore crabs. I’ve never know it to be so bad for them.

Anyhow, I ended up float fishing, spinning and freelining baits for the main part – just to avoid the crabs. And I’m glad I did…

A couple of hours into the session my freshly dug ragworm did the business. The slack line went tight on the freelined ragworm and I was into my first fish. From the take, I was expecting to see a Pollack – but at the surface I realised it was a small School Bass! Sweet! Fist Bass of the year, and may there be many more to come, I thought. What a result.

sea bassI put him back in and stuck to the same tactics for what must have been a few hours longer in the hope of finding a larger one, but it just didn’t happen.

Eventually, the shore crabs got the better of me and I packed up a few hours later. I’ll go back later when they don’t seem quite as prolific. The session from the floating pontoon restored my faith in it – that Bass was a real bonus. Happy days.

SWSF Competition Results – Slapton Sands 17th July 2010

Dedicated SWSF anglers and supporters turned up from all over our region – from Cornwall up to Dawlish for the most part – but others showed gave support from even further afield. Although unable to fish the event, Chris, down on holiday from North Wales, came across to say hello and Paul, another diehard SWSF angler, made the long trip down from Birmingham to fish the event. Fair play and all credit to you, great to meet you both for the first time. Now THAT is dedication to angling! Read more

How to Catch More Bass

What is the best time of year for Bass fishing?

In Devon and Cornwall, Bass can be caught all year round, but April to November will see Bass in higher numbers around our shores. Due to the lower water temperatures, Bass are most scarce around February.

Where are the best Bass fishing spots?

How long have you got? It’s impossible to talk specifics here since there are so many excellent Bass marks in Devon and Cornwall but, generally speaking, there are certain types of ground which hold Bass in greater number than others.

Surf Beaches Check out the Guide to Bass fishing in surf

Estuaries Check out the Guide to estuary Bass fishing

Harbours & Marinas Check out the Guide to harbour Bass fishing

What are the best baits for Bass?

Bass baits fall into 3 main categories: Live baits, dead baits and Lures.

 

Since Bass are out and out predators many are taken on live baits and lures, but they are also opportunists, never rule out dead baits since they too can be extremely effective on their day. When fishing for Bass, just like most other types of sea fishing, match your bait to the conditions and the environment. For example, during a storm – when the sea is about as clear as custard – a dead bait with a good scent trail may out fish every lure in your box. However, from the same mark on a clear sunny day, with bait fish jumping all around, lures may do the business whereas to the cautious Bass the same dead bait, sitting on the bottom and looking a touch out of place, may look a bit, well, fishy.

 

Popular baits are as follows:-

Live Baits – Ragworm, Lugworm, Sand Eel, Prawn, baitfish, mini-species (Blennies/Gobies etc). For more in depth info, check out our guide to Livebaiting for Bass.

Dead Baits – Peeler crab (green shore peelers or velvet swimmers if you can get hold of them), Softies, Mackerel, Squid and Prawn.

Lures – All manner of lures will work on their day (even feathers!), but particular styles of popper, plug and spinner are time-honoured favourites. Dexter wedges, Tobys, certain Rapalas and small jelly/sand eel lures regularly do the business. Again, match the lure to the environment. For more in-depth info, check out our guide to Spinning for Bass.

 

When is the best time to fish for Bass?

Time of Day – You can fish anytime, particularly if the sea is coloured by day, but first and last light are definitely the best times with good Bass also being taken at night. The problem with night fishing for Bass are the limitations: safety will become even more of an issue if you’re thinking of rock hopping, and low light may hinder lure fishing in general. That said, at night, an illuminated patch of swim (from pier lighting, for example, or your own) will bring in the Bass since they use the light to hunt for bait fish/other small species. You may or may not see Bass in the illuminated swim, but you can guarantee that they will be lurking in the shadows waiting for their next meal to swim by!

Night Bass

Weather – During or directly after a patch of bad weather is a good time to fish for Bass. A rough sea is a productive one. Close to the shore, rougher seas will give the sea bed a hearty makeover and dislodge/uncover food. This new abundance of food will encourage the Bass to work further inshore instead of feeding off the sandbanks and offshore reefs. Naturally, in these conditions, safety can be an issue and commonsense prevails.Fishing just after a storm (particularly if its bean an easterly blowing and the fish have been off the feed) can be just as good and it makes for a safer and more comfortable day out. This suits me just fine since one for ‘manning it out’.

Tides – Tides are a key factor when it comes to Bass fishing. Neaps aren’t so good since less food will be dislodged during weaker tidal flows, though in the main channels of estuaries this is less of an issue. By that rationale, you’d think that ripping spring tides are the best times to shore fish for Bass, but that’s not the case. Moderate tides following the neaps are widely recognised as the most productive and best time to fish for Bass.

What is the killer Bass rig?

It all depends on where you choose to fish. Among other things, your choice of rig will depend on both the location and conditions. Check out the individual Bass fishing guides for more information on Bass fishing rigs.

What rod and reel do I need?

Again, it depends on where you are fishing but to cover most of the bases a supple rod around 10 – 12 ft (with a sensitive tip but power enough in the mid section to take charge of a hard fighting Bass). Also, remember you will be working the rod all the time, so something lightweight will make life easier. Generally speaking, look for a rod capable of casting anything between a free lined bait and 3 oz – this sounds a tall order, but some carp rods and larger spinning rods will do this. As a rough guide, a rod with a 2-3oz casting weight should do the job unless you’ve got a penchant for fishing uber-light.

More often than not, Bass will be within easy flicking range (and sometimes right under your nose!) so big leads and manly beach/surfcasters are not always necessary. However, fishing over snaggy ground, or over a sandbar where surf is breaking a long way out, may call for the heavier artillery.

When it comes to the choice of reel and line, fish as light as you can get away with. Not only will it be more fun when you connect with a Bass – or when a Bass connects with YOU in some cases – but you’ll have more of getting into one of these wily, easily spooked creatures. In calmer weather, a light spinning rod with a fixed spool reel loaded with 10lb mono, with 1 or 2oz of lead (max), will provide hours of fun – and the lighter line will open up more swim for your lure. However, as an all rounder and certainly for rougher conditions, a carp rod/heavier spinning rod and medium sized baitcaster reel with 15lb mono, or an Abu 6500 sized multiplier with 10-20lb braid (with shock leader), will hold you in good stead.

Balance your rod and reel and consider where and when you will be fishing. For example, braided line or lighter mono will be more manageable from a beach in ripping currents or at distance, but will not fare as well over rough ground or in gullies where the potential for snagging and abrasion is considerable.

 

And remember: if you’re fishing ridiculously light but haven’t got easy access to the water’s edge, avert the ‘one that got away’ story with a landing net!

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Guide to Bass Fishing in Surf

Bass fihsing in the Surf

Since there are so many surf beaches around the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, particualrly on the northern coasts, surf fishing for Bass is always an option – and a sound one at that. The techniques employed differ a little from those needed for other styles of Bass fishing, which is why we’ve dedicated a page to this, one of the most exciting (and challenging) ways to fish for Bass.

Surf Fishing Gear

 

Rod – A beach/surf caster is ideal, but a heavier carp/spinning rod of around 12 ft will suffice IF it is able to safely cast around 3 – 4oz of lead. This amount of weight isn’t always required, but since you may be on an exposed beach there may be times where you may need to blast it through an onshore wind or get a little more distance to get into or just behind that patch of rolling surf. In addition, the longer rod will enable you to lift your line higher and clear close in breakers, which means less false bites caused by interference from other waves.

Reel - Common sense dictates that you’ll also need a reel to match the rod, either a medium sized fixed spool reel or multiplier along the lines of an Abu 6500/7000 or Penn 525 loaded with 20lb line. Since distance casting may be necessary from time to time, a shock leader is a must – the rule of thumb being 10lb breaking strain per oz of lead minimum.

Rod Rest – Unlike many other styles of Bass fishing, the chances are you won’t be actively working a bait or lure for the majority of the session. If you’re fishing a big bait on the bottom, a rod rest will give your arms a break, let you brew up and still keep the rod tip high.

Waders – Being able to enter the water makes easier to cast out to where you want to be with more delicate baits, successfully fish for and land Bass, and MUCH easier on the fish both when you land it and return it.

Surf Fishing Rigs

 

The 2 favoured rigs when surf fishing for Bass in Devon and Cornwall have to be the classics: the running ledger and the flapper (or clip down dependign on how far out the surf is breaking). Depending on the size and type of the bait, size 1/0 to 4/0 are recommended. Hookwise, Kamasan B940s are sharp as balls, perfect for presenting the bigger worm and cocktail baits and are strong enough to deal with a hard hitting Bass.

Longer snoods will allow an otherwise stationary dead bait, such as a sandeel or crab, to move around for a more convincing appearance.

In rougher conditions, stronger tides or bigger surf, gripper leads will enable you to keep your tackle in position whilst still maintaining a taught line to detect bites. In calmer seas and more gentle surf, use a weight that will move with the water, this way your tackle and bait will naturally find the deeper gulleys and likely holding areas for food and therefore Bass.

Bass Baits For Surf Fishing

 

Peeler Crab – Wherever you fish with peelers in the Southwest, Bass go mad for them. Period. When surf fishing for Bass, it’s no different. Some say that peeling Velvet Swimmer crabs are even better than Green Shore peelers, but I don’t know anyone personally who’s fished with both of them enough to be able to make the comparison.

A couple of small peelers, or one large one, is enough to release an irresistible scent trail. Due to the nature of the bait it’s necessary to whip it onto the hook with thin bait elastic after feeding it through. Peeler crabs also work extremely well as part of a cocktail bait.

Ragworm - For School Bass, or ‘Schoolies’, a few small head hooked ragworm are an absolute killer bait. Alternatively, one large head hooked King Ragworm on a longer snood will still keep you in with a chance of the School Bass, but may also put you into a larger specimen.  Try feeding a section of peeler crab onto the hook before you ‘tip’ it with a head hooked ragworm – the idea behind this is to provide a more enticing scent trail without inhibiting the movement from the ragworm. Ding dong, double whammy.

Lugworm – Lugworm is another firm favourite over soft or sandy ground. Feed several juicy Lugworm onto the hook with a baiting needle and tip it off with either a thin strip of squid or a peeler crab. Not only will this make a cracking cocktail bait for Bass, but the tipping will also help keep the Lugworm up the hook. A one or two lug fed over a hook will almost guarantee you’ll be kept busy with schoolies.

Mackerel and squid – Historically, mackerel head and guts and whole calamari are tried and tested baits for larger specimens, and we’re talking double figures here,  but fishing these baits will dramatically reduce the chances of hooking any of the others. My PB bass (only 5 1/2lb, but still my PB!) fell to mackerel head and guts…and I wasn’t fishing for conger as some might have you believe. Honest.

Live baits – With a running tide and clearish water, it’s possible to freeline live baits such as Sand Eels and other bait fish with devastating results. Hooking a sand eel through the nose or tail will allow for the highest degree of natural movement, and therefore possibly the greatest hit rate, though arguably it’s less likely to hook a Bass this way since its more likely they may take snatch the bait without the hook (or you may even lose your bait during the cast.) Threading the hook and line half way along the eel will improve your chances of getting into a Bass, however the bait will not move as naturally below the water. A live bait can also be bound lightly at one end with bait elastic to improve its security.

Artificial Bait – Plugs, spinners and lures are always worth a try when targeting Bass, wherever you are. Check out our guide to Lure Fishing for Bass for more info.

beachbass

General Tips when Surf Fishing for Bass

 

1. Know where to fish – Ideally, check out the mark beforehand on a spring low tide – you may be able to pick out some potential holding grounds, such as normally submerged rocks or deeper channels or gulleys. Make a note of where they lie in relation to landmarks etc and it’ll give you a head start on the Bass! If there happen to be any surfers around, ask where the rip tides are since it is the gulleys and deeper patches of water that cause the rips. Unfortunately, sand channels and soft gullies will move slightly with each tide, so the longer you leave it between the scouting and the session the more you will have to look for them when you fish.

Checking out the coastline from higher ground will often help you work out where to start fishing. From a high vantage point, it’s far easier to pinpoint areas with certain wave patterns than it is from the beach. Larger/more waves denote shoaling banks and smaller/less waves generally signify deeper patches of water. As well as hunting in the surf, Bass will patrol the side of these banks looking to ambush prey. The gulleys (where the rips are) can provide rich pickings for Bass – they experience stronger and greater water movement during the tidal run and therefore are more likely to uncover fishy food.

TIP: Kill 2 birds with one stone during the scouting by doing a bit of bait gathering while you are there. Not only will it cut the costs of your next session, it’ll give you an idea of what marine life is natural to the area – and no bait will appear more natural to a Bass than one of the local inhabitants! Expect to find baits such as Mussels (on rocky outcrops), Razor Clams, Lugworm and Sand Eels (during the summer months.) As ever though, keep one eye on the tide.

2. Walk the beat – Cover several areas during the fishing session. Some patches will be more productive than others. Fishing nearer to a headland at the end of a beach, where there are likely to be more underwater features, should be more productive than smack bang in the middle.

3. Use your swim - Cast near and far. Although Bass can be found ridiculously close in, like even in a few feet of water, it isn’t always the case. If you fish the surf close in to no avail, try also blasting out a few baits and gradually shorten your casts to cover the intermediate ground before upping sticks and moving along the beach.

If you discover an unusual coastal feature, such as a craggy outcrop, a rocky finger jutting out into the sea, a groyne or a small estuary/run off channel, FISH IT!

And one more thing: If you find an unusual coastal feature, such as a craggy outcrop, a rocky finger jutting out into the sea, a groyne or a small estuary/run off channel, FISH IT! …Enough said.

4. Use the Surf - Naturally, after reading this you’ll catch loads of Bass, so it’s worth mentioning that when you land them, the surf is your friend: use it to help you land any hefty fish.

5. Stay Alert – Keep one eye on the rod tip for bites, a second eye on the surf (and just beyond) for fishy activity such as jumping, keep a third eye in the air for birds swooping and other tell tale signs of baitfish activity and a fourth eye up and down the beach making sure you can always get to safety – don’t get caught out by an incoming tide. Also, look out for the small baitfish that get washed up on the shore from time to time. In addition to making a tasty snack for your ever-hungry black Labradorian fishing companion, these little gems make for the best live Bass bait ever!

Guide to Estuary Bass Fishing

Estuaries can make for a superb Bass fishing session if you just know where to fish and how to fish for them – and with so many estiaries dotted along our Devon and Cornwall coastline, you will never be that far from one. Split into sections, this guide will get you on your way to catching more Bass from our estuaries. Good luck!

Fishing Gear

Rod – A carp rods or medium weight spinning rods are ideal for Bass fishing in estuaries. They provide the necessary sensitivity and will have power enough to cope with a hard running Bass. Not only will the fish generally be working close in around features, negating the need for distance casting, the water will normally be calm and its usually possible to find a sheltered area along one or tother bank, so pumping lead through a headwind is rarely an issue.

Reel – Again, keep it light and match the rod. A smaller baitcaster or fixed spool reel loaded with 15lb nylon is more than enough to successfully play and land many of the fish you will catch. If you’re feeling lucky, punk, drop it down to 10lb braid – but keep that clutch loose…

Rod Rest – For estuary Bass fishing, it’s a ‘nice to have’ for when you opt to bottom fish.

Mobile Phone – Not necessarily fishing gear, but on occasion you may want to venture onto the flats. Some of these areas can be like bloody quicksand so, like when bait digging in estuaries, carrying a phone is never a bad idea (so long as it’s charged!)

Estuary Fishing Rigs

Wembury BassEstuary fishing for Bass is an extremely versatile affair; lure fishing, livebaiting, float fishing and bottom fishing are all valid options.

 

Lure fishing – Depending on the type lure, there is an option to clip it directly onto an American snap swivel at the end of the main line (for Dexters, Tobys etc), or if small Redgills/Eddystone lures are being used, an ounce or so of weight will be required to flick it out a bit further. In this case, a 1 or 2oz in-line ball weight followed by a 4- 5 ft flowing trace (10lb Amnesia with lure on the end) will see good results.

Livebaiting – Simply free lining a Sand Eel or any mini-species will get a Bass going, and there’s no doubt about it. Keep the clutch loose, though, as they WILL hit hard.

Float fishing – Stealth is the key, so a small bubble float will 10lb trace is the way ahead. Trace length with depend on where you are flicking the float.

Bottom fishing – Running ledger or Pulley rig for the bigger Bass (don’t be afraid of using up to a 4/0 hook – the Sakuma range, especially the 545 ME is strong enough to deal with a hefty Bass and is as sharp as you like.) Sometimes a small floating bead or small piece of polystyrene is needed to keep your bait just off the bottom if the shore crabs are out in force (this does, however, detract from bait presentation somewhat). And for the schoolies, you’ll find using a 2 hook flapper will bring excellent results.

 

Gripper leads maybe needed to hold your tackle fast on springs or in a bottleneck, but sometimes allowing a rolling lead to be taken with the tide and thus find a deeper channel, a natural food holder, can be worth a shot.

Baits For Estuary Bass Fishing in Devon and Cornwall

Peeler Crab – In our opinion, a big fat juicy Peeler crab is the hands down king of the bait box when it comes to estuary Bass fishing (at least for the better ones.) They may be expensive but by god, they’re worth it. If you can’t get hold of any, softies are the next best thing…and bait elastic is essential for good presentation and preservation of those pricey peelers!

Ragworm – Being a local resident to most estuaries in the Southwest, ragworm are also a great bait for Bass fishing. Head hooking a few Harbour Ragworm, or ‘maddies’, could well hook you a school Bass, at least. A large King Ragworm can also be free lined or bottom fished when head hooked, the natural wriggling movement being the main draw card here.

Lugworm – Lug works extremely well in the estuaries. Don’t leave home without it!

Prawn – Live prawn also has many merits, hooking 2 back to back so the tails still flick can be deadly. Blast frozen prawns can also sometimes do the business, but the hit rate is nowhere near as good – and shore crabs and rays love them too…

Mackerel and squid – Use these as big baits on big hooks for big fish. Enough said.

Live baits – particularly in the mouths of estuaries, Sand Eels can be devastating. Elsewhere, a little time scratching around catching mini-species to use as bait can prove worthwhile.

Artificial Bait – Plugs, spinners and lures are always worth a try when targeting Bass, wherever you are.

General Bassing Tips for Devon and Cornish Estuaries

Scout your proposed mark during spring low tides to locate the main channels and sandbars. Deeper, protected creeks just off the main channel are likely to hold food and/or small fish and will be prime hunting grounds for Bass. And while you are down there, why not dig some Ragworm or hunt for some peelers?

What features should you be looking for? Look for deeper gulleys, the route that the main channel takes, smaller (and normally submerged) offshoots from it, bottlenecks, rocks, boulders, shopping trolleys (!?) and basically any other area that looks different from the norm.

Bass will patrol the slopes of sandbars and shoals also, hoping to ambush prey pushed over the top a strong flood or ebb. They will also hunt for food in smaller, protected creeks.

Bottlenecks are also prime fishing areas, the tidal flow will be stronger here (gripper alert) but it also means a greater concentration of fish in the proximity of your bait. For the same reasons, these bottlenecks are also a great place to flick a lure or two.

The main channels themselves are the fishy equivalent of the M1 – and Bass are renown for patrolling the sides of channels where they have a better chance of finding food such as crabs and small fish etc – consequently, fishing them can prove more fruitful than wellying a lead right into the deepest bit.

Despite estuaries such as, say, The Tamar in south Devon, being known mainly for School Bass, there are some pretty big specimens in there, too. Even if your local estuary generally produces a constant string of Schoolies, you must try that big bait every now and then – it may get you into a double figure fish. It’s not unheard of.

Neaps or springs, it doesn’t matter. The volume of water running through the narrow channel will be strong enough to dislodge food and encourage Bass will work estuaries in all tides.

Generally speaking, a soft muddy or sandy estuary will be much lighter on your tackle that when you are rock hopping, which may encourage anglers to break out their most expensive and fancy rigs with all the bells, buzzers and whistles on. Our advice is not to bother – go with the standard, battle proven rigs and focus more on obtaining the best bait you can lay your hands on.

Guide to Bass Fishing in Harbours

A Bass session in a harbour means a wild day out. Really, it does – or it can, anyway. It’s also one of the safer and less ‘athletic’ styles of Bass fishing, so it’s open to anglers of all ages and abilities. And there’s always the chance of getting into a cracking specimen! It doesn’t get better than this. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be going back for more, time and time again.

So here’s a quick run down with a few tips to give you a head start

 

Fishing Gear

Rod –Distance casting is rarely a necessity when harbour fishing for Bass, more often than not the fish will be right under your nose, so a light gear setup is more than adequate. A rod capable of flicking out a couple of ounces of lead is enough, but it must also be manly enough to play a large Bass if you get into one. A strong (but not too stiff) 10-12ft carp/Bassing rod is long enough to clear obstructions yet not so big as to become unwieldy if you happen to be fishing alongside other anglers.

Reel – As always, make sure it complements the rod. Smaller bait-casters, fixed spools, or the classic 55 or 65 Abu multiplier are perfect for the task. For harbour fishing, I’d opt for mono over braid – the main reason being the sheer power in a Bass run. When hooked, a Bass will inevitably dart and run for cover which may cause your line to be dragged against, over or around obstacles – something that braid doesn’t really like too much – hence the mono. It’ll be more resilient should this happen. In addition, the extra sensitivity braid gives is of little consequence as you’ll know when you have interest from a Bass at short range! Use 10 – 15lb line and enjoy the ride.

Landing net/drop net – Harbour fishing sometimes means there’ll be a fair distance between you and the water. If fishing light in an area where you can’t play a fish toward steps etc you’ll need one. Remember it’s fishing, not Bass bungy jumping!

 

Harbour Fishing Rigs

Lure fishing – Castable lures such as Dexters, Tobys, Rapalas etc can be clipped directly onto your mainline via and American snap swivel or, if you like, a lighter lure (like a small Eddystone or Redgill) can be used in conjunction with a small ball weight further up the trace. Artificial eels are extremely popular in Devon and Cornwall, and for good reason.

Livebaiting – Either free line a Sand Eel or another mini-species or weigh your gear down slightly with an in line ball weight of 1 – 2 oz, followed by a flowing trace of 4 – 6ft with the a live bait on. The second method is handy if there are various obstacles nearby, such as pontoons, stanchions, or ropes and chains, since then you can control your bait a little better and stop it from swimming around randomly and wrapping your line around stuff.

Float fishing – use a sneaky little bubble float with a 10lb Vanish trace. Floats fish particularly well with livebaits, and can be flicked out to fish mid-water near otherwise inaccessible pontoons.

Bottom fishing – Use either a Running ledger or Pulley rig with up to a 4/0 hook, and since you will only get the one chance at any particular bass, make it count. The strong and sharp Sakuma 540 Manta or Manta Extra – the heavier guage version – is a sound choice.For the Schoolie Bass, it has to be two hook flappers all the way.

 

Tidal flow should never be much of an issue in protected marinas or harbours, so avoid sticking a church roof on the end of your gear. If you chuck a big lead out, you’ve only got to crank it back in again. Also, with a lighter lead, what water movement there is may allow your lead to find a natural gulley or depression, both are perfect food holding areas for Bass.

 

Baits For Harbour Bass Fishing in Devon  & Cornwall

Live baits – In our opinion, for bassing, live baits in harbours are the way ahead for several reasons.

1. You’re targeting an out and out predator.

2. Usually, no manly casting is necessary. In general, you will be fishing right under your nose.

3. It’s using a bait native to that environment – it’s where all the other mini-species, shrimps and small fry hang out too, albeit not with hooks through their backs.Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to catch at least one form of live bait in a harbour, either.

Peeler Crab – We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Bass are quite partial to peelers! Peeler crab makes an excellent bait for bottom fishing, and great in a cocktail, too. (That should read ‘as part of a bait cocktail’!)

Ragworm – The natural wriggling movement from a large, head hooked King Ragworm makes it an ideal bait for this type of fishing. Fishing light or free lining Ragworm near structures (try all different depths) can bring good results. Bottom fishing bunches of smaller ragworm will also tempt a cruising Bass.

Prawn – Fishing a pair of lively prawns in their natural environment, ie alongside a harbour wall or under a pontoon, can have devastating results. If the Bass are there, baiting up 2 of them back to back will have that reel screaming in no time.

Lugworm – A juicy Lugworm cocktail is worth a shot when bottom fishing and its definitely the way to go for schoolies in our estuaries.

Mackerel and squid – Similar with Bass fishing in estuaries, put big baits on big hooks for big fish. However, in an area where scavengers are a plenty, you’re stinky bait may get some unwanted attention from the doggies.

Artificial Bait – Use your plugs, spinners and lures in much the same way you would anywhere else. Try different depths, retrieval rates and cover as much ground as you can. Check out our guide to Lure Fishing for Bass for more info.

Oh, and don’t forget Sandeel – live or frozen, it’s killer for Bass!!

 

General Bassing Tips for Devon and Cornish Harbours

Fish in and around features. Floating pontoons, for example, are a great place to start. As predators, Bass will lurk around in the shadows waiting for their next meal to swim by. They will also be drawn to these ‘protected’ areas thanks to smaller baitfish trying to use them for cover.

Although free lining your live bait will give it the most natural movement, adding a ball weight farther up the line will allow you not only to control its location (as mentioned earlier) but its depth, too. Try your bait or lure at all depths – one day the bass may be scavenging deep down, another day they may be hunting tight under pontoons etc.

Fish tight to walls – mini species (ie Bass lunch) will be using these for protection. Wherever there is food, the Bass won’t be far away.

Slow vertical retrieves can work much in the same way as trailing bait laterally across an area. Try it and see. On the same note, vary retrieval rates – for whatever reason, different rates can work on different days.

On the few days you are lucky enough to see Bass cruising around from the surface, make the most of it. Chop and change your lures and trace lengths like a madman to see which generates the most interest from the Bass. And even if you catch, keep experimenting – it’ll hold you in good stead for future sessions when the fish aren’t as plentiful.

Be a sneaky stalker. Always be aware of your own position (for example, are you standing in a direct line between a potential fish and a low sun?) and keep low and quiet where possible. Bass have eyes, too.

Note where shadows fall and fish in or on the edge of them. Running a lure or live bait along the line where light meets shade will give you the best of both worlds: your bait will be highly visible yet a bass lurking in the shadows won’t have to run too far to ambush.

Finally, being ever the optimist, prior to getting into a Bass, have a plan of action for when you do.  For example, if you don’t have a landing net, know where the nearest steps are/closest access to the water’s edge so you can play the fish that way from the offset. Also during the quieter times, make yourself aware of any obstacles (above and below water) that may hinder retrieval and plan accordingly – it only takes 1 mooring rope, above or below water, to lose a double figure Bass. And once into a good specimen, you may be too busy to figure these things out!

Sea Fishing in Plymouth

Whether you’re into Bass fishing, Ray Fishing, Mullet fishing, Pollack fishing, Wrasse fishing or any other type of sea fishing, for that matter, my best advice is to start close to home and try fishing Plymouth itself.

With over 6 different sea fishing tackle and bait shops within Plymouth, resupplying your bait bucket and fishing tackle box in Plymouth is never a problem either!

So, where are the best places to fish in Plymouth? The two main areas to fish in Plymouth are either along the foreshore (the Plymouth Seafront) or on the River Tamar. Incidentally, if you are into Bass fishing, you will catch more Bass by fishing in the Tamar than fishing along the Plymouth seafront.

The popular sea fishing mark at Devils Point signifies the mouth of the River Tamar, east from there you will find the main Plymouth seafront fishing marks including good all round sea fishing at West Hoe Pier, rough ground sea fishing for species such as conger eels at Lion’s Den, and the two most popular places to fish in Plymouth for all the family have to be Elphinstone Car Park and across the water at one of the best known Plymouth sea fishing marks, Mountbatten Pier.

Fish north of Devils Point and you are then fishing in the River Tamar. Again, many good sea fishing spots here including rough ground fishing at Mutton Cove, half decent Bass fishing at North Corner (Devonport Floating Pontoon), and good school Bass and Thornback Ray fishing off Pottery Quay.

Check out all of the marks and get a better idea of where to fish in Plymouth by checking out the individual Plymouth sea fishing guides on the South Devon Fishing Guides page.

How to Use Ragworm

ImageAs a sea fishing bait, ragworm is the quintessential all rounder. Not only are many different species attracted to them, but it’s pretty much the bait of choice for several of them – and for that reason alone I almost always take some along wherever my sea fishing session takes me.

 

Since you never really know what will be fishing well when you arrive, you can easily hedge your bets cover a lot of the bases if you carry a few quid of rag in your bait tub.

Depending on what species you intend to target there are several ways to present you bait, so here are some of my favourites including mentions of what you may catch (as a rough guide, not an exhaustive list!):

 

Head Hooked – It does exactly what it says on the tin. Select a good sized ragworm and pick it up just behind its head to avoid any little nips from the two pincers that pop out from its head. Tease its mouth a little with the tip of the hook to encourage the pincers to pop out and grab it and, when they do, push the hook in and bring it directly out behind the main bulk of the head. That’s all there is to it.

It does look a little flimsy and you could be forgiven for thinking that a fish will eat the bait and miss the hook altogether – but although this does happen when your fishing among hordes of smaller species, a larger fish will take the lot, hook and all.

The benefit of this method it that the worm stays alive and wriggling in the water for a long time, and the whole of its body will move incredibly naturally making it irresistible to many fish. Its best fished in clear water since the scent trail is lower (than if it were punctured several times) and you are principally relying on the ragworm’s movement to attract fish.

The head hooked ragworm can be fished on the bottom or in mid water – on either a float, free lined,  or retrieved over rocks as a lure.

 

Downsides to head hooking ragworm:

1. If your swim is plagued by mini species and other fish such as small, hard hitting wrasse as dropping down among these with long trailing baits will result in plenty of unproductive knocks, severely shortened ragworm and well fed fish!

2. It can be a little fragile, so go easy when casting out.

TIP. Dipping the ragworm in the sea just before casting is a good way to reduce the chance of your bait disintergrating/breaking when it hits the water for the first time.

Expect to catch: Pollack/bass/ mackerel on the retrieve or when free lining or float fishing, mullet (small ragworm on the end of a Mepps spinner), flounder/plaice/dabs/dogfish/ gurnard on the bottom. Wrasse just off the bottom.

 

Big Bait – When it comes to catching bigger specimens, Rule #1 is never skimp on bait – it’s a false economy. Using ragworm too sparingly may make it last longer, but its highly likely that you’ll hook into less fish during that period than if you were to have a shorter session with more generous baits.

With this in mind, if you choose to fish a head hooked worm in can sometimes beneficial to feed a fat, juicy ragworm over the hook and up the line first. This will give you a bait that’ll be twice as long, still have the same movement, have a larger scent trail and look even more appealing! Setting this up on a Pennell rig (with something like a size 2 or 4 hook at the top and a larger 1/0 hook at the bottom) will ensure that the bait doesn’t end up bunching around the bottom hook during the cast/retrieve.

In addition, cramming a couple of worms up the line will only serve to increase the scent trail further and works particularly well when bottom fishing stationary baits. If you’re feeling extra generous then also consider using multiple head hooked ragworms even greater appeal. Although there are no hard and fast rules regarding how many worms you should use, longer thin baits will be more effective as midwater lures whereas bunched baits with a greater scent trail will be better off the bottom. Using a bait needle makes life a lot easier.

 

Baiting up with Ragworm

First, feed the worms onto the bait needle…

 

Image


…then push this onto the bottom hook and feed them on.

Expect to catch: Better Pollack and Bass on the retrieve/float, more flatties and dogs on the bottom. Wrasse of the bottom.

 

As a cocktail – Adding squid(S)/mackerel (M)/prawn (P)/peeler crab(C) to the mix can be incredibly effective. You can either feed a worm up the line (again, using a bait needle can make life a lot easier here) and tip of the hook with, for instance,  mackerel or squid strip, or use a well secured fish bait up the line and tip of with a wriggling head hooked ragworm or 2 to give the bait scent and movement.

Expect to catch: Thornback Rays (P), Huss (M/S), Dogfish by the bucket load (M), gurnard (M/S), and rockling (M) on the bottom and more Bass (P/C) and possibly bream a bit higher up (S).

 

Mini Bait – I mentioned bigger baits for (potentially) better specimens, but if there are only tiny fish around or you just want a wild half hour then switch to tiny hooks (size 6 or smaller) with tiny baits (sections of ragworm no bigger than your little fingernail) and scratch around tight to underwater features such as harbour walls, rocky outcrops, or pier legs etc. When the fishing is slow, embarking on a  mini-species hunt can be just what’s needed to inject a bit of fun back into the proceedings!

Expect to catch: poor cod, blennies, gobies, rockling, corkwing/goldsinny/small Ballan wrasse and weavers(be careful!) to name but a few species.

 

Of course, there a few hard and fast rules when it comes to sea fishing and these are simply a few tips and suggestions to get you started. After all, the chopping and changing of baits and rigs and the experimentation involved is half the fun of fishing!

SLAPTON SANDS SHORE FISHING COMPETITION – SUNDAY 11th OCTOBER

Loads of folks have already got their names down for it, so give Ace a shout (either send him a private message from his profile or put your name down in the forum thread for the competition.

Anyway, for those that are up for a good day out, over to the main man with the details:-

SHORE FISHING COMPETITION

DATE: SUNDAY 11TH OCTOBER

VENUE: SLAPTON SANDS – MEMORIAL CAR PARK

TIME: MEET UP AT 07.30 IN THE CAR PARK FOR CATCH RECORDS TO BE HANDED OUT AND A CHINWAG

COMPETITION TIME: 08.30 TIL 15.00 (HIGH TIDE 11.20)

PRIZES TO BE GIVEN IN THE CAR PARK AFTERWARDS.

THIS WILL BE AN INFORMAL, FRIENDLY COMP AND AS SUCH THERE WILL BE NO DRAW FOR PEGS – WE WILL JUST FAN OUT UP THE BEACH AND FISH WHERE YOU LIKE. THIS ALLOWS FRIENDS & FAMILY TO STAY TOGETHER IF THEY WISH.

2 ROD + 4 HOOK MAXIMUM

ALL UNDERSIZED FISH TO BE RETURNED AFTER BEING WITNESSED & SIGNED OFF ON YOUR CATCH RECORD BY THE ANGLER TO YOUR LEFT OR RIGHT – IF YOU WISH TO KEEP FISH FOR THE TABLE BY ALL MEANS DO BUT MAKE SURE THEY’RE OVER THE MINIMUM SIZE REQUIREMENTS AND DONT FORGET TO GET THEM RECORDED ON YOUR CARD BEFORE HANDING THEM IN!

SIMPLE POINTS BASED SCORING SYSTEM:

1 POINT PER CM OF FISH CAUGHT
10 BONUS POINTS PER SPECIES OF FISH CAUGHT

TO QUALIFY FOR THE SPECIMEN PRIZE I WOULD LIKE THE FISH TO BE PRESENTED BEFORE US ALL IN THE CAR PARK SO WE CAN ALL VOTE FOR THE BEST – IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO ACERTAIN A SPECIMEN FROM A LIST OF SPECIES AND SIZES (IN CM) ON YOUR SCORECARDS!!!

1st Place – £50 Fixed Spool Beach Reel

2nd Place – £30 pack of Artificial Lures – Spinners, Spoons, Feathers, etc

3rd Place – £25 worth of terminal gear – Rigs, Leads, etc

Best Specimen – £25 worth of Bass plugs

We’ll have an OPTIONAL pool on the day – £5 in the pot to be paid out as follows:

1st Place – 50% of the pool

2nd Place – 30% of the pool

3rd Place – 20% of the pool

WELL THERE WE GO – OUR FIRST LITTLE COMP ALL LAID OUT AND SORTED – DUNNO ABOUT YOU GUYS BUT I’M SERIOUSLY LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!

Southwest Sea Angling Community

Since its launch just a couple of years back, over 2000 local sea anglers have joined in the fun. Between us, we’ve already arranged many successful shore fishing trips, had some cracking shore competitions, met some awesome people in the process and shared plenty of fishing tips and advice both on the south west sea fishing forum and on the water’s edge. It’s an excellent start, and all thanks to our members. If you haven’t joined yet but fancy getting more from your fishing sessions, feel free to read on.

Before we go any further, you must know that some things haven’t changed – everything on SWSF still remains 100% free to everyone. Period. However, joining and becoming part of our friendly online angling community will help you benefit more from what this site really has to offer.

So, why become a member of southwestseafishing.co.uk?

1. In short, it opens up the interactive side of the site.

2. It’s absolutely free – no small print, no catches, no hidden costs. Yes. Free.

3. SWSF is by far the largest website in the UK to focus solely on sea fishing in the south west of England.We are also the largest online community for anglers that our region has to offer. Thats a big pool of fishing knowledge.

4. It takes less than a minute to sign up. Just choose your login details, a valid email (your email will NEVER be published or forwarded to anyone, that’s a guarantee), a profile pic and some fishy details and that’s it, you’ve just joined the best sea angling community in the (South) West!

 

Among other things, as a member you will then be able to:

1. Access More of the fishing guides and more of our fishing tips and articles.

2. Access your new user menu to help you navigate effortlessly through the interactive side of the site.

3. Have your own personal fishing profile, like the one in the image below. Upload catch photos, list your personal bests, and keep a catch tally, and more.

Screenshot of top half of Profile Page

Example Profile

4. Connect with other anglers with similar interestsSearch for like minded members by the area they fish, their favourite mark, preferred style of fishing or whatever.

5. Contact other members via Private Messaging and email (to maintain your privacy, its all done via the site)

6. Learn about the latest community additions to southwestseafishing.co.uk as they happen – don’t worry though, that doesn’t mean an endless deluge of spam into your mailbox, that’s not our bag.

7. Interact on existing areas of the site, such as article commenting etc., without having to provide your name/email details each time – after initial log in, that side of life is taken care of automatically.

8. Gain full access the forum. Ask questions, discuss hot topics, and post session reports, views and opinion.

9. And, saving the best bit ’till last, you’ll then be part of our active, friendly network of anglers across the south west of England. Propose new or join in on forthcoming sessions, take part in our regular monthly competitions, meet plenty of really friendly and experienced anglers, keep up with thier latest goings on, learn loads and get much, much more out of your sessions.

Screenshot of part of our Friends Activity page

Screenshot of our interactive Friends Activity page

…It’s all waiting for you.

Click here and join for free!