Saturday 24 January 2009

Saltwater Lure Fishing - P8 of 21 - Timings

Two weeks goooood - two weeks baaaaaaad

This is not a miss-quote from some talking farm animal but it is a very accurate indicator you can use for bass fishing in Ireland. In fact you dont really need to know much more than the following short list

  1. Spring tides fish better than neap tides
  2. The new moon often produces more fish than the full moon
  3. Good weather conditions means good bass fishing
  4. Fishing is better when the water is clear or clearing
  5. Fish early in the morning or late in the evening
  6. Fishing will deteriorate over time if the wind blows from the east

What this doesnt mean

  1. You cant catch fish on neap tides
  2. You cant catch a lot of fish when the moon is full or at any other stage
  3. Bad weather produces no fish
  4. You wont catch fish in dirty water
  5. You cant catch fish at 15:30 on a hot bright summers day
  6. All easterly breezes are bad

Below is a chart of the tidal instances between the 4th and 11th of July 2009.

Saturday the 4th of July to the 11th of July is currently reserved here at SEAi by a group of three Dutch flyfishers. They expect 5 days of good bass fishing with a seven night 6 day stay in Ireland. Arriving late on saturday we will begin fishing on Monday - which is period 7 on the x-axis. This plan has already been discussed with the group in detail several times. In other words these customers are here at a very good time to fish for bass (point one above). During this period there is a full moon (tues 7th) (point two above). July is the middle of summer (point three above) so conditions are normally good (point four above). Clients are more than willing to experience a work free environment that allows them have wonderful encounter that often go beyond fishing. (point five above). I cant influence the weather (point six and three above).

During the five days of guided fishing, plans will be made initially for the week, and then often re-made as weather and conditions dictate. Discussions and decisions are made after and during each guided session. What I like to do during a five day period like this is to introduce people to venues early in the week when we are not fishing - I walk them through locations creating 'visibility' and discussing location 'development' over tides. As the week progresses we return to these locations ready to fish - flies, lures, presentations, locations, timing of effort, safety concerns, positions have already been discussed and clients are ready and eager to fish. I try to emphasise advice afterall is only advice and people are free to take or leave it - the only time I am particularly 'tough' is when safety is an issue.

Each day that I guide I am attempting to place people into safe locations where they have the maximum opportunity to catch fish! This is done in respect of weather, tidal conditions, equipment and experience. In other words I don’t simply bring people fishing every day, I hope to guide them into situations where they can learn and achieve something from their angling experiences in Wexford – i.e. They successfully catch and return a number of bass! I can’t make them catch the fish but I can assist and demonstrate and facilitate but ultimately it’s down to the angler to take full advantage of the situation.

If as an angler you are continuously adding more variables into the equation that only serve to restrict your fishing and fishing times rather than enhancing them then you are learning nothing. There is one only one-way to boost your chances and that’s to do it and learn the craft for yourself. Bass fishing is not about an ever-increasing number of exacting situations that prevent you from going fishing. It’s not about counting fish; it’s not about catching the biggest fish, and I hope it never becomes competitively fished for in this country. Yes there are many, many factors involved that influence the fish but on any given day, on any twenty different locations, during a spring tide in summer with reasonable conditions you can expect to catch bass!

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Saltwater Lure Fishing - P9 of 21 - Surface lure fishing IV

What time are the fish?

In the diagram to the right the anglers cast is made perpendicular to the beach. There is a current flowing from right to left and in the next three diagrams lets assume the current flow and speed remains constant. The anglers lure is represented by the small black oblong shape and the path of the lure is indicated by the large blue arrow. This is the path the lure will take with a constant normal retrieve. The important thing to remember in this situation is the diection and motion the head of the lure is taking - take a look at the red arrow. This is CAST A.

In the next Diagram or CAST C all things remain the same
except the speed of retrieve the angler imparts on his lure. In this instance the speed of retrieve is slowed down and the path that the lure takes is much wider. Take a look at the red arrow in this instance and the difference is clear. The head of the lure is travelling in a different and wider presentation. This is CAST C.

In this last diagram again the current remains constant, but this time the angler increases the speed of his retrieve - the presentation is different as the head of the lure travels differently and the path taken is much tighter to the perpendicular. This is CAST B. Simply by varying the speed of the retrieve you can make three simple but very different presentations. Not only is your lure swimming differently but its sound will also be different. In this simple situation all things remain constant but in reality its not that simple. As tides rise and fall so the speed at which they run and flow increases and decreases, the direction in which they flow changes over many hours, the type of surface wave activity changes constantly as it interacts with local wind speed, direction, barometic pressure and even the type of ground which the water is running over.

If we were to take CAST A over a normal tide rise and fall where the angler doesn't vary his retrieve but we applied local tide flow, the path of the lure would be different at different times during the tide.

The following rule may help you determine maximum flow of water over any time of tide at a location during that tide. Fish activity and especially that of bass will coincide with this water flow at different intervals .

In the first hour of the tide 1/12th of the total tide or water would move.
In the second hour 2/12ths of the water moves.
In the third hour 3/12ths have moved.
So after the first three hours a total of 6/12ths of the tide has moved. For the remaining half of the tide the system works in reverse -
during the fourth hour another 3/12th of the water moves
in the fifth hour 2/12ths
and in the last hour 1/12th moves.
During Spring and Neap tides this volume can be greater or smaller, speeds are reduced or increased, and ranges are wider or narrower.

It is interesting to note that at the end of the fourth hour 3/4s of the TOTAL tide has pushed through. How does this affect our virtual angler who hasnt changed his speed of retrieve?

For the first and early second hours of the tide the lure would travel in a path resembing CAST C for the later part of the second hour and early part of the third it might look like CAST A. As the tide moved into the late third and fourth hours it would look like CAST B, and for the remainder of the tide it would begin to resort to CAST C.

So not only is this tidal flow timing affecting our presentations it also affects the timing and the behaviour of the fish WE want to catch and also the behaviour of the fish THEY want to catch too!

Understanding how our target species behaves in this sequence is a vital part of your success and this is based around how their prey behaves, swims, hides, feeds, moves around and generally behaves in the tidal sequences, flow and movement of water. Vary your retrieves and presentations to match that of prey rather than simply pulling lures through or across the water. In other words small fish like gobies in some locations might be active in the first two hours and the last two hours of tide - during the rush hour they seek cover from strong currents. Thats two different presentations you will need to make.

NEXT - Which of the twelfths is the best for fishing?

Saltwater Lure Fishing - P6 of 21 - Surface lure fishing III

Cutting up the surface clock.

There is a technique used in fly fishing called fan casting. Imagine you are standing at the waters edge and rather than making your first casts straight out in front of you and then retrieving back, you make a short cast almost parallel to the shore line to your right hand side and then retrieve. Lets call this the three o clock position, you then cast again to your right to the same distance but at an earlier position on the clock face - some what before the imaginary little hand is on three. You continue in this fashion from right to left past two o clock, past one and twelve which is straight in front of you and continue across to your left, past eleven and ten to nine o clock, always at the same distance.

Where there is no current running you could begin to cast again at nine and at a slightly greater distance and work your way back to three and then back again to nine, again at an increased distance - slowly working you casting from right to left and left to right further out to sea with each pass. If there is current on your location lets say flowing from right to left I find that generally fish point into the current if holding, so casting from nine back to three is often less effective.

This technique allows you to cover all of your fishing ground in front without going into the water, to a range of say 30 metres. The next phase involves you stepping into the water away from the shore line for about two metres and beginning to fan cast again, right to left, wade a little, then fan cast right to left and continue until you reach a safe wading limit. If you have done this slowly and carefully a cast behind you is often worth a try. Return to shore, have a sit down and then move down the location a little and begin again.

So how do I apply this to my lure fishing? Of course casting with a lure is considerably easier but that doesnt mean you should be less patient or less careful. Simply flipping your first casts to thirty metres along the shore and working out and around in the fan cast fashion works equally as well from a lure perspective. In fact you may be suprised to learn where fish lie, and covering them like this gives you the opportunity to find them without spooking them off.

NEXT - Tidal timings and our presentations

Salt Water Lure Fishing - P5 of 21 - Micro lures for sea trout

Before you begin fishing for seatrout with these lures I would ask you to consider replacing the treble hooks on these lures with single barbless hooks.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Salt Water Lure Fishing - P4 of 21 Surface lure fishing II

Often imitated, impossible to duplicate, the Super Spook is just as deadly as the original Zara Spook introduced decades ago. Oversized eyes and the trademark walk-the-dog action make everything from bass to redfish attack with a vengeance. Fish don't simply bite a Super Spook, they attack it. HERE

Thats some of the blurb on one of the most successful lures of all time. When you consider that the lure was first created back in 1939 by the Heddon company and called the zaragossa 6500 it was made from wood. Following the development of the plastic version Heddon changed its name to the zara spook 9260. It has continued to evolve for nearly sixty years with a 4 inch three hook version released in the mid nineties - its still marketed by the Heddon brand after all this time.
Available for less than 10 dollars it has proved time and again an indispensable lure for my cutomers and I. Due to its long existence its often overlooked in favour of more 'advanced' lure types and is often considered 'obsolete' or 'forgotten'. The biggest mistake you can make is to forget to add it to your collection. The lure has occupied a place in my top 10 for many years now.

Its unique 'clunk clunk' sound and wide walk the dog action creates a target that many bass simply cant refuse. The lure is not the worlds greatest caster but it more than makes up for this with its own unique credentials. When water is colder and a little 'off' and fish are not responding on the surface - then reach for the spook - it can often be the one that gets you the adrenaline rush of a surface hit that you might hve missed.

Remember your fishing with a lure that started life 60 years ago and has remained very little changed since then. Some things dont need fixin'.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

The toughest bass fishing year yet!

South East Angling Ireland
A year in review 2008

2008 shall be remembered as a difficult year for bass fishing. Since I officially started with a full time guiding service the year produced somewhere in the region of 50% less fish than 2007, and 2007, whilst good, was down on previous returns. It was also a year where numbers were less than 50% of the five-year average. Summer catches in the estuaries and along many parts of the southeastern coast were hampered by the runoff from heavy rainfall and the constant strong wind and waves stirred up sand and mud. Water clarity was almost a constant issue right through the summer and it wasn’t until late September that some consistency was achieved.

The autumn months of September, October and November produced some spectacular fishing and we were rewarded with bigger fish on the fly than I would have previously experienced. In fact the entire season produced a better quality of fish than any of the other previous four years experiences. Because of the considerable challenges we experienced, fishing was at times very difficult, and fly-fishing was often impossible or dangerous. I would like to say thank you to all the people who persevered and often got their rewards after what seemed like an impossible situation, I also apologise to those people whom I cancelled but sometimes its better and safer not to fish at all.

What is becoming apparent to me is the increasing interest in saltwater fly-fishing. Numbers of people visiting SEAi are up in the following categories

1. Saltwater fly fishing
2. Instructional days
3. Visitors from within Ireland interested in saltwater fly and lure fishing

Numbers of people fishing with lures from international destinations has decreased somewhat, this may be indicative of other aspects of the marketing strategy of SEAi. Because of the difficult and challenging nature of saltwater fly fishing for bass, and whilst there are an increasing number of people interested in this aspect of the fishing, it may also have contributed to the drop in numbers of fish returns per day during a difficult season. This is not truly reflective of the saltwater fly fishery and in fact after two consecutive years of tough fly-fishing conditions we hope that the weather will improve for 2009.

The weight distribution of fish is not available for 2003, 2004, or 2005 – I was using these periods to capture a reasonable sample of actual weight against length, very similar to the B.A.S.S. measurements/conversion table. It is available for the years 2006, '07 and '08. It must be said that that in any ‘scientific analysis’ this report would not stand up to scrutiny. Whilst numbers of fish are reasonably accurate a lot of the weight distribution numbers are based upon quick ‘visual guestimates’ of length based over hours of experience. Fish are also often measured against a rod enabling quick return/release. Bigger fish are measured using the BASS tape. Numbers available on request.

Lure fishing returns do suffer during bad weather conditions however the impact is not as severe as that placed upon fly fishers. Over the five year reported period, numbers of lure fishing visitors has decreased. This is part of the active marketing strategy based towards a more fly-fishing oriented guiding service. As a consequence of the increase in fly fishermen there is a significant decrease in catch returns. However these numbers are influenced heavily by two very difficult summers in a row.

Lessons Learned - 2008

GEAR; I operate the guiding service on average for 10 hrs per day – over a 7 month season that can add up to a lot of hours in mny different environments. The weather this year placed untold demands on rods reels and lines but also on waders, jackets and other protective gear. I realise the average angler may not spend as much time on the water as my customers and I – but I would strongly recommend that you buy the best you can afford especially in relation to protective gear like jackets, boots and waders.

FISHING; I learned a LOT this year about bass fishing in very difficult weather, most of it in relation to fly-fishing for bass. On the south and east coast there is a multitude of variables that will influence the fish, wind, temperature, tide and rain to name only a few. Understanding and observing these influences will help you no end in your fishing. DO NOT be surprised where and when you will find fish even if the window is only very small. Yes there are some hard statistics that are always associated with the words like ‘never’ or ‘always’ or ‘must’ – I will say to you now -you find the boundaries for yourself, you will be surprised! Its not about the moon, or tide or wind, its about the amalgamation of these influences by you and then using the information tactically.

CUSTOMER CARE: Because conditions were often very difficult during the season customer care was of utmost importance. This extended from two sources that wouldnt normally be as demanding. At times with strong winds and heavy rains, fly casting was very physically and mentally demanding. Extreme care was needed. I emphasised regularly both from a stable footing point of view and the travelling fly line, that it was neccessary for me to watch the customers fly/fly line and its path during strong winds, and to be extremely vigilant of waves. The second aspect of customer care was constant communication and encouragement when things were tough as was often the case. I normally fish very little if at all (unless invited) when guiding and most of my time this year was spent demonstratng wind beating techniques while trying to fish effectively. Its very important to me that YOU catch the fish not ME!

TACTICS; Soft lures, BIG flies and sinking lines – the hot items during 2008. In muddy water wait and watch the situation develop over a tide - water tends to be a little clearer near the bottom!

Bendy Rods for 2009

Monday 12 January 2009

Wexford Anglers on Irish Team

News is reaching me of James Gordon and Barry Roche - two Wexford anglers who competed at the weekends master shore competitions. Barry finishing first and James second places them on the Irish Team - a fantastic achievment. Well done guys.


Friday 9 January 2009

Winter scenes at the river

A short trip to the river today to see some salmon spawning. You can see more HERE

New Website

The beginning AND the end…

Forwarded to - The Irish Bass Policy Group (David McInerny, John Quinlan, Shane O Reilly, Mike Hennessy, Dr William Roche, Dr Nial O'Ma...