I normally get a winter fishing fix chasing the striped cousins of our bass. Yet my perch angling opportunities in England have been non-existent for the past 2 months – which given the state of the rivers is just as well. I hope to put this right soon and fish lures on a chalk fed river protected from the worst effects of the flooding. My fishing break has however temporarily lessened my bass obsession, which in truth is something of a relief. Other bass anglers I hear of are more hard-core and continue to fish. Though from what I have heard those still trying in the UK still are struggling. The efforts of Si Lewis (the other principle contributor to this blog) fishing his home water in France is however a different matter entirely:

Wild creatures

A wild creature and a perch

The other Friday evening Si texted me about this and that, saying he’d had a right week at work and was thinking of fishing lures in the morning. I reminded him he had effectively conceded the bass season on this blog (see here: http://www.ukbass.com/so-there-we-have-it/ ) His defence seemed a fair one though as he claiming he was fishing for wrasse, while merely hoping for a bass. It seems a true bass fanatic never completely abandons hope.

The next morning as I sipped my coffee and read the paper I received a text: “You would not believe the session I am having.” Another two followed describing an evolving session, the statistics of which equate to a seasons worth of bass for many. To me each message was like another boulder thrown in to a previously placid pool, as the reports discombobulated my expectations of January bass fishing and my settled state of mind.

Si and part of the bass bonanza

Around midday Si phoned, interrupting me from searching for flight availability from Bristol to France that very day. He told me he was still getting a hit every cast, but was exhausted from constantly fighting bass on light tackle and genuinely had to leave while he still had the strength to scramble back up the wet cliffs. Call me uncaring, but given my weekend involved only a lengthy to-do list, having empathy for his dilemma was testing. Almost as hard is holding back from telling him that stopping was proof that his excessive consumption of fine French food and a sedentary lifestyle had just cost him fish (though I might have chosen to phrased this slightly less politely). Yet I kept this cheap jibe within. After all he had just caught and released between 40 and 50 bass, with over a third between 5 and 7 pounds, and is in no way a quitter. Yet he had voluntarily stopped fishing with fish still in front of him. Which to me is reassuring evidence that it is actually possible to satisfy your fishing desires! Furthermore I knew just how much time and effort Si invests in his bass fishing, in the very hope of mornings like this. He does not live in a land of easy bass fishing – who does? This bonanza was the product of graft and hard won knowledge: not good fortune. Once I remembered this it was impossible not to feel enthused by his success -yet I still offered him just a little abuse just to keep him real.

Si’s motto is “he who dares….” He had, and had hit the jackpot too. In winter with bass although the missing word(s) that follow he who dares is invariably blanks, freezes or falls in. Si’s bonanza proves just occasionally it can be “wins” – and as any gambler know when the odds are long, you don’t have to win often to reap big returns.

I am now wondering (yet again this winter) whether to forgo my beloved winter perch fishing and getting afloat for the bass.

Si even texted me a picture of his Labrax thumb: a far rarer condition than stripers thumb.

Blogger: Matt Spence                                                                   Pics: Author and Si Lewis

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