Boat Fishing For Bass

A lot goes into organising a day on a charter boat. Picking the tides with the help of the skipper. Picking the skipper with the help of results or reputation. Getting the right weather to be able to go. Picking the right gear for the conditions you’ll encounter. Putting together a crew that want the same thing. Get all of these things right and it’s just a case then of catching the odd fish, it will probably already be a good day . . . .

A week before the trip, it’s compulsory to check the weather forecast every 15 minutes, but never mention it if it looks good. If it’s on it is on! The night before, it’s all about tying the leader knot, checking your lures (again) loading the boxes, loading the packed lunch (no bananas).

Hold it up and smile . . . . the beauty preserved on film . . .

Nothing beats the feeling the morning of a boat trip. Getting out of bed is easy, one final check of the forecast and it’s into the car and down to the marina. I love the marina, the sound of the water lapping against the pontoon, the estuary mud catching the morning sun and smelling of childhood mudlarking, the ropes and lines gently chiming against the boats and masts.

The lads are greeted warmly and the catch up chat and banter ensues as the lines are cast off the pontoon and the powerful engine rumbles, as we head to sea.

So, the fishing. Depending on the depth of water and the speed of tide, you’ll not go too far wrong with a weedless minnow style lure. Anything from 20g to 120g plus may be used, I’d suggest carrying a range such as 40g, 60g, 90g and some 120g. Fiiish minnows and Storm weedless minnows are probably the staple and obvious choice, especially where you’re fishing over reef. Crazy Eels and other open hook patterns where the ground is less hungry such as banks of sand or shingle. I like a natural colour lure personally. Khaki, Blue, along those lines I’m confident. Garish lures do nothing for my confidence.

The lures are sent to the bottom, carefully focused on feeling the “drop” as the lure hits bottom – then its engage bail arm and lift the lure back up. Let the lure sink again on a tight line, not too quickly, don’t lose touch with it, tap, that’s the bottom . . . lift again and see that the crease on the surface where the tide flow is coming up from the bottom, is getting closer.

Slowly let it drop, keep the tension on the line – bang – is that the bottom? Lift! Nope, not the bottom! That’s a bass. The bass fight differently out there. Bursts of powerful speed and then dogging around, catching tide with deep flanks and large fins, big heavy headshakes and line pinging off fins that make your heart sink.

There is always a heart stopping moment when the fish nears the boat, darting for the underneath of the boat and fears of fine braid parting on the hull or prop, followed by that horrible “hang” we all know when the weight of the fish feels dead on the surface, as you draw it tentatively to the net.

The feeling of seeing your prize safely ensconced in the rubber mesh is always a mad mixture of relief and elation, the adrenaline enough to make you forget anything else, as you reach for your silvery prize.
Hold it up and smile, then send it away to the clear depths again, the beauty preserved on film, or simply in your mind.

Author: Rhys Hunt

Photos: Rhys Hunt

© Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society 2021

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