Inflatable Bass Angling by Tony Hooper
Do you recall the first boat fishing trip you had? Well I have always enjoyed fishing from small boats, there is something about being able to fish in deeper water and being able to move from one mark to another so easily. I had seen one or two anglers fishing from small inflatables but dismissed the idea as completely unsuitable. All those hooks, knives, spikey bass and rubber tubes filled with air hardly seemed to be a good mix. I thought little more of it until I came across two fellow BASS members parked on the shore of an estuary with two inflatable boats strapped to the roof of their estate car. After a chat with them my interest in this method of angling was re-kindled.
I wanted something that I could carry in or on my car so I had no trailer to park and then be able to launch it single-handed. I did some research and bought an Avon Rover 340 and a Yamaha 8hp 2 stroke outboard. The boat weighed 40kg and the Yamaha 27kg. I fitted a pair of Trem fold-up 10” wheels to the transom. The boat came with a foot pump but a 12 volt electric air pump is much quicker. The inflatable air deck seemed a bit vulnerable so I protected it from bass spikes with a piece of hard-backed carpet.
The waters of South & West Ireland and its bass fishing have attracted me for more than 40 years. I knew West Cork would be an ideal area in which to use an inflatable as there are lots of sheltered estuaries and bays. I made a list of equipment that I would need to take – lifejacket, a small anchor & line and a puncture repair kit (supplied with the Avon). Within the Bass Society, inflatables are referred to as ‘crisp packets’ because even in a gentle breeze they skate across the water. I already had a drogue that I used on trout reservoirs and taking that proved later to be a very good decision. A Garmin satnav & fish finder that had Admiralty charts covering the UK & Ireland pre-installed was bought from an auction site. The transducer is clamped to the transom rather than being permanently fixed.
I studied Irish Ordnance Survey maps and some rather old paper Admiralty charts to find likely marks and launching places. I spent a few winter evenings jotting down coordinates and then inputting them to the Garmin. Ireland is much more relaxed about launching from beaches and slipways. Parking the car is rarely an issue and invariably free.
My first bass fishing trip to West Cork with the Avon went like a dream. My Jeep 4×4 that I use to tow my caravan had no problem with the sandy beaches while local boatmen and anglers were more than helpful. My research paid off as I netted some very good bass and bonus double figure pollack. The Yamaha 8hp pushes the Avon along at a very respectable 18-20mph in good conditions and even with two up will do 12-15mph. Last time I was in Ireland, 2015, I was joined by two other BASS members who now own similar sized inflatable dinghies. None of us have trailers and at around 40kg it is fairly easy to slide the inflated boat onto the roof rack using a simple home-made roller.
Some parts of South & West Ireland are still quite remote so it necessary to take a few basic engine spares & tools, the correct engine oil and that puncture repair kit! Personal safety is always important and I take a handheld marine radio backed up by a mobile phone. Caution and common sense are the rules – if it looks too choppy it is too choppy!
First published in Sea Angler in 2016