What is a Bass?
The British bass is viewed as a prestigious trophy fish. The sea bass feeds on invertebrates such as molluscs and crustaceans. They have an elongated body and a large head. Sea bass have small, reflective silver scales. They are quick, powerful fish. On the correct gear, they can put up a great fight. The current British record is an outstanding 19lb 12oz caught recently from Sandown Pier, Isle of Wight.
Bass can be found in deep water and shallower inshore marks. Due to bass regularly going to inshore marks, they can be caught on small boats as well as bigger charter style vessels.
The main issue is that bass will sit close to strong tides/currents. This may pose a threat to smaller vessels. The biggest tides are usually within the spring.
These can be very perilous for unprepared anglers fishing from the shore or small craft that are unfortunate enough to get caught in them. However, where the tides are strong bass will generally be. If you are a kayak angler it is advised to not target bass in powerful tides. Slack water can be a great time to pick up a massive specimen bass. Slack water is the state of the tide when it is turning, especially at low tide.
(Estuaries and harbours also fish brilliantly for bass due to the large amounts of bait and shoal fish in these locations. Using slightly larger hooks in these locations will hopefully prevent smaller species from stealing your bait. Multiple bait lines are recommended to stop crabs from stripping all of your lines.)
How to Target Bass From the Shore
Statistics tell us that big bass, and specimen bass over 8lb, are more commonly caught in the period of September through to November. The tiny, weak or injured fish that manage to survive during the warm, calm days of summer quickly flee from the strength of the gales and big seas in autumn arrive. This is the reason why big bass moves back inshore.
It is recommended to use a sliding ledger rig. This is a great rig for bass as they will eat what is on the sea bed. The best times to use these rigs are at dawn, dusk and dark. Larger bass will like rougher conditions as this churns the food within the water. Making their pray more vulnerable. So do not be disheartened by choppy conditions.
Bass will come to feed on the vulnerable fish. They will also eat worms and shellfish that get washed out of the sand and disturbed from the rougher ground by the choppy seas. Bass do have a feeding hierarchy and on many occasions, the larger adult fish do choose to feed before or after the mass of juvenile fish.
Many anglers say the best shore bait for bass is a full squid, although they will take rag and lugworms as well.
As bass are bottom-feeding fish they will scavenge the shore for food. Although, you can also use realistic lures and flies to catch bass on.
Larger bass will chase isolated fish. Selecting a fly or lure that represents a baitfish within your local area will increase your chances of catching a bass.
Plastic worms that represent lug//rag or sand eel can work well for bass. If you are fishing from a shore mark a beach caster with a shock leader will be essential. The reason for this is that you will have to cast extremely far to reach the tides that the bass is sitting in.
Light rods can be extremely fun when fishing from deep rock marks or boats. A great setup would be a Penn rampage or an ugly stick.
Facts & Tips
Sea bass is renowned as an extremely powerful fighting fish. The battling one on a properly balanced bass rod can provide brilliant sport. Be cautious when unhooking a bass as the spiky first dorsal fin and sharp gill covers are capable of piercing skin.
If a bass of 10lb or more was caught it would be considered a landmark catch for the majority of anglers. Although bass that is smaller than this still provide plenty of sport. Bass that weighs under 2lbs is known as school bass and stay in shoals in and around estuaries, while larger bass lives in deeper water and become solitary predators of the deep.
It is recommended to use circle hooks. The reason for this is that it will hook the bass in the lip. This allows for easier hook removal when the fish has been caught. When removing the hook you should use a cloth to protect your hand from the sharp barbs along the back of the basses back.
Make sure you remain within the boundaries of the law when bass fishing. If you choose to keep a fish, make sure it's over the current minimum length and weight. Many anglers recommend returning extremely large bass as these are usually breeding fish and are not good eating.
Bass can be a remarkable fish to catch on the correct balanced gear. Catching your first bass can take patience and determination. These fish are not easily caught. Understanding how bass feed and where they stay (within tides) is the most vital part of bass fishing. Coming across the right stretch of coast or deep watermark can be tricky. It is recommended to try different locations to ensure you cover large bodies of water. Obstructions on the sea bed such as holes, wrecks, sand piles etc. can be great areas for consistently feeding bass. For the best chance of catching one fish within high tide season using bottom based rigs, preferably sliding ledger rigs.
By Daniel O'Neill