During the early summer months in the upper reaches of the Bristol Channel, it is possible to catch bass very close to the shoreline. Because of this, fishing tackle for bass can be a lot lighter than the conventional tackle often associated with the often hostile environment encountered here. The sporting element of playing a bass on a rod that actually bends is incredible and for the rookie sea angler, it makes for a truly thrilling encounter and one that will be savoured for weeks to come.
One evening in early May I was joined by young Miguel Davis and his father Paul who were both keen to try this branch of the sport, having previously only used heavier tackle in the year since they set off on their sea fishing journey. Both had a background in freshwater fishing, but like many did not realise that the tackle they use in pond, river or lake would be perfectly suitable for bass fishing too.
Paul had never landed a bass and having witnessed son Miguel capture a prime example last year, was keen to get his first under his belt. Before we began our session, as well as the usual safety brief I made sure that both anglers were fully aware of the current bass restriction whereby all fish are to be released.
I equipped Paul with my go-to carp rod and small fixed spool reel loaded with braid whilst Miguel opted to use his own twelve foot beach caster in a bid to find his first thornback ray. Having explained how to prepare a peeler crab bait together with the intricacies of my preferred rig bass, Miguel looked on as Paul made his first cast. At around twenty-yards or so, it was perfect and as the flooding tide progressed over the mud flats, he stood in wait. Miguel followed suit, but with the heavier shore rod he was keen to use in a bid for that first ray.
It was a blustery night and I looked on as both anglers stood with much intent, the buffeting wind doing nothing to distract there attention away from the rod tip. The sea had plenty of movement to it and I looked on as large rollers trundled past us, picking at the lines as they passed. I paced back and forth between the two.
"Any bites yet?", I asked Miguel and Paul in turn. Twenty minutes or so passed and it was just as we were about to be pushed from our mark that Paul bellowed out those words that all anglers like to hear.
With my back to him concentrating on Miguel, I had missed the initial hit, but sure enough Paul held the rod high as it jabbed away in his grasp, the shock of the savage hit taking him by total surprise! With a little encouragement, Paul soon had his first bass through the dumping waves and at the waiting net, but not before yours truly had taken a wave face on, soaking me to the skin in the process. But it didn't matter. Paul's accomplishment lay there in the net and the beaming smile on his face couldn't have been wider.
Miguel had to wait until a little later on in the session to find his target species, but again after a little rig tuition, a practical casting demonstration and some instruction on presenting a bait, he was soon clutching a fine thornback ray. Having enjoyed the thrill of this first fish, there was no stopping him and he went on to add a second ray and two conger eels.
Both anglers went away full of talk of future sessions and it was incredibly pleasing to see that what they had learned in those few hours may well pave the way to some successful angling over many years to come. If you are looking to enjoy a similar experience, take a look at the website for full details- www.thegamblingangler.co.uk