You are interested in Sea fishing and now you want to learn more about fishing for Bass. You have come to the right place, I want to explain to you the 7 most popular and effective ways to catch Bass from around the UK shore line. A big thank you to Mike, a facebook follower for the image!
Just let me share this with you first – Bass are in a particular area to feed, if you are in the in the right place at the right time, using the right method you will catch Bass. I have detailed how to find your mark, how to think like a bass and decide on what they might be eating in other posts, but for the definitive guide consider my Bass Fishing Guide
For some great tackle for fishing for Bass check out this link to Fishtec
Okay lets look at the best methods to start fishing for Bass:
1.Beach Casting – standard
I suggest this is considered to be the most common method for fishing for Bass, but many of you, by default might fall into the next category, especially if you are new to the hobby.
General beach casting kit for a new comer to the sport comprises of a beach caster capable of casting 3 – 6 oz of lead into the far reaching distance with the right technique and lots of practice. You should be looking at a rod 11-13 feet in length, with a through action. A nice balanced fixed spool or if you are confident a beach casting multiplier reel capable of holding about 300 yds of 15lb line. a 3/0 hook should be attached to a rig like my favourite long range rig “pulley rig” with a large fresh bait matched to the location, perfect for fishing for Bass – Crab for around rocks, Eel or Lug Worm for Sand, Squid and Rag for mixed ground.
As a novice just starting out in fishing for Bass you get into a mind set that you need to cast your guts out in order to catch a Bass. It’s like a young new car driver – every journey is at break neck speed, the car has a go pedal and it must be used to full advantage. If you beach cast like this, casting as far as you can into the sea, STOP right now. You need to consider what you are casting towards.
- Do you know there is a deep hole 175 yds out?
- Are you placing your bait onto the edge of a reef or drop off?
- Is that lead coming to a stop on a patch of sand surrounded by weed and broken ground?
If the answer is yes to any of the above, or you are casting in the knowledge that there is a feature holding fish, then you are bang on, that’s perfect. If not you may as well cast out 20 yds, in fact there is where you should be casting when fishing for Bass.
Once you have got that bait in to the right location in normal conditions you need to change bait about every 20 mins. This allows time for a scent trail to form and prevents the bait being washed out. If its rough or a strong current is running then consider re-baiting every 15 mins. When fishing for Bass in calm conditions and tough bait like Mackerel and squid, leave it longer 20 to 30 mins.
If you have not done your home work on your mark you need to fish hard and think on your feet. Lets start with a long cast, then reduce the cast distance. When you wind in can you feel any changes in the sea bed? Lets fish to the left, over to the right, in close. You are going to have to search for a feature that will hold Bass. If there is a swell or surf running get your bait just behind the breakers as the fish will hold there. If you hit a fish, cast to the same area, that fish was there for a reason. Fishing for Bass is hard work.
Here is a great video explaining a nice simple beginners cast – The easy cast
Can you cast only 10 to 20 yds. It can be harder than you think and a lot of Bass hold in that range. You must have heard of a beginner who could not cast, or a child fishing a hand line and amazingly caught a double figure Bass. It’s not that special, that is where Bass often hunt.
Also consider using two rods when fishing for Bass, a heavy beach caster for longer range and light gear for fishing for Bass as described below for short range fishing.
2. Beach Fishing for Bass with light gear
I love fishing with light gear. It really engages my mind and when you hook a nice Bass you will understand why it is important, when possible to fish with balanced tackle. I say when possible, because sometimes you will be fishing for Bass in a large swell or current and you need 5 oz to barely hold bottom, you just need that extra capacity and grunt.
In my book, light gear for fishing for bass from a Beach would be any thing from a spinning rod, 2lb test curve (ish) carp rod to a 2-3oz Bass rod. These rods can cast from 1/4 oz to 3-4 oz. I tend to use either a spinning rod or carp rod for when I go fishing for Bass.
You need a reel to match and now I would suggest a good quality fixed spool reel over a multiplier. I think a fixed spool reel is much easier to cast short and accurate and the modern reels will handle long powerful casts as well.
Line is always an argument, but modern fine braid at 15 – 18lb is wonderful stuff and with lighter leads you will get much less wind and tide effect on the line, keeping your bait where you want it! In clear waters consider a flurocarbon leader – the damn stuff dissapears in the water, also use the longest leader you can manage. In stirred up conditions you do not have to worry about this so much, decrease your leader length and you can get away with coloured line.
Rigs – KEEP IT SIMPLE. A basic running ledger will be just fine when you are fishing for Bass. A 1/2 oz ball lead fished as a running ledger is deadly. The ball lead will cover ground as it gets washed around by the tide, it also stirs up the bottom a little, which I think helps to attract Bass. You will feel everything going on, you will learn to feel sand, shale, holes and other features.
Baits again need to be matched for the location you are fishing for Bass in. Early morning and evening to night are the best times. If you are fishing for Bass at night keep your light off the water or use a red filter on your head lamp. Red light does not travel as far and will not put the Bass off. Change baits as I mentioned in the section above.
I try and hold my fishing rod when fishing light, it keeps you in touch with the gear, you will soon be able to detect very subtle bites or interest in the bait.
Another great thing with fishing light, only one rod, some basic fishing tackle, no rod rest is the fact you suddenly become mobile this is great when you are fishing for Bass. You can easily change location when you notice some birds feeding 1/2 a mile away along the beach, learning to read your mark is an important part of fishing for Bass. You can really work the location and hunt the Bass down. Game anglers are on the move, lets apply this to our sea angling.
This is possibly one of the most dedicated and hardest to master aspects of Bass fishing but when it comes together one of the most rewarding!
Many sea species can be caught on fly fishing tackle, from Bass, Mullet to Cod and flounder (quite a few flounder are caught by salmon anglers accidently ). There are salt water purists who have dedicated their sea fishing over to the fly rod.
To get the best out of saltwater fly fishing for Bass (SWFF) you need to be able to cast well and have confidence in using fly tackle. If you are totally new then your local trout still water (lake) should be able to assist you in learning to cast and then you can develop your skill on trout and more forgiving conditions before taking on the sea. Here is a link to a great SWFF dedicated web site.
The gear needed is a fly rod capable of casting a 7-9 weight line. I would suggest a 8 – 10 foot fly rod and a large arbour fly reel. A large arbour has a large central hub making the line less likely to curl and come of the reel more smoothly when fighting. You really need a plastic reel (cheap) or a suitable salt water reel. A sinking tip line will cover most situations, but a floating line can be used with great success. A sinking line comes into its own in deeper water situations.
Leaders are as the section above – clear and still water long invisible leaders, turbid waters shorter leaders.
A stripping basket is a device which holds the line and stops it collecting at your feet and snagging in every rock around you. It is simply a container that straps to your middle that you put the line in while you pull the fly back through the water. I have used a washing up bowel on a belt – did the job.
Flies and lures can be purchased specifically made for SWFF. Silver lures are great for sand eels over sand and single, copper coloured lures work well in and around weed and rock. You can even get crab lures, really there is everything already made for you to use. If you get hooked, then learn to make your own flies. There is no greater feeling than catching a fish with a lure or fly hand tied by your self that matches a critter you discovered on the beach, like a sea slatter (bass love um)
Waders, polaroid sun glasses and a peaked cap are all useful additions allowing you to sight fish and get to lots of interesting places to fish from. Use waders with care, if they fill up and you fall in you will be lucky to get out quickly…
You really need to know your mark or read the shore line when fishing for Bass with fly fishing gear. You are going to be looking at gullies in rocks, channels and holes in sand. Use the tide to carry your line and lure across the top of holding fish.
The action will be mind blowing as the Bass takes your sub-surface lure with a crash and then steams off, stripping line of your fly reel, the curve in the rod taking the energy out of the fish and the heart racing as you consider how you are going to fight this Bass. It is really worth a try! There is no better way to fish for Bass when the conditions allow.
4.Lure Fishing for Bass
This is the area of Bass fishing I really excel at, I love it. You can move easily, cover loads of ground, try lots of different lures at different depths, colours, shapes, sizes and even sounds.
Tackle is simple, a smaller fixed spool reel capable of holding 250 yds of 12 lb line is perfect. Matched to a spinning rod of about 9 feet in length would be just right. You could get a nice set up for around 100 pounds, you can spend 400 on just a rod, so take care. 15 lb mono is plenty, but I notice other anglers are now using 20lb braid because it is so thin these days. Good quality fluro-carbon is great for invisible leaders A pack of swivels, maybe a few beads and some ball leads or spinning leads. I also carry a few hooks and watch leads so I can do a bit of bottom fishing for Bass if I want.
Lures come lots of styles here are a few:
- Hard Plastics – Rapala & Duo
- Soft Plastics – Berkley Gulp
- Shads – Fish like soft plastics
- Spinners – Mepps and Dexter Wedge
- Home made – What ever you want!
Each lure has a particular “action” which is the way the lure moves in the water. Some wiggle a lot, others head for the surface and create surface disturbance. The swimming action can be adjusted by the angler by adjusting retieive speed to accentuate the action or dull the action. A quick flick of the rod tip will create a fast burst of action, stopping the lure will let it hang for a second, before moving off. Study how prey fish move and also consider how an injured fish would move.
Why do Bass take lures? Generally it’s because of hunger and the fish is attacking to feed. However anger, territorial protection and just a general interest of what the object is are all motives for a take. Many lure imitate injured fish and we all know that life is survival of the fittest, so the Bass are cashing in on an easy meal – so they think!!
You get to the beach, you have learnt about your mark so you know where to fish. Cast to the locations you know about, into pools, hollows, sand/gravel interchanges, reefs – you know the score. Fish really tight to the base of cliffs, cast along the shore line then work a clock face around yourself. You can also let any currents take your lure out to sea before you begin working the lure, this covers lots of ground! Cast to the same place at least 3 times (this covers getting the fish angry and inducing a take). You can the consider changing lures, try and match colour of fish you would expect to see. An old fly fishing adage I use when fishing for Bass:
Bright Day/Dark pattern
On bright days, you want the silhouette to be visible against a bright sky. Theoretically a light coloured pattern will not be as visible against a bright sky, so use a darker one.
Dark Days/Bright pattern
Against a darker sky, the light coloured pattern may be more visible to the Bass.
This has worked for me! Trial your retrieve speed, if using sinking lures then leave to sink at different times so you fish the whole water column. If you see fish or birds on the surface get there and work your lure amongst them.
Remember you are not fixed to one spot. I have often covered 2-3 miles in a morning session and further on longer days, searching out areas that might hold Bass.
Please note Bass can be caught on lure in both daylight and the dark (here is a good Post on Bass fishing at Night)
When fishing for Bass with lures the take is often explosive, the Bass will hit the lure hard and fast and on balanced tackle you will have great sport. In my opinion this is the ultimate method for fishing for Bass.
5. Float Fishing for Bass
A simple float rig with a sand eel or other fish bait is just what you need to cover lots of ground on a mark. A standard float either pencil or bubble with a at least a 3 foot leader to your hook bait will present bait perfectly in lots of situations. Clear plastic floats or plain coloured ones are best, especially if you are fishing shallow water. REMEMBER USE A CLEAR OR PLAIN FLOAT
A float cast into the back of the surf where you would expect bait items to be washed out of the surf can prove deadly. You can also do this casting back from rocks or piers. Allow the float to be carried in the current to cover acres of the sea. You can adjust the height of the rig by employing a simple sliding float rig.
Tackle wise spinning gear to beach casting gear will work for float fishing for Bass, just the heavier the rod, the more weight will be required to get an effective cast. So a spinning rod will work well with a small bubble float, for a beach rod you will need at least 3 oz with a matched float. Float fishing can be done in the dark with a night stick (chemical light) on the float.
Baits include Sand Eel, mini Species, Squid, Mussel, Worm baits, fish bait fillets and Prawn or a cocktail bait. The use of bait elastic to secure the bait onto the hook is advised, keep the hook point clear.
Bites can the the classic tug of the float, but sometimes more subtle and the float will just move in an unexpected way. You will also go cross eyed eventually and you float will seem to move!
6. Live Baiting
A very popular method of fishing for Bass around the South West of England. Regularly used from boats or Kayaks but equally as good from the shore, cliffs or other Bass marks you have identified. The key is getting quality bait, fresh and healthy.
I have written about Catching Prawn for Bait (it needs a bit of improvement).Prawn make a wonderful live bait and are deadly. Fish them using a treble hook, just using one of the three hook points into the end of the tail of the prawn. This will let it have good natural action and create vibration and sight attraction qualities. The prawn will try and get into cover, so make sure the length of your leader will prevent the prawn getting to safety. You can spend hours thinking your are not getting a bite when in reality your prawn is under a rock considering his options.
To keep your bait alive you will need a bait kettle, either home made or purchased. You can get some great flat folding ones. Basically it is a bucket with an air line aerating the water, keeping the fish or prawn alive.
7. Kayak fishing
Almost the perfect way to go fishing. Getting on a kayak you can hit locations impossible to get to by any other method, like walking or from a boat.
You are able to risk fishing tight to reefs, in the most shallow ground, following a sand bank. The only things holding you back are the weather and your paddling capacity.
Kayaks can be bought in most areas of the country or on-line. You need to get one suited to your ability. A fast long narrow boat is not going to be stable enough if you have not got good natural balance. Look for a boat with a bit of width to it so you feel safe and are safe.
The first few trips you need to practice getting into your kayak in-case you capsize. I strongly recommend going out with an instructor for the first few times and learn the art of Kayak safety.
You need to watch the weather and have a sound understanding of a forecast, especially if you are going any distance off shore. I fish a dangerous mark local to me called the Manacles. There is a fast tide and its a long paddle. I read the weather and take appropriate safety gear including paddle keeper (line attached to kayak and paddles) BA (buoyancy aid), quality wet suite, flares and radio.
Fishing for Bass allows you to employ any tactic, even beach casting (kayak casting) if you can master a good cast, but there should be no need. A silent paddling technique gives you stealth and the ability to stalk and sight hunt fish. Keeping live bait alive is easy with a live bait kettle or a bucket with a rubber inflatable ring around it with holes drilled into it towed behind the Yak.
For more top Kayak fishing information visit Anglersafloat
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