We are bestowed with a wealth of fine fishing opportunities around our coastline. Indeed, until last year, I hadn’t quite appreciated how good the fishing actually was, and was very much suffering from the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ attitude. A mid summer and late autumn session, however, soon opened my eyes and I was truly in awe and quite annoyed with myself with what I had been overlooking. But what about the when and where? Well, firstly bass are found around most of England and Wales’s coastline, and are venturing ever northwards. The Channel Islands are always noted for their bassing, as are many of the Southern England’ storm beaches. Secondly, I would hope the following would give a decent overview and what to expect.
The month of May is the first month after a long winter of waiting when bass can be targeted in earnest and in numbers. Bass remain around our coastline all winter, but not in the numbers and concentration experienced throughout the Summer and Autumn months when they really come into their own and provide unsurpassed sport to the venturing angler.
Their return migration to our waters as our sea and land warms-up, much akin to the migration patterns of the swallow, occurs around March and April. This time, and certainly into May and June is when the largest specimens undertake their mating practices, creating and assuring our future sport.
What to use and where to target these early season fish is largely dictated by the sea temperature and conditions. An early spring that may prematurely warm our inshore waters can get the bass fishing aggressively and hunting rather than savaging. This is largely dictated by the baitfish and sandeels that will soon emerge when the seas start warming, forming the main fare for the marauding bass. Should the winter be prolonged and the spring remain cold then chances are the inshore waters will be unseasonably, resulting in very little food for the bass to hunt. As such, the bass will be found foraging and scavenging, being tempted more by static baits such as peeler crab rather than chasing and ambushing plugs and poppers. Here, local knowledge and insight is of paramount importance, as a day can make a lot of difference in the life of a bass, especially as the weather and/or wind direction can dictate a change in feeding patterns.
The key for success in the early part of the season is to understand and acknowledge these disparities and changes and to be able to cover both when visiting a productive bass mark. Chances are the bass would always be tempted by a crab or worm bait no matter what part of the season, making it a safe bet. Conversely you could end up casting aimlessly for hours with a lure should the fish not be actively pursuing prey, making it a worthwhile exercise to carry some bait as a contingency if the conditions dictate – if the bass don’t turn up at least you then have a chance of a dab or a flounder!
As we progress into the warmer, summer months the bass fishing really comes into its own, as the fish become more active and really start feeding heavily through the water layers and will consistently take surface offerings, be this on the fly rod or with spinning poppers. Dusk can be a key period, especially as a lot of their prey become more active in low light conditions.
As a general rule the middle part of the flood and the ebb of the tide gives the best fishing, as this is the part when the food is bullied around the most.
Either way, give the bass a shot as I’m certain you won’t be disappointed. Should the bass not turn up then there’s always a chance of a mullet, Pollack or mackerel to chase.
Steffan Jones is the owner of Angling Worldwide , Guide & Fishing addict!