IFD: And now we talk to local expert Seamus Enright from County Kerry, an Irish bass fishing mecca where, Seamus gives us his advice for lure fishing for bass and what you will need to get started.
What sized reel and rods would you recommend?
A lure rod of 7 to 10 foot paired with a 2500 sized spinning reel is ideal for our bass fishing. The rod should be rated to cast lures that weigh between 5 and 35g. Spinning for long periods can be hard on the body so a light setup is helpful. Major craft currently make the best value rods for our type of fishing and I prefer Daiwa reels to Shimanos because of their mag sealed technology. I have my 2500 daiwa certate for over a year now and its never given trouble despite being dunked a few times.
What mainline do you recommend and what leader?
Braided mainline will cast a lot farther than mono. This can make quiet a difference on the windy days. I currently use Sunlines 20lbs cast away braid and I have this line on for about a year now. This stuff is expensive but its well worth it. It is really strong and has excellent abrasion resistence. This braid has a round profile which reduces line twist and adds strength.
For the leader I tie a 2 foot section of flurocarbon onto the braid with an improved albright knot (no swivels needed). At the end of the leader I tie a lure clip for the easy changing of lures. To prevent wind knots manually close the bail arm and pull the line tight before reeling in.
What kinds of habitats and coastal features should we be looking for?
In Kerry bass seem to occupy different habitat types at different times of the year. Early in the season they seem to gather around exposed rocky shores to spawn. After spawning (June/July) they seem to move between surf beaches, estuaries and boulder shores then they seem to disappear from the rock marks. Later in the year they return to fatten up before the winter.
A new fishing mark should be investigated at low water to map all the relevant features. In rocky shores the locations of channels and gullies should be marked with something on the shoreline. When returning at mid to high water find the best vantage points and stay there covering ground with your lures.
Bass travel these gullies and channels as the tide fills looking for food so you dont have to cover large areas. I usually use hard lures in these marks as they cast further and cover more ground from the vantage points.
Harbours, estuaries and surf beaches require the angler to cover the ground. These habitats can sometimes be featureless however there are things to look out for again at low water. Channels and gullies might be a sign of a hotspot. These areas are usually easy walking and more angler friendly. In these areas I tend to bounce soft plastics along the sandy, muddy bottom as bass tend to wait in the currents for food to come to them.
What are the best times of year and any advice about tides?
In Kerry the best months are from April to June. During this time bass gather to spawn and are often found in large groups. After this period they spread out and numbers drop. September and October can also be very good with larger fish showing. These usually larger fish may have followed shoals of Mackerel from deeper water as their color is often darker although at the moment this is just a theory made from several observations.
For me fishing always improves on the larger tides. There just seems to be more fish around. The new moon tides fish especially well for me the two days before the new moon. The full moon fishes best for me for the two days after the full moon. Try to fish on these tides in May, June, September and October for the best sessions of the year.
To get started what kind of lures should someone have in their arsenal, and how do different lures play a purpose over different types of ground?
There are several different types of lures out there and they all do a different job. Every lure angler should have at least one type of top water lure like the IMA salt skimmer and a few shallow diving lures like the Komomo 2 which fishes just beneath the surface. My favorite lure is the Tacklehouse feedshallow and goes to about 2 feet. I use Megabass zonks and IMA hound glides to get down deeper. These lures also dig into a big surf much better than the ones I have mentioned so they are good lures for heavy seas also.
These lures have a typical snake like action and attention should be paid to the snags in front of you. If there is a lot of sea weed just below the surface then the Komomo 2 should be used. If the tide is very high and theres no snags beneath the surface I would use a zonk or hound glide. I also carry suspended lures. These can work when the others fail. These lures suspend in the water giving a completely different action and work best in areas with strong currents. When visibility is poor ill use a bright lure like a cotton candy or a chartreuse. When visibility is clear ill use a more natural colour.
If the water is full of snags ill use a weedless soft plastic lure like the fiiish black minnow. These things are lethal and can be used almost anywhere as they are completely weedless. Keeping the rod tip high a slowish retrieve is all thats needed. These lures can be used virtually anywhere and have accounted for a lot of my bigger fish.
Soft plastic lures are gaining in popularity and can often entice a take from a bass when hard lures fail. These can appeal to bass in a different way as they often mimick a dead or dying fish.
Senkos are sand eel imitations. Twitching the rod tip during a slow retrieve forms an excellent imitation of a dying sandeel. Other soft plastics worth a try are fish arrows and death adder shads.
The real trick to a successful bass session is knowing where and when to go and this information only comes from experience. Then once you have fish in front of you its just a case of picking the right lure. Hope this helps.