When we were kids we would occasionally sit on a wall by the road and try to identify the make and model of the car coming towards us before each other could.
“Ford Cortina MK 2.” Steven would call. “Vauxhall Viva!” “Triumph Spitfire.” And so on. A good one was the Ford Granada and the Ford Consul. The Consul was essentially the poor man’s Granada. The bodywork on the two was identical but the engines and the interior of the Granada were superior to that of a Consul.
Our next door neighbour Mr Foren drove a Consul and I knew his routine. So when I saw a white car coming towards us at ten minutes to five I was pretty sure it was him but said nothing. Steven would shout out “Ford Granada. Ha!” “It’s not.” I would say. “It’s a Consul.” As it drove past the Consul badge was there for all of us to see. “How did you know that?” My mates would ask. “Ah, just a lucky guess.” I would say. I never told them it was my next door neighbour’s car and I used to clean it every Sunday for thirty pence! It’s good to have an edge sometimes.
When fishing the gullies and reefs with the hard plastics I often imagine two bass laying up in a gully playing a similar game. “My word Tarquin, I do believe that’s a Megabass Zonk!” “You’re on the ball Randolph. Yes it is!” “Ah Randolph, I have you this time. That my friend is an Ali Magnet.” “Poor old Uncle Hector fell for one of those years ago and we never saw him again. Must have been one of those “Catch and decease” rotter’s!” And the game goes on.
When I first started fishing the lures and flies back in 2002 it was unbelievably good. You didn’t really get many follows then, the bass would “slam” into it as soon as they saw it and that was that. The subsequent years brought less slams and more follows and now I find follows something of a rarity.
Has anyone else noticed this? Also, the last three bass I have seen caught on subsurface “Hard Plastics” from our local channel in Clonakilty have all been foul hooked in the side of the head. I believe the fish aborted the attack at the last second but the trebles got a hook hold as they brushed past the lure. In all of the cases no trebles were anywhere near the mouth.
So the big question is “Has the subsurface HP had its day?” They still work well under the cover of darkness but I think they are not as effective in the daytime as they used to be. My preference during the day is to surface lures and soft plastics and has been for a while. But why so? The surface lures are deadly when bass are feeding close to the surface and I think they see the commotion made by the lure more than the lure itself.
They don’t see the entire lure like they would a subsurface HP and I’m sure it’s like a curry to a pisshead on a Saturday night after the pubs have shut. Irresistible!! I know a lot of anglers have little faith in surface lures and probably try them when nothing else has worked. If nothing else has worked it’s unlikely that the surface lure will work too and it’s probably one of those days when nothing is happening. Go out on a good day with only surface lures to avoid the temptation of putting a subsurface one on and stick at it. You will get them.
On to the soft plastics. Why do they work so well? For me there are two key reasons. One is they don’t have half the cutlery drawer hanging off it! They have one discreet hook that is often concealed within the bait as opposed to three trebles (nine hooks in total) dangling off a subsurface HP. It’s got to help. The second and most important one is how you fish them. Subsurface HP are normally fished quite quickly.
This worked well in the early days when the fish would bang anything but think what creatures do in the wild if they are being preyed upon. They have two choices, run like F##K or remain motionless. Predators also spot movement before they spot the prey itself so it makes sense to fish a lure bearing these things in mind. A baitfish detached from its shoal is vulnerable. Very vulnerable. Safety in numbers no longer applies and if it tries to outswim a voracious bass there is only going to be one winner. It makes sense to me that it will opt for “The stay as still as I possibly can” tactic and hope to f##k nothing spots me approach.
A lot of anglers make the mistake of moving soft plastics too quickly. I have had good success using the 200mm Koneels from the boat the last couple of seasons and I barely move them. I cast out of the front of the boat and pick up the slack line as the boat drifts towards the lure. That’s it. If the lure moves more than one or two metres on a fifty metre cast I would be surprised. The takes are ferocious because the lure and the manner it is fished in are very realistic.
More food for thought lads! These are only my opinions on how bass fishing is evolving and I’m not saying I’m right. You will get those days when the bass are really having it and the subsurface HP will outfish everything. However, most days realistically you are looking for one or two fish and Tarquin, alongside his buddy Randolph have seen most of them. “My god Tarquin, that’s a bloody Abu Hi-Lo! Is this boy for real! That’s a bloody Pike fishing lure. What self respecting bass would even consider taking that? Tarquin…… Come back here…. Don’t be a bloody fool. Oh I do hope he’s one of those “catch and release boys.”