Bass are one of the most amazing species of fish in our seas to catch on Anglesey, and sit at the top of the predatory food chain. When you catch one you will surely know about it, as the line from your reel screams off in the direction of the horizon with rod tip bouncing along tow. Bass are one of the more elusive species and can prove quite tricky to catch to the unaccustomed angler, but with a little guidance we can bring you along the way to catching your first one this year. Autumn is a prime time for bass, after a summer feasting on sand eel they are heavy and strong and will take the lure more readily.
Although we must operate a catch and release policy with them currently, they still prove a great species to target to hone your spinning skills. Catching your first bass will leave you in awe at the pure ferocity of the fish’s fight and leave adrenalin surging through your veins.
Simply put bass are one of the most beautiful and tough species I have ever encountered outside the world of sharks. They are robust, aggressive, and determined machines which show amazing curiosity when encountered. I have immense respect for them as a species as a whole and enjoy catching and releasing them back into the wild. To look at, with their silvery flanks shimmering and dorsal fins all raised up high, they are almost regal in statue.
The more I learn about them, the more it seems to fuel my passion for fishing for them and learning a bit more about their habits and ways. Its like a puzzle, thats the best way I can describe unravelling the patterns, habits and routines of Bass. You first of all have to unlock these information points before attempting to target them directly with conviction.
Its taken me four years and I’m still In the infancy of my learning curve as the to the mysticism of this fish. Thats said its no uncommon to land many juvenile bass on the shore of the beaches of Anglesey. Fishing on Anglesey is incredibly abundant, in that you can target almost all of the species you could wish for through the seasonal variations.
Bass fishing tactics are pretty simple, intact 99% of people over complicate it with technology tot their disadvantage. We have all heard about the guy who cast out, got a birds nest , his line and weights went 20 meters and the next thing he has a double figure Bass on his line. First and fore most you do not need to cast far for Bass, they are under your feet- I will repeat that for good measure- they are under your feet! They guy in the example above was going to cast 60-70 meters, his cast fell short due to a birds nest in his reel, the result, his tackle landed in a water 20 meters away instead and then caught a fish, so there we have our first clue. Don’t over cast. Speaking of casting, vary your casting direction, angle and distance. Variation is the key, you must try and cover new ground in the territory you are in in order to maximise your chances of a catch.
Tackle and kit
Tackle and rods, I will do another blog on this in the future where I will lay out more of the options for tackle set ups, reels, rods and rigs. Ultimately I will guarantee it is a lot more simple than you think. I have over complicated it in the past, and most others have too. If your reading this and you are at the outset of your bass fishing journey, then just get a 3-7oz spinning rod (I use a Savage Bush Whacker) and I know a few others who do as well. But most spinning rods will do, paired with a fixed spool reel you can’t go too far wrong. My reels of choice at present are the Abu Soron 40 & 60 models. I have one large and one small and use them for two different spinning rods. The larger Abu Soron 60 on the Savage rod and the Soron 40 on a full carbon Teklon rod that I use for very light fishing.
Lures, ah yes the mythical subject of lures.. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you I don’t think. While everyone is using these high tech, rattle, swim, dive, skip and what ever else lures, I’m just using a simple Eddystone eel in pearl, white or black in different sizes. Guess what, my catch rates have tripled. Step away from the corporate mirage of fishing tackle and again strip it back to basics. I think I’m login to get some flack for putting this out there but, its simple really, the more we spend on high tech kit, the more we get taken away from the purist simplicity of fishing and the pursuit of this wonderful fish.
So for lures I either use a float with a 4-6 ft length with a rubber Eddystone eel on, or I will use a very small metal lure see pictures below. I do use other for sure, however, the most success I have had is ultimately from ones like this. For this blog I’m not going to go into live baiting, fly fishing or boat fishing for Bass, this is purely shore fishing related with the use of a soft plastic or metal lure. The reason I’m explaining it this way, is you will get lost down a rabbit hole of tactics, styles and methods that are all very different from one another, and you will loose both the continuity in your approach. Concentrate on one system and master it first, then go out and take on another.
When it comes to creating a 4-6ft line on a trace on a float for Bass, I like to use flurocarbon line as its said to be almost invisible to the fish. When it comes to floats I like to use dexter ones which are weighted with a brass fitting at the bottom, I find them really good.
The other style or approach is just to tie a 4ft length of flurocarbon clear monofilament line to a swivel and then onto a snap link on the other side. Attach the swivel to your mainline and a lure to the snap link. This approach is without the lure, and will requite you to decide on the weight of the lure relevant to the wind your fishing in. If its windy you will need to use a heavier lure simple. Maybe buy a couple of each weight.
I have a mate Digby to thank for this tactic- after two season of dismissing his idea I finally surcombed, and yes it does makes a difference. A lot of friends have very particular retrieval / reeling in techniques, and to a greater or lesser extent have success from that, to be honest I don’t- its probably because I haven’t bothered to learn these extra techniques, so I can’t really comment on whether they are more or less successful than other styles.
There are two modes of thought here, blowing so hard you can’t walk a dog or glass calm. There are obviously variations between, like a day after a storm with a light rolling shore break on a flat long sandy beach, sure that can bring the school bass in. However, if you after the prize fish then think like a prize fish!
In a big storm a lot of bait will be getting ripped off the seabed, disorientated and put into solution. Bass are kings at this game and are wondering around the third breaker in a shore break waiting for their next meal to get launched off the seabed into their open mouths. In these big storms the stirring up of the seabed is the precursor to them arriving en masse at the shore line and literally going back and fourth hunting the breakers. Again don’t over cast them. In these cases we are taking about live bating works best, worm, crab etc. We will cover this again.
In calm weather you are able to spot swirls and turns of both bass and mullet chasing the bait fish, and over an evening fishing session near sunset the light is almost perfect for spotting them. In calm weather there is also the clarity of the water that enables the fish to see the lure you are presenting them with, in turbid brackish waters this is not going to be the case.
So my choice of weather especially for beginners and intermediates is nice calm settled weather over either morning and evening tides, that means very early or almost dark, my success has increased dramatically over those times.
Where and when
Ah yes the big question of where.. There is in all honestly, no fixed answer to this question, of course I’m not going to tell you where all our spots are and there is good reason behind that as I’m sure your aware. Greed and disregard for nature on Anglesey has become common place and the idea of this blog is to counter that and educate to some level for the next generation angler and naturalist among us. I know its the exception not the rule, for many anglers among us, but there is still sadly a large majority of people who don’t care about this beautiful island and its resources.
So that said I will point you in the right direction when it comes to catching your first bass, rather than spoon feeding you, ultimately you will enjoy unlocking the puzzle yourselfs far more in any case.
When : Evenings and early mornings, sun rises and sunsets. After a storm on a beach with a little swell still rolling in. Don’t fish in easterly winds or northerly winds its a waste of time. Temps drop and fish stop feeding. Seasons are May- October. Some school bass will over winter here.
Where : Estuaries, rock platforms with good tidal current, reefs and peninsular small and large attract bass. Go down at low water and look for big boulders with seaweed on, they are a dead give away. Look for rough ground rock outcrops at low water, and imagine where bass would be swimming and ambushing their pray. I do some spear fishing also and I can’t tell you how many times I have been on a reef at high water and bass have come in twos swimming straight by me. That swim over reefs as the tide lifts the seaweed up.
This is a difficult one to answer, sometimes spring lows work well for me if they coincide with a evening sunset, thats if I’m fishing an estuary type location. Low water up seem to be a good one for me on rock fishing also as it happens as I can get right out on to the Rocky platforms and reach parts of reefs that I couldn’t at high water. Bigger tides seem to be better from my catch results, upwards of 28ft- 30ft tides have produced easily the best fish normally towards autumn or later in fact, again over low water. But you will have to experiment. The nature of Anglesey Bass fishing is one that is purely dynamic, each location will have its now unique controlling factors that turn the fish on and off to feed. That could be water temperature, tide or current speed and what part of the lunar cycle we are on (big tides or small tides). Each time you go, write down when you went, where, what size tide it was, lure, bait, wind direction, temp and results. You will eventually gain to see patterns.
Ethics and current laws
Currently there is an all out bass ban which for the common angler means catch and release until further notice. My contacts in the sport are telling me this is being reviewed and it will most likely to return to the system of one bass per person per day soon. Which is more sensible. So thats the story in black and white for now, what you catch you must release.
My views on the all out ban are that its utterly hypocrisy for government agencies to create a blanket ban like this – but to still allow commercial fishermen (who pay the £5,000 fee to HMRC) to continue unquoted as well as full commercial vessels with their nets which was the case. What that means is that you and I are not allowed to catch and feed ourselves, yet, paying commercial fishermen (to our detached govemrent) get to continue to decimate stocks until their hearts are content. Its basically utter bull. However IF there was a ban for all, under the premise of sustainability and to help nurture the already plundered stocks then I would concede and back it with full approval.
To this day I have met more bass fishermen who return their fish unharmed to the water than I have who take home their catch. Two close friends where at a tally 50-60 fish each last year by October, with fish up to 14ld. Guess what, everyone of those fish where returned. So Anglers foster in most cases more sustainability than their commercial counterparts.
So there we go I hope this blog is both useful and helpful in your pursuits for the illusive fish. I will write more blogs on this topic in future for sure and try to de-bunk the mysticism that surrounds the fish. until then have a great weekend. Nick
Over the autumnal months we will be running some 1-1 coaching for the illusive bass, which are run over quite specific tides. If you feel that we could help you progress in anyway, do get in touch via Facebook or our contact form here.
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Bit about the blogger : My names Nick Fraser and I’m a local Marine Geologist and Oceanographer. I have moved back to the island of Anglesey for the past four years having grown up here and moved away. I am a passionate outdoor lover with a penchant for all things natural. When I’m not blogging in ofter found on the water, climbing or out in the wild in and around north Wales.