General

Fly

Coarse

Sea

Tackle

❱❱ Part two – water clarity

baSS
Water clarity is a factor that strongly influences your bass fishing as it has a major effect on fish behaviour. Jim Hendrick gives us an insight…

bIGGer

fly tactics for

T

oo clear or too dirty – bass behaviour often a lot of suspended particles in the is different in both situations and water. There is sand all along the east coast you will need to apply different of Wexford combined with channels and methods to catch them. In clear water, fish bars, very strange tidal phenomena further are often visible when swimming and hunting complicate this. The water also takes a long and it’s often the case that while the number time to clear once the sand is in suspension. of follows will increase, the number of takes Further south past the southeast corner, will decrease. Fishing in clear water can be there are still vast quantities of sand and long exciting, as a hooked bass will beaches, but the sand particles watch the often be ‘mobbed’ by other have different qualities on members of the shoal, as you weather the southern coasts. They are attempt to land the fish. On the heavier than those along the and change other hand, when faced with east coast, so I believe that location if impenetrable, brownish-green they descend faster. There are necessary; water we stand and look and many rocky platforms and, where there often, deeper water closer wonder what’s going on down is clear water to shore. Currents tend to be there, or, indeed, if there are any fish about at all! there are stronger and faster, there are My guiding services operate generally fish. fewer straight lines and much mostly on a southern or more ‘mixed’ ground. southeastern-facing shoreline. I very seldom We are talking strictly shore fishing at venture north along the east coast to do any the moment. Estuary fishing has its own bass fishing with customers. The reasons complexities regarding water clarity, such as for this are all related to water clarity. As run-off from the land and rivers. you move north past Wexford Harbour, and After a long period of north or beyond the Raven Point, the sea is in constant northwesterly breezes, the water clarity is contact with lots of sand. The constant often amazingly clear on the south coast. A interaction with this sand means that there’s change to a westerly breeze won’t affect this

clarity adversely. But as it swings further south, then the longer the wind blows. and the greater its strength. the more unclear the water will become as wave and swell action put particles into suspension. A lot of seaweed deposits on the beach are usually an indication of previous high-wave and strong-wind activity. This will rot and become mixed into the sand along the beach. When waves hit this sand again they add these decomposing particles to the water. The sea becomes full of debris and you can often witness quite a vivid two-tone scenario of blue and green (or even brown) as the water closer to the shore becomes dirty. How clarity affects Fishing Let’s imagine you arrive at your fishing destination to find it warm, a little cloudy and misty. High tide is in about three hours and it’s a spring. The wind is from the southwest blowing force three. “Perfect!” you think. Then you walk into the water and you can’t see your feet. The cause of this dirty water has been wind force, wind direction and the previous number of hours that it has blown for. Combine this with heavy rain and you often have miserable water conditions.

30 Irish angler

in dirty water, bass hunt differently and in different locations to clean water.

One of the reasons I emphasise the need for anglers to tune into the weather systems is to try to eliminate surprises and disappointments. The weather changes the environment, which, in turn, changes the fishing! Take the example above and apply it to an average day in July 2008, for example. You think: “It’s a nice sunny day, it’s a little breezy and the tides are good so I might go fishing tomorrow.” But the water was probably already murky. The wind has been blowing strongly from the east for the last 12 hours, and it’s still blowing at Force 4, touching 5. It will become worse this afternoon. There has been no settling period for particles to descend. The next day, however, looks like a calm day with winds dropping in the evening and all the following day, so by morning, 36 hours from now or maybe evening 48 hours from now, clarity will have returned somewhat as the wave activity decreases and particles settle. As barometric pressure builds again the fish will suddenly reappear. Because the southeast coast is subject to so many influences – water depth, current speed, geography, weather – it’s possible to locate areas of clearer water even when winds are blowing hard. This is where, again,

groundwork and perseverance pays off. By constantly fishing in the one location you may well become accustomed to its patterns but you are also subject to its negative influences. You need to find fallback locations when your favourite is full of weed and brown, sandy water. You learn more by exploring

and expanding your fishing. I don’t know exactly what bass do when the water is dirty, but I know that they hunt differently and in different places. So watch the weather, change your location several times if necessary and you will find clear water, and where there is clear water there are generally fish.
Piles of rotting seaweed are broken up by the wave action and muddy the water more.

Irish angler 31