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influences
Jim Hendrick waxes mystical as he explains the subtle factors that influence success in bass fly fishing.

F

ly fishing for bass, while difficult at times with its great challenges, should not to be viewed as an impossible task. It does, however, require some particular skills. Good casting yes, presentation yes,

patience yes, but the essence of this article is based around the knowledge of where the fish are and when they are about. If you spend some time with successful bass anglers, and you happen to have found one of them who will talk sensibly about his experiences over time, you will quickly

a few people, but it does mean that at certain times, under certain conditions, you are more likely to catch fish at location X rather than Z. Let’s imagine a virtual north-facing rocky point. It’s 5am on a sunny morning in June and the wind is blowing easterly with a rising tide. This means that three major influences

Fish-holding lies are often volatile, and based on external influences that can change and affect them.
learn that they have several unique abilities. One of them is that they instinctively seem to know where the fish are; or rather they know where the fish are going to be! The ‘where’ is not like what we have mentioned before. We already know about estuaries and rocky points, but rather the ‘where’ along many miles of coastline – be it estuaries, current, rocky headlands or open beach – at any particular point in time during the day. This, of course, doesn’t mean that all the fish gather in one location that’s privy to only are coming from a single direction. The rising sun will shine from the angler’s right-hand side, the wind will blow from the angler’s right-hand side and the tidal current will be flowing from the right-hand side. This little scenario presents a particular set of circumstances to the bass angler. At this time of day the sun is low on the horizon for some time. When currents flow, fish tend to point into the direction of the current and, in this case, when they point into the current they will also be facing into

s are often Fish-holding lie change and n volatile and ca nstantly. co affect the fish

It’s satisfying when all your efforts pay off!

50 irish angler

Consistently catching big bass like this requires an understanding of fish behaviour in the phases of the tide over a location.

Successful ba ss to know instin anglers seem ctively where the fish will be at certain times.

the sun. They will experience lots of light in the water in the direction they are facing for the first few hours after dawn. Their field of vision is bright. Wind blowing in the same direction as current flow tends to flatten the water, and, if atmospheric pressure is dropping, both the volume and speed of the moving water may increase significantly as a result of this. Both wind and current will affect the angler’s position and, depending on the strength of the wind, the drop in atmospheric pressure and increasing current strength, the presentations made to the fish with the fly. A fly moving into a head-on collision with a predator does not induce many takes! During the periods of dawn and dusk contrast should play a significant role in your lure and fly colour choice. With fish staring into the sun against a lighter background a darker lure or fly will appear more visible. Bass tending to hunt mid or low water in these conditions may need to change position more frequently to view prey from different

angles to make attack determinations. Having to change and jostle for position will expose them to the strengthening current. This current, as I have mentioned, may be stronger because of lower atmospheric pressure and wind force and the fish may not spend as much time as they normally would hunting in this locality. They are expending unnecessary energy looking for food. In other words, this simply may not be the place to fish today! Fish-holding lies are often volatile and based on subtle external influences that can change and affect the fish minute-by-minute, hour-byhour and day-by-day! There’s a significant relationship between tidal flow and the ‘where and when’ that fish will be during that flow. Not only do they take up different positions, but they also do so at different times in different locations, often within very localised areas. This is especially true for bass, and learning these relationships is one of the major keys to success for the bass fly angler. One of the first of these tidal influences that the bass

angler learns is that when fishing from the shore neap tides are often not as productive as spring tides – simple. You can follow that with something like full-moon tides are not as productive as new-moon tides, equally as simple, and reducing tides over a moon are often better for bigger fish. Before you synchronise your watch and go fishing to the latest fashionable tables, rest assured they won’t tell you what need to know. What can bring you much more success is learning and understanding fish behaviour in the phases of a tide over a location within any tidal cycle. Appearing to have, what can seem like, the fishing powers of a Jedi Knight is based upon many years of experience coupled to a very high level of sensitivity toward many of these influences. In the examples that I have given, time of day, light levels, tidal state, current, wind direction and strength, atmospheric pressure, and location all play a part in influencing not only fish behaviour, but your fly fishing tactics too. ■

irish angler 51

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