Bass Fishing Influences - Part One | Tide | Sea

from Jim Hendrick @ www.probassfisher.





Forecasting the weather - August - 12 Forecasting the weather - July - 11 Forecasting the weather - June - 10 Seriously though.... Wind Tide Data and its influences in Wexford Bass fishing and the wind Forecasting the weather - May - 9 Forecasting the weather - April - 8 Forecasting the weather - March - 7 How does a bass hunt? - Introduction. Forecasting the weather - February - 6 Bass Fishing Influences - Tides Part IV Bass Fishing Influences - Tides Part III Bass Fishing Influences - Tides Part II Bass Fishing Influences - Tides Part I Bass Fishing Influences - It doesnt always work out of course. Forecasting the Weather - January - 5 Forecasting the weather - December - 4 Forecasting the weather - November - 3 Forecasting the weather - October - 2 Fly Fishing for Bass - Considerations Bass Fishing Influences - Reflections and Refractions Forecasting the weather - September - 1 Bass Fishing Influences - All is never lost! 5 6 7 8 8 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 22 23 24 25 25 26 27


Bass Fishing on the Fly - PV and PVI Bass Fishing Influences - Water Clarity (PII). Bass Fishing on the Fly - PIII and PIV Bass Fishing on The Fly - PI and PII Bass Fishing Influences - Water Clarity (I) Bass Fishing in Ireland saltwater fly fishing in estuaries saltwater fly fishing the rocky shore

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Forecasting the weather - August - 12
Thursday, August 05, 2010

I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months – The Month of August according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick August, like July, can be unreliable, with frequent heavy downpours of thundery rain, but there can also be warm weather. At least one good spell occurs. There is hardly any danger of cold weather, although it can feel cool for the season in some years. The sea is warm for bathing. The heat of the sea helps the latter part of the month to be warmer, owing to its highest temperature. Most areas can expect to experience good weather. Despite the unreliability of this month, because of the thundery tendency, there is generally at least one good spell, usually near the middle or latter part of the month. The weeks of August 1st to 7th The first few days are often changeable and thundery, but the weather improves towards the end of the week 8th to 15th A good warm spell is probable at the beginning or end of this week 16th to 23rd Thunderstorms are frequent, either at the beginning or at the end of the week, with a fairly good warm period 24th to 31st There is often a short stormy interval with bright sunny and cloudy days intermingled. The alternative is a good warm spell lasting into September. Bass Fishing; Your bass fishing during August can be as unpredictable as the weather.


Many experienced anglers will say it can be one of the most difficult periods during what should be the height of the season. Fish turn up at expected locals and then strangely dont or you can be simply blown away by a magic session. There are many reasons and the challenges continue! Rating 3/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 09:42AM (+01:00)

Forecasting the weather - July - 11
Friday, July 09, 2010

I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months – The Month of July according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick This month is unreliable. There is generally a good deal of cloud and rain, mostly of the thundery character. This rain can be heavy but quickly over. It tends to be a less settled or sunny month. These are the worst features of July. However, a heat wave spell can usually be relied on to come, generally around the middle or the end of the month. The nights are warmest in this month. The difference between day and night temperatures is the least. The sea is now warm enough for bathing. Heavy thunderstorms at this time of year usually occur during the early part of the afternoon. The weeks of July 1st to 7th Changeable, thunderstorm weather, with brilliant short spells of Sun 8th to 15th This is a more settled period with warm days gradually setting in, especially in the south. 16th to 23rd A warm spell can occur during this week with some doubtful thundery days too. 24th to 31st Usually there are sunny periods with warm temperatures at first, but 6

gradually becoming more thundery at the end of the week Bass Fishing: Cloudy dark days and warm nights, hot, humid misty south westerlies and clear white warm water can only lead to one thing- BIG FISH DAYS. Often one of the best months of the year with tides really pushing fish inshore through and towards the middle days of the month - opportunities can exist almost on demand. Rating - 4/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 10:33AM (+01:00)

Forecasting the weather - June - 10
Friday, June 25, 2010

I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months – The Month of June according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick This, normally, is the sunniest and one of best weather months of the year. Early heat waves often occur, particularly towards and during the latter half of the month. These, combined with the longer days, make it one of the most beneficial holiday months. There may be occasional slight ground frost inland, but seldom if ever along the southern coasts. Some coastal fog may occur at times The sea remains rather cool, warming towards the end of the month. There may be frequent thunderstorms towards the end of the month. Sometimes there is one changeable period of a few days near the second week. The Weeks of June 1st to 7th - Usually some bright sunny days, and occasional thunder. There are cool


nights at times. 8th to 15th The weather is fairly settled, with increasing temperatures, but can feel cool in stronger breezes. Sometimes a changeable period occurs in this week. 16th – 23rd A good and fairly warm spell 24th to 30th There are sunny days with frequent thunderstorms. Bass Fishing; The bass fishing season opens on the 16th of June and conditions should be nearly perfect now for their capture. Over the month of the close sea temperatures have slowly risen and light levels are at their highest. It’s often possible to fish three tides in some degree of light. Be ready and expect to catch fish consistently for the first time since September or October. Rating 3/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 10:26AM (+01:00)

Seriously though....
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I hope everybody has a great season for 2010. My feelings lean towards a summer of silver that I havent seen since 2006 - stay safe and bendy rods to everyone who enjoys this blog. A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 03:46PM (+01:00)

Wind Tide Data and its influences in Wexford
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Wind Tide Data A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 09:26AM (+01:00)

Bass fishing and the wind
Monday, May 17, 2010
I have had many many phone calls this Spring with one common denominator - people ask me am I catching many bass? The answer is a plain and simple no, I'm not. The reason is of course the wind, or at least the wind direction and probably its particular unceasing source of direction. Take a look at some comprehensive data sets here and scan down through the wind direction field for 2010. Look particularly for the frequency of the North/North Easterly, Easterly and even South Easterly breezes. The source frequency is pretty high this Spring. You will see similar frequencies during the previous three years although not quite as intense or as frequent. This is as a result of high pressure anticyclonic weather systems forming and then



remaining fixed over Ireland during Spring and early Summer. Lake and river systems are well down on water levels as a result of low rainfalls. Now I don't fear an easterly breeze provided it doesn't last for more than two days - any longer than that and then I know I'm in trouble - from this simple set of data you can see how much trouble we have had from a bass fishing perspective over the last few weeks. So don't go blaming yourself for spending all that money on expensive gear to catch no fish - I'm afraid theres a lot more to it than that! Bear in mind that these patterns existed from 2007, 2008, 2009 and now 2010 - they were all immediately followed by wet summers that broke all rainfall records - can we conclude that this trend is set to continue, who knows? A little bit of fishing in your day Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 07:54PM (+01:00)

Forecasting the weather - May - 9
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months – The Month of May according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick This can be wonderful month of weather. Considerable amounts of sunshine usually occur. There is little if any prolonged heavy rainfall, mostly falling as short showers or thunderstorms. The most notable and damaging occurrence of the month is a tendency for a mid May frost, which blights early blossom and kills tender plants if they are not protected. There are frequently erratic day and night temperatures; often very warm by day and cold by night. During the calm spells of the month it is often dull with occasional showers in the eastern areas of the country, while fog is probable along the coasts. This can be the driest and brightest month of the year. There is a really appreciable warmth to the sun by contrast to the previous months and this increases our sense of comfort and optimism. The weeks of May



1st - 7th Some cool days, thunderstorms possible 8th - 15th A fairly good spell is probable with some warm days but a risk of night frost. It is liable to be dull at times in the east 16th - 23rd The weather is still liable to be dull and cool in eastern areas, but elsewhere there are often calm warm and sunny days, occasional thunderstorms and some night frosts. 24th - 31st Thundery showers - but bright sunny periods may be expected, especially towards the end of the week. Bass Fishing: The first early days of May and the week just before the close of season are generally the first genuine opportunities that the fly and lure angler will have on the Wexford coast. See some examples HERE and HERE Water temperatures are rising now, encouraging foraging bass closer to the shore. But remember just as things begin to fire we have to stop fishing for the annual closed season. Midnight May 14th to Midnight June 15th. Rating 2/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 05:59PM (+01:00)

Forecasting the weather - April - 8
Monday, April 19, 2010
I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months – The Month of April according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick During this month there can be changeable

weather, but on the whole it is fairly bright and sunny. Prolonged spells of heavy rain are very unlikely, and it usualy falls in light sharp showers. During the calm sunny days it can be quite warm, but cool nights with frost usually follow. If a warm spell occurs a chilly one with dull dys usually follows.



If the latter part of March has been wet some fog can occur during quiet spelss of the month. The sea around our coasts is still very cool and is slowly responding to the heat of the sun, it heats slower than the land hence coastal fog may occur at times. 1st to 7th - Can begin chilly, with occassional snow. The weather gradually improves later in the week. 8th to 15th - Frequently a short dry fine spell the n followed by showery weather 16th to 23rd - A changeable time, with mixed weather towards the end of the week 24th to 31st The week is usually unsettled at first, followed by the odd bright days and occasional showers Bass Fishing: this is the first month of the new year that I would have some optimism in catching bass on the Wexford coast. These tentative opportunities begin on the tides at the end of the month but things will remain challenging from a lure and fly perspective until the period just before the beginning of the closed season in May. Rating 2/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 10:06AM (+01:00)

Forecasting the weather - March - 7
Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months – The Month of March according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick Bright, sunny, mild days suddenly give way to dull, frosty ones often with blizzards, chiefly on high-levels in northern and eastern parts of the country. These contrasts provide the reason for March winds. After mild bright days, cool frosty nights often follow. Rainfall is not heavy but falls in sharp and brief showers, on the whole a fairly bight month with a few severe gales and these mostly from the North west. The sea is at its


coldest to the south and east, but temperatures will begin to rise slowly during the later part of the month. If earlier months have been wet/snowy the suns power is spent in evaporating the moisture rather than warming the earth. This may delay spring, since vegetation requires warmth. 1st to 7th This week can be unsettled at the beginning and end. There are usually bright days between 8th to 15th usually changeable days to a fairly bright spell in the latter part of the week. 16th to 23rd Mixed weather, but some bright cool or mild days 24th to 31st Usually unsettled weather, at the beginning and end of week – rather cool with the chance of snow Bass Fishing : Sea water temperatures are now at their coldest in the South and East but will begin to warm slowly from the end of the month. Further south towards Cork and Waterford some fish will begin to show in the middle or later part of the month but its probably not until late April that Wexford will see its first of the early fish. Increasing light levels plays a major part in fish first appearing. Rating 1/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 10:10AM (+01:00)

How does a bass hunt? - Introduction.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Vision, smell, lateral line, taste and hearing. "Evidence from nature and the experience of many anglers suggest that eyes on baitfish imitations increase their effectiveness. The oversized eyes on many patterns underscore Dan Blantons assertions that predacious fishes are 'head hunters' or 'head hitters'." But what other factors influence and affect a bass when hunting in visual mode. Bass dont see detail the way you or I do so why do we bother with realistically finished lures and flies. In the photograph below clients and I have caught hundreds of bass on each of the flies or lures - yet each is very different - but they also share some similar characteristics More in this series coming soon! Part I - Vision Part II - Smell Part III - Hearing



A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 05:18PM (UTC)

Forecasting the weather - February - 6
Sunday, February 21, 2010

I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months – The Month of February according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick This usually the coldest month of the year , particularly during the middle weeks, and especially in the eastern or north eastern counties. The cold easterly and north easterly winds flow across from Europe and the north sea. Snowfall can be as severe and as frequent as January, the cold weather and light levels are at the opposites of June and Julys. The coolest conditions are now firmly settled into


the land and sea water temperatures at the coast will fall a little more to perhaps eight degrees or a little less. As much as two degrees less than on the south and west coast temps. 1st to 7Th This week is usually unsettled with wind gales and rain 8th to 15th Usually there is a cold spell, and often the chilliest part of the month 16th to 23rd The cold spell will slowly break up and a thaw will set in. 24th to 28th The weather gradually becomes milder often ending the month in stormy unsettled weather. Bass Fishing - The most difficult month for the bass fisherman. Having undergone some serious physiological changes over the past few weeks, bass are less likely to feed regularly they have their minds fixed on something more serious - depending on conditions, and as they dictate, spawning will take place only when they know best - then be ready............. Rating 0/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 10:34AM (UTC)

Bass Fishing Influences - Tides Part IV
Thursday, February 11, 2010
The sandy shore, shallow white waters and crystal surf My father tells me of the times he cycled home from fishing the surf at Curracloe in Wexford. It’s a round trip of about fifteen miles but his friends and he made the return journey more difficult by having bass tied to the handlebars of their black Raleigh bikes. These weren’t small fish and often there were a lot of them, it was 1958 when bass blitzed the seas summer surface like they are supposed to, signs of a healthy population. He has fifty two years in perspective Clive Gammon and Des Brennan were fishing Splaugh Rock By the time he reached home his 'handlebar' of fish was often diminished, too tired to carry them all the way to Wexford he simply knocked on doors along the way home and gave them to people. They fished, his friends and he the way they knew how – early in the strong wind pattern - greenheart rods and fixed spool reels and lugworm cast only into the clean white surf at the Raven or at Culletons gap. Today we overlook this great bass fishing opportunity in our quest for estuary and rock. I know the fish don’t shoal like they did in the old days but there is something special about imagining what it must have been like. Shallow sandy water presents its own tough opportunities and challenges. When moving waves heading towards our beaches reach shallow water the friction against the sea bed causes the waves balance to become upset. Orbiting particles within the structure change and the speed of the wave decreases. Becoming steeper until the point at which they break and fall over. The total stored energy of the wave is released and most of us at some time or other have experienced that crash and boom, the power of the surf.



On the open sea a moving wave will often break at winds speeds of force seven or greater, this breaking water will move ahead of the wave and the energy is passed on to other passing or overtaking waves. The death of a wave occurs in shallow water when all of this aggragated energy or force is released onto the shore. This is a wave of translation.

Next - how the tides, waves and refraction, together, lead to better bass fishing at the sandy shore A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 09:04PM (UTC)

Bass Fishing Influences - Tides Part III
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Waves and bars and breaking water Frequently due to local configurations of many factors like wind, sea floor, tides and flows - waves may be seen to break more frequently at regular distances from the shore – a sand bar may be forming or perhaps has already formed. Small waves travelling in the direction of this sand bar may pass over it without breaking, but as we have mentioned below they will be affected by it, inevitably they will be slowed and their wavelengths decreased. Larger waves moving in from the sea will break

on or at the bar as soon as the water depth reaches less than 1.3 times the waves height. Breaking waves with their forward momentum will push large quantities of water over the bar and inshore creating rising levels of water. This water has to return seawards and often does so through channels scoured through narrow sections of the bar both by waves and returning water.



This can be a dangerous place to fish, keep in mind the factors from Part I aswell as these -scour holes, drop offs, and currents will be plentiful – but – because of these circumstances and in the right conditions and at the right times fish will be holding up here and they will be hunting actively. Next Open sandy shore and the tidal influences A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 09:14PM (UTC)

Bass Fishing Influences - Tides Part II
Monday, February 08, 2010

Tidal streams wind and waves. The friction of wind on the water creates the waves that we see crashing onto our shores. When and where wind and the sea meet, the energy of the moving wind is transferred into the surface of the sea. This is the reason why at sea level the strength of the wind is considerably less than say at even thirty feet; some of the wind energy is lost and captured by the sea. When a gentle breeze first starts to blow over a calm sea ripples are formed, as the wind strength may increase or continue these ripples transform into little waves and eventually into waves proper. As the side of the wave that ‘receives’ the wind is affected most by it, the wave collects more energy on one side than the other and so will tend to grow in size. This process does not continue indefinitely however, as the wave grows in size so does its speed ‘across’ the sea increase. Its speed of movement relative to the wind speed plus the loss of energy due to motion within the wave keeps the waves at heights related to particular wind strengths whilst in open water. There is a state of equilibrium reached and unless the wind increase or decreases the waves remain at a fairly steady size. Lets imagine waves generated by a recent force four blowing constantly for the past five or six hours in a southwesterly direction. The waves in the sequence will all look pretty similar. The wave heights will be the same – the distance from the top of the wave to the bottom of the troughs following the wave. Their wavelengths – the horizontal distance between two crests will be very similar, and the frequency at which they pass a particular 16

point will also be the same. What we see happening on our shore is the change in shape, appearance and activity of the wave as the depth of water changes. As soon as an ocean wave enters a water depth that is less than half its wavelength it will begin to slow down, get taller, and change shape while at the same time its frequency will remain the same. The speed of the wave entering shallow water is slowed down as it gets ‘tripped up’ by the grip of the shoreline floor. Relative to other waves, as they slow down, the wavelength decreases and as it moves into continuously shallower water it becomes more and more unstable, increasing in height until eventually falling over when it reaches a water depth that is less than 1.35 times its height. This is breaking wave action.

When waves pushed by the wind run against a strong tidal flow or stream, like the tide running out of an estuary, the wavelengths also become shorter, the waves more steep and higher and hence they are more liable to break. This situation can also be aggravated by uneven or shallow bottom structure – having wind-assisted waves running against the tide can create fantastic bass fishing situations. Following the breaking wave pattern as it moves may assist you in finding fish more regularly. Conversely wind blowing out of an estuary with a ebbing tide increase wavelengths and reduces wave heights but may assist in ‘emptying’ the estuary faster than normal. Adjusting your fishing times to the patterns of how different winds and tides will create different types of waves and wave breaks will see you catch more fish.

Next - tides waves and sandbars A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 09:32PM (UTC)

Bass Fishing Influences - Tides Part I
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Tides and the weather Weather conditions have a significant impact on both tides in general and on how they flow and move. This of course will influence your fishing decisions and indeed the fish. Sea level will tend to rise or increase in the direction that the wind is blowing, and hence lowered in the direction from which the wind has come. Sea water can be 'pushed'. The stronger the wind, the longer it blows and provided it blows in a pretty constant direction the greater this 'push' can be. A changing or constant wind direction can create a degree of confusion as regards tidal height predictions and their interpretations. Tidal heights are predicted using an average barometric pressure status - 1013. When the barometric is rising or higher than normal, tides will tend to be lower than predicted.


Similarly when pressure is low or dropping tidal heights will be greater than that predicted. A change in barometric pressure of 35 milibars will cause a subsequent change of 1 foot or 0.3 metres in tidal levels. This is not an immediate change but rather happens over a period of time. So bearing in mind the following

1. Wind direction 2. Wind strength 3. Wind direction 'longevity' 4. Atmospheric pressure 5. Atmospheric pressure activity - +/6. Spring or neap tide and phase 7. Wave type and direction All of these factors will greatly influence your fishing and indeed the fish. Just because your tables say 2.2m at 16:10 doesnt neccessarily apply to the real world. Remember fish can't read tables........only influences.

A word of caution - dropping atmospheric pressure combined with strong breezes and Spring tides can make for dangerous fishing situations.
A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 10:09AM (UTC)

Bass Fishing Influences - It doesnt always work out of course.
Monday, January 18, 2010



Having had the benefit or rather the experience of guiding on this coastline during the the last seven summers/autumns theres no doubt at times it hasnt always worked out well. The frequency of difficult bass fishing days has risen through the seasons of 2007 '08 and '09 and this has had its consequences and impacts. Irish weather is of course what we all talk about here almost constantly - 'Nice day isnt it?', or 'Is this rain ever going to stop'. Its the one topic that we seem to find a little time for. We are used to a degree of changeability and unpredictability. The season of 2007 at times stopped both my clients and I in our tracks on many occasions, but this time it didn’t have a huge impact on my moral, I simply put it down to ‘freakish’ weather. All previous rainfall records were broken during that summer. None the less some customers suffered either from cancellations or chosing to brave it through well ‘nigh on impossible conditions. 2008 would be better I thought. I started this blog at the end of 2007 and reported on the seaso

n of 2008 in summary here The fact is,there was very little that was ‘summery’ about it – again all previous records were broken for rainfall. Eventually I caught up with customers that I was forced to cancel and move from 2007. Surely another weather anomaly that would disappear in the glorious sunshine of 2009. My moral was dented but simple fuzzy logic dictated that next summer would be better. And that’s the way it looked a the beginning of 2009 until July came and – the rain came with it. And it stayed for a long time, again breaking all existing records – unprecedented really. Forced into cancelling customer days I made the best of those I still had - there is still a 'spill over' into 2010 that needs to be cleared.


Its not an easy thing to do, and to strike a balance - yes clients are unhappy, some would rather try than be unhappy and thats fine with me I love guiding when its tough - its those people whom are stopped completely with little room to move - thats where the problem lies.

Having had the added benefit of running the guiding business through the seasons of 2004, ‘05 and ’06 it is inevitable that I might draw some comparisons wih the las tthree years. I’m not going to post some statistical chart on catch numbers and the impacts of weather that’s obvious, but I can say the following with certainty over similar variables i.e. number of hours, type of fishers, ability etc

Slow moving and regular low pressure systems cause havoc with fly and lure shore fishing - no brainer! Not as many big fish were caught on the fly during 2004, 2005 and 2006 than during 2007, 2008, 2009 Fly fishing the last three seasons has been infinitely more difficult than the previous three seasons More fish were caught on surface lures during 2004, 2005 and 2006 than during 2007, 2008, 2009 Bigger fish tended to eat bigger flies during 2007, 2008, 2009 Smaller fish did not eat many flies during 2007, 2008, 2009 Average fish tended to eat smaller flies during 2004, 2005 and 2006 Average fish tended to eat larger flies during 2007, 2008 and 2009 Flies tended to outfish lures when conditions were busy in nearly all occassions A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 01:54PM (UTC)

Forecasting the Weather - January - 5
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months – 20

The Month of January according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick. There can be a good deal of rain with wind and gales in any part of the month, but mostly at the beginning and end of it, with south westerly wind directions affect most of the country. During cold spells and high pressure conditions, freezing fog occurs. Often there is heavy snowfall, especially in the North , the east and the midlands. The mildest areas are in the south west of the country. Generally a chilly month, especially in the midlands and along the east coasts. Sometimes before the south westerly rainy weather occurs after a cold spell there are odd days when temperatures will rise to 9 or 10 degrees. This however is a rare occurrence. 1st to 7th – Often a mild period, with a great deal of rain which causes floods.. 8th to 15th – The coldest period usually occurs in this week 16th to 23rd – The weather continues cold with the lowest temperatures of the month 24th to 31st – There is usually a thaw with unsettled rainy weather Bass Fishing - It is extremely difficult to catch bass between now and April or May, of course there may be some opportunities but generally very few - water temperatures continue to fall and light levels are still very low - fish are primed and will spawn once conditions are right over the next few months. Rating 0/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 08:21PM (UTC)



Forecasting the weather - December - 4
Sunday, December 06, 2009
I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months The Month of December according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick

Although there is a good deal of storm, cloudy and rainy weather, this can be accompanied, despite short days, with a good deal of intermingled sunshine. There are often several gales during this month and northerly winds can bring blizzards and snow fall in Scotland and the North of England. There are often two short bright fine spells although frost an fog is probable at such times – particularly near the third week. The coldest weather of the winter seldom occurs in this month. 1st to 7th – Generally unsettled rather mixed weather. There are cold and mild days intermingled with rain and wind, and often snow in the North. 8th to 15th – Usually there are fair intervals and sometimes frost and fog, then unsettled weather. 16th to 23rd – Some of the best winter weather with fair days, cold with some frost or fog, often mild during the day with a possibility of a later gale. 24th to 31st – Changeable weather, fair and unsettled with an inreasing risk of gales and heavy rain. Bass Fishing - some fish can be caught in the weather windows but it becomes increasingly more and more difficult from here right on through to April or May. Rating 2/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 02:20PM (UTC)



Forecasting the weather - November - 3
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their weather theories over the next few months The Month of November according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick

There can be a good deal of changeable, rainy weather during this month. However, short odd periods of calm weather can also occur, with sunshine, although nights are often chilly and frost, accompanied by fog near coasts and inland towns. The sea still retains its warmth but the land surfaces are definitely cooler, and this helps towards the changeability of the weather. The days are shorter so there is less sunshine, and the cool but often clear, nights are longer. Gales are possible particularly near the end of the first week and during the last week of November, but overall it can be a fairy calm month. The temperatures continue to fall faster than at any other time of year. The weeks of November 1st to 7th – The latter part of this week is unsettled, with rain, but extremes of calm mild days and frosty nights can occur with some fog. 8th to 15th – The days continue to become colder. The first effects of the coming winter can now be felt with frequency of wind and heavy rain increasing. 16th to 23rd – Usually a fair to changeable period followed by unsettled and rainy conditions. 24th to 31st - During this week the weather becomes more unsettled, rainy weather and strong winds at times but often milder. Bass Fishing - Best month of the year for bigger fish on the fly if you can take a short weather window of opportunity. Rating 3/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 08:53AM (UTC)



Forecasting the weather - October - 2
Thursday, October 15, 2009

I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their theories over the next few months The Month of October according to D&K Barlett with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick The temperatures now begin to fall more quickly than in any month of the year, although there can often be a late fine warm spell of several days. The nights will be noticeably cooler. The first frosts are more likely inland. The depressons over the Atlantic are deeper and a greater deal of wind can be expected, but there are not usually more than one or two severe gales. The good spell, if prolonged delays the autumn change into November. and this, of recent years has often occurred. The sea remains quite warm but the land surfaces cool quickly, and some fog and mists can be experienced in many areas. The weeks of October 1st to 7th - Fair, cloudy days at first becoming more changeable with a little rain later in the week 8th to 15th - Usuall there is cloudy weather with light rain intermingled with fair days 16th to 23rd - A calm, fair and quite warm period can occur during this part of the month 24th to 31st - During this week the weather becomes more unsettled fair days will bring frost but rather changeable Bass fishing - Arguably one the best month of the year for bass fishing, opportunities for great fishing. Rating 4/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 08:04PM (+01:00) 24

Fly Fishing for Bass - Considerations
Saturday, September 26, 2009

Could you catch a big silver fish here on the fly ? Considering... 1. Wave height 2. Wave direction 3. Wind strength 4. Wind direction 5. Current 6. Depth 7. Backwash 8. Light levels 9. Line and leader choice 10. Fly choice 11. Casting restrictions 12. Tidal state 13. Water condition 14. Time of day 15. Retrieves 16. Position 17. Presentations 18. Timings 19. Casting strategies 20. Safety Go Here for bespoke solutions A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 08:19PM (+01:00)

Bass Fishing Influences - Reflections and Refractions
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Reflection As light travels through water it can give us some information about the content of the 25


water. On calm days the water surface acts almost like a mirror. But look straight down, and the mirror disappears. Instead you see what is under the surface. If you look further away, your viewing angle increases, and the surface reflection becomes stronger. At the same time more of the light from under the surface is reflected back down. Refraction Have you ever put a stick into the water and watched it bend at the surface? You know it's straight, so what you see is an optical illusion. The reason is refraction. Light from under the water is bent as it passes the surface into the air. As a result the underwater part of the stick seems to be in a different place from where it really is. Refraction can also make things in the water appear larger than they are. It is also the reason why waves often focus sunlight into patterns of light and shadow on the bottom. Once in the water the light continues to travel downwards, gradually growing weaker. How deep it goes depends on the type of water and on the angle of the sun. There are two reasons for the loss of light as you go deeper: Absorption - photons disappear and the energy they contain is turned into heat or used for photosynthesis. Scattering - photons change direction, but do not disappear. Often the new direction is upwards. Absorption is what gives water its colour. Open ocean water is usually blue because the blue photons travel furthest before they are absorbed. Water with lots of phytoplankton (microscopic plants) is often bright green. Chlorophyll in the plants absorbs blue light, so now the green photons travel furthest. Pure or clear water scatters very little light. When the water is clear and clean most of the photons disappear into the deep. That's why clear water seems quite dark when you look straight down. Small particles in the water (plant cells, decomposed matter, sand and mud) scatter much more light. In this type of water many of the photons change direction and travel upwards. Seen from above when you are looking down this type of water has a much lighter colour. In sea water, particle scattering and absorption has a BIG effect on your fly and lure fishing. Just as in fog, the scattering and absorption blurs details, and if you were a fish you might only see a short distance ahead. The light also fades faster as you go deeper. In water with lots of small particles, it can be dark at just a few metres depth. Tiny particles in the water scatter light and make everything look blurred and indistinct. A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 08:40PM (+01:00)

Forecasting the weather - September - 1
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
I came across a little book recently - Signpost to the weather by D&K Barlett. First published in 1949, I have extracted their forecasts for each month of the year. I hope you will enjoy their theories over the next few months - savour the September days ahead! 26

The Month of September according to D&K Barlett - with BASS indications by Jim Hendrick

There can be some fairly good, warm weather during this month, particularly in the east and south of Ireland. Thunderstorms can still be experienced and one unsettled period is probable near the middle of the month The weather in the North and West can be fairly good but intervals of unsettled weather can bring rain and wind at times. The days are shorter, the nights begin to feel cooler, and occasional night frosts occur in the Highlands of Scotland, but generally the summer heat continues to affect the sea and land. The weeks of September 1st to 7th-A number of warm, sunny days are probable, but there is a danger of occasional thunderstorms. The alternative is very cloudy, changeable conditions. 8th to 15th-This week is usually cloudy at times but a fair spell is probable. 16th to 24th-Generally a few good days of calm, sunny weather, but one very changeable period. 25th to 30th-There is a tendency for the weather to be more unsettled. The first autumn rains occur and there is less risk of thunderstorm Bass Fishing - My favorite month of the year. Possibilities are almost endless! Rating 5/5 A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 01:30PM (+01:00)

Bass Fishing Influences - All is never lost!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009



‘One last cast’, I cried across to my friend. We had been fly fishing for three hours and things were beginning to wear a little thin, it was now much later than we would normally stay in the tide, three hours of intensive fishing and we had nothing to show. During the previous evening we had made the following agreement for the next days tactics. We would only fly fish; we would fish barbless hooks, we would not bring any lure fishing equipment with us, and we would catch whatever tide was necessary and travel to the remotest venues! Previous experience had thought me that at some localities fish only feed at specific moments during the tide, I knew that this locality was one of those areas and we were now way passed the optimum time. Hence my call for one last cast. Stripping back the fly for the last time, I picked some seaweed of the line, hooked the fly in the keeper ring and head down I slowly made my way back towards base camp. Defeated. My friend stayed on for a few more casts then he too repeated the procedure.

Pouring coffee and opening some biscuits and cakes I remained slightly dumbstruck at the fact that we had caught nothing. Both of us quietly ate our cakes and drank our coffee not saying much but absorbing our surroundings in a way that is often difficult to do when you are fishing intently. The odd comment was passed about the peace, the colours and the sheer beauty of nature. We both avoided the obvious for the moment and rested for some twenty minutes or more. Sometimes during these silences two things will happen, one – I will begin to feel intensely uncomfortable and loose some faith in my abilities as an angler and return home to prepare for the next tie I go fishing, or two- there is a passive recharging of some inner battery, and some times an unspoken communication



with my friend or even someties a client which will often lead to both of us standing up at the same time to continue fishing. Now at this venue, to do this, was, for me very unusual. Many times I had fished and refished over various tides and times and weather conditions to establish some patterns. Thousands of hours spent casting different flies and lures in different ways at different times had lead me to believe that we would not fair any better than we had before. I have a habit of changing my leader and tippet after every session and when I was doing this over my coffee I also attached my favourite all round bass fly, the white deceiver. Above the deceiver on a dropper I attached a much smaller baitfish type pattern and so was fishing what I call a ‘chase team’. This often works when fish are well fed and it will often induce a response that provo

kes a take on the smaller fly. I advised my friend or rather he suggested to me that he try on the surface with a brightly coloured popper fly. I agreed and said that we should fish closer together to cover the layers more effectively. Fishing a popper fly and a deceiver as a team will often bring fish to the person on the deceiver! During the next forty minutes or so I began to believe that things were just as I believed they would be when there was a loud surface splash followed by a shout from my right as I watched John hook into a plump bass of about two pounds. His rod arched over into a pleasing, powerful fish. I retrieved and cast in his direction and suddenly both of us were into fish! We fished for another hour until the action slowed and eventually stopped. I caught three fish the other guy had four, we kept one to eat the rest were returned alive to the water fit and well. Now where is this leading to you might well ask? Firstly – you don’t always have everything figured out! Just because it doesn’t look or feel right to you doesn’t mean it’s not right for the fish or indeed if you think it is right it doesn’t necessarily mean it is. I have often heard it said that ‘you need to think like a fish’. Sometimes I find it hard to think like a human never mind a fish. The general influences in a fish’s life are tide, temperature, and time of year. Coupled to this is a natural instinct for survival, reproduction and opportunism regarding availability of food. Clever uses of these factors will more than often lead you to success, there are times when none of it makes any sense at all. One thing I am sure of – hard work will produce results, it’s a question of try and try again. Combine these factors with a few ground rules regarding fly selection a



nd you are bound to increase your chances at least twofold. If I was lost on a desert island and presented with a choice of bass saltwater fly patterns I think there are only a few I would choose. Firstly the all white deceiver with a little flash would be my number one choice, this and patterns like it have caught me the most fish. The second choice would be similar with the exception of adding some olive/chartreuse/lavender and a maybe a bit bigger than the previous pattern, and my third fly would definitely be a small surface popper (just for excitement). It is interesting to note that this summer I have fished some combinations or teams of flies and indeed lures that have helped increase the number of fish caught. A combination of two poppers one bigger than the other is very exciting even if a little difficult to fish with. Deceivers or sand eel patterns of different sizes fished in teams also present plenty of opportunities with ‘induced’ take more often on the smaller fly. The right choice and combination can often be critical so can sticking at it when you believe all is lost! A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 09:40AM (+01:00)

Bass Fishing on the Fly - PV and PVI
Monday, August 25, 2008
Saltwater fly-fishing fundamentals Part five – Doing it somewhat! What is beyond Bass, sea trout, mullet and single hand casting? This is the fifth of six articles, which I have written to help you in your saltwater fly-fishing adventures. We have already covered various topics such as when and where, including the best times, tides and places to fish near. Part two dealt with some of the pitfalls likely to be met along the way to success, and I made some general suggestions regarding equipment, gear, training and flies. In this article I hope to clarify some of the more technical elements of fly-fishing equipment, mainly the fly lines, the fly rod and the flies which you will be fishing with. Fly fishing technique, or the ability to properly cast a fly and put it where you want it, is the heart of fly-fishing. Without the ability to cast well and 30

confidently, all the rest - such as your gear, your clothing, your flies - is rather useless. Ultimately, the ability to properly cast a fly while fly-fishing will make or break any flyfishing outing. Choosing the right equipment will help you in all of this. Please remember that this is not an expert’s opinion – but one based on a year of very hard work. Before the advent of the brilliant Irish Angler (had to get that in somewhere) I would read the latest issues of Today’s Flyfisher, or Trout and Salmon and various other fly-fishing magazines. It was over a period of some months that I had made my choices regarding tackle purchase, based on reviews and expert opinions, budget and angling requirements including training, and the technical arena of line and rod type. My choice of rod was the Shimano XTR biocraft range a SW#10, the reel was an Airflo T7 again a number 10/11 suitable for use in the sea, and line was an Airflo saltwater weight forward #10 floating. I have subsequently heard more opinions regarding all of these pieces of equipment that I simply don’t worry whether I made the right decisions or not. They all still work and they have caught me some superb fish over the last eight months including a Bass of 11lbs 4ozs. I can fish confidently with these pieces of equipment! One of the biggest issues that the saltwater fly-fisherman will have to deal with is wind. Generally speaking, no matter where we go along the Irish coastline there will inevitably be some breeze blowing. This will range from the ‘moderate to fresh’ to ‘light and variable’, and it may be no harm to visit the met eireann site to understand these definitions. A lot of weather information can be had at http://www.met,ie which can prove very useful to the angler. Looking back now over April and early May of 2004, (during this time I expected to catch a Bass on every cast) I realise that I was subconsciously looking for areas sheltered from the worst of the wind or worse still, even when the wind was light I would position myself to favour my cast. Doing this cut down hugely my chances of ever catching a fish. The equipment I had purchased was more than capable of throwing lines good distances with big flies in most wind conditions, the problem was, that I wasn’t. Andrew Ryan at the Clonanav fly fishing centre confirmed this to me when, after the second cast with my equipment he cast all the fly line from the reel into a head wind of force 4; At least I had done something right! Andrew was quick to point out to me that casting a #8 or #7 in the same conditions was entirely possible – provided the technique was correct! Regarding lines and rods and things – It is, in my opinion, important for the would be saltwater fly angler to understand the basics of the ‘science’ involved in fly lines and rods! Now I don’t mean you should put on your white lab coat, carry a clipboard and wear an absurdly coloured tie, but study and understand the principles and mechanics behind some of the terms like – AFTM, weight forward, shooting heads, tapers, running line, belly etc. This is recommendation number eight; get a copy of a good book on the principles of fly-fishing! This should cover the basics of fly lines and rods, knots, leaders, and some casting techniques. It doesn’t have to be an encyclopaedia but should contain enough information for you to ‘visualise’ some of the principles. You may remember from part one that I suggested the purchase of a number 10-rod, line and reel, some of you might be saying this is over kill, but what I wanted to do was match the equipment to the requirements. Lets just quickly look at the requirements again 1. You want to catch fish in the sea using fly fishing techniques 2. You will more often than not be casting into a head wind. 3. If your target is Bass then the flies you will be using will be quite big, some very big; you will need to cast them safely and efficiently! 4. There will often be rocks, seaweed and other obstructions where you fish.


5. On occasion waves and current will wash your line into these and you may need to exert some force to free your line. 6. You need to subdue your quarry as quickly as possible to prevent lactic acid build up and undue stress to ensure a positive catch and release. 7. Sometimes you may have to ‘bully’ your quarry through weed or rocks. 8. If you are targeting Bass and Pollack – then these are very strong fighting fish. I don’t want to make the Irish coastline sound as hospitable as the surface of Mars, but it is a pretty demanding environment. It is perfectly capable of smashing your equipment and your emotions quite easily in a short space of time, we don’t want that to happen. Dare I say it but here is recommendation number nine; what you need initially from a line is good quality, one that’s not too expensive, has a short head and a weight forward profile and lasts well in saltwater. I would suggest that you start with a floating line then as you become more proficient purchase a clear intermediate line. Some fly lines are better than others, of that there is no doubt, but the right type rather than manufacturer is paramount. To a novice like myself the difference between a Hardy line and an Airflo line is not really going to be detectable for some time, except in price that is! Remember you will need about 150 yards of braid to back up your reel and attach to your fly line; this is readily available and quite inexpensive. The same principle applies to rods and reels the more expensive the rod or reel the more technically adept the equipment. Please remember - expensive equipment does not always automatically translate into long casts, and long casts do not always translate into more fish! I think you can work it out for yourself. You need a rod that does the job by throwing these lines and your flies where you want them to go as far as you want them to go, as safely as possible. Length, however, should be seriously considered before making your purchase. Saltwater fly-fishing does unfortunately require casting and recasting, sometimes made while standing in chest deep water. So, recommendation number ten is; a minimum of a nine-foot rod is needed to be effective out there. Some individuals have gone to 10-foot or longer rods, but they can be hard on the wrist to cast, especially in the heavier weights of nine or ten, and they will tire you out much quicker than a nine-footer. The rod needs to be saltwater resilient, anything that is exposed to saltwater will, with time corrode and rust if not attended to. Please pay particular attention to the reel seat and the rings. A quick rinse in warm water and then a rub with a rag sprayed lightly with WD40 will add years to your equipment. While rods and lines are very important, do not overlook your reel when considering saltwater fly-fishing. Recommendation number eleven is; spool capacity and rust/corrosion resilience are the main things to look for in a saltwater fly reel, (if you find a saltwater proof reel please let me know) also extremely important is a durable, and smooth drag system. Bass and Pollack are known for their long, fast initial runs and you don’t want your reel to seize or simply fall apart in the middle of one. There is nothing more disconcerting (or funnier to other anglers) than having your spool literally separate from its housing and fall into the sea in the middle of a sensational Big Bass fight. Unlike trout fishing, where you can set the drag to nearly nothing and palm the spool, you will have to rely on the drag from time to time to slow bigger Bass or Pollack. The reel holding your lines needs to be of a large arbour type (they also look sexier than the traditional type) to help take the memory out of your line and it also needs some capacity for backing - that’s the brightly coloured line you put on your reel before your fly line, you do get to see and feel it from time to time! So what’s next? We’ve looked at lines, rods and reels I guess that only leaves flies leaders and tippets, simple!!



So, flies are big? Small? Blue? White? Or that fancy one - chartreuse and white? Deceivers? Clousers? Poppers? Bangers? What’s going on here? Day, night, evening, dusk, and dawn. Hold it together now, we’ve come this far, remember always try and make it simple, break it down into easy parts. If you remember from part one, a long time ago I know, we decided that when we are beginning the best times to go fishing were early morning or late evening; well this has an effect on the colour of fly you should use at this time also. The following I will add as recommendation number 12; a list to help you make your decisions regarding colours, remember this is a very broad list and is matched to your early morning and late evening trips 1. Before the sun rises over the horizon use a white fly with some yellow like a deceiver. 2. When the sun is just above the horizon and it looks like becoming a bright day then switch to an all white fly again using a deceiver pattern. 3. When the sun is rising to just above the horizon and it looks like becoming a dull day then switch to a darker fly with some patterns in it. A possible change to a clouser or a darker more patterned deceiver of brown or olive. 4. If the day looks like its becoming broken with sunny spells then switch to a coloured fly like blue and white or olive and white or even red and orange again a clouser pattern. 5. During evening time before sundown go back to your white and yellow deceiver. 6. At night a black fly works best. Now I know you have become a naturalist over the last few months, especially with respect to the wildlife at your chosen fishing grounds. If you have local knowledge regarding baitfish like sand eel or gobies or young pollack and their patterns then use this to your advantage and experiment with chosen flies and fly colours. I like to use a particular colour that works for me. Two years ago I collected two Rapala J13’s off one of the local beaches after a storm. Both were pretty battered but both had a distinctive colouring – like that of a goldfish. I asked around and found out that local boatmen use this pattern all the time; it’s their number one choice. I subsequently use very frequently a fly that contains red, orange and yellow, particularly during daytime hours and it works very well. I still get blank days of course! Regarding the type of fly when you are starting out, two or three flies come to mind, deceivers clouser minnows and surf candy. If you can, purchase 4 deceivers - two chartreuse and white and two white, then add 4 clouser minnows – two blue and white and two of olive and white. Finally get a mixed bunch of surf candy. This should set you back no more than 30 euros and it is enough spend for you to get started. Recommendation number 13; use this first set almost as a write off – an experiment if you like, don’t worry what happens to these first flies. Get used to casting the different types, feel the difference between the deceiver and the minnow. Drop them, attached to your leader of course, in the water in front of you. Watch how they behave when moving in a current or in slack water. Do they sink or hang, do they look natural and can you invoke some ‘life’ into them. Cast them into and across the wind – get used to how they feel when wet and dry on the cast. What do they look like at the end of a session? In part six we will discuss some methods I found of how best to fish these flies. For some reason tapered leaders and tippets and co-polymers and fluorocarbons and all of these things still cause huge sense of confusion. I’m not really sure why but they do! At the end of my fly line I have a braided loop attachment. To this I attach about 6 feet of 15kg BS clear Rio alloy mono and then to this I attach about 3 feet of fluorocarbon of 5kg BS, to this I then attach a fly using a rapala knot. I join the two lines using the surgeons knot. I find fluorocarbon more resilient in rocky areas than mono. And that is about that as


regards your equipment requirements to get you fishing in saltwater. Recommendation number 14; if you already have some fresh water fly fishing gear it is possible to use this in the sea. You may need to maintain your equipment more often and you might be restricted to certain less demanding species and localities but you will be already skilled in fishing with the lighter lines and rods so have a go this spring and summer!

Saltwater fly-fishing fundamentals Part six – Improving on doing it somewhat! Its March already can you believe it? When I started writing part one of this series back in November of last year the saltwater fly-fishing season was coming to an end. I remember driving home from what would be one of my last sessions of the season. It was a calm, dull cold and overcast Saturday. Already the days were getting dark at 4:30 and bluegrey smoke from fires lit in country houses hung low in the sky across fields of stubble. Geese had replaced terns on the estuary and the constant sounds of a thousand waders filled the air. As I drove home I saw some forgotten carved pumpkins lying tossed in gardens, their crooked smiles testament to the season passed. I noticed air temperatures (a constant hobby of mine) had dropped by more than seven or eight degrees and I told myself that maybe the warm sea might hold the fish into December. I was finding it very difficult to let go. I managed one more long session at the end of November on the fly – I had no fish – it was inevitably coming to an end! And now it’s nearly beginning again! What does this year hold in store…. who really knows with fishing! Before we move on to some words about flies and things I just want to mention the importance of recording data that’s relevant to your fishing. Its March now and heading towards the start of the sea trout season. What I want you to consider doing is laying out on some paper or in a notebook from you local stationers, or indeed on a computer, a sheet that would look something like the one below. I have this sheet laid out in Microsoft excel and it’s done in a way that I happen to like. You can add or subtract the columns and amend it as you see fit. It simply records the day, the date, the atmospheric pressure, maximum temperature, minimum temperature, sunshine hours, tides and so on, all the way across to the part on fishing activity. Start recording data into the sheet on a daily basis whether you go fishing or not. When you are fishing you can record the details of flies/lines used and fish catch. When you are not fishing you should still record data, and overtime you will achieve an almost intimate closeness with the weather and tides. If you hear information from friends who have gone fishing, put it in here too! Recommendation number 15 - I really can’t emphasise enough the benefits of this exercise. It is definitely another tool to help you succeed, now and in the future. If you require the spreadsheet in Excel please feel free to e-mail me at for a free copy. What I am asking you to try and achieve is an ever-increasing awareness of elemental factors and the more than probable effects they will have on your fishing. When you build data into the sheet over a season or indeed a number of seasons you can then perform some extraction analysis and build patterns that occur on the occasions when you have and haven’t caught fish. The second and I promise this is the last of the homework that I would recommend for number 16 is to get the detail of your local tides and condense the information into something like the sheet below. I know some of you are thinking –‘ this a bit of 34

overkill...?’, ‘I think Jim mentioned this before…’ I realise you probably have spent a lot of time in ‘set up’ mode and this is more of the same but I personally think the benefits for the beginner and even for the seasoned angler who has never done anything like this before can be enormous. It will greatly help your decision making process and guide you down the path to further success. Start to mentally couple the weather and the tide in your mind and before you go fishing you will almost certainly get that primeval feeling of what to expect from your best angling marks. Subconsciously you will begin to make decisions about when and where to fish and even when not to fish. Then slowly begin to establish natural patterns and rhythms that represent success and when you notice them falling into place a few days before you know are the best tidal times, the anticipation of waiting to go fishing can be incredibly exciting. So it’s Wednesday and its June 15th 2007. You know from your tidal guides it’s going to be a good morning tide on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th, the weather has been excellent with high pressure hanging over Ireland for the last 6 days, winds speeds are low, and air temperatures are constant at around 17/18 degrees. It looks like its not going to change either. The anticipation should start to build, a bit like a pressure cooker! You go home from work on Wednesday and get your rod, waders, reel, line and flies, clippers, forceps, ready. Now I know you have them ready since April but you get them ready again anyway, you make a few false casts in the back garden and get tangled in next doors telephone cable! Thursday the weather is good, you begin to want to go on Friday morning but you know you cant. You’ve told the relevant person/s where you are going at least twenty times and at what time and then finally we get to it. You arrive at your venue at 4:15am put on your gear at ramming speed and charge to the spot, you make several casts (false and other) over your hotspots in a lather of sweat and shakes while you remember you forgot your sunglasses. Suddenly you spot some explosive surface activity twenty yards to your left, well within your casting range– I never really know who is responsible for the next guaranteed sequence of events but it happens - you pull too much line from the reel causing an overrun, when you are repairing this your favourite clouser gets the taste of freedom, likes it, and decides it wants to hide in a bed of bladder wrack and set-up permanent residence there, meanwhile your loose fly line winds its way around your ankles and as you bend over to sort it, whilst stepping on your leader, your fly box slips out of your jacket into the water, you watch it bobbing away when you spot a passing Bass veering slowly out of its path on its way to this mornings favoured hunting spot, which now looks like a boiling cauldron. Then and only then you see the other angler. A little bit away, he’s staring at you biting the inside of his lip, he has stopped reeling his surface lure, rod still pointing at the horizon he’s completely motionless, frozen in time, in fact he hasn’t moved since he saw your frantic arrival and first cast. You straighten up and wave and wish you were dead! He smiles (you think) and thankfully keeps his thoughts to himself, shakes his head, looks for his lure, locates it, and gives it a sharp pull, splashing it across the surface three feet from the hot spot and…. Then you cry!!! Anyway I was going to tell you a few things about how I fish with the deceivers, clousers and other flies, well, recommendation number 17 is, slowly works for me. I learned this the hard way – a bit like the guy above. Take your time, get your gear on, if you have to walk a bit and you are using neoprene waders and temperatures are up then carry them in a rucksack, put your rod together, put your reel on but don’t pull the line through the rings yet and check that you have everything again. Lock the car. Put the keys away


safely. Walk towards your venue. You know those little pairs of binoculars that you can buy quite cheaply? If you can, get yourself a pair. Recommendation number 18 is to study the venue from a distance before walking up to it. Are there birds about feeding in the area, can you see what they are feeding on, is there any surface activity, breaking shoals of fry, what state is the tide at, (which you should already know,) does it look like there is weed in the water? Sometimes what you are expecting may not actually happen. You arrive, put on your waders and walk into the water. Think again. I cant say how surprising this might seem but if you can cast 20 yards make your first cast is made 15 yards from the shoreline away from your chosen spot in such a way as to cause a minimum of disturbance. Then let the fly work its way to the correct place by using the tide and natural flow of water. Watch your shadow and sky profile. Remember during the previous few hours fish will have spent the time in darkness, they will often still feel secure in the pale early morning light and will lie very close to shore. Move slowly closer to the shoreline, quietly, working your fly further and further out nearer any hotpots that you know are there. Cover as much ground as possible. It is here I still have a lot to learn; by a lot I mean a huge amount. But I will tell you what I like to do. Using a floating line and a leader of about 10 feet. If the tide and flow is moving from right to left and I know where the ‘hotspot’ is, rock or other underwater obstruction, then I make a cast uptide in such a way and at a distance that I know by the time the fly is carried down towards the ‘hotspot’ without retrieving the fly that it will start to lift and flutter in the tide. It is then that I will often make a sharp short pull and stop on the fly line, maybe a foot or so to cause the fly to streamline and then open enticingly and then turn and drift back. Let it drift back more slowly than the tide include a few ‘short tugs’ and then repeat with a pull of about two feet and so on. Impart random life into your fly and separate it from other ‘non natural objects’ etc. This method has worked well for me using both the deceivers and the clousers. Retrieve rates and movements are best determined on the day I’m afraid. I think from my own experience, fly selection and fishing method is still where I need to spend most time learning. If you ever have the opportunity to watch Bass or other predators like mackerel chasing baitfish at close quarters then do so. I had such an opportunity to watch mackerel chase sprat up a long narrow yet deep inlet this summer. They were rapidly followed by Bass mopping up on stunned sprat and not really bothering to work for their supper. It was the action of baitfish hit, and then missed by mackerel that interested me most; their action was very similar to one that I could impart in my deceivers. A slow moving twitching and turning baitfish that moves randomly and enticingly in the tide. Alternatively fishing with an intermediate line and a sparse closer minnow with similar methods allows you to fish deeper and closer to the bottom. The unique nature of the upside-down swimming action of the closer allows this with minimal tackle loss. But my real favourites are the surface lures, the poppers and crease flies. When I started trying to cast these at first, all my old mistakes came flooding back. I was flaying about like a mad thing! Because they look so big, mentally, I was trying to cast the fly like a spinner, but of course the original principles I had learned held through and eventually I managed to get it somewhat right. One morning early in May and purely by accident I used one of these flies. I had tried every other fly in the box and I had had no hits. I knew there was fish moving through on a regular basis and a local angler had landed and returned four on spinning baits. So I sat down, growled to myself and tied on one of these big guys, I knew they floated and I had on a floating line, so I tied on a shorter leader (six feet) and I slowly walked straight into the middle of a complex rocky reef structure and made a goodish enough cast. I applied the same thinking as the ‘traditional’ plugs and things I use, and pulled the lure through the surface water, splashing and spitting the fly and then stopping and waiting. I counted to ten and then repeated the sharp pull when 36

wham, it was smashed into by a very nice fish of about 5lbs. Such is the ferocity of a Bass when hitting these lures that a strike is unnecessary. When you experience these surface attacks it remains with you forever and it does nothing but to further increase the deep obsession, excitement and sheer enjoyment that is saltwater fly-fishing. Since the summer of 2002 I have guided a lot of people from all around the world along the Wexford coast. I have some brilliant photographs of various clients and their welldeserved fish but this year, if I have the opportunity, I am definitely making a conscious effort to photograph the faces and reactions of people as they experience that first surface lure Bass hook up. From a slightly raised eyebrow to simply falling over in the rush of excitement, I have witnessed many and I hope to witness many more this summer and autumn. A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 09:38PM (+01:00)

Bass Fishing Influences - Water Clarity (PII).
Saturday, August 16, 2008

The sun is beating down from directly above your head, the sky is the brightest of blues and the water's as clear as Gordons. Theres only the faintest of breezes cooling the sweat on your back - On the other hand what happens when you are fishing in conditions resembling cold chocolate? The following notes could help your fly and lure fishing under both circumstances. Dealing with cloudy water - tactics for bass on fly and lure.

The photograph above is now a common sight on the south east coast, and has been especially visible and regular over the last few weeks. The lethal combination of


continuos strong winds and heavy rain adds 'colour' to the water, combined with large deposits of rotting seaweed it spells tough times for the fly and lure fisherman. Circumstances like the one above are at the extreme end of the range and as the first thirty meters are brown I am often asked, especially by flyfishermen, as to what to do. There are two major types of fish - the predatory type and the scavenger type. Predators tend to want to catch and eat most of their prey when its alive, although they will scavenge if they need to. Using their highly developed senses of smell, sight, sensitivity and hearing they locate their prey easily. Sight is a very well developed sense in most fish and is especially developed in those that are predatory. Bass eyes are located high on their heads looking forward up and a lot to the side. Contrast and Movement play a BIG part in their vision. Because of water clarity in Ireland and its normal restrictions, fish tend not to see beyond twenty or thirty feet. However lots of fish dont 'look' beyond a range of ten feet any further is too far! They have good colour vision and they have excellent night vision too. Predators rely on sight as the major tool in the hunting box. But what happens when they cant see effectively?

The extent of the turbidity of the water is usually indicative of whether bass will be present or not. In the photograph above they are most definetly not present, this photograph was taken after some days of very strong winds and rain. The photograph to the right was taken after the wind had blown but the weather was improving and the sea was 'fining down' or settling. Bass would be present in the circumstances to the right even with the suspended particles and seaweed present. The camera visibility here was reduced to about two feet. Tying up subsurface visibilty, the weather and its impact on your fishing has been discussed in Part One. Here are some pointers to help when the sea is murky. 1. Try to fish as early in the change of wind direction, increase in strength or deterioration as is possible. 2. If this is not possible re-plan you fishing to attempt the latest set of tides in the cycle that correspond to an improvement. In other words after wind and rain dont go fishing just 'cause the sun shines - it takes time for the fish to return. 3. If the change in weather that is causing the 'breakdown' is a big one the first two tides of this period are often excellent at producing BIG fish, if you can deal with conditions! 4. If the change in weather is a fast moving depression that comes and goes very 38

quickly, fish immediately the next tide when the barometric begins to rise - a key time! 5. Do not fish after extended periods of strong wind 6. When the sea is 'fining down' dont be dissapointed not to get fish on the first tide you try - try the next - they'll be there and hungry too. 7. Avoid fishing areas close to runoffs or river inlets, estuaries, where weed is gathered on the beach, or the windward sides of peninsulas or rocky points. 8. Check the visibilty of different areas of water by dropping a fly into the sea and estimating maximum distance at which it remains visible - often fish can be concentrated in the optimum areas of 'bad' conditions. Use a brightly colored or very dark and noisy fly or lure! Do some combat fishing by creating impacts with structure with the fly or lure. 9. Fish a black or purple or 'BLURPLE' fly as this contrasts sharply as the bass view it against the skys lighter background as they look up. Try black or smaller dark poppers or fish heavy flies/lures close to the bottom where visibilty is often slightly better 10. Try and find current and watch and wait - often different phases of the tide produce clear conditions just for a short period - fish are often condensed in these areas and travel with the clear water. A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 01:10PM (+01:00)

Bass Fishing on the Fly - PIII and PIV
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Saltwater fly-fishing fundamentals Part three – the species and the possibilities What is beyond Bass, sea trout, mullet and single hand casting? For most people who are not saltwater fly fishers, along with a considerable percentage of those who are, often seem to think that saltwater fly fishing is limited to wading or being poled in a spectacularly white, extremely powerful speed boat over shallow tropical flats in search of tarpon, bonefish or permit. Admittedly, this may be the best-publicised aspect of the sport and the three species above are regarded as the "holy grail” of saltwater fly-fishing. Here in Ireland it’s a little different and while it may often be less glamorous it is by no means and may indeed be, more difficult than the warmer water fishing. Sea Bass were, at one time, abundant along most of Ireland’s coastline. Due largely to over fishing by inshore gill-netters and the continued illegal practice, today they are more restricted in distribution but still occur in some areas with well-developed and difficult to access natural shoreline areas. Sea trout have also suffered but are now beginning to recover. Mullet are present in large shoals – often seen mooching around estuaries and backwaters. So what are we saying then? Well sea Bass are somewhat abundant and are often the prime target for the saltwater fly fisher, even sea trout and mullet can be caught if one knows where and when to fish, but what other challenges can a saltwater fly fisher face in Ireland. Apart from these three species what else is there? As we have discussed in previous issues, under the right conditions, all of the species


above can be caught using the same fly outfit: an 8- or 9-weight rod and a reel with a smooth drag and a capacity of at least 75 to 100 yards of 20-pound backing, in addition to a weight-forward fly line. Depending upon the conditions and the type of fish, a floating or sinking line may be employed. The best all-around line choice for experienced anglers is probably an intermediate (slow sinking) line, but beginners may want to stick with floating lines until they hone their casting skills. Any number of flies work well on these fish; deceivers, minnows, poppers, and baitfish patterns are often employed. One of the best all-around patterns is the deceiver; it is successful all over the world for many species. Trout often show a preference for baitfish flies; adding Mylar or crystal hair to one's offering and using body material dyed yellow, orange, and red can make a difference. Mullet have a preference for maggot or bread imitation flies and are often caught in the most unexpected circumstances. I believe most of the effort expended by Irish fly fishers along the coastline could be directed at other fishes and other alternative fly fishing methods. In a bid to expand and further understand our potential quarry four of the possible ‘unexploited’ and dare I say it somewhat ‘unexplored’ fly rod targets are wrasse, garfish, pollack and flounder. Regarding techniques other fly-fishing methods might include the use of the doublehanded rod and distance overhead or spey casting methods. The options are limitless and surely present true frontier fishing for us all. One doesn't have to spend $200-$300 a day for a tropical saltwater guide to experience fly fishing for some tropical bone crushing predator — many of the spots where sea trout, flounder, garfish, and pollack can be caught around Ireland are accessible from shore and can provide their own reward often greater than landing a large GT on a #10 outfit while labouring over the fish in 100 degrees for two hours. These rewards may often come in the form of new personalised techniques, guile and watercraft not yet available to the ordinary fisher. One of the techniques I would like to mention is the use of longer double-handed rods between the length of 11’-0” and 15’-0” The conventional single hand overhead caster will depend on the single or double haul to achieve maximum line speed; the effort of constant casting is spread across both arms as well as the shoulders. Irrespective of your casting efficiency, during a long session it can become very tiring, especially when using the heavier weight rods. Some people never really adjust to the proximity of big flies whizzing past their heads at considerable speed whilst fishing with nine-foot rods and hence a lot of would be saltwater fishermen pack in early. Lets talk about the double-hander or two-handed rod. The two-handed overhead cast does not rely on the haul to achieve line speed; rather it depends on the rods power dynamics to utilize line weight and profile as a means to increase casting distance. This powerful casting technique has definite advantages. The most obvious advantages are the substantial distances that can be achieved with very little expended energy on the part of the caster. With a balanced line system, a moderate caster can easily achieve massive distances with a minimum of effort. With a moderate amount of practice, 90 to 110 ft. casts can easily be achieved with only one false cast. The two-handed caster does not depend on just the wrists and forearms to work the line, as would a single hander. Rather, the work needed to accomplish the two-handed overhead cast is efficiently distributed throughout the casters entire upper body. When constant extreme distance presentations are required, this advantage can definitely create an easier, more relaxed day on the water. Your arms and shoulders will not be 40

beaten up by the double haul. Your long distance casts can become more consistent, and they will be accurate. Back or face wind can be penetrated very effectively with a shooting head system, especially when throwing heavy, wind resistant flies. More time can be spent with your fly in the water rather then in the air! There is also an element of safety here- two-handers allow you to avoid deep wading or creeping out to the end of dangerous and exposed rocky promontories. While working in big surf the longer rod will hold your line above the breaking waves during the retrieve. The ability of these rods to carry very large flies vast distances cannot be underestimated. It really has to be seen to be believed and here too lies a vast hunting ground for the surf fly fisherman. And remember these rods although long are available in all the lighter line ranges from #8 through to #14. All and all, whether you fish estuaries, surf, or fast moving waters, this is an incredibly effective caster and fishing friendly system to add to your fly-fishing technique portfolio. So what have we covered in these three articles. We recognise there is a lot work, determination and observation required to increase and maintain your fly-fishing skills. It is necessary to be in tune with nature, to have confidence in casting and presentation and to posses a well balanced and effective fly-fishing outfit. Training in fly casting and fishing is more necessary than having a very expensive fishing reel. There are many species waiting to be caught effectively and efficiently with new techniques and flies and methods. But most of all I feel what we have to learn is what lies ahead of us. Can any of us fly fishers’ say with confidence yes – I can catch many species on the fly in Irish Saltwater no problems, I don’t think so. And therein lies the challenge. Its new, its undiscovered, there are no experts – only you, as you forge the new ground and limits of you own and ever improving saltwater fly fishing techniques, ranges and species. If you haven't started to attempt to catch these ‘new’ fish on fly tackle, you're missing a lot of fun — give it a try! Saltwater fly-fishing fundamentals Part four – When and Where

1. Fly-fishing in the sea is difficult and can be hard work. 2. Confidence, but not over confidence is essential. 3. Always try to keep things simple 4. Success, when it happens, is a moment to be proud of and is extremely hard to beat. My wife suspects I’m having an affair! I often go out fishing for three or four hours, with little or no visible stacks and boxes of gear – no long rods, umbrellas, beach lights, jackets, heavy boots or smelly stuff in pink boxes from California. When I come home her suspicions are often compounded, I am clean, I don’t smell badly I am still wearing the ‘good’ clothes I went out in and most of all, the singular most damning piece of evidence (apart from the lack of fish that is) is the often euphoric state of mind in which I return. Singing and humming vacantly to myself as I go about the domestic routine, I am often visibly and inwardly engaged in the somewhat ‘other worldly’ and mysteriously compulsive world of fly-fishing. My wife can often be seen standing at the living room


door watching me dubiously, go about various chores in a happy go lucky sort of way. This of course creates doubt in her mind as to how I can be contented with a tin of Mr Sheen in my hand. It will bode all saltwater fly fishermen well to remember that 1. The continuation of the existing marriage/relationship into the foreseeable future is not dependant on successful saltwater fly-fishing. 2. Regular confirmation with your partner/spouse of the benefits to your person through saltwater fly-fishing is essential. 3. It is essential to continue this development of the new improved you and it is intrinsically linked to the new pastime of saltwater fly-fishing. 4. You will need a strong ally to persist in this long and difficult challenge, someone who will listen attentively to boring fishing stories etc 5. Confirmation for tomorrow evening between 7:00 and 10:00 is ok for next session. Over the next few pages I would like to recount my experiences of saltwater fly-fishing to date and to share some of those experiences with you. I want to try and make saltwater fly-fishing easier for you, based on what has happened to me, right or wrong. Right now if you are reading this you are probably on your Christmas holidays or are just about to begin them. It’s probably fairly miserable outside, the days are short, you go to work in darkness and you come home in darkness. The last of the flounder are running down the estuary and there are no cod to be caught. The end of January is a long way of and the distant summer seems like an eternity away. Take these few pages and use them to cast your mind back six months to the summer of 2004. Remember those days, it got light at 3:30 and was warm at 4:30; there was a distinct possibility of sunburn at 5:30 in the morning! Remember those early mornings? You had three hours of fishing done before you started work. What? You mean you don’t? Lets come to terms with this one first. There are times during the day (or night) when it is easier to catch fish. These two times are generally considered to be – early morning time, before sun up, and late evening time, just after sun down. I have found that successful saltwater fly-fishing has an incredible amount to do with confidence. On the long and twisty road to success, one of the first steps is to ensure that you have determined the best fishing time for your fishing efforts. Recommendation number one is to buy a cheap and noisy alarm clock. Recommendation number two is to buy a copy of the local tide tables and learn how to read them or learn how to calculate the next few day’s tides and times available from If you find calculating the tides and their times six months ahead of your Christmas dinner a bit daunting, then it might be worthwhile joining a local sea angling club or talking to someone who sea fishes regularly. They will gladly entertain you over some Christmas cheer about the vagaries of spring and neap tides, heights and times and stages of the moon. Recommendation number three is to determine the dates when rising tides coincide with a rising sun (not exactly of course) or, when rising tides coincide with a setting sun. Three recommendations in the last paragraph – total cost 5 euros! No need to be foolish here, you can’t continue to fish every early morning tide and expect to remain human in an office or other work environment! Fish the tides that fall correctly on Friday Saturday or Sunday mornings and at least you can play catch up during the day! And then a few days later you can fish the corresponding evening tides. For example, if you fish a 4:30 tide early on Friday morning you can fish a 7:30 evening tide on Monday. You have now determined the best tides and the best times for you to put yourself in position. The question is where do you put yourself? On the road to success it is important to know where exactly you are going and, as we have seen when we will get 42

there. I’m going to ask you to spend some more money now. Recommendation number four is to buy an ordnance survey map, a compass, and a car. You may already have a compass and a map; if you don’t own a car they can (with some persuasion), be obtained from Fathers, Mothers, wives, partners, sisters and brothers, even close friends. Go out and buy a copy of the Irish Times as well, the weather page is fantastic. Go home and clear the kitchen table and spread the map out, place the compass on the map and let it settle. Look at all that blue stuff around the coast – that’s where you are going to fish and isn’t there an awful lot of it? What I want you to look for is 1. The mouth of estuaries. 2. Rocky headlands. 3. Points of land that stick into the sea. 4. Long stretches of beach that suddenly stop. 5. Deep patches of water that lie close to shore. 6. Where rivers flow into the sea. Circle these places on the map – these are all possible fish holding areas. Pick some that are relatively close together but offer different types of topography and concentrate on those. Open your tide tables look for the next low tide, and then when the time is right pop the children in the car and tell your wife/partner that you are taking the smallies on a picnic/treasure hunt, hence the map and compass. Remember you will often be travelling to these places early in the morning so a long distance journey is not recommended. Look at the map in the weather section of the newspaper and note the wind direction When you arrive at low tide look for deep pools, rocky patches and reefs, holes and gullies, imagine when the tide is rising where does the water flow and how does it flow around and within the area. Are there any ambush sites where predatory fish will be lying in wait? Is it possible to access these areas as the tide is rising and are these areas a safe place to fish? Note what way the wind is blowing and how is this going to affect your casting ability/range/accuracy. Keep visiting the areas with the children or for long romantic walks with your loved one and as the year moves closer to summer, activity in the water should increase, baitfish should appear, sea trout, Bass and mullet will show themselves on or above the surface. Keep constant notes of wind direction, temperature, tides, phases of the moon, natural activity. These notes will, over time become your bible. Of the areas that you have chosen perhaps two or three will have most if not all of the following 1. A strong geographical feature – like rocks, headland, or river mouth etc. 2. Will have displayed high levels of natural activity – bird life, and fish life. 3. Is prone to tidal currents like slacks and fast eddies 4. Is easy to access and safe to fish



5. Is fishable in different wind directions. This is where you are going to fish. Let these three places be your own private hunting grounds, get to know them like your back garden. Begin to feel comfortable there in all conditions and begin to anticipate the effects of the combinations of wind, tide, and temperature on the environment and the wildlife that inhabits the area. You have now determined the best tides, the best times, and the best places to fish. There is always the opportunity with time spent at the water either fishing or simply observing to add to that vast database that is necessary for success. For instance, you will learn that a sudden drop in temperature (by two degrees or more) or a sudden change in wind direction, or a slight combination and change of these factors will turn fish off and make them harder to catch. Weather will also play havoc with your casting and mood, I am not saying that you shouldn’t go fishing, but on the road to success -sometimes its better to say no to going fishing rather than simply going and getting a bad result. We will deal with this later. All of this so far is leading me to say that fly-fishing in the sea in Ireland is not a straightforward task. If you want to catch fish from the sea on the fly you are going to have to find them, you are going to have to understand why, that the next time you came back the fish weren’t there. But instead of being afraid or daunted at the task we will continue to break it down it smaller more manageable pieces. Everything that you have read on the previous pages is also applicable to most fishing scenarios. The next few pages are dedicated to the more technical aspects of fly-fishing and the pitfalls you can encounter along the way. It’s a long time since I made a recommendation so here comes one Recommendation number five if you are interested in fly-fishing in the sea, find someone else who is already reasonably competent at it and go fishing with them and talk the hind legs off them. These experienced saltwater fly-fishermen have learned how to combine the ‘natural’ parts with the ‘technological’ parts and are well down the road to success. A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 10:03AM (+01:00)

Bass Fishing on The Fly - PI and PII
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Saltwater fly-fishing fundamentals Part one – Mind and body. Work, determination, observation and skill One early morning last summer I decided not to go fishing because I felt the weather had deteriorated sufficiently overnight to prevent me from catching fish. I was on a few days off and had a gap between customers so I wasn’t compelled to go fishing. I lay listening to the wind pushing things around in circles in the yard and then I rolled over in my warm bed and promptly went back to sleep. When I woke I knew instinctively I had made a mistake, the ‘bad’ weather had blown through quickly and as I stood in the warm sunshine the inevitable mind games began. ‘I wonder what I missed this morning?’ ‘I bet there was big fish passing through today!’ My mind having taken the easy option by staying in bed was now paying me back. Success in saltwater fly-fishing doesn’t come easily; it takes work, determination, observation and skill. So what do I mean by ‘Work’? Lets assume you’ve made the correct tackle choices at 44

this stage. A large arbor reel, a #8 or a #9 rod and a floating or an intermediate line, and a box full of flies and some tippet material all with a saltwater specification. This is where the work begins. Having the right equipment wont necessarily catch you fish. Neither will reading about casting get you casting effectively. Go to an instructor or guide and take some lessons. Then do some practice-practice and more practice. Work at your casting form over grass and then over water. Start with small ambitions and then work up slowly. Never try to fish and practice at the same time it doesn’t help. It can take a bit of time to achieve the casting form necessary for effective saltwater flyfishing, especially as it’s a little bit more demanding than some of the freshwater norms. Don’t be misled by some of the things that you will hear. It’s often said that double hauling is essential for saltwater fly-fishing. Not true. It’s often said that big flies are impossible to cast. Not true. It’s often said that shooting heads are required for long casts. Not true. Its often said if you can’t cast far you won’t catch fish. And so it goes on and on. This is where you need to be determined in body. Listen to your casting instructor. Learn from him where you are good in your casting and where you need to improve. If you have a good quality balanced fly-fishing outfit, some good instruction and determination then you can achieve the fundamentals required. Overlining the rod, punching your cast, shooting heads, forcing a double haul all and more are often totally unnecessary. Late into October last year I got a phone call from a friend in Paris. He had a spur of the moment wish to go fishing in Ireland and was coming across, rain hail or snow. I was spurred by his enthusiasm and made the necessary arrangements for his short two-day stay. Tackle, a soft bed, some fish and wine were all he wanted he said. Tides were good but a cold front from the North West was passing over the country, I got out the thermals even though the water was still quite warm. So Nicolas arrived in a flurry. We were fishing the next morning. In the cold wet and dark, the last days of October. We had dim light from overcast skies, temperatures were down to 6 or 7 degrees and when the wind howled it often went above force five. We fished for two hours non-stop in difficult conditions with sinking lines and we had no fish. We took a short break and with the accustomed determination of experience we continued to fish. We both knew that a sudden decrease in the turbulence of the surf or a change in the currents agitated by the wind, or a rapid change in the barometric pressure can all make things happen very quickly on tough weather days. Many fishermen would have checked that morning’s weather forecast and stayed at home. I remembered the last time I made a similar decision. And then suddenly the clouds thinned, the sun shone weakly for about twenty minutes, the front was passing through and we had a fish each. We had been fishing determinedly for three and a half hours. You need to be determined in many ways I think. Determined to do things differently, determined to find new destinations, determined to improve your casting, determined to experience new and tough weather conditions, determined to learn from other sources and people, determined to analyse your fishing a bit more. Most of all you must be determined to enjoy the challenges that this fantastic sport can throw at you. Through your hard work, solid determination new found dimensions of observation and skill you will become a consummate fly fisher. By honing your observation habits you will by default increase your angling skill. The world of the saltwater fly-fisher is hugely affected by environmental influences that are in fact very close to the angler. Its often a very ‘environmentally intimate’ experience and your mind must be open to these


experiences. Observation should be practised almost to the point of obsession, and a never-ending catalogue of events noted mentally. Not wishing to sound too pedantic but observation often begins days before you go fishing, recent weather patterns, tidal states, venues where you have had recent success, times and phases of the moon. The time of day. The colour of your socks. Observation coupled to a little analysis forces us to move in a different angling direction. This often produces a better or worse result; we must remember the good results and why they happen. Never stop watching and observing nature. Terns, currents, slacks, surface features, and regularly look at and in the water. Spend all the time you can and observe the waters surface. You’ll be amazed at what you will see; even fish relatively deep can be observed. If fishing slows or stops then you must move or stop. Take a short rest and change tactics or move slightly. Remember its all good for mind and body! Inevitably once you have the common factors working you will catch fish. So what happens after you have caught your fish well in the U.S. Catch & Release has been practiced since the late 30’s. Lee Wulff said in 1938, "a game fish is much too valuable to be caught once." He was an engaging, aggressive, abrasive and tireless advocate of catch and release. And, he was right. He was the first to encourage sport fishermen to start thinking about the protection of the species they were catching by forcing them to realise the taking of too many adult fish causes a serious imbalance. This is the reason for catch and release. It is more commonly accepted as the ethic of flyfishing but all anglers should practice catch and release. Good catch and release policies ensure the survival of properly released fish. Proper handling of fish is really important. In the photograph an angler cradles the fish for a quick picture and then is placed into the water, not thrown back. Released fish are available for other anglers to enjoy. I’m not saying that you can’t keep some of your catch. But you don’t have to keep the legal limit. If you don’t intend on keeping your fish use a barbless hook or pinch down the barbs with pliers. This allows a quicker release and less stress on the fish. Especially with fly-fishing there really isn’t any need to have a barbed hook. Barbs are only on hooks to keep the bait there. If you aren’t using bait then you don’t need a barb. Proper catching and realising of fish extends your angling skill and knowledge. Next Part I will discuss how to get the best from your equipment and some common misconceptions Saltwater fly-fishing fundamentals Part two – the equipment Function, application, cost and rewards Saltwater fly-fishing is one of the fastest growing areas of current angling techniques. Inevitably accompanied by the growth in interest in the sport is a diversity of equipment that beggar’s belief, and of course the equipment can range in price from a hundred euros to thousands for many items. Many people look at the idea, like it and are then put off by these and other ‘barriers’ often associated with fly-fishing. Unfortunately saltwater fly-fishing is not as simple as taking a rod and reel to the nearest stretch of coastline, casting and then waiting for a fish to bite. It’s about using proper casting techniques, tactical fishing, choosing and using the right equipment and understanding the function 46

and application of each element. I hear and see the following statement quite often- ‘I bought a saltwater fly fishing rod, reel and two lines for 100.00 euros, I got a really great deal and I’m going to go fishing with it tomorrow’. What generally happens is after the first attempt the gear ends up in the back of the garden shed. Mine was there for a while, somewhere between the golf clubs and the garden rake, except I had spent a little bit more than 100.00 euros. Before you buy any equipment I urge you to read and understand as much as you can about the functions of the various pieces of equipment. There is a lot of information to digest but when you have done so you can pay an informed visit to any tackle shop and make valuable personal decisions regarding your purchases. If you don’t have the time to invest in all of this information at least pay a visit to a shop that knows the equipment they are selling is good and it functions correctly. If you know the owners are also fly fishermen ask them what equipment they use and why. Basic rod and reel set-ups are the best for novice fishers and beginners. Usually, high-end rods and reels made of top quality material are only suitable for advanced fly fishers, so beginners should learn the sport with less expensive equipment. Novice fishers should mainly look to improve technique through casting lessons and should start with basic gear. Remember with correct casting form it is possible to lay out thirty yards of fly line with very inexpensive rods. With improved casting form and tuition the fly fisherman will realise the limits of his equipment. Only after you have gone through this process should you search for better equipment. Determining where you will be using your equipment the majority of the time will help you decide on the appropriate set up and its application to your fishing. Will it be that small estuary over the hill and not too far from home, will you be standing on a local beach with big breaking waves as you throw large flies into a head wind, or maybe you want to travel to Florida or some other destination for hungry toothy fish. Inextricably linked to the function of each fly-fishing element is its application. In other words don’t expect to fish in strong head winds at sea with light trout fishing equipment. Understanding the function of each element will lead you to make correct decisions regarding its application In general, a rod with a small weight number will cast a shorter distance and require lighter flies. If this is going to be your only rod, I would recommend picking a rod weight that represents the largest, heaviest fly you plan to fish with, a bigger rod can also cast a small fly. In general a 7 to 8 weight rod is capable of casting up to 100 feet with pretty heavy and large flies. They are typically 9’-0” to 9’-8” in length and are best suited to fishing large estuaries and on open beaches during calmer spells of weather. The 9-12 weight rods are designed to cast wet towels when wrapped around the family dog, and they can also throw some huge flies up to and over 120 feet if you are inclined to do so. They can reach lengths of up to 14 feet and are typically used for large flies and distance casting. I will cover the benefits of double-handed rods in the next issue. For general saltwater fishing in Ireland I would recommend a number nine-rod. Regarding the action of rods; medium action rods often flex in the upper third of the rod and are most common for the beginning angler or those looking for medium length cast. These rods are an excellent all around choice to fit most saltwater fishing situations. They are comfortable to fish with over long periods of time. The faster action rods allow anglers to cast tighter loops (back cast and forward cast) that increase line speed and distance. The higher line speed also makes these rods very capable of casting in heavy winds but they


also need a very good casting form and technique If at all possible before you invest in a rod, determine if you can test cast it. I've picked up some amazing looking rods, cast them and known right from the start I preferred its less expensive counterpart. Again it goes back to your ability to understand the function of the equipment and its application. You’re carefully garnered knowledge will help you make an informed decision and by the way don’t be afraid to ask some question about what comes with the rod and reel. Is there an unconditional guarantee? How about a rod tube or sleeve? Little details like these often have a way of emerging later during your valuable fishing time. My experience is that many of the cheaper rods don't come with these items some of which are very valuable in the long-term. Walking home one dark night I arrived at the car to find the cap at the bottom of the tube had fallen off – two pieces of my rod had disappeared also! Price might not be such an issue with fly-fishing if all you had to buy was the rod, but that's often not the case. You need a reel, fly line and backing. If this is your first foray into the world of fly fishing then you are also likely to be buy a whole lot of other fly fishing equipment such as, tippet, fly boxes, vests, flies, etc. So where should you spend the bulk of your hard earned cash? The rod wins, hands down. The rod is the most critical piece to the puzzle. Besides skill (which you learn through practice and instruction) the rod has more to do with your ability to make quality presentations to eager fish than any other element in the system. Remember what I said earlier, a less expensive rod is capable of making quality casts, but often the quality in build is not consistent and they can be much harder to learn or improve your casting ability on. But making the best cast to the biggest fish in the strongest wind may not be enough. Many saltwater fly fishers make large investments in reels, rods, and flies. There is a tendency to overlook a very important factor, fly lines. Anglers tend to resort to two basic lines-the workhorse intermediate and a floater. When you are searching for better equipment it will pay to invest more resources in fly lines and their applications. Rather than ploughing your money into a new shiny go faster or slower reel, rather than collecting boxes of flies that might fill a research, lab, buy a range of fly lines. Floater-yes, intermediate-yes, get a slow sinker or a sink tip line and a fast sinker too. When we look at an expanse of water that we know fish are present in, putting the fly where the fish are is going to depend on in part the fly line that you have selected. Many fly fishers, and rightly so, will choose a WF intermediate line as their workhorse line and they fish this line throughout the season. For Irish waters this is the recommended choice but it shouldn't stop here. You should begin to compile as many different types of lines as part of your arsenal as you progress through this sport. To many fly fishers concentrate too much on the flies and not enough on the lines. By wisely applying the function and presentation of these lines to your fishing I will guarantee you will catch more fish. In descending order the following rate of investment applies. First tuition, then you’re rod, then lines, and then you’re reel. The rewards will be priceless. A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 08:11AM (+01:00)



Bass Fishing Influences - Water Clarity (I)
Friday, July 04, 2008

I'll try and post some thoughts on water clarity over the weekend. This foto was taken on opening day 2008. Water clarity is a factor that will strongly influence your bass fishing. The extent of that water clarity; be it too clear or too unclear are at opposite ends of the tactical fishing spectrum. Fish behaviour is different at both ends and hence you will need to apply different methods to catch them. In clear water fish are often visible when swimming and when hooked will often see them been ‘mobbed’ by other members of the shoal. Often as you bring your fish closer to hand, this exciting activity can be clearly observed. Clear water fishing is often full of refusals and other challenges whilst on the other hand ‘brownish green’ water is impenetrable to our gaze and we wonder what’s going on down there, are there indeed any fish in there? All of my guiding services operate below the point at Rosslare burrow shore. In other words I never go ‘up north’ to do any bass fishing with clients. The reasons for this are related to water clarity and the challenges it presents to the fly and lure fisherman. As you move into the estuary at Wexford and North past the Raven point the sea is in constant contact with sand. The currents and wind are in constant interaction with this sand and depending on their strength and direction as well as longevity there is a lot of ‘suspended’ particles in the water for long periods of time. There is sand all along the East coast and this is further complicated by channels and bars and strange and complex tides. Further south past the southeast corner, there is of course vast quantities of sand, but I suspect this sand and the geography has different qualitiesand 'behaves' differently than that on the east coast. There’s not as much of it – no long golden beaches of fine grains The sand particles have different qualities on the southern coasts (bigger/heavier) There are rock platforms and deeper water closer to shore Currents tend to be stronger and faster There are less straight lines


We are talking strictly shore fishing at the moment – bear in mind that estuary fishing has its own complexities like run off from the land and rivers. After a long period of say North or Northwesterly breezes the water clarity is often amazing on the south coast. A westerly breeze doesn’t affect this clarity adversely but as it swings further south towards the southwest or south then this breeze or wind begins to have its affects. The longer the wind blows and the greater its strength the more unclear the water becomes. Waves crashing and rolling puts particles into the water, the windy weather changes the environment! If you witness a lot of seaweed deposits on the beach its usually an indication of previous high wave and wind activity. This seaweed will rot and will often decompose into the sand where you are walking. When waves hit this sand it adds these smaller often-minute decomposing particles to the water and then you can witness quite a vivid two-colour scenario of blue and green (or even brown) at the sea close to shore. The water clarity and its longevity/components and causes are not an easy thing to understand. Because I’m exposed to it on an almost daily basis I try not to rationalise it but have developed a ‘sense of conditions’ based on experiences. Unclear water on the south coast is a different phenomena than that on the east coast and hence the fishing is different and you’re expectations should be too. You arrive at you fishing destination – its warm, a little cloudy and misty, high tide is in about 3 hrs and it’s a spring tide, wind is from the southwest force three. Perfect. Then you walk into he water and you can’t see your feet. Not so perfect! The cause of this unclear water has been wind force, wind direction, and the previous number of hours it has blown for. Combine this with heavy rain and you get miserable water conditions. One of the reasons I emphasise the need for anglers to tune into the weather systems is to try and enable the elimination of surprises and often disappointments. Taking the example above and applying it to today July 05th for example. It’s a nice sunny day here; it’s a bit breezy the tides are good I might go fishing! But. Already the water was murky, the wind blew very strong from the east in the last 12 hrs, and its still blowing at 4touching 5. It will get worse this afternoon. There has been no settling period for particles



to descend. Sunday looks like a calm day with winds dropping this evening and all day tomorrow so by Monday morning or maybe even Sunday evening – fishing will return somewhat as particles descend, barometric pressure builds again and the water clears. The nature of the particles are heavier than those along the east coast, I believe they descend faster. Can you calculate the extent and the longevity of the unclear water?

The table above is a representation of wind force and a recovery rate for fishing. Please do not interpret this as 'definitive' or 'carved in stone' in any way. Its based around observations and experiences of the last 6 years or so. The way it works as a guide is that any number below three has a negligible if any effect upon the fishing. So for example if it blows force three for 4 days its value is 2 and has no effect real effect on your fishing (we are not considering direction). If it blows force 4 for four days its value is 3 and this does have an effect on your fishing or rather - water clarity and fish behaviour.

It should be noted that if it blows force six for 2 days its value is 2 this is in fact a 2+ and probably closer to three. The table values for force 6 and 7 should be treated with this in mind.
The values also give a rough indication of the number of tides it takes to recover so if it blows force 5 for three days we have a value of 3. Multiply this by 12 and this is the recovery time for water clarity from the time of the decrease in windspeed on your forecasts. A sudden drop in windspeed may increase the clearing process.

Please bear in mind this is an indication from clear to unclear on the south coast - it does not take into account the current clarity of the water. In other words if the water is already unclear this table is meaningless. It is also based on a slowing of wind speed to the negligible end of the table for a period of time, the 'future wind' on your current forecasts will decrease in speed from the value you are now taking.
A value of two is merely an indicator and can often be a heads up to change. Any value in the range of 3 or 4 and water clarity is affected and consequently so is your fishing beyond the factor of 4 fly fishing is generally impossible and even at 3 it can be downright difficult. Lure fishers can expect to fish up to a value of 4 and even an early session at 5 but not for any extended periods. Because the south east coast is subject to so many influences - water depth, current speed, geography, weather, its possible to locate areas of 'clearer' water even when winds are blowing hard. This is where again, ground work and perserverance pays of. 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 dirty water. You learn more by exploring and expanding your fishing - I dont know exactly what a bass does when the water is dirty but i know they hunt differently and in different places change your techniques and strategies and you will find them! A little bit of fishing in your


day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 09:00PM (+01:00)

Bass Fishing in Ireland
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Saltwater fly-fishing in Ireland presents its own unique challenges and opportunities. The little island perched precariously on the eastern side of the Atlantic is subject to many influences and none more so than that of the weather. The Atlantic Ocean plays the dominant part in our weather, insulating us from the temperature extremes that can be experienced in other European countries. Our position on the Northwest of Europe places us in the path of Atlantic low-pressure systems hence we are subject to a lot of cloudy overcast, humid and often very wet days. But don’t despair, its not all doom and gloom! The sunniest months of the year occur during late spring and early summer and the southeast of the country gets the most sunshine, often up to 6 or seven hours a day during early summer. Air temperatures reach between 18 and 20 degrees C during the summer and average around 8 degrees C during winter. We live in a temperate climate that is heavily influenced by the North Atlantic drift; in fact our seas are considerably warmer than average global temperatures at similar positions. Winter water temperatures along the coast fall to as low as 8 degrees but by August and September they are at their warmest and are as high as 15 degrees C. In fact during winter our seas are warmer than the air temperature while during summer the air temperature is warmer than the surrounding sea. So as one can imagine with all of these influences the fishing opportunities that exist are many and varied. As the season’s roll on summer species like smoothound and tope move offshore and are replaced with typical autumnal and winter species like coalfish and codling. Springtime is often a transitional and difficult fishing period but with the days getting longer and seas getting warmer during March and April, fishing slowly begins to improve through into early summer and the cycle starts again. There are several interesting species that we could target on the fly in Ireland, wrasse, pollack, coalfish, and even garfish, but two species spring to mind as the most immediate, interesting and challenging. These are, early summer mullet and autumn bass. Catching mullet on the fly is quite an angling challenge, not an impossible one, but one that takes a little patience and time. From as early as late March or the first few weeks of April these fish can be seen mooching, swirling and splashing about in our estuaries. As water temperatures rise and the days grow longer into late April so their numbers increase, where they spend their winter months maybe something of a mystery, but I greet them as the first sign of hope after a bleak January and February. This species is late maturing often as late as nine or ten years, and not only are they late developers but they also seem to possess an ability to spawn in which ever year they choose. Subject to the usual influences like water temperature and availability of food, it is suggested that they do not spawn until at least late April and spawning may continue into late summer. Fish tend to remain in one local over time especially if there is a local 'food supply'. Often to be taken advantage of by the fly angler. So what are we to do? How do we set about catching them? Like many of our approaches to saltwater fly fishing in Ireland it helps to find a congregation of fish or rather where at specific times do fish tend to congregate in good numbers. Estuaries, 52

harbours, tidal drainage systems and even the open sea, quite often close to shore hold large numbers of fish. Through simple observation we can judge when might be the best time to tackle our elusive quarry. During the early stages of a rising tide large shoals of mullet will sweep into the estuary moving further inshore with the flow of water. There is an interesting behaviour that you can observe during this time especially where there is a lot of bladder wrack. Fish will often swim in less than six inches of water and you can often see their dorsal and tailfins. Its important that you stay out of sight to avoid spooking them, if you do don’t worry too much as they will return. With the rising tide fish will often swim under sections of the seaweed with a very much-exaggerated sinuous motion, almost snakelike. I often wonder are they dislodging food particles from the seaweed tentacles? Watch them move from bunch of weed to bunch of weed! Ok so we have found a few fish I here you say but what are they eating? If there is a local supply of food like an outflow pipe or effluent from a commercial fishery or otherwise, mullet will tend to gather at these locals - imitative flies of the food source can catch you some fish no doubt. Bread flies, worm flies, seaweed flies even grayling flies have been cast at this wonderful fish. The latest story I have heard is that in one locality during summer they develop a weakness for ice cream cone! Now there’s a tying challenge. It’s probably best to fish and cast at them as effectively as possible with a generic 'white fly' or bread type imitation at first, then try fishing with more specific patterns if this doesn’t work. They ‘scooch’ about, hoovering the surface and seabed looking for microscopic material. They digest this material rather slowly through their long guts. But they must also from time to time eat other things. Some of the types of flies that I have caught fish on can be seen here - and its worth remembering that streamer patterns, seatrout patterns and even small bass patterns have also caught me fish. Fish will often be quite close to you less then 10 metres or so and you can stalk them by staying low and sneaking up on them. I fish with a #7 rod and a line with a short head, which allows a quick effective turnover at short range. Tapered leaders are a must for that extra little and better presentation – whilst they are spooky, they tend to return rather quickly but often become wary and will move off with constant splashdowns. Upon hooking a fish hold on for a surprise they fight like demons. The late summer and autumn present one of the greatest opportunities for the saltwater fly fisher with many species in perfect condition after a long period of bountiful feeding. The seas at this time are often full of sandeel, fry and sprat, huge mackerel shoals herd the baitfish onto the beaches and inevitably bass are never far away. Warm water and shortening days condense these ideal fishing conditions and often provide classic saltwater fly-fishing sport. It’s during September and October that tidal flows and ebbs are often at their strongest of the year. Sea water temperatures are at their highest and the sea is often alive with baitfish. If you want to catch a bass on the fly then this is the time to do it. …The pale pink, cream and lavender skies of late September and early October signify a special time in fishing for me. As water temperatures drop slowly and the days get shorter the quality of bass fishing improves greatly. There’s an atmosphere of calm, which pervades your fishing after a summer of hectic visitors and holidaymakers. Traffic is lighter on the roads and people stop and talk, and in the lateness of a warm September evening you can get lost in chat with strangers about nothing and everything and the state of the world and the people in it. There is a feeling of winding down, of giant wheels slowly coming to rest with a deep sigh. A ceasing of a distant noise somewhere that you


can’t quite identify. The stark whiteness of the last of summer’s terns against a gunmetal sky forces you to stop fishing again for the umpteenth time – you here the splash you see the flutter and shake of the feathers and watch the droplets fall back into the calm sea as the bird continues down the beach in its never ending quest for food. You wave your rod to straighten the line, pick it up, make a false cast, and shoot a little and then cast and retrieve slowly again. The big deceiver pattern lands perfectly on the next cast, you throw a little offshore mend, tighten slowly into the line and suddenly you see a dark and silvery shape and the line tautens...this is what is all about. Generally a #9 rod and line is sufficient for bass fishing in Ireland – this allows us to cats some quite big flies long distances. It’s not always about distance though as bass are to often to be found at our feet. It is possible to locate what I call a two shot fish, which may reside in a location that can be only five or six metres distance. One cast to grab his attention another to hook him. One more cast its often the case the fish will swim away. These are just two of our challenging species that can both be tackled in Irish waters on similar tackle in similar locations. Both present their different angling challenges and both are worthy species to fly fish for. A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 04:33PM (+01:00)

saltwater fly fishing in estuaries
Thursday, March 06, 2008
The magic, mystery and wide variety of life that often surrounds an estuary make them very special places to fish. These are the places where the sea sneaks slowly into the heart of our landscape twice a day, steals the rich deposits that lie there and runs away with them. Creeping over shingle banks, bubbling along sandy shores and sliding around corners onto mudflats, the tide fills and empties the estuary with its life giving nutrients. Protected from the full force of the open ocean estuaries provide a sanctuary for vast communities of plant and animal life and within the estuary you will find ‘micro worlds’ of shallow open waters, marshes, sandy beaches, rocky outcrops, mud and sand flats. All are protected from the full force of wind and wave by the nurturing arms of the estuary. These are places of transition where the land meets the sea in an intimate exchange of daily natural life. The estuary fosters an abundance of habitats that support marine mammals, seabirds, fish, crab, clams, worms, cockles and mussels. These animals are linked together and to an assortment of plants and microscopic organisms that form a complex food chain that is influenced by many factors. As the tide ebbs and flows over sandbars and mudflats, complex currents and slacks are created temporarily and then disappear or re-appear at different locations within the estuary. Fish follow and hunt the food using the tide and currents everyday. Fish are keyed into feeding opportunities that the fly fisher must learn to recognise. These are wonderful places where rivers meet the sea and the sea meets the land in a constantly changing environment. They provide without doubt some of the best opportunities and challenges for the saltwater fly fisherman. The water that flows into and out of the estuary is constantly changing. Because of the constant tidal flows that influence the amount of mixing between fresh water and seawater, things change on a day-to-day basis. Weather patterns like wind and rain further influence the temperature and salinity of estuarine waters not only during the different seasons of the year but also every day. Thus, daily tidal flows combined with 54

changing weather patterns are responsible for fluctuations in water conditions in an estuary. This has a significant impact on the abundance and feeding patterns of fish. The fly fisher needs to get intimate with these influences before he has any degree of success in the estuary. Fish that live in and around estuarine areas are very interesting because they exhibit a number of patterns that are influenced by changes in daily, weekly and monthly tidal fluctuations and indeed these fish are affected by degrees of salinity, water temperature, current and tidal heights. For example, the daily rise and fall of tides creates flows which help to carry and distribute various food items that fish need. This food gets distributed into and out off estuaries in greater or lesser quantities depending on the state of the tide. Food items in tidal estuarine areas include shrimp, crabs, small fish such as immature mullet, flounders, as well as many types of worms that crawl or burrow on the rich, muddy bottoms of the estuary. For this reason the saltwater fly fisher should take advantage of tides by fishing when tides are high or just beginning to fall, when creatures that live near the shoreline are more active and fish are attracted by the availability of more food. Certainly, one of the key factors in successfully fishing an estuary is an understanding of the local tide and tidal current. One general rule, however, and I have found it almost always to be true, is that during a falling or ebbing tide the fishing will be better on or near the outside of an estuary. Similarly, the inside of an estuary is usually better with an incoming or flooding tide. This is simply due to where the bait is being carried and ‘condensed’ and how predators are also using the natural ‘transport’ systems provided by tides. The tides and tidal currents are complex phenomena influenced by many things, including the sun and the moon. By consulting tidal heights and tidal current charts the fly fisher can be well armed regarding this important information. Each estuary has its own particular rhythm and a fly fisherman with knowledge of how a local estuary works will increase his or her chances of success. Fish moving into and out off and sometimes through an estuary, will often not complete the journey in one go. Along the way the fishing paths that they have travelled for weeks or months on their daily journey for food will have several important ‘stopping’ locations. These locations are linked to the type of activity the fish is engaged in; indeed the fish may be exhibiting one or more activity types while at these locations. Resting, hunting or simply shoaling. Lets imagine we are driving along the west coast of some distant land. We have our fly fishing gear in the boot and we have a few days off work. We have no real plans other than to drive and fish. As we descend into a green valley and look out over some fields, a vast expanse of mud and sand flat, reflecting silver and gold in the summer sun, reveals itself to us. Naked and vulnerable we see an estuary undressed. We stop the car at the side of the road and take advantage of our elevated viewing position. At the narrow mouth in the distance the silent turmoil of pure white surf tells us the water is clear. We note the channels, the water that has stayed in the estuary and where it lies. The corners and bends and indeed some small rocky outcrops where we know rising tides will flow around in the next few hours. We drive to the closest access point we can find gear up and position ourselves midway along the shore of the estuary. During summer months some fish like bass will choose not to leave the estuary when the tide is exiting. Instead sometimes they will ‘lie up’ within the remaining water that stays in the estuary when the tide is out. These fish are often lying in deeper pools created where


current has created ‘waves’ of sand. They may often lie along edges of bends where water is deeper and drop-offs exist. They are resting and maybe digesting and are very shy. One of the most exciting ways to catch these fish is with surface poppers. Now its often not easy to cast a bass popper with a long leader as turnover can be an issue. I would recommend that you try and fish one that is the longest you can. Lining these fish is an issue as they will either simply swim off or refuse to take. Polaroid glasses are always highly recommended. Watch as to where your shadow falls particularly late in the evening or early morning. The pools where these fish lie are often recognised by having a darker colour than the surrounding areas of water – this usually indicates depth. After much trial and error you will begin to recognise which type of pool holds fish. Try and place the end of your fly line at the edge of the pool whilst your leader unfurls across it or better still along the edge of it– easy! Wait and then pop and retrieve and repeat. There is nothing more exciting than watching the powerful shoulders of a bass create a bow wave in very shallow water, swimming faster now, towards your fly, hoping the next impact will be your popper – boom! All hell breaks loose. You can spend some time stalking along the estuary after these fish. You probably will have noticed the clarity of water, which is always good. Mullet can also be tackled at this very early stage of tide. As the tide begins to push into the estuary and further up your legs past your knees you will usually notice deterioration in the clarity of water. There is a lot of suspended particles and the water may be feel warmer and have a slight green or yellow colour. Apart from the tidal and current influences within the estuary the fly fisherman should pay particular attention to this water clarity phenomenon. During a typical summer this ‘unclear water’ moves in and out within an estuary on a daily basis under tidal and wind influences. During periods of very settled weather the amount of ‘unclear water’ can be very small – and as the tide pushes past the angler it may only take one hour or less for the water to become clear again. This of course depends on the location that the angler is fishing within the estuary. During this time fishing often becomes very slack and there is little or no activity. Then, if the angler has remained in the one spot, after some time the water will run clear again, the temperature will drop a little and usually the fish will follow very quickly. The incoming tide then usually remains clear until full tide. This ‘unclear water’ is subject to many variables, which affect its size, density and temperature, and hence the time it takes for the estuary to push clear. A few days of heavy rain before your fishing will increase this turbidity or a few days of onshore winds will also increase it. The lethal combination of heavy rain and strong onshore winds will often stop fish that would normally enter the estuary from feeding therein. And even as the weather improves their expected feeding patterns will have changed as they hunt closer to the bottom. Sinking and intermediate lines are often the order of the day. The type of turbidity also affects the timing of the estuary running clear which has a big impact on your bass fly-fishing. Onshore winds will throw particles into the water that are larger than say particles washed into the sea from a mud flat or rain fall. As a consequence clarity returns quicker to the estuary from an on shore wind than from heavy rain, generally of course. This phenomena was particular evident this year as the estuaries remained cold and grey and often brown well into the month of July. Excessive rainfall and cooling breezes affected many fisheries all over Ireland and indeed North Western Europe this summer. 56

So now the water is pushing well over our knees, we can feel the tidal flow build and the water has run clear. By remaining in the one location we can catch bass and sea trout as they pass us by on their way into the estuary. Maybe we have local knowledge and information regarding a holding spot has been given to us. Bass will hold up for short periods behind sandbars or rocks or other obstructions. They wait to ambush their passing food items. As the tide pushes into the estuary it becomes more difficult for them to hold these stations so they simply slip away and move further up with the rising tide taking up another station. Again and again the process is repeated both on the rise and the fall of the tide. The technical issues of saltwater fly-fishing in an estuary remain of course as another challenge to the fly fisher. Type of line and presentation are very important, and these can be more important to some species than others. Shy fish like mullet and seatrout are often spooky and more difficult to catch whilst bass remain more aggressive and active. Tactics and techniques vary widely as does equipment and it is probably beyond the range of this article to venture down that road. The important aspects from a saltwater fly fishing point of view is for the angler to develop an instinct or feeling for the many and interesting influences within our estuaries that ultimately will influence his fishing success. Our own influences are also apparent within estuaries. Pollution from failing septic tanks, poor sewage treatment plants or under resourced facilities, storm water runoff from empty ‘holiday ghost towns’, industrial organic waste discharge, and contaminated runoff from farms using fertilizers or yards with animals can impact on our vulnerable estuarine systems. Estuaries also face loss of habitat due to our obsession with development in delicately balanced areas of natural beauty. Damage is caused by the continued and often-illegal overuse and plundering of estuarine resources. These have resulted in a continued reduction of even protected fisheries like bass, loss of habitat and wildlife, and the destruction of wonderful landscape. We all have a part to play to protect and maintain our valuable estuaries. A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 09:48AM (UTC)

saltwater fly fishing the rocky shore
Thursday, January 31, 2008

The rocky seashore is a dynamic world of energy sound and constant motion. Waves crash upon the shoreline and run towards you like a white and green freight train, hissing


and roaring; spray is caught by the wind and blown into your face. Sometimes you are lost in a world where there is no other sound other than the booming surf; the air is filled with the strong smell of ozone and a salty mist. Far removed from the constant bickering and demands of mobile phones, television and computers you focus and become lost in the lonely and demanding environment of the rocky seashore. You are insulated from hectic modern-day life in a place where you will find you need your best fishing abilities, maybe not the best presentations, maybe not the best casts, and maybe not too many fish. But the rocky seashore presents the greatest

challenges to the saltwater fly fisherman. You can fish through those many challenges, the clambering over rocks, the casting into the wind, the waves, the constant catching of the running line in rocks and weed. The balancing act performed with a line tray on slippery rocks. When you return to the car, and take off the gear, quickly now as it has started to rain, you sit in the front seat and before you start the engine you look over the distant shoreline through a foggy windscreen. Having learned another small thing today you smile to yourself, and glow inwardly at what you have achieved, and already you lay plans for the next venture. As anglers we are presented with a wide variety of rocky shorelines and each has its own demands and each offers its own saltwater fly-fishing opportunities. Rocky shorelines provide holding areas for fish between tides, feeding areas for fish, and cover for both ambush and hunting. Because of their erratic formations, rocky shorelines often create and help to enhance currents and rips. Slacks and eddies are evident at different stages of the tides and time invested

by the fly fisher watching the water is a worthwhile activity. These features exist sometimes for hours sometimes for as short as a few minutes. Wave activity plays a hugely important role and they often can be used to determine where fish will lie. Whilst 58

we fish these areas, wind direction and light levels affect how we make presentations and what type of fly we will cast I like to break down the rocky shoreline into three or possibly four types. Type one is the ‘dynamic’ rocky shoreline. By dynamic I mean that there are rocks on the shoreline that are moved about regularly by wave action. The rocks at this type of shoreline are usually trapped into a small cove and generally display rounded type features and shapes. These areas are often prone to

catching rough seas and during such times you can hear the rocks rolling and knocking, as they grind into each other under the waves. Because of the constant motion they endure, no life can adhere to them or indeed to the base rock upon which they lie. They are often not affected by neap tides in respect of their positions and neap tides will generally not cover them completely. During spring tides however, seaweed will often become trapped between them and if the right conditions prevail maggot flies will abound. As the next spring tide arrives and water floods into and over the rocks maggots will be lifted into the sea often in their thousands providing food for bass and particularly mullet. This area is best fished in calm conditions The next type of rocky shoreline is what I like to call ‘mixed’. Mixed ground to me is where we have a lot of smaller rocks trapped between rocky outcrops with lots of rock



pools evident. These areas are less prone to the dynamic changes discussed above and so life has an opportunity to ‘grip’ on here. Seaweed grows freely and offers cover for moulting crabs, butterfish and gobies. Rock pools are often full with shrimp, anemones and small fish. Rocks are covered with barnacles, limpets and periwinkles. These areas are a rich feeding ground for a lot of fish like wrasse pollack and bass and should be visited and targeted frequently by the salt-water fly fisher. This area is subject to some big wave activity and hence there is seldom any sand but because of the protection afforded from larger rock masses it remains protected to some extent from the rigours of tough weather. This area is best fished with an onshore breeze. The third area of rocky shoreline that we will look at is the area that I call ‘varied’. A ‘varied’ rocky shoreline consists of sand interspersed with rocky outcrops. These rocky outcrops are often not visible over high water but rather reveal themselves as the tide

drops and recedes. Over wintertime a lot of high wave activity may create outcrops by abstracting sand or indeed cover these outcrops and a spring visit to many beaches can reveal some big surprises. On a day-to-day basis ‘varied’ rocky shorelines do not experience huge change and are not prone to strong currents. Only after a large storm or periods of prolonged strong winds is there a noticeable change. Activity is based more around and along the rocky outcrops. Covered in weeds with pockets of water and many pools they hold life somewhat similar to the ‘mixed’ area above. Trapped between rocky outcrops are often lugworm or small mussel beds another feeding ground for many of our predators. This area also fishes best with a slight breeze, which creates wave activity The last area of rocky shoreline that we can see on our coast is that which I like to call ‘permanent’. ‘Permanent’ rocky shoreline is often seen as vast areas of flat rock covered in barnacles up to the high water mark and interspersed frequently with small pools. By permanent



I mean that generally on a year-to-year basis these areas remain the same and exhibit very little change. ‘Permanent’ areas of rocky shore generally allow us the opportunity to fish into deeper water from a height. It is often that just to the left or right of a ‘permanent’ shoreline you will see a ‘dynamic’ or even ‘mixed’ shoreline. Washed free of any sand and stone they provide a safe base for the angler to fish from but are often subject to large or even freak waves and should be treated with some degree of respect and care. Around the ends of these permanent structures there are often fast currents and deep water – more opportunities for the fly fisher with short leaders and fast sinking lines. How do we go about catching fish on the fly from such a wide variety of locations? What flies should we use? Should we use floating or sinking lines? When in relation to tide should we begin our fishing? What presentations should we make to increase our chances? In the previous series of last year we discussed tackle and flies and agreed generally that a #9 rod and line – floating and intermediate would fulfil most of our requirements. A stripping basket or line tray is essential. Flies tend to be the traditional type of white or white and chartreuse – deceivers and clousers. I would also add some brown or brown and red cockroaches and maybe a few sand eel type and crab patterns too. Timings are important in relation to tides, weather and time of year.

Time invested in watching the rising and falling of tides will reveal where and when water activity takes place. Checking and understanding which way the wind blows and how this affects wave direction and hence our fly presentations will greatly increase our chances. Where there is moving water and cover you will generally find predators lurking and hunting but care must be taken in how we approach these fish. Tramping down the beach in our waders clinking and clanking and then proceeding to walk and clamber over the rocks and perching ourselves at the end of the nearest point will only scare every fish in the Irish sea away.



By minimising our noise, visual and environmental ‘profile’ we can often creep up or stalk our quarry. Be aware of things like birds on or near the ground where you intend to fish. If for instance there is a lot of seagulls or cormorants resting up in the area and you manage to scare them off in one big flock by walking up quickly then any fish close by will also see their profiles as they all fly off together, he’ll swim off too. Walk up slowly stopping now and again and bit-by-bit the flock will take off. Cormorants will slide into the water rather attempting a panicked take-off splashing and flapping across the water. All these little things help. Fishing clousers on intermediate or sinking lines in shallow water in a rocky area will prove very difficult, it’s a tactic better kept for the deeper water around the ‘permanent’ shoreline. A deceiver pattern with a big profile on a monofilament leader and floating line will be easier to fish in the vast majority of circumstances encountered on the rocky shore. Presentations can be made along the edges of promontories where retrieves are kept to a minimum. When a fly is cast properly, wave action will simply lift and carry a good fly up and over rocks and back again as the wave recedes, once contact is maintained, the correct wave is chosen and slack is controlled this presents the fly very naturally to cruising fish. A constant casting and stripping of the fly, whilst it may be effective from time to time, will not appear natural in many occasions. Continuous practice and experience at casting into, onto behind and in front of waves will quickly teach you what works best in terms of line management and presentations. I have a preference to fish whilst positioned away from rocks or reefs and try to cast long onto or into them. I cast parallel to the shoreline and try to present the fly and line onto a wave as it rolls over the reef. Casting too early and you get a tumbling of fly and line which is not good, casting too late and the wave has already past and you fly and line don’t travel only to be met with the receding wave and hence pushed further out to sea. Fish will swim onto and around reefs through waves but not every wave will do this. They have a canny knack for measuring the ‘transport’ systems and they will take a wave that will assist them on the return journey too – they pass over the reefs in and out waiting for that big deceiver to swim in front of their noses. Make sure your there. A little bit of fishing in your day - Jim Posted by Jim @ probassfishing at 12:44PM (UTC)





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