BASS can offer some terrific sport in autumn. Here Angler’s Mail assistant editor / production Richard Holroyd, who loves his bass fishing, offers his top tips to help you catch some stunning bars of silver…
Many anglers target bass throughout July and August but come September and October the number of bass anglers dwindle.
I don’t understand why because autumn is still a fantastic time to catch them, especially with the prolonged warmer weather we’ve experienced this year.
Here are my tips to help you do catch some now…
I’ve heard lots of sea anglers say that spring tides are best for catching bass. I disagree.
I’ve had just as much, if not more, success catching bass during neap tides. There’s more depth of water at low tide during neap tides and bass can be found closer to the shore than during spring tides at this state of the tide.
Fish low tide and the first couple of hours of the flood as this is the time they will be actively seeking food. I find rock marks are best when fishing neap tides, although I certainly don’t discount other, more open, marks.
During the bigger, spring, tides it is better to fish the more open sandy/shingle type beaches. Fish the flood tide and the first couple of hours of the ebb.
Look out for any gullies or dips on the beach at low tide as this is where bass will search for food as the tide comes in.
On shingle beaches a good place to fish your bait at high tide is where the shingle meets the sand. Surf beaches also tend to be productive during spring tides and it’s usually best to fish just beyond the third wave.
The right marks
Some marks produce well at low tide and nothing at all at high, and visa versa. This kind of knowledge is difficult to obtain as bass anglers closely guard their favourite marks but local tackle shops should be able to give some general advice.
In reality there’s no easy route to finding bass. It can be a case of fishing different marks at different states of the tides to find out which ones produce and when.
I’d advise that you fish near rocky marks or beaches that have gullies, surf or any obvious feature where bass hunt for food.
I’ve had lots of success fishing all kinds of different baits for bass, be it prawns, peeler crabs, sandeel, mackerel, lugworm, ragworm or shellfish. Autumn is a great time to catch the bigger, solitary, bass and a squid, double squid or a livebait, such as pout, are brilliant baits.
Don’t discount lures. My mate caught a cracking double-figure bass on a surface popper when fishing over a reef in autumn. I’ve also had success from the shore using lures including a few caught on mackerel feathers.
To limit losing too many lures when fishing over reefs or rocky marks, use surface poppers or shallow diving lures. A great alternative is to use a Texas rig – the hook point is buried inside a soft plastic lure so it doesn’t snag but easily sets into the mouth of bass when they attack the bait.
Best times of day
Dawn, dusk and darkness are the best times to be fishing for bass, although some marks can be prolific during the day. Again, you’ll only find out which marks produce at certain times of the day by putting in the time fishing.
Tackle and rigs
You don’t need fancy rigs for bass. A simple running leger rig is all that is required. I tend to use a 2 oz lead running along the main line, followed by a bead, swivel, a 2 ft 12 lb hook link (although I will increase the breaking strain when fishing rocky marks) and a size 3/0 hook.
When fishing rocky marks I tie a longer length of line than the hook link to the lead and to the other end I tie on a swivel which runs along the main line. By doing this it ensures that the lead bounces on rocks when retrieving, minimising the hook becoming snagged.
I use a rod with a casting weight of between 1 and 3 oz with a multiplier but a carp rod and fixed spool rod is also ideal. Make sure you rinse the reels in freshwater after use to wash all the salt away.
How far to cast
It really depends on what type of mark you are fishing. If you know approximately where the gullies and underwater feature are, then it pays to cast just beyond them and let the tide roll the lead and bait into them.
In general, though, there’s no need to cast far out. Bass can be caught just a few yards out – most of the bass I have caught from the shore have been within a 40-yard cast.
I remember float fishing with my dad. We cast out live prawn and let the incoming tide bring the float back into shore before recasting which enabled us to cover lots of ground. On his second cast he caught a 5-pounder right under his feet in a foot and a half of water.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful but, as with any type of fishing, there are no guarantees.
You could be fishing the best mark in the country in ideal conditions but still blank for reasons that are hard to fathom.
We all blank from time to time, but when you do manage to land a bass it is well worth the time and effort.
If you do catch a few, just be mindful of their sharp gill plates and dorsal fin spikes when hooking them.
Just remember the current size limit stands at 42 cm measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail fin, with any fish under that length being released immediately.