Bass addict Phil Richardson joins Planet Sea Fishing from the French Atlantic coast. Phil knows his stuff, and in this first article he ventures out in search of what he hopes will be an exciting new bass mark.
On the sandy beaches of south west France good fishing marks never last long. It only takes one decent storm to wash away all the sand structure and deep trenches to leave a flat, featureless beach with no structure to target with your casts. In early January we’d had a bit of swell so when I turned up at the local beach I wasn’t too surprised to find my favourite bass gully was gone. But if one area of the beach is washed away it means the sand has been dumped somewhere else, so if you are prepared to put the hours in sniffing around you should be rewarded with fish from other spots.
To catch bass you have to be constantly monitoring the beach as the storms, swell and tide change the structure and layout of the seabed. Bass are lurking around the gullies and trenches that run parallel to the shore and out to sea and the drop offs between banks. Rips, current and white-water flow through these areas whipping up feed and attracting the bass. Suss out an area of shoreline with all or some of these features and the chances of a good session are greatly increased.
Prospecting for Silver
After some initial disappointment, it felt good to be mobile in the car driving around checking out various beaches. It was warm and sunny with temperatures around 14°, an awesome day for January. I was in the forest, about 35km up north at a secluded spot. After a 40-minute walk south, I discovered a pronounved sand formation, with two-metre waves breaking around 250 metres out, which looked promising. The back, white water was rolling all the way into a deep gully running parallel to the shore with 1½ hours to go to high water.
When you are looking for places to fish, I recommend packing some binoculars in your fishing bag as this assists with decision making when perched on top of a dune surveying the coastline. In winter, you need a beefed-up rod for casting distance and heavily weighted tackle to maintain your lure in a strike zone that often has strong lateral current.
My go-to set up is a 4.2-metre spinning rod coupled with a 6000 Okuma spinning reel. The reel is loaded with 300 metres of 5kg BS braid topped off with 2½-rod lengths of 12kg braided casting leader.
A swivel is tied to the end of the leader and then a four-metre 8kg fluorocarbon trace holds a 100gm lead at the bottom and the two droppers in front of the weight, 60cm apart, have 85mm Raglou soft plastic eels in red or blue attached.
On the third cast had a good fish hit the lure but did not hook-up. Do not worry too much when you miss a take, it happens, and the positive is that you know that you have found a fish holding mark. On the other hand if you lose fish from a break off through not checking your knots properly, using frayed line, blunt hooks, rusty clips or swivels then that’s an own goal and you should take steps to ensure that is does not occur again. Fortunately, a second hit ten minutes later resulted in a 50cm bass, which looked like it was Ruskoline coated after being dropped in the sand.
Bass in Breadcrumbs?
A few days later I returned to the same location where the swell running was much bigger, 3 metres and more. Nevertheless, the bass were there and despite the heavy sea conditions, the lures produced another nice bass proving that the bass are always there in the white water no matter how big or churned up things are. The problem is finding the productive zone to cast from and it is a bit of a lottery putting your lure in the right place and keeping it there to fish effectively.
Some Time Later
For loads more tips, tactics and fascinating information on French bass fishing click over to Phil’s blog.