Mid November and the season is finally coming to a close for my salt water fly and live baiting for bass. The end of October provided me with a few days fishing the gin clear water of a Pembrokeshire estuary that produced 20 fish over two half day sessions. All the fish were prime,stocky specimens with the best going to 6lb. These fish were feeding hard on baitfish in the estuary in preparation for the winter and provided great sport on light tackle.
The main theme of this spring and summer season here in South West Wales has been the indifferent water quality on our surf beaches making some days hard going in search of bass in the surf due to the onshore winds keeping the water clouded at times. However when conditions were settled the fishing was good, but the Gower coastline was plagued with shoals of small bass, which if left alone to grow will provide a healthy stock in the seasons to come. These ‘basslets’ were feeding hard all season (and still continue to populate the shorelines) and on a 5wt fly rod certainly give a good account of themselves. Getting through to the next class of feeding fish was difficult at times as the flys were getting hit as soon as they entered the water. Better than ‘blanking’ though!
My Pembrokeshire ‘patch’ did not have as much evidence of these ‘basslets’ so it will be interesting to see which year class turns up next year. In the main the Pembrokeshire bass this year were on average around the 3lb mark, which has been much the same as the last couple of seasons. All I hope now is that the proposed restrictions for 2017 are effective and that the commercial sector is monitored closely to ensure our fisheries are protected to give us many years to come of sport off our local coastline and beaches. If more ‘anglers’ practice and encourage catch and release then these fisheries will be in good nick for years to come. I remember back in the late 70’s how the rundown of the Irish bass fisheries was corrected when the Irish Government bought out the netting fishermen and within 5 years the bass fishing on the Kerry strands in particular were back to their 1960’s heydays.
The best fish of the season fell to David Patrick at the end of July with a beautiful conditioned double taken close in at a Gower rock mark on a live sand eel. Targeting golden grey mullet on the beaches proved as difficult at times as the bass fishing, with the water quality being the main factor. At times you would be wading the shore line and unknowingly spooking a shoal of mullet, watching them speed away before you could cast a fly at them in the cloudy surf. But on the occasions that you hook up with these ‘European bonefish’ they would certainly let you know they were hooked!