With the Pembrokeshire Bass Lure Tournament 2021 fast approaching, I’d been asked by Grant at Hookpoint whether I’d mind sharing a bit of insight in to which lures have worked for me locally over the years and the favoured methods I have used. I was, of course, more than happy to help those visiting for the tournament, and anyone else who may be visiting Pembrokeshire too.
I don’t hold myself up as an expert in any way. I am only 4 years in to ditching the bait gear and going on an all out bass assault by lure only. I can, however, share what has and has not worked for me and the conditions that I have favoured. Hopefully my trial and error can therefore help others to find the fish that bit quicker, using the info I have gathered along the way whilst starting to average 500 bass a season.
Before I get into lures, features or methods, I have to start by identifying my favourite time of day as first light. Well before the heat of the day, or the increased light levels emerge. Ideally I’m stood, waist deep in the surf, chucking savage gear seekers to the horizon and working them back at variable rates trying to find that hook up.
Such a scenario would ideally be met with a ‘dirty’ surf, not the cleaner type favoured by surfers. I can only imagine it churns more food and also gives the bass a better chance of obscuring themselves in time for an ambush on unsuspecting bait fish.
As well as the variation in retrieval rate, I also play about with a variety of weighted seekers until I find the one that the fish tune into on that day. These will typically consist of 26g, 32g and 35g options. You can get a good idea through experience of the wave tables on a given beach as to which weight is likely going to deliver the goods, but it pays to have all of them to hand as some items always remain a little unpredictable, and the best we can therefore do is be prepared for change.
Seekers come in a number of patterns, adding yet another variable. Some will tell you they have preferences in certain lights and conditions, some will swear by some and avoid others like the plague. At the end of the day, it is largely just down to confidence. The patterns I have settled on with some success are Black Pearl, White Pear and Flower Green Silver.
There are of course other lures that work in the surf. Good friend Andy Davies has some great success with a Duo Beachwalker, which I will absolutely have to give some more water time myself. Meanwhile, wingman Rob Lawrie uses a Dolive in a very simple method and has seen fish to 65cm in the surf.
Moving away from the blissful calm of the surf beaches, I’d like to address the ground I particularly like to fish over. Ideal conditions would usually involve big boulders covered in weed with reasonable sand patches scattered around too. Such a mark would usually be seen as a good feeding ground on the flood, with the sand hopefully holding lug and razor clams whilst the weed covered boulders affords shelter to crabs, bennies and gobies. Whilst such a mark could produce in daylight, I would be focusing on a night time flood on these sort of venues.
Given the desire to have weed present, it should come as no surprise that weedless rigged soft plastic lures are my go to when fishing these spots in darkness. Examples would include, but not be limited to Albie Snax, HTO Labrax Snax and Pirate Lures. Retrieval would be as slow as I could without snagging the bottom, whilst holding on to the rod very tight as hits in such conditions can be powerful!
Looking around at other types of ground you may find in Pembrokeshire, that will hold bass, you would be hard pressed to beat a shallow reef off the beaten track for some topwater excitement. Whilst it is all down to confidence, my go to surface lure would be the Patchinko 125 in the 500g pattern, fished slowly in a walk the dog style. An alternative topwater lure is the Tackle House Vulture in the halfbeak pattern, which casts a very long way and only requires a straight retrieve to work. Finally, whilst incredibly hard to source now, spitting wires are also an excellent option for fishing such marks at long range on the surface.
As the tide floods over such reefs, you’ll get the option of mixing up the topwater with some shallow divers, and whilst my absolute favourite of these by some way is the Daiwa Shoreline Shiner, it is now discontinued and nigh on impossible to source. Well worth looking at something along the same lines though, of which there are a few options, the best of which I find to be the Duo Tide Minnow range. A more popular alternative up and down the country is the IMA range of Komono SF-125; though there are such a variety of colours options that will perform differently in different marks throughout the country.
The final consideration are the deep water marks. Naturally on these you may need to contend with other species too, namely wrasse and pollack, which can be good for sport, but a pain if a bass is your only wished for quarry.
When hunting out a deepwater mark, I focus on headlands that have a land mass / Island just off of it, forcing the water to flow and behave differently in the vicinity, as some is deflected and the rest is funnelled through the channel, often causing the water to accelerate. Bass really like this flow and fizz. Whether it is the disorientation of bait fish, or the increased oxygenation of the water for the bass, it certainly kicks them into a feeding frenzy.
In this deeper water, the first lure of choice would be a no3 Fiish Minnow on a 30g head to aid it with getting down quicker in both the depth and fast flow. The best method is to cast up tide and then retrieve using a sink and draw method, twitching the rod tip up twice and then winding on the sink.
Another lure I have enjoyed success with on such locations is the Sunslicker MIshna Eel 140, again with a 30g head. Heavier heads certainly seem to trigger more takes on the drop, whether this is just getting down to the fish quicker, or leading to a more erratic style in the water I don’t know, but it certainly helps. Metals up to 40g, fished in much the same way, will also perform very well in these deep water marks.
Naturally each of the lures I have mentioned and the styles with which I fish them are my own personal choices, built through my own experiences and are what give me confidence. This is the key factor, confidence. If you don’t have confidence in your lures, you’ll always struggle to catch.
I hope this has given a little help to anyone starting out bass fishing in Pembrokeshire, or those who are planning on visiting for the tournament, where I’m really looking forward to seeing you all.