With just two weeks left before my trip to Portugal, I started to check the Windguru wave forecast, hoping it wouldn’t be a repeat of last year where two big storms hit in the space of one week and made fishing nearly impossible! Amongst the heavy seas I had fortunately managed to hook up to a couple of nice double figure bass which was more than I was expecting knowing how on and off this coastline can be when it comes to bass fishing, and with conditions not being in my favour.
So, after checking the ever changing forecast I knew I was in for some mixed conditions ranging from solid 3.5 meter swells mixed in with a few smaller days. It could have been worse and was a big improvement on last year! Although I was hoping for smaller swells I was pleased I would at least be able to find places to fish as this year the south coast would always be an option. Last year the heavy rain storms had turned the south coast into a chocolate brown colour keeping it out of action for the entire week.
My main purpose/excuse for this fishing trip was to test the new 15g Enticer Tweak Bait and 15g Enticer Minnow Topwater, both new weight additions to the Samson lure range. Deciding on the prototype shapes in the Zurich lake is the first stage in deciding on a lure, but the real fun comes in the field testing where I can finally put them up against the target species, in this case bass!
Over the last year I have had many people contacting me with regards to bass fishing in Portugal and many more with questions about the differences between the Enticer Subsurface Tweak and the Enticer Minnow and what conditions are they best suited for. Although I have made films to help explain how to get the best out of each Samson lure, I thought that filming the lures in action and demonstrating the techniques whilst fishing for bass would be a great way to get it across to anyone in need of help! Also a few general bass fishing tips for rougher seas would be useful for anyone fishing similar conditions. The swells forecast for this trip were certainly not optimal but definitely doable
So, after landing at Faro airport rushing to the car hire it wasn’t long before I was on my way to the west coast in time for a late afternoon session. It’s an advantage being able to store all your gear in a garden shed at my house but even though I had washed my hooks and sprayed them with WD 40 from my summer trip, most were in need of changing which is a bit frustrating when you’re itching to hit the water! After gathering all my tackle together and grabbing a 12ft rod I was off to check out the algarve coastline!
Although I’m not that big on birthdays, catching a bass would certainly be a perfect way to celebrate, and a good start to the trip! I headed to my usual lookout point high on the cliffs up above Coadarama, giving me a great view of the coastline and idea of the true swell size. I was greeted by lines of beautiful perfect surf and, as much as I like surfing, I only had one thing on my mind and that was to get a lure wet!
After deciding to fish on the west coast I chose a spot with some protection from the swell. The waves were coming from a storm a few days ago a long way away. This means quite long intervals and big sets that can really catch you out. This type of swell is definitely the most dangerous as with fast moving tides and large sneaker sets coming in, you really have to be careful not to be caught out.
After trying a few mediocre areas that I had caught a few fish at over the years I made my way over to one of the more productive spots! I was happy just to be out there again casting along this beautiful coastline on my birthday! The swell was far too big to test the new 15g lures, so I sent out the 50g Enticer minnow instead! So when after 15 minutes a bass hit the lure right over some boulder type ground, I had a feeling I was in for a good week! This one was a decent size not a double but definitely a good start!
The next day swells had picked up and again I was looking for more protected areas. In these conditions I find it’s best to avoid heavy waves that are crashing down and rather look for spots where the waves are breaking out further and running along allowing fish to easily move in closer under the breaking waves. The next fish was hooked in a calm spot I had found out of the swell, and although only a schoolie I was happy not to have blanked that session! The swells continued to increase and it looked like a visit to the calmer south coast was the best option.
Fishing the smaller conditions were certainly more relaxing and I was able to enjoy the mornings low tide casting over the rock and sand bottom. The swell had cut out deeper channels around the rocks creating good potential bass grounds. It’s funny but, after 25 years fishing this coastline, It was the first time fishing this beach. It wasn’t too long before I got a hit and this time it was a medium sized bass putting a smile on my face.
The forecast was showing a few days with swells predicted to be two meters or less! This meant the west coast would be back on, so making the most of it I headed the following day for one of my old favourite spots. The waves were at the limit for this place, but with good water clarity and a nice blue sea I knew it looked a definite possibility especially as the tide was moving up and fish would be able to come up the deeper channels over a lovely rocky inside section. I started out casting the 50g Enticer Minnow and 15 minutes into the rising tide I hooked into a nice bass! Negotiating bass around exposed rocky sections with a strong swell can be tricky, and it’s vital to keep good contact with the fish at all times!
Next I decided try a 90g Sub Surface lure, a new air brushed prototype mullet coloured Enticer Tweak! It looked right for the deeper conditions and seemed to be the best option today.
Being a few meters up I was lucky enough to see the next bass take this lure darting out from behind a rock! Bass are real ambush predators and can often be found around ledges and close to structure especially under the cover of some white water. It turned out to be a real cracking session, with 4 nice bass to show, continuing the birthday celebrations!
With a great start to the trip and swells still just under the 2 meter mark, I made the most of it and headed for another favourite spot I had fished many times over the past 25 years. It was low tide in the morning and the spot I chose was generally all or nothing! Many times I had ended up with nothing here, even when it looked like the conditions were perfect. It can really be like that in Portugal. The bass are either there or they are not and in that case you may as well try another spot but, with a few epic sessions in the past including an 18 pounder followed by my PB bass just under 20lb I knew it was always worth a go!
I must say it’s a great feeling when it all comes together, making the right choice for the conditions and you are rewarded with some bass! It certainly doesn’t always work out like that, but having experience fishing in your area can be a great help. After choosing a well positioned rock which enabled me to cover as much ground as possible, I sent out lures in all directions. Casting across the waves can be very effective and from this spot I was able to also cast out towards the breaking waves and close to the shore where bass can often be found, especially in the early mornings.
As the morning progressed it ended up being another very fun session. I was also very fortunate to have not lost a few of the fish, but I certainly came close. One fish was lip hooked and and the lure just fell out as I grabbed the fish and another slipped off the hook back into the water as I lifted out of by the leader! My reel took a good dunking as I jumped in after the fish and was lucky enough to grab it in time! It must have been a bit stunned and didn’t realise for a second it was actually off the hook, and before It knew what was happening, I had it safely in my arms and on its way for a quick photo! Sometimes you can lose a few in a row and wonder why they are slipping the hook, but this time everything just seemed to stick.
I ended another action packed session with 4 nice bass including a double figure, again all hooked on the Enticer Tweak and Enticer Minnow! This was fast becoming a very productive trip and the best bass fishing I had experienced in a long while. The next day saw swells really increasing! After heading up the West coast again but not really finding anywhere that looked fishable, I settled for a calmer south coast spot.
The conditions were looking good and I soon wished I had come at first light instead of spending the first hour or so checking out spots. At least it was a perfect opportunity to cast the 15g Enticer Tweak bait out, which I had come over to test. At just 7cm long I was very excited about getting this lure wet! As soon as it hit the water and I worked it around the rocks, I had a good feeling about this lure being a success. In the first 20 minutes I hadn’t had any hits but the seabirds were certainly taking a keen interest in it!
After moving a little further along I cast out along the edges allowing the lure to pause and drop down a few feet. About 8 casts in and boom, a nice solid hit on the drop! I was thrilled to see this lure working on the bass, as it’s one thing testing the action in a lake, but a great confirmation when you get a take during your first session! I didn’t see any more bass that session, but did have some fun hooking 4 little Safia from the Dorado family! I was surprised to hook up on these fish with their tiny mouths and only using a single tail hook but, after watching them follow and take the lure from behind, it made more sense! I’ve only hooked a handful of these fish in the last 25 years, so it was good to confirm what I suspected about this lure opening up more possibilities to catch a wider variety of smaller predatory fish!
In part 3 the fishing continues to get better as I manage to hook up with a few monster bass!