63 - Top Tips - Bass and other Saltwater Fishing Tips

Bass and other Saltwater Fishing Tips, with Chris Ogborne

Have you started your saltwater fly fishing this year? With big bass, pollock, mackerel and others a mouthwatering possibility, you might just want to kit up for summer period! Chris Ogborne still finds plenty of encouragement to launch his boat on the Camel Estuary. Here, he tells us the story of a day’s bass fishing on one of those special rare days between the storms and the rain this year.
These days you can enjoy fishing saltwater fishing year round, although timing is key. The recent storms had stirred things up nicely – we need a good blow now and then to liven up the water and move the food around for the fish – and the extreme water clarity of summer had changed to a very slight green haze, which is exactly what we want for Bass fishing. 

Glorious summer fly fishing for bass

We took the boat out on a glorious day and were reminded for the millionth time why the southwest is such special part of the U.K.  The estuary looked stunning.  Seasonal colours were blazing in the sunshine, skeins of geese were flying overhead as we left the mooring and a huge mixed flock of Curlews and Oystercatchers exploded from the salt marshes as we cruised past, on route to sea.  we thought, as indeed we think every time we take the boat out, that life doesn’t get a whole lot better than this! As we fished we stopped off at several estuary marks on the way down channel, taking a couple of schoolies at each one on the fly. 

Best fly colours and fly lines for bass

Sandeels are a natural source of food for many a predatory fish in the sea. Sandeels are seasonal and you will notice these fish change over the summer through the autum. The start of the season will bring in the sprats and the summer baitfish. These sandeels are smaller in size in comparison to the sandells that make the move in the later summer months. The Turrall sand eel patterns in chartreuse and pink are just right in the brackish water, as the fish can see them more clearly than the neutral, grey or blue colours that we use in clearer water. Be sure to use other baitfish patterns as well such as Bucktail fry, Clousers and Decievers.
Early season bootlace Sand eel
Later season larger Launce Sand eel
Bucktail Fry Patterns worked on the Mackeral
For fly lines try using an intermediate line at a cooler time of year, as the fish can be a touch lethargic when the water is at cooler temperatures.  Retrieve rates are slower too and the ultra fast stripping of high hot summer is replaced by slower, staccato movements which give you the opportunity for more variety in each cast. Go to floating lines on hot sunny days in shallower wading waters.
With conditions as near flat calm as I’ve seen for a while, we headed out to sea for a bit of prospecting around the islands.  Sport on the fly was good, but we had to switch to a fast sinker on some of the marks, just to get down quickly with a fast moving tide. When conditions allow pay close attention to the surface water. Bass and other fish on the hunt will chase in the baitfish. There will often be splashes and fins marking the position of the fish. 
When fishing locations try and keep in mind the tides. Fish will flow up and down with the tide feeding on the way in and moving out when the tide has turned. In order to do this fish will follow deeper channels as they moving over the submerged areas. These deeper channels act as highways in and out of areas so be sure to note these and fish them up and down witht he tide.
Fish were feeding well in the running tide, and we positioned the boat in the down-tide lee of the island to fish the seams effectively. As high tide approached we just let the boat drift off across the rocky reefs that circle the island, taking fish between two and four pounds from around 15 feet of water.  Brilliant sport, made so much better by the near-calm conditions that allowed the rare luxury of perfect control on the fly line.

Plan B: On the Estuary

As often happens a breeze picked up after the tide changed, so I had to adjust  tactics.  For anyone sniffy at doing this, there’s no shame in jumping locations when needed.  As much as we’d love to catch fish at every spot we fish moving and covering the water is an important part of saltwater fishing.
With that in mind we headed back inside the estuary to explore a couple of favourite marks inside the headland and they didn’t disappoint. We found a good pod of fish, all in the 3 to 4 pound class that gave a great account of themselves on some larger sand eel patterns. There were still a few mackerel around too, so useing some bucktail fry patterns we managed to pick up a few for supper – the humble mackerel is still one of the most delicious fish to eat when it’s this fresh.

Time and tide…

All too soon it was time for home.  We keep my boat on a mooring that gives me around 3 hours either side of high tide, so I have to make sure I’m back in time  before the water disappears. As is a part of my boating ritual, I stopped off on a little shingle beach about a mile from the mooring to gut the mackerel.  In the flat water, I couldn’t help but notice a spray of tiny fish (probably baby Mullet) which were obviously being chased by something bigger.
It happened again about twenty yards away with an accompanying swirl so I quickly dropped the filling knife, reached for the fly rod, and put a fly  down near the last disturbance.  Three seconds later I was into a beautiful bass that must have been close to five pounds and he lead me a right old dance around the beds of wrack before I subdued him in the shallows. A spectacular end to a very special day and I admired him for a few long moments before slipping him back into the water.
Whatever your sport, get out and enjoy these days of the season.