Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Saturday 28 August 2021

Instow - Potlickers and Potamography

Now the bass is the only common representative in British waters of the family of sea perches. It is among the greatest of sportfish, and known in some localities as the sea wolf, or salmon bass.

I caught the bass earlier in the week out of the blue really but because of the fish actively at the time I knew it was only a matter of time. There where quite a few fish that jumped clear out of the water and luckily I was there at the right time.

There were some cracking sunsets from our accommodation and to be honest my mind couldn't get off that fish I caught because having seen it take the lure like it did, what a fearsome predator they really are. The weather for the whole week had been brilliant being 22 / 23 degrees so there was plenty of beach time and even ventured in to the sea at Saunton for a swim. 

The walk to the industrial pier took around 25 minutes and on the way passing the rocks behind the cricket club I would look for any fish topping.

For many probably not a holiday because I clocked up >23k steps for all but one day lots of walking meant I was quite happy to eat food I don't usually do and not worry about the beer I was consuming. 

Now distributed throughout the Mediterranean, ranging west in the Atlantic to Madeira and northwards to the British Isles, the bass is a fish of the warmer waters. Around the British coasts, bass are most common in the south and south-west of England, the south and west coasts of Ireland, and tend to become more thinly distributed the farther north one moves in the North Sea. 

The overall colour is silver, the back ranging from dull grey to olive green, and the flanks showing sheens of blue or green. In some specimens there is a definite bronze sheen to the cheeks and gill covers. These tints fade with death to leave the fish silver to dull grey. 

The dorsal and caudal fins take the colour of the back, the lower fins being transparent or white. Both the tail and the anal fin have a light marking along the free edges. The first dorsal fin contains between seven and nine sharp spines, the second dorsal has two leading spines followed by between eleven and thirteen soft, branched rays. 

The pectoral fins are made up of soft rays, without spines. The pelvic fins below each have one spine at the leading edge, and the anal fin has three sharp spines, followed by between ten and twelve soft, branched rays. 

The spines, in bass of all sizes, are very sharp and can inflict particularly painful wounds. 

Contrary to belief in some circles, these spines do not inject poison, and any resulting inflammation will be due to neglect of the wound. Bass range far and wide, in changing environments, for food. 

They may follow the shoals of whitebait and mackerel, patrol shingle banks for small flatfish, or come right inshore into very shallow water for sand-eels, sand-hoppers, shrimps, and crabs. 

Thus there is contrast in the fishing, with such extremes as Ireland's famous Splaugh Rock or the comparatively quiet, brackish water of a river mouth, and the difference in the venue calls for a corresponding difference in fishing technique. 

Bass are fiercely predatory, but the large fish can be subtle in their feeding habits , but these are huge fish. Sportfish range between 2 and 6lb, and larger bass are in the big-fish class. Those exceeding 10lb are exceptional fish, and are, unfortunately, few and far between. 

Whatever the size, the bass, on suitable tackle, is renowned as a tenacious fighting fish. Could I catch another one ? errrr nope.

My twin brother Chris managed one mind you, albeit a small splasher but hey, it was a fish and I was struggling. The fish just didn't seem to be there in any numbers. Apart from that one morning on low tide where there were fish topping all over the shop from then it was very quiet indeed.

One of the mornings we popped over to the jetty and fished a bait rod with various baits but not even a bite. The wife and kids were happily catching crabs on the high tide though and in around an hour we managed a good 15 or so which took a fancy to the small sandeels and mackerel.

There were mullet mulling around too but they spooked at the sight of bread and despite trying freelining bread a few times in-front of their noses they were not interested at all. 

The Quay Inn public house and restaurant is situated in a most picturesque location with views of Appledore and Bideford the perfect place to watch the sun go down.

I've always wondered why beer is better in Warwickshire or in the Midlands in general, but despite drinking in various establishments in around Cornwall and the South West to me as on average as a cask ale drinker we are blessed with some cracking brewers. 

Even my brother agrees and he's live in this area for 5 years or so. I popped in to Summerlands the excellent fishing tackleshop in Westward Ho !! for some bits and pieces, but I was doing nothing wrong with the bass fishing apart from maybe not trying for them at dusk.

The tide times were against me sadly because this is a family holiday after all not a fishing holiday.

Still I was quite happy with that one fish at the start of the week and with another weeks holiday to Wales this time where I could do some more sea fishing I think this time I might give float fishing a go.

We are off to Saundersfoot and there is a  harbour there that can be fished with float gear apparently. Also the walk towards Wisemans Bridge has areas with rocks as well.

The reality is with such a volume of water to go at experience is key in sea fishing and that local knowledge passed on to others. I got speaking to a boat owner again on on of the crabbing days and maybe the next time I'm down again I will get myself a boat trip sorted. If I lived by the sea I think as an angler a boat is a must especially when it opens up so many more opportunities.

Something this size looked ideal, but then that would be suitable for a few anglers not me and a couple of others so maybe a little overkill.

I suppose its all about budgets isn't it but heck, if I get to the sea in 10 minutes it would be a no brainer. So again another fantastic trip down to Instow and we all thoroughly enjoyed it especially when unlike this time last year the weather was heard to fault really. Even the journey back wasn't so bad either, like British weather the M5 can be a lottery with any problems causing a big issue. 

We'll be back !!!


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