Keep on Plugging

A prolonged spell of calm weather has allowed me to get the bass plugging gear out. Where I live on the Kent coast the sea is rarely clear for long and the windows for bass plugging and spinning are not so large as in some other parts of the UK, but then I am better off than those that fish in the Thames, Humber or Severn estuary where the sea is chocolate brown for much of the year. My experience over the years with a bass lure have made me very sceptical about the effectiveness of the tactic and I am afraid I am not a big fan simply because conditions rarely suit this fishing style in my location – Clip on a rig and a bait and its a different story. To those anglers with tunnel vision towards bass on lures I say – “Great, that’s your choice, but please don’t go on about it so much” So many talk a better bass plugging session that they perform and they are ignorant of how poor conditions around much of the UK are regarding bass lure fishing!

The reality is that bass can be caught on a lure, but the tactic essential is to go out early morning and late evening and only when conditions are perfect. I see so many novices in my fishing region feathering for mackerel when a gale is blowing. It’s the same with bass a gale of wind and dirty water sees them hunt by smell not sight. If you do lure fish in the correct conditions then there is every chance you will hook a bass although lure fishing is not a big bass tactic its great for schoolies – Sure it catches the odd 5lber, but no where near as many as a big chunk of fresh mackerel or a head!

As already mentioned being in the right place at the right time is the golden rule of bass lure fishing, don’t ignore this statement and don’t let your mind wander, especially after seeing the many staged magazine photographs or bass with lures hooked in their mouths. Such get you on the shore without thinking about when and where you are going. I told you I was sceptical, I am also cynical!

The fishing gear you choose is the next essential to get right. So many anglers get caught up in the myth and fantasy and forget the basics. The sea is hostile environment and it’s no place for gear that is too light. Freshwater spinning rods that are too flimsy and too short don’t help to cast the large lures that bass so often take. In fact of all angling’s branches bass fishing is the one that sees the fishing tackle makers and media over hype the capability and worth of the tackle. You will find out when you get it on the shore!

Your choice of venue dictates the gear needed and it is no good using a short, light fishing rod where casting distance is required, or fish need to be bullied out of rocks and kelp. Indeed the short light rods are really only any good for close quarter bass lure fishing and from the boat.

In the main you need a rod that is powerful enough to chuck a sack full of monkey lure and that’s what most of the best bass lures are. Light on aerodynamics, but full of fish like action on the retrieve. Too easy to pick a bullet lure that casts long and retrieves like a space shuttle! You want floating, diving with the tail action of an injured fish. The injured fish shape can be deadly in many regions, whilst mackerel colouration and stripes is another avenue worth exploring.

No makes, models etc because half the fun of learning is trying the many and varied lures and I have learned it does not pay to ignore any – one of my most successful lures is a rainbow trout imitation. There I go getting caught up in the excitement of it all!

Don’t let me put you off casting a lure, its great when it works, but you must be prepared for lots of failure.


Use a small snap link or swivel clip on the end of your line – this allows for a quick change of lures and protects the knot from abrasion.

Retrieve your lure until it hits the tip ring because bass will follow and take at the last minute.

Keep the small bass (the angling size limit is 41cm) for the pot and return anything over 5lb. That’s proper conservation catch and release.

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

It was a long drive from Kent to the Sea Angler magazine National final in the Humber estuary, I was organising it rather than fishing and was helped with the arrangements by Nigel Crabtree and his Humber Sea Angling Club members, John Wells of Hythe and John Williams of Birkenhead, both 70 plus years young helped out with the stewarding as well. Many thanks to them all. Read all about who won the £1000 for Penn tackle and this prestigious title in next Months Sea Angler magazine. All I will say is that as I predicted it was won off the end peg and this has been a common occurrence in the event since it started in 1996. I have decided to do something about it next year. To blame was close pegging which puts competitors too close in so many matches and unless you draw an end, or close to a feature, or can cast two miles you have no chance. AND that is what is causing a dramatic reduction in general in match fishing numbers. I have said it before, but the larger open pegged matches are failing, whereas club events where rovers and big fish events are the norm, entries are rising because they produce better, more enjoyable fishing.

An example of my changing match fishing fortunes include a 19 fish victory in a recent club rover event at Folkestone – That included 17 dogfish and a first cast treble shot which excited my Delta beachcaster! The next event a small open pegged from a Dover pier which saw me draw a hot peg and struggle. I would never have chosen to fish there on that day in those conditions and tide. Even so I kept trying and eventually I hooked two dogfish on one cast and as I was carefully lifting them up the wall when one fell off which cost me second place. Yes it happens to us all!

My latest trip to Dover breakwater saw me land 9 bass on a sliding float, I kept three and returned six. I fished the new TFGear Delta triple tip match rod with a fixed spool reel and 10lb line and trotted a float along the wall with a head hook ragworm. Bites where violent and I missed a lot as the bass which grabbed the end of the worm, towed the float under and then let go. Eventually I realised if it stopped the float now and then as it drifted down tide this lifted and fluttered the worm in the water and the bass took it more aggressively. Great fishing reeling a 3lb bass back through the tide from 150 metres away and even better was watching the fish swim away. Now all I need is some decent weather for a bass barbecue.

Talking about bass, I can’t wait for some decent weather to go after the bass with a plug. The strong westerly winds of recent weeks have coloured the water in my region and any kind of lure fishing is out. Mind you looking at the current price of some bass lures I am not sure I can risk it. Lures costing over £20 and as much as £24.95 are now common and cannot in my opinion be justified.  I get lots of anglers on the e mail asking what bass lures are best and my answer is generally the floating, jointed, divers. My personal favourite is the Rapala Sliver, although it casts like a bucket of frogs, whilst Dexter offers some of the most economical of the plugs that catch.


Some new British sea fish records were ratified at a recent meeting of the British Record Fish Committee. The only one worth mentioning amongst a bunch of tropical flukes and mini species is the new tope record caught by Kevin Legg from Baggy Point in Devon. It weighed 66lb or 30.107kg. Congratulations to Kevin for having the balls to kill the fish and claim the record. OK most anglers would normally return tope and catch and release is the right way to go, but in the case of a record its only one fish.
For information on record fish or to claim contact
David Rowe BRFC Simar, 3, Pottery Road, Bovey Tracey, Devon TQ13 9DS
Tel 01626 833058 m 07778137626
E mail:

A tip for those of you who have switched to rig winders for storing your rigs. Although the hooks on the rigs can be pushed into the foam winders to tension the rig around the winder if you use a map pin you can secure swivels etc more efficiently. The coloured map pins, available from stationers, also show you where to start unravelling the rig.

I am not a fan of waders, chesties or wellie boots in summer for beach fishing and prefer boots, but get to close to the water and it’s a wet foot and salt doesn’t do my leather boots much good. But know the problem is solved thanks to TF Gear Rockhopper boots. Being waterproof I can now go down to the shoreline and fill a bucket with getting a wet foot, whilst their ankle support and thick tread is perfect for rough terrain.