Atlantic Bass - "A Prize worth Pursuing!"
by Justin Anwyl
It has been almost five years since I guided some of you and those seasons have all been different. One of the most rewarding factors when working as a Salt water fly fishing guide are the constant challenges this species presents to you, whether it be location, lunar cycle, water clarity, forage food or a combination of many of these factors, you can be sure that a specimen Atlantic Bass is a prize worth pursuing.
This year I have been fortunate enough to have guided many experimental fly rodders who were brave enough to move away from traditional flies and retrieval rates. As an example of this in July we caught an amount of Bass and noticed when handling them quite small crabs were only semi digested inside the mouth and gullet. Having looked through our flies we tied on small Permit patterns and proceeded to dredge heavy lines (such as the Generation 3 sinking lines - Ed.) with short leaders into the navigation channels. The retrieves needed to be a slow figure of eight, not dissimilar to "Booby" fishing on reservoirs but the interesting observation was how positive the strikes were. These fish were predating on small mid season juvenile shore crabs approximately the size of a fifty pence piece but the ferocity of the takes suggested that the Bass were extremely confident in seeing this food source and had little hesitation about digesting them.
Most harbours would hold a high propensity of mature female shore crabs which tend to migrate towards harbour mouths where the water is more saline in order to release their eggs before hatching in the summer months (usually on ebbing tides during nightfall), so maybe we were lucky enough to be fishing in the right place but couple that with a view to "matching the hatch" we were rewarded with 14 bass within only a couple of short hours.
It just goes to prove that Bass are expedient predators and if nature decides to open up it's larder they'd much prefer to take the easy option of a meal than use up energy chasing white bait in the tidal flow. Someone asked me once this year how does a fly rodder become consistent at chasing down a particular quarry species and my reply was not to learn about the species itself but understand more about it's feeding migration and food source.
As to this season (2007), ORVIS kitted me out with a number of different rods and reels to use and all were comprehensively tested over a seven month work out and stood up to all weathers and winds. One of the most impressive was the new "Western" 8 weight Competition flex rod which when coupled up with a Large Arbor Battenkill V and an 8 weight intermediate line loaded quickly and as easily as any fast taper I have used, this rod is available as a three piece 10 footer and the extra length makes a lot of difference.
The flagship this season would have to be the Zero Gravity 7 weight fast taper, once again a superb rod, built in either 9 or 10 foot and in my opinion the extra foot performs better whilst tackling a prevailing wind as you are able to pick up maximum load which converts line speed to distance far quicker whilst hauling.
Lastly when travelling to Boston for the back end Striper run in October I used the new Helios range in both 8 and 10 weight fast tapers (arriving in the UK next year - Ed). These rods weigh in at a little over 3 oz's and performed superbly well whilst fighting Stripers, Blues and Albacore all into double figures, beautifully made pieces of equipment with muscle to match - the technology just keeps getting better.
I hope your season has been as productive as ours and I look forward with you to chasing these sea wolves again in 2008.
Orvis Endorsed Saltwater guide.
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