I’m no expert at the saltwater fly fishing game, but I'll give anything a go. Many moons ago in the days of having a proper job and a few quid in my pocket I bought a Sage RPLXi #8 with the intention of having a bash at some SWFF and it has remained in its tube in the cellar ever since. Not any more! This year I dusted it off and along with a reel and a small box of flies, I made my first tentative casts into the open ocean.
The sun was really hot on the beach at Bude, and on one of many ‘cooling off’ trips down to the sea, I could clearly see some commotion in the water only about 15 yards from the beach. Wading slowly out into the water and I could see it all. Bass were everywhere - chasing small bait fish and sandeels - it was quite a show. They didn't seem to mind my presence and just went on feasting, with some occasionally porpoising
out of the water. One problem: fishing rod in car. Car in car park. Car park miles away!
So the next day I persuaded everyone that we should go back to that really nice beach at Bude again, and this time, I remembered the rod. It was rigged up with a SW floating line, a ten foot leader of 10lb twang and an attempt at a clouser minnow.
With the tide fairly well in, I strolled down to the edge and had a look with the polaroids on... Nothing. So I strolled out a few yards and the first thing I saw was a proper lump of a bass I'd guess about 4lbs. This one was on its own and moving slowly. I had about five chucks at it with the clouser, but it was obviously not feeding or the wrong fly because it never even looked at it, and then was away into the deeps. Strolling across the beach some 20 yards out I saw and covered another three fish, all singletons and had the same reaction. Maybe stalking and sightfishing wasn't going to work, so I pulled a few yards of line off the reel and had a speculative cast out into the open sea. A couple of pulls back and everything went solid. Fish ON!
I was chuffed to get my first sea-caught bass, but it wasn't a monster by any means. Still it was a start and after having its photo taken, it went back to get a bit bigger. Bass of this size are shoal fish or 'schoolies' and I was expecting more. Next cast and I had a much more solid 'thwack' and the rod hooped over - certainly a more substantial specimen this time. I was fishing over sand and there were no rocks or kelp for this fish to head for. If the hook held, it was going to be mine.
In came the fish and luckily I remembered how to handle them from my younger bait fishing days. The anterior dorsal fin in very spikey and can inflict a nasty wound if you're not careful, but the real killers are the tips of the gill covers. Catch hold with extreme caution if you're lucky enough to catch one of these beautiful fish.
Once again, released to get bigger for my next visit. It would have probably made the 41cm minimum size for taking, but I'm a catch and release boy at heart so back it went. And out goes another cast. Not distance stuff - 15 yards max was all that was required and guess what? Yet another whallop on the rod. This fish slammed the fly so hard it nearly wrenched the rod from my hands! Now this one had some real weight to it. This was going to be the fish I had come for. This was going to be huge...
Then the hook pulled out and the clouser came back alone. I cut a pretty disconsolate figure just then, but that's fishing isn't it? That's what keeps us going back time and time again. We never know if we'll land the biggest fish we hook and that's real excitement for you. Bassing in the sea wearing just the swimshorts and with a hot sun searing into your back... Can’t get any better than that!