The inside line
Improve your chances of success by staying inshore
Skipper/bass guide Tim Harrison’s inshore tactics.
It’s common knowledge that bass find the coastal fringes of the UK an attractive environment. With food in abundance and exciting places both to hunt and linger, our coastal zone makes prime habitat for bass.
That’s good news for anglers because this fact puts these fish in reach of our baits. In fact, the shallower the water, the better. It seems there is nothing better for bass than hunting the sea’s margins in turbulent, fizzing water surrounded by noise, disturbance and food.
While it is easy to fish close in from the shore, it requires a change of attitude for boat anglers. It is easy to jump aboard a boat and steam out of the harbour and into the wilderness, but heading out deep is the wrong thing to do if you want to find bass with regularity; you have to head inshore. It is a steep learning curve and one that I have tried to deny in the past.
Two examples spring to mind. Up in Morecambe Bay, in Lancashire, is one of the nicest anglers I’ve met; Ruth is committed to her fishing and catches some cracking bass and cod. Her method is simple; she is a boat angler, but goes nowhere on it. She fishes from her boat while it is on its moorings.
Ruth does it by walking out to the vessel just as water laps at its hull, fishing through the tide and walking back off again as the boat settles back on to the sand. On a normal tide, she never has more than a couple of metres of water underneath her, and that’s where she catches.
EXPOSED AND VULNERABLE
Her mooring is in a small channel between acres of featureless sand and mud. She fishes in inches of water as soon as the tide starts to flood, and her best fish are often seen before being caught. These fish push up the tide in their eagerness to be first to the food left exposed and vulnerable at low water.
Another great example is within my home harbour at New Quay. In the bay I have an outer mooring where I leave 3 Fishes when wind allows. Unlike when she is on her inner mooring, she is permanently floating.
The location is within 100 metres of the shore at high water and just outside the inner safe drying moorings. The outer mooring is sheltered to the south and west by the sweeping curve of the bay, and on the inside of this bay, landward of my mooring, is a small tidal reef. It is no more than 50 metres from 3 Fishes as she bobs on her mooring warps. It is in the opposite direction to where the sea is, and at high water it has about a metre of water on top of it. Every season I catch bass there.
Given a high tide at around first light, when all is quiet and the harbour is sleeping, I can catch bass there as regularly as anywhere else. It is easier to put 3 Fishes on top of that particular reef than many other locations. It is safe and fully sheltered, but difficult to fish because it plays with my mind and, no doubt, the minds of my clients because, instead of heading out of the harbour, I head inwards.
Once you can get your head around fishing close in from the shore, a whole world of bass-filled adventures become possible.