Fishing switches on for many reasons, with the temperature trigger playing a key role even in warmer winters…
How temperature triggers bass sport.
Sea temperature is one of the most critical factors, alongside the lengthening and shortening of the days that contributes to the migration of many species of fish, and of course their prey. While the latter is set in stone, the former can fluctuate depending on the air temperature and prevailing wind direction. For example, in warmer winters the overall water temperature around our shores will remain higher than average. But conversely, if we have extended cold spells or winds outside of the usual southwesterly direction then it can delay nature in general – something that most definitely occurred this year, of course.
That the bass fishing season started excruciatingly slowly is undeniable, but when it did switch on, for me, (during the first few days of May) I was left wondering whether it was because the sea temperature had reached a certain figure. Alternatively, was it due to what the bass were feeding on (sandeels, cuttlefish and sprats) having migrated closer inshore? It might have been because of a combination of both, but could have been something else.
In the same way that a constant water temperature is required for the eggs to form in a female fish, spawning bass returning to a predetermined stretch of coastline could necessitate a certain sea temperature. Indeed, 10°C is often muted as the trigger for the bass numbers to increase inshore, and my own diary entries confirm a distinct correlation between the two.
For example, last year, in mid-March, the sea temperature reached the magic 10°C in south Devon, and within days a client of mine caught a 3lb-plus bass.
Yet this season, it didn’t consistently reach this figure until late April. Within a week I’d landed my first proper bass (above 4lb) on a lure, at night, on a needlefish – something that could offer a clue as to what the bass were eating.
Crabs and gobies in particular are available all year among the intertidal zones, but according to my diver friends there was an influx of cuttlefish in early April, with the sandeels and fry (immature mullet and bass) not too far behind.
Yet puzzlingly, the bass were most certainly not rampant inshore, even though the food was definitely there.
This led me down yet another avenue in my thought process. Could their metabolism, and the rate of it, be responsible for the very sudden increase in my catches when it did warm up significantly. Maybe they were inshore all along, but not feeding with vigour, because they didn’t need to in the apparent ‘much colder than average’ sea temperature at the time.
Within the space of a few days I’d landed a number of bass up to 5lb (mostly in darkness) on lures following a marked increase in the air and sea temperature.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Moreover, I can recall the contrast of being stood on a beach at dawn on the April 29 wearing two jackets, a woolly hat and gloves while fishing and feeling colder than I had all winter and casting into what appeared to be completely fishless reef.
Yet within a matter of hours it became a glorious evening as that switch was well and truly flicked. Could the trigger for this behaviour have been down to a requirement to feed fervently? Of course, there is no way to prove this theory, but, in my experience, rapid changes in factors such as light levels, sea state and many other elements associated to catching these magnificent creatures can make a difference. Something certainly did.
■ Marc Cowling is a bass fishing guide, specialising in lure fishing from the South Devon shoreline. Visit: the website at: https://southdevonbassguide.com
This bass took a needlefish
In the space of a few days I landed a number of bass up to 5lb