MER­CURY RIS­ING

Fish­ing switches on for many rea­sons, with the tem­per­a­ture trig­ger play­ing a key role even in warmer win­ters…

Sea Angler (UK) - - SEAANGLER CONTENTS - Words by MARC COWL­ING

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.

FEED­ING CLUE

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

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