Ashley Hayden reports:

Fishing like life has its routines, many of them centering around tides and weather. Successful bass fishing requires top quality fresh bait, and if your chosen location is a south Wexford strand located somewhere between Carnsore point west to Cullenstown then don’t hit the beach without procuring lugworm. 11.00am on a glorious frosty Saturday morning found yours truly digging away on a favourite strand. Lugworm were plentiful, however a blinding glare from the sun, fast nearing its winter low, made spotting the worms difficult.

Wexford bait
Wexford bait

Fresh black lug and south Wexford bass go together like strawberries and cream, Clive Gammon in his fabulous book Salt Water Fishing in Ireland, first published in 1966, endorsed this view and the bass have not changed their dietary habits since. Equally, although they will take a bait during daylight hours, especially if there is a sea running, far better to commence a session as dusk is drawing in, fishing on into the dark. With ample juicy lugworms now in the bucket why spoil a good routine, off to the Strand Bar for a lunchtime reviver, gourmet cheese burger with chunky fries washed down with a pint of uncle Arthur’s, mmmmm.

Neap tides, a bright blue cloudless sky, and a light north west breeze create far from ideal surf casting conditions in south Wexford. Faced with a lifeless sea devoid of the fizz generated by a big tide combined with a south westerly, twin lug baited paternosters were cast fifty meters into the gutter as dusk fell. Bites initially were slow, a dogfish and a small plaice all that showed within the first hour.

It was good to see groups of anglers on the strand, bass fishing of late has been steady, lots of schoolies with a smattering of larger fish to make it interesting. Frosty weather attracts cod though, and for sure a plump Gadus or two wouldn’t go amiss tonight, the calm sea and small tide unfortunately dictating otherwise. Now dark and with headlight trained on reflective rod tips, one jags down and bounces back up. Surf pole instantly in hand, reeling and stepping back to tighten any slack line, a thump registers through the carbon, leaning hard, a solid resistance, fish on.

Funny how in the dark a fishes initial surge creates a false impression of weight, bass though are doughty, speedy fighters so even a small one, especially in the surf line feels bigger than it is. Running 1.5 – 2.0 pounds, between 18.30- 20.00pm seven schoolies hit the rods, all lip hooked and returned they are tomorrows lunkers if protected. Plump and in great nick, bristly and indignant while being unhooked, they skitter off through the back wash on release giving a seemingly two fingered gesture with their tails. Bass, a fish with attitude……….

Ashley Hayden,
An irish Angler’s World
Email Ashley Hayden at [email protected].