Bass Fishing – Chichester Harbour, South Coast UK
What a season it has been for bass fishing at Chichester harbour on the south coast! May I start this post with a huge thank you! I saw many old clients and friends return this season and also new clients. Everyone brought incredible energy and enthusiasm for bass fishing to the sport and it showed onboard Salty Dog.
No-take rule on bass
As to be expected the hottest topic on the boat this year has been the no-take rule on bass for recreational anglers. We started off with uncertainty over regulations. Government quickly fine-tuned this to a square kick in the gut with the rule that anglers couldn’t keep any bass. This left many recreational anglers feeling unfairly discriminated against. We all felt like the easy target to help generate a bounce in the bass stocks.
Although, as the season progressed it was interesting to see how passionate anglers were responding to this rule. There were still many more than usual enquiries about our trips down at Chichester harbour. As we have always promoted our business as a catch-and-release fishery, the bass no-take rule did not affect our fishing as much as we thought.
The good news is that the regulation to take 1 bass over 42cm per angler for recreational fishing could possibly be reinstated from the 1stof October. Nothing has been confirmed, but this is a big sign that recreational anglers still have a voice within the fishing industry.
The bass season so far
It’s always difficult to speculate about fish numbers. We prefer our clients to experience the fishing for themselves. Getting the bass is all about the preparation, the hunt, the build-up of knowledge and understanding of the areas we fish.
The season started slow in April with only a couple of small school bass starting to show. As we started getting more south westerly winds and the drive of the warmer gulf stream waters closer to the UK shores, the inshore water temperatures started creeping up and was very soon above the magic 10°C – ideal for bass. Spring had sprung!
May and June very quickly turned into some of the best months for numbers of bass that I’ve seen within the harbour. With the extraordinarily warm, long spells of great weather this year, the bass just kept on arriving in droves. And on every single trip we caught fish, with almost no blanks. I also travelled to Orbetello in Tuscany to join Vito for World Fishing Day in June . We were rewarded with a few great fish caught while filmed live for FishingTV.
Quite a number of 5-7lb fish were caught on fly and lure during July and August. A lucky client also touched the 9lb+ mark on a beautiful bass! What a feeling to have released all these fish healthy, and to see them swim away. The Salty Dog clients all agree that even the shortest pause in not taking any fish might, after all, have been a good thing for these waters. And the pelagic trawling ban in spawning season, Spring, has definitely paid off.
Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide
At this stage I have to also mention Orvis and their support of Salty Dog. I’m also very proud to have been selected as a salt water Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide. We had some cracking new gear, including the Helios H3 and Recon rods, through the guide program. The rods are for our clients to use on the boat. Matched with a variety of Orvis and Rio lines, they become incredible casting tools in our quiver of fly rods.
Intermediate fly lines once again proved to be the all-round favourite and especially with the warmer waters we ended up using quite a number of tropical lines as well. An added bonus to our tropical destination clients, who could use their tropical gear with minimum changes on the 8-wt rod and line set-up. Spinning also produced some great fish with soft plastics and surface lures again proving its worth, covering all aspects of lure fishing in a single day.
We saw some very nice fish this season, with bass up to 10lb being caught and released. It was a true joy to see these absolute bass monsters putting up an incredible fight on light tackle!
With the Autumn colours just appearing in the trees, we are focussing on continuing and extending this great season as long as possible. Salty Dog will keep going deep into October and possibly even November, weather dependent. Who knows, if the bass numbers and larger sizes we have seen to date are anything to go by, Autumn 2018 might just produce that 10lb+ fish to a lucky angler!
As our bass operations expand, we will be enlisting an extra guide for the 2019 season. So watch this space for news on even more availability on week days next year.