Guided By The Light

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MulletFly
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Guided By The Light

Post by MulletFly » Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:42 pm

I first dipped my toes in the salt in July of 2006, armed with a 'Sharpes Gordon' 7wt trout rod, which the advertising bumph proudly claimed as possessing salt water fittings. This first foray into the brine fortunately coincided with the arrival of an enormous shoal of school bass, hell bent on hammering defenseless fry hard against the shore. My size 10 sparkler proceeded to remove countless bass from the melee and I became equally as hooked as those small bass.
With my new found interest in salt water fly fishing running riot, I was keen to absorb as much information as possible from books, magazines and the web about this new arm of the sport.
A fairly loud message rang through and it told me that the main requirements were equipment which was salt water resistant and a 9wt rated fly rod, of which I duly availed myself. I returned to the scene of my former triumph, barely able to contain my excitement and anticipation. On this occasion the shoals did not materialize but blind casting eventually led to the capture of a typical half-pound school bass. The take did not even register on the poker-like 9wt rod and I first became aware of the fish as it flew past my right ear on the back cast. The rod has never seen the light of day since that time. The lesson learnt that day was to match tackle to the sport on offer. SWFF remains very much in its formative years in the UK compared to the USA, which continues to exert a strong influence on the sport on this side of the pond. 9wt rods (and heavier) are one such influence. While they are perfectly suited to the double figure stripped bass found on their side of the Atlantic, heavy rods totally outgun the typical school bass found in British waters and the sporting element is lost. There is an argument that 9wts are required in the UK to cast large flies into strong on-shore winds to reach large bass feeding in the surf. If this were the case, then I am sure that the forums would be full of reports detailing the catches of huge, surf dwelling fish. Sadly they are not. However, I have only the upmost respect for the few hardy souls who regularly fish for bass under such conditions. These guys spend an inordinate amount of time on the water to discover their marks and fully deserve their success. If faced with strong winds, my own approach is to move to another mark where the fishing is more comfortable and the same, small school bass predominate.
Fortunately, many tackle manufacturers offer salt water fly rods in 6 and 7wt ratings. For the past few years I have fished almost exclusively with a 6wt outfit and enjoyed exciting sport with eager schoolies while still comfortably managing to tame the odd larger bass up to 5lb in weight along with super energetic mullet in the 3lb to 11lb weight range. Being naturally inquisitive, I am keen to explore further exactly how 'light' it may be possible to fish, especially under relatively sheltered estuarine conditions. With this in mind, I recently purchased a Greys Streamflex 9 feet 5wt rod with matching Vision Koma plus fly reel.

THURSDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER: For the past few days, the south coast has enjoyed a late summer heat wave but all good things come to an end, with the BBC weather man predicting heavy rain overnight and a dramatic fall in air temperatures. Water temperatures had reached 21c, a value normally very much to the mullet's liking. Nervous about the possible detrimental effect of a sudden influx of fresh water and plummeting air temperature on the mullet's feeding behavior, I decided to head straight from work to a Sussex estuary while the heat still reigned supreme. The car thermometer read 30c as I joined the shimmering A27 and headed east under tropical blue skies. Water side temperatures were a more refreshing 28c. Even more refreshing was the 15mph SSW wind! Despite the estuary pumping food rich water into the sea, there was hardly a mullet to be seen during the last hour of the ebb. The new rod was soon anointed however by a succession of half-pound bass which fed vigorously in the rough water where the estuaries flow ran into the falling tide. Bass of this size actually bent the 5wt and produced a short run. Bass after bass fell to the 'ghost buster' which occupied the dropper position on a ten foot fluorocarbon leader.
As soon as the tide turned the mullet were on the move, pushing fast into the shallows and feeding in the river current a few feet in advance of where fresh water met salt. The wind speed had now risen to 20mph and delivering a cast across the current to deliver the flies dead drift style to the swirling mullet proved difficult. Large waves soon formed as the wind driven tide struck for shore. They also introduced some very large mullet, which surfed in on each passing wave. Feeding activity became quite frenetic as fish numbers exploded and the mullet were obviously enjoying the warm, wild conditions. Delivering a killer cast was becoming a real problem due to the wind, which blew immediately up current and frustration mounted at witnessing so much feeding without being able to capitalize. As usual where mullet are concerned, patience paid dividends. I spotted some fish feeding right on the edge of the waves which ran onto a small gravel bar, in water only inches deep and made my way up stream to cover them. First cast and a fish slammed into Ray's Red Headed Diawl Bach before taking off at insane speed through the shallows, sending spray high in the air and spooking fellow mullet as it smashed through the waves in the direction of France. The reel buzzed like an angry wasp as the fish tore off line and backing. I had no choice but to follow and do battle in deeper water. If anything, the runs, leaps and desperate attempts to throw the fly were amplified by the sensitivity of a light line rod but the 5wt possessed the steel required to tame an extremely athletic fish, requiring 25 minutes to net the brute, no different to an 8wt.
And so a plump 5.5lb thick lipped mullet basked momentarily in the evening sun and the 5wt was christened with a splash of salty water.

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smallfry
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Post by smallfry » Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:59 pm

nice fish, when your fly fishing does the water have to be clear might seem like a daft question just that where I tend to fish the water is usually cloudy
cheers ian

MulletFly
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Post by MulletFly » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:25 pm

Clear water allows fish to see a fly more easily but the downside is that they may also see the leader, fly line or angler. Slightly coloured water helps to disguise our intentions and still allows the fish to see our flies. Very coloured water greatly reduces chances of success, as flies produce no odour to attract fish. Mullet feed on the very edge of the flooding tide, where a band of clear water exists even when the surrounding water is very dirty. I would say that mullet tolerate cloudy water more than bass, so perhaps set your sights on mullet if water conditions are coloured.

Iknowagoodplaice
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Post by Iknowagoodplaice » Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:23 pm

Well done on the mullet. I had no luck last time out. Do you float your flies or let them sink? I haven't tried keeping them up in the water but maybe I should: watching mullet they seem to spend a lot of time sipping at the surface.

MulletFly
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Post by MulletFly » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:38 pm

Iknowagoodplaice wrote:Well done on the mullet. I had no luck last time out. Do you float your flies or let them sink? I haven't tried keeping them up in the water but maybe I should: watching mullet they seem to spend a lot of time sipping at the surface.
I use a floating line and un-weighted flies, as the fish I target are feeding in water between 6" to a foot deep. Also, I look to dead drift the flies towards feeding fish and want to avoid snagging the bottom.

nthendpompey
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Post by nthendpompey » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:17 pm

well done colin,nice fish.

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