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Joe Chappell

The River Crouch Bass Adventure

I must have caught a few dozen sea bass in my life before. Nothing massive, the biggest probably a couple pound. Most were caught on bait and a few were caught jigging feathers. I’ve always wanted to catch one on a lure, the light gear and constant movement involved in lure fishing is what drew me in. A couple years ago I bought myself a designated lure rod, for pike, perch, and bass. It’s weighted at 8-20g, although I have thrown heavier lures without any issues.

I finished school at half twelve and the plan was to do a few chores around the house while my dad finished working from home for the day. After my chores were done and my dad finished work, we jumped in the car and headed out. The tides were perfect for late afternoon and we estimated that we could probably fish until the light faded around 8.30pm. The venue in question was the River Crouch. It’s only 10 minutes away from us and we’ve had mixed results there before. We’ve probably fished at South Fambridge 5 or six times in the last couple of years, always using bait. We’ve never really bagged up there, blanking a few times and catching a few schooly bass, eels and whiting on other occasions.

We arrived at the river for around 5.30pm, and we were fishing within minutes. That’s the beauty of lure fishing, you just attach a reel to the rod, a lure to the line and cast out. High tide wasn’t until 22:20 so initially, there weren’t many places to fish. We started by fishing just by the steps as you can walk right up to the low water there. Elsewhere along the river with a few exceptions, its mostly thick horrible mud that sucks the shoes from you’re feet if you step in it. I was looking where I was stepping due to the uneven rocks and out of the corner of my eye saw a flash of gold. I went for a closer look and it turned out to be an iPhone, it had obviously been there a while as the battery had expanded and the screen popped off, but it was still pretty cool to find a phone that some poor soul had probably dropped in the water.

We walked for a little while stopping and fishing every few minutes wherever the shoreline allowed. It was nice and cloudy but still warm and flat calm with a nice breeze, perfect fishing conditions. We stopped for a drink and tasted some fresh wild samphire that grows along the river before fishing at the last spot which is the Saltings – a long, deep grassy bank that pushes out into the river by 30m or so. I kept casting my lure, trying different retrieves, fast, slow, stop and go.

Wild Samphire

I then cast a lure out really badly which went out about 20 yards. Unhappy with the distance I reeled in as fast as I could so that I could recast. As I was reeling in there was a flash of silver in the water and an eruption near the surface. Fish on! My heart was beating out of my chest and the fish kept zigzagging left and right. It was a precarious descent to the waters edge and I prayed that the fish stayed on. I brought it in and found only one hook remained, clinging onto its bony mouth. I grabbed it by the lips and pulled it out of the water. We took some quick photos before putting it back, ensuring it recovered and swam away strong. I estimate it weighed around 2lb but gave an excellent fight on my light gear.

We continued fishing for a couple hours, making our way back towards the car. We saw a few fish show in the marginal weeds, but our lines remained slack, and there was nothing else to report. Although we only caught one between us, (and it was my dads eighth blank in a row for both sea & course) it was still good to get out for a few hours in the evening and we both learnt a lot on what was our first lure session in UK waters. Anyway, his luck was about to change on our next session, check back tomorrow to find out how he beat three PB’s in one session.

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