These cloudy days may suggest otherwise - but it’s almost summer and the bass season has officially started (although we have a very slow and though start) for a few weeks now. But; summer means - holiday season! And many of us will go out on their deserved vacation with their families.
As I’ve previously written - I have regularly spent some free time on the French coastline these last years to enjoy the food and their unique surroundings. But besides eating and drinking, the French have a another unique asset which I really can appreciate - superb bass fishing opportunities! If you decide to go fishing abroad, you always have limited time available because your together with your family. Family is great - but they always seem to take some valuable time from your bass fishing ;-). To plan my fishing hours as effective if possible I always look for a local fishing guide to take me with him for a day. And yes - this strikes into the holiday budget, but it more than once completely made my holiday. Except for the maximizing of your success, a day with a guide is a lifetime experience and a memory you carry with you for the rest of you life.
Last year I had the opportunity to fish with a number of fishing guides and to get acquainted with their specific ways of fishing. Every day we had the same goal (catch bass), but they became completely different experiences. Below a couple of guides I can sincerely recommend based on my personal experience.
La Turballe - Anthony Guenec
As previously mentioned Anthony fishes with his boat from the port of La Turballe. The ship (A 33 Cleopatra) has room for several people and the deck is very spacious and safe due the high sides. Before the fishing starts, everyone gets some short instructions on the materials and the way of fishing for that specific day. All materials on board are top-quality and come from the product range of Ultimate Fishing. This means you have the opportunity to fish with Tenryu rods and reels from the same line of quality. The several times I was on board the fishing was vertically with big shads, at depths ranges between 20 and 50 meters. The chance for that once in a life time bass is definately there. While fishing bass with Anthony I also witnessed the catch of Conger, Wrasse (Big!) and Pollack.
Name: Anthony Guenec
Materials: Ultimate Fishing
Costs: 160 Euro for a day (per person) for 9 hours
Boat: 33 Cleopatra
Day 1 (2010) - A beautiful day with calm weather - everyone on board caught several bass
Day 2 (2011) - A very windy day which meant high waves. Tough fishing because of the winds and currents - the ‘strike zone’ was difficult to reach. Several people had multiple bass (big) but not everyone was successfull.
La Rochelle - Captain OJ (Olivier Journeax)
You can find OJ his boat at the fishing port of La Rochelle (the gateway to the island of Ile de Re). Immediately after we’ve shaken hands it was clear that we were dealing with a very energetic, warm and humorous person. After everyone is on board we quickly leave towards the fishing grounds. Because the very warm (30> degrees) and the calm weather, the soft baits fishing on the bottom is very tough, therefore the captain decided to change the approach and go for the surface lures. Everyone gets a Heddon Super Spook - something that initially made me a little bit suspicious; A boat with 5 people throwing lures is asking for trouble… But OJ took plenty of time for everyone on board. He takes his role as teacher and guardian of security very seriously. A worthy captain.
Me being wrong regarding the Super Spook becomes clear very fast. While ‘practicing’ the first hits on the lures are a fact. The Polish gentleman next to me - who has never held a rod in his whole life even catches his first bass while he is retrieving the Spook in a straight line…?!
This part of the French coast is a lot warmer than for instance the Le Croisic/La Turballe area. This is the reason the European seabass his nephew, the spotted seabass, also appears here more and more. Except for the Spotted Seabass you also have the chance to catch an exotic ‘Maigre’ or even small Tuna!
The day is going very well - We are drifting parallel along the coast of Oleron, while we work our Spooks. Dozens of small bass are caught and every now and then there is a big one striking on the surface. I see things here, I’ve never in my life - the lures sometimes are chased by dozens (!) of bass (mostly spotted bass). Another cool phenomenon overhere is the color of the European sea bass - this is - at this short range from the coast - almost black. Which makes an absurd contrast to the clear water. Sometimes suddenly a black fish shoots through the crystal clear water towards the lures. Most of the time you miss these, as you automatically want to set the hook. But by doing this on sight, you most of the time pull the lure away from its mouth just before the fish had even had the chance to hit it.
All in all, another great memory and highly recommended, also for not that experienced bass fisherman. OJ speaks English well and takes his time for a good and clear explanation of the material and the approach. This also means that besides the memory, you’ll leave the ship with some extra knowledge.
Name: Captain OJ
Languages: French / English
Cost: 130 Euro for a day p.p.
Boat: 82 Gibsea
2 congres, and dozens of bass between 40 and 55 cm. Everything on surface lures. Do not let the sizes from my trip fool you. If conditions are not as extreme, nice and big fish can be caught both on the surface as on softbaits (take a look at the pictures from OJ’s website).
La Rochelle - Yannick Deslandes
Just Like Captain OJ, Yannick his boat has its home at La Rochelle. Only Yannick his boat is in the marina and not the fishing port. The fishing boat is a black Vailant Offshore Rib of 7.5 meters in length, and it’s equipped with a 300 HP Mercury Verado. The boat is a true monster ;-). Going out with such a boat is an experience in itself - wow! On board there is room for 4 guests and the captain. Yannick is a true passionate angler, something that again comes clear when I hear him yell when the first fish appear on the sonar.
The fishing equipment is from the local French brand Hearty Rise. The different softbaits in considerably larger sizes as we’re using overhere are from Delalande. We fish vertically with big shads and everyone catches his - or here - (dream) fish during this day. Then a large group of birds arrives which start to dive on the thousands of baitfish (mackerel) who are just under the surface. We catch several bass that pass the 4 kilos - and as a bonus I also catch the first ‘Maigre’ in my life.
Everything is arranged when fishing with Yannick - Humminbird electronics, good gear and especially a lot of knowledge of materials and the environment. At the end of the morning, the lines are retrieved and Yannick becomes a chef and the lucnh is served! Fresh bread, cheeses and various kinds Pate, even a bottle of red wine is opened. I love the French!
At the end of the day when the fish at the last mark have left, Yannick decides to move to a new spot. This mark has strong currents and the very soft bottom makes it difficult to feel where your bait is at. Overhere the boys are separated from the men. Where the captain manages to keep contact with the bottom, I do not even come close. It even gets worse when Yannick hooks 3 bass in 3 drifts while I still haven’t got a clue where my lure is…… Respect.
Despite the high price it’s absolutely no disappointment. The fishing with Yannick exceeds my expectations. Yannick is a true and talented fisherman who even can learn something new to the most experienced fishermen. Personally I think the fishing from a Rib is an absolute advantage as you’re close to the water and everything is open which makes it easy to navigate.
Name: Yannick Deslandes
Material: Hearty Rise / Delalande / Lucky Craft
Cost: 210 Euro for a day p.p.
Boat: Valiant 7.5 meters offshore Rib with 300 HP Mercury
Several ‘small bass’ and multiple bass over 4 kilos, 1 maigre.
Specials: Baglimit - each fisherman can take a maximum of 2 fish - super!