AN ANGLING LIFE: Beware the Ides of March …?

Beware the Ides of March …?

… Nah …!

WORDS: Eugene C. Kruger

If you have at one time or another heard of the Ides of March – and I reckon that bass anglers the world over have, being as knowledgeable, sophisticated and au fait with literary works as they are – you will know that we are supposed to beware’ them.

Why? Well, in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ide of March, namely on 15 March in the year 44 BC. The word ‘Ide‘ is derived from a Latin word meaning ‘to divide’ and originally meant to mark the full moon. In William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, a fortune teller warns Caesar to “beware the Ides of March”. Which of course he didn’t and so met his tragic death.

So, what has this all to do with bass fishing? To a non-basser nothing at all, just a bit of frothy, largely worthless info, but for a dedicated, serious basser it should be granted more than just a superficial hearing.

For the second time in this column: “Why”?

Well, March is a troublesome month – it is the time of year that summer is supposed to give way to autumn. Astute watchers of the weather will note that the hours of sunlight are indeed becoming shorter and shorter, and that the hours of darkness are becoming longer and longer. Air temperatures are also changing, at daybreak becoming much cooler than just four weeks ago. The leaves on trees also start losing their summertime green to either fall to the ground or take on all the warm colour hues. If you have ever seen the vineyards in the Hex River Valley at this time of year you will have an appreciation of how plants react to the month of March.

If you are a competitive basser, you now find that at 05:30 you need a headlamp to fill in entry forms, and waiting in the queue at a resort for a day’s social bassing, a flask of hot coffee is more welcome than a bottle of cold soda. Your multi-coloured fishing shirt is also now hidden beneath a fishing jacket or track suit top, and in the boat lockers you have made very certain that foul weather gear has been stowed.

In the water the changes are even more dramatic – fish that have swarmed into the shallows at the crack of dawn to hunt and feed in the warm water temperatures of summer are now starting to hang offshore, waiting for the sun to send some warming rays into previously welcoming shallows. The western shorelines of our dams and rivers that receive the warming rays of the sun first in the chilly mornings, are now top priority areas to target. Spawners, particularly those late ones, still hardly bigger than fingerlings have their work cut out to evade the attentions of larger fish, while the rest of the aquatic food chain is either already dormant or is fast approaching its winter pattern.

Another highly regarded, and still universally accepted, ‘fact’ of bass fishing is that the ‘fall’, as our American counterparts term it (the rest of the English speaking world uses the correct term of ‘autumn’) is traditionally Big Fish Time, a period in which you will not only be excused, but actually encouraged, for touting all your big fish tactics and plans. “This is time for my PB!” is often heard. But then you notice a 4-inch bait on the hook … oh dear! No man, the saying “go big or go home!” is now the only way to roll!

That perhaps is the major risk (Ide) to beware of in March, namely the mindset of so many local bassers to still use small baits. ‘Quantity’ is still uppermost in many minds but it is ‘quality’ that is desired. Well, summertime tactics can deliver big fish, but when you are deliberately fishing just for big fish, beware of your own ‘Ide of March‘, namely expecting a 4-kilo-plus fish to waste its energy on chasing after a small bait. It’s not going to happen – this is certainly big fish time, but it is also big bait time. 

 Still scared of the Ides of March? Nah!

The latest print edition of STYWE LYNE TIGHT LINES is now available in retail and selected angling stores!

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