Drifting for Bass on Great White II, Hayling Island, Portsmouth.
Launce, Live Sandeel, Live Mackerel or Plastic artificial baits will all take Bass 'On the Drift' the method is about keeping things simple and staying in touch with the lures/bait.
Whether we're drifting the French Banks, the Overfalls, the Middle Ground or one of the other many banks to the east side of Isle of Wight / Hampshire coastline, we tend to keep the Bass fishing very simple. The first point is the use of Fluorocarbon Lines, in the clear water conditions you'll simply spook less fish if there's less of a chance the fish will see the line, that's obviously a plus in any fishing.
Artificial / Sidewinders / Shads will all work well on there day. Redgill Blue & White and the New(ish) Savage Gear sandeel will both catch a lot of fish and 60% of a Drift Fishing is done with these lures. For the 'Plastics' a simple running ledger with small boom and an 8ft fluorocarbon snood will convert the follows into strikes. Depending on tide you'll need between 2oz and 8oz of lead, again a cannonball style lead is preferred by many as it reduces drag and lead spin.
Live Baits. Many prefer to fish live baits on a Portland style rig, again reducing the risk of tangle and better bait presentation. It's often wise to up the lead just a couple of ounces to keep the lure from wandering too much, and thus upsetting or fouling other anglers lines. The snood again would be 6-8ft as a starting point. The use of a treble, single or circle hook is down to the anglers choice. For Mackerel many go for a treble, and for Launce / Sandeel a single for circle seems to be popular. Tip: When fishing Mackerel it's a good idea to hook it through both lips (bottom first) - a circle hook is often best here - as this will stop the fish from spinning with it's mouth open. A fresh fish shouldn't spin.
Boat Fishing Montly Magazine - Drift fishing for Bass
Don't overlook the use of two head hooked ragworm, especially if fishing is hard and there's not too many Mackerel about to 'snaffle' the worms. On it's day the ragworm will out fish most lures, but getting it through the bait fish is another issue, but can be fun for those prepared to fish through the Shad and Mackerel (King Rag is best)
Mackerel strips. Like the use of Ragworm, fishing a belly of mackerel can score well on it's day. Long thin strips with a point at one end, hooked once at the point, will reduce spinning. As with all rigs you can use a swivel in the middle of the snood to again reduce the dreaded spin. Tip: Trim off most of the flesh from the mackerel strip, it will stop it 'curling' and remain more limp and enticing to a following Bass.
Quite simple. A controlled drop of the lure to the bottom. You can let a little line out to get away from the boat if you wish but take in mind what other anglers are doing. Stay in contact with the bottom if the fishing is hard, a constant few slow turns of the reel with lift the lure very realistically over the sand banks. Make sure you keep the lure low when going over any banks / drop offs - this is where the Bass wait to ambush sandeel and other bait fish.
As the tide slackens and the sandeel become more active you'll find a slow retrieve will produce a few fish as they come off the bottom, this is often true when the tide is running hard too. I assume when the Bass are feeding on Mackerel and Scad freely.
Typical Bass taken on the Drift (Redgill Blue/White Lure)
Fishing for Bass on the drift obviously requires a bit of tide for any 'Drift' to take place, and often a resonable 'trip' is required before the Bass will really start to have a go. During this period Great White likes to take advantage of some of the other fishing available in the area, in summer the Blonde Ray fishing can be outstanding. So for a couple of hours you could expect to be on the anchor and fishing 6/0's on 100lb Snoods and about 16oz of lead + (it's worth remembering to bring a rod to cope with that or let the skipper know in advance if you need a rod)
Rigs for the Rays only require the angler keeping it very simple. A boomed running ledger / Zip Slidder arrangement for the lead and 6ft of 100lb mono to a 6/0 is a good starting point and will cope with the Blonde Rays and Bullhuss you should expect to encounter. A 30lb Blonde or a big Double Bullhuss isn't beyond expectation. We would expect to see a few Blondes into the 20's on a good day.
Blonde Ray fishing on Great White II