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I was in Colchester with work for a couple of days but fancied breaking it up with a fishing trip. A quick call to Martin Collinson, who lives locally and after being given a few options it was decided we would head to Mersea Island and target the bass in the estuary mouth.

I was expecting an estuary like the Humber where I grew up, a wide expanse of shallow featureless water. I couldn’t have been more wrong, at low water this place was a maze of creeks and gulley’s, broken up by islands of clay, long forgotten hulks of boats rotting in the waterways as well as an armada of moorings for the weekend pleasure boaters. I normally search hard for a feature to fish against but here the problem was deciding which of the many hundreds of features to choose.

We started by trolling lures along the edges of some of the islands as the tide was coming in. Unbelievably this resulted in nothing. So as the tide was now filling the area nicely we anchored on the edge of one of the channels. On my left was a bank of 4 -6ft whilst to my right was 15ft of water. On my first cast with a ragworm of a very light running ledger rig I had a bit instantly but missed it. Then for the next half hour I proceeded to bring in crab after crab after crab. The place was alive with them and they were on the worms as soon as they hit bottom. A rethink was in order.

I changed the rig to a light float rig which could present the bait off the bottom and have it moving along with the tide. The response was instant. First cast a small bass, second cast a missed bite, then another small bass, and another. This continued for a couple of hours. Three or four fish in a row as a shoal moved up the creek, then a slow patch for twenty minutes followed again by a flurry of bites. Fantastic fun, but only small fish.

Martin decided to head off with the lures again looking for something bigger whilst I carried on enjoying myself. He returned empty handed an hour later whilst I had managed to find two keeper bass of a couple of pounds apiece in amongst the multitude of juveniles that seemed to inhabit the area.

Once the tide turned the bites stopped. We moved to fish around some of the concrete barges that litter the creeks and found a few more small bass but none of the larger specimens.

All too soon our time was up. No massive fish today, but fantastic fun catching the small ones. It is always satisfying when you make a change to your tactics and have immediate results. Add to this two fish to take home for the table and you have a great way to spend an afternoon.