Bass fishing over spring tides – Can 10 cm of depth really make a difference!?

Fishing Spring Tides – Can 10 cm of depth really make a difference?



Dedication’s what you need…

I’ve talked a lot about taking notes following every single session. Whether you catch a Bass, Wrasse, Pollack, Mackerel or nothing at all, it all adds a tiny piece into the fishing jigsaw puzzle.

Some anglers have a lot of time to dedicate to the sport, where as some (most of us I imagine) only have short periods between work or family commitments. It is difficult enough for the population of anglers who can pick and choose exactly when they venture out to pick the right mark taking into account the weather, sea conditions,tides and their own ‘ideal conditions’.

Therefore, for those of us who have to ‘make do’ with the time available, it becomes even more paramount to try to pick the mark that you feel offers the greatest chance of catching a Bass. Notwithstanding the anglers who are just happy to be wetting a line, enjoying the scenery or simply relaxing but if you’re massively into your Bass fishing you want to be successful.

Here in can sometimes lie the problem….

  • What if your ‘prefered’ venue can’t be fished?
  • What if you have to compromise with safety in mind?
  • What if you’re limited to time and can’t travel (drive + walk) to a particular venue and have to look slightly closer to home?

Can it, or will it make a difference to your chances of success?

Ideal conditions – Or is it?


The preparation for a session….

I’m there constantly like many others – watching 5 weather forecasts a day, scrolling through the surfing websites for the wave height, analysing the tide tables, pouring over my notes and maps again and again just for my own sessions. Now that I am a guide, the most important aspects (in addition to learning) are to place my clients onto venues that are safe, and where they have an increased chance of connecting with a Bass.

I start considering where I might take a client 7 days before the event based on the initial weather forecast – I then review this every day, up to and including the day of the session itself. Very closely associated to this, I contemplate the venue selection, tide tables and also the time of day likely to be fished.

The weather:

  • Are any huge atlantic storms forecast to roll in?
  • Is high pressure (settled weather generally) likely to be dominant?
  • Will the winds be onshore, offshore, calm or a  crosswind?
  • Clear skies or cloudy?
  • Forecast wave height?

The venue:

  • The client’s experience, fitness and specific requirements?
  • In conjunction with the weather forecast  – Is the venue likely to be safe?
  • Does the venue (s) require a long walk across/over difficult terrain?

The tides:

  • Time of Low water?
  • Time of High water?
  • The tide heights (for example Low water 0.6m/High water 5.5m etc..)

Time of day:

  • Will the session encompass fishing at dawn?
  • Will the session extend into darkness (dusk)?
  • Will the session be conducted solely in daylight?

David hard at it with the ‘modern lure fishing set up’


Did the 10 cm really make a difference?

Prior to a recent guided session, I had earmarked a suitable stretch of coastline based on all of the above information. However, in the 24 – 36 hours leading up to the session, the weather forecast started to mention ‘ Southerly Gales’ – not ideal…

Many authors have written about Bass fishing ‘conditions’ being ‘critical’ to success. On top of this is the fact that many marks will definitely have a ‘limit’ to how much wind/wave action they can take before becoming ‘blow out’ or unfishable.  This will be down to either the amount of silt/weed in the water, or the size of the waves making it too dangerous to fish.

With a back up plan hatched the night before, on the morning of the session and following a detour to confirm the conditions my suspicions were confirmed – it was too dangerous to fish this particular area. Based on the ‘southerly’ aspect to the wind, I knew large expanses of coastline would have also been too dangerous. Everything else looked right – the water clarity was (surprisingly) good, the weather conditions (overcast) and the wind, (now very light)….. A real shame I thought.

The only thing to do was to drive around the coast to a mark that offered more protection, was a little deeper so wouldn’t ‘silt/weed up’ as much and importantly – would be safe to fish. The high tide height was 4.9m. Now I have caught dozens of Bass, many over 5lb on the next mark however, from my notes, I had identified that most of the Bass had been caught on high tides of 5.0m and above… So would the 0.1m/10 cm really make a difference? In a word, yes it did….


To summarise

Despite what I would percieve as near perfect wind, wave and weather conditions, no amount of casting into different areas or lure changes induced a take from a Bass – a 3lb Wrasse yes, but no Bass.

My client on this day had previously caught many Bass on bait from a boat, but he wanted to learn how to catch a Bass on a lure from the shore. With this in mind, he was very eager to learn many of the methods associated to this. By the end of the session, he knew how to:

  • Lure fish with surface lures (small subtle sliders and large poppers).
  • Fish shallow and deeper diving minnows.
  • Fish/bounce paddletails around (he had the Wrasse in this way).
  • Identify likely fish holding areas over deeper water (watercraft).
  • How to successfully fish with, enjoy and get the most out of a modern lure rod/reel combination – he had started the session using his own 11ft Pike rod and 10000 size reel but continued with the modern set up after an hour’s fishing all the way through to the end!

Very importantly, I had also learnt something… Maybe there just wasn’t any Bass inshore on this day/tide? Or in hindsight, even though we were fishing into 8 – 12 ft of water, maybe the mark in question required just that extra bit of depth over it?.. The extra 10cm?

Very much ‘food for thought’ in regards to my future guiding sessions and for those of you choosing a mark for your own Bass fishing.

Just before he caught the Wrasse – he and I were gutted it wasn’t a Bass!


Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling


  1. Many times you think all the planets have aligned but bass will let you know when you’ve missed something. You are so right about keeping a diary to record every detail – but do I do this? Nope


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s