My Bass fishing year (Part 2 of 3) – 10 things I’ve learnt since becoming a bass fishing guide

My Bass fishing year (Part 2 of 3) – 10 things I’ve learnt since becoming a bass fishing guide.

Welcome to Part 2 of my Bass fishing year – the final part will cover:

  • Part 3 – 10 favourite photographs and the story behind them.


Firstly, I’d like to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has visited, read, commented or offered feedback towards anything associated to this blog (website), my posts and my photographs. Additionally, a personal ‘Thank You’ also, to the journalists, writers, fellow bloggers, fellow anglers and friends who have supported me in this venture – it is massively appreciated.

Blimey, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot since commencing business in mid July this year. In less than 6 months this blog (website) has received around 16,000 hits – something that has far exceeded my expectations.

Therefore, I wanted to share 10 things (there were many more of course) that I have learnt. Whether it’s been a confirmation of ideas or thoughts, things that have come to light or failed attempts when trying something new.

This Bass lure fishing game will always keep us guessing or yearning to experience and explore – it’s very addictive!

1.    That first cast syndrome is real.

Whether I’ve been out fishing on my own or guiding clients, the amount of times that the ‘first cast’ into a likely Bass hot-spot has been met with a take cannot be ignored. I had always placed a certain amount of emphasis on it within my own fishing, but now that I’m a guide, it has taken on a whole new meaning and importance:

  • If a Bass has positioned itself somewhere, it is there for a reason – it is expecting items to unknowingly drift/swim close enough to become prey.
  • Really, really think about where you make that first cast of a session or when moving onto a new mark – try your utmost not to silhouette yourself against the skyline and stay well back and cast:

2.    That scent on lures might actually work!

Whether it’s been weedless senkos, worms or jerkbaits saturated in, or impregnated with various ‘fishy’ scents, over the seasons I haven’t really thought that much about the difference it might make in regards to my Bass catches – A mistake perhaps?

If the water was really murky I used to generally use bait (squid/mackerel) but over the course of this season, the articulated paddletail lures such as the Fiiish Black Minnow, HTO Artic Eel and the Illex Nitro Sprat have all been used with a fair degree of success in dirty water – Yes they create vibration but can the scent really attract them?

The thing that really opened my eyes was when I recently had to change the body of the Illex lure. The replacement body oozed a fresh, smelly and slithery substance which obviously appealed to the Bass that I caught a couple of casts later, from a small area that I had been hammering for the previous 30 minutes without a sniff… Had the Bass moved into this area? Or was it there all along and the fresh scent in the murky water intrigued/appealed to it enough to grab at the lure?

  • The recent episode above could have been a coincidence, but in my experience there is often ‘a good reason’ why you catch a Bass on a lure.
  • Many things (vibration, action or the splash) can draw in the Bass, but again, quite often something can and will just ‘turn them on’


3.    To concentrate on rock marks if you only use lures – They’re more predictable…

The posts that I wrote in relation to Positioning Bass and Patrolling Bass back in August/September concentrated solely on the areas where Bass will either congregate or move through when feeding.

Clearly, as a guide, understanding the ‘where’ is paramount and as most of my clients want to catch on lures, the prospect of me asking them to stand for hours on end in the same spot with lug/sandeel on the hook hasn’t appealed to them –  so rocky shorelines are where I’ve had to concentrate my efforts since July.

As much as I do enjoy fishing estuary mouths or beaches I would say 90% of my 120 or so very specific Bass fishing marks are ‘rock marks’ meaning I’m obviously stood on a rock! But, I’ll also be casting in amongst them – so the sea bed will be a variety of sand/shingle gullies or reef systems where rock pools and the like are present at low tide:

  •  If you catch a Bass in a very specific ‘gully or pool’ you can expect to catch one there again – they are moving through or waiting there for a reason.
  • The timetable of these movements is what you need to work out.
  • There’s no guarantee – but if you’ve got the time to do this, you’ll increase your catch rate.

4.    What my clients wanted to learn.

Essentially my clients have wanted to learn the following:

  • How to find their own marks – the type of ground to look for.
  • Watercraft – how the elements (wind/tide/weather/sea conditions) can affect a mark.
  • The type of lure to fish (weedless/surface/sub-surface etc…) in certain conditions over certain types of mark.
  • How to fish these lures correctly.

5.    That fishing with white senkos at Night is frustrating!

Apart from one savage hit that nearly wrenched the rod out of my hands, I still haven’t caught a Bass at night on one of these lures. Sure, I’ve caught them on sub-surface minnow type or small surface lures over the years but never on a weedless senko and especially not on a white one… It’s getting frustrating as I know it can be achieved (just look at Henry Gilbey’s blog here) but I’m not ashamed to say that catching a Bass on this method has eluded me…so far!

It would open up another aspect of catching Bass to my guided clients too if I managed it – but until I do I’ll feel a bit of a fraud teaching someone how to do something when I haven’t achieved it myself! I’ll keep trying until I do achieve it, I can promise you that.


6.    How to use Facebook!

I had never been anywhere near Facebook (or any other social media platform) in my life before September this year. It just wasn’t something I was interested in at all. However, it has without doubt, helped to generate a ‘following’ of like-minded anglers which in turn, has helped to develop my business, make new acquaintances and provide me with a platform to express my experiences.

7.    I’ve found a reliable leader knot!

For a few months within each of the last couple of seasons I’ve dispensed with using a fluorocarbon leader for a various of reasons… However I have finally found one that I’m content to use all the time as it’s:

  • Easy to tie even in low-light or windy conditions.
  • Has not let me down at any stage – casting, pulling out of snags or fighting a fish.
  • Note: – I do add 3x hitches to the braid after serial 6 below just to give me that extra bit of confidence!

Image result for alberto knot

8.    That accurate casting is so important.

This might seem a little obvious and will be second nature to a high percentage of lure or even bait anglers anglers. However, I’ve come to realise in the course of my guiding activities the level of importance (being able to place a lure in an area 2/3 metres square) that needs to be placed on this critical element, in order to enhance their chances.

Yes, I could make every single cast for a client and then hand the rod over, but I’m only with them for 4 or 8 hours at a time, so what do they do when they’re on their own again? Plus this isn’t much fun for them either! Far better for me to spend some time at the beginning of a session teaching them how to cast.

My blog post Accurate and Strategic casting was written following the experiences of a client during a rough old day back in late September.


9.    That I’ve had to work even harder at my fishing.

My previous posts Out searching for marks and Testing conditions captured what I tend to look for in a Bass mark and with my clients always in mind, I’ve found and successfully fished all of my new marks – most of which offer easier access for my less able clientele.

I have also concentrated my efforts further, by creating the Analysis from my Bass Fishing Diary series. This project has assisted me in collating very specific and minute information about my own catches and will continue to pay dividends for my future clients:

  • Some of these marks have been a pleasant surprise!
  • Examining the diary entries again and again, has continued to hone my eye in regards to finding the new marks.

10.    That guiding is hard work but definitely worth it.

All of my clients have left me with positive feedback (whether they’ve caught a Bass or not) and all of them have told me they’ve massively learnt from the experience, but that isn’t enough for me – I’d like all of them to catch a Bass on a lure when they’re with me of course.

There have been moments when I am seriously scratching my head – my client is fishing in favourable conditions, with the right lure into an area where I have caught Bass numerous times yet sometimes, nothing… ‘It is fishing, not catching’ I here you say, but personal pride/a huge sense of willing them on kicks in when it doesn’t happen.

Conversely, to point out a mark to a client (s), to demonstrate how they should work a lure that was previously alien to them and to then watch them catch a Bass on said lure, in said spot gives you an awesome buzz – it’s arguably better than catching one yourself!

To conclude

I never envisaged that I could love Bass fishing more than I already did, but being a guide, writing these posts and sharing these experiences, has made me love it even more!

Thank you for reading.

Marc Cowling






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