Bass Fishing Methods – Lures or bait?

Bass Fishing Methods – Lures or bait?

I was desperate to go fishing during the few days that I had off this week. I knew that the sea was rough therefore, I knew it was also going to be very murky. Add into the mix some pretty nippy temperatures and conditions weren’t exactly conducive to catching anything, let alone a bass!

But following a trawl through my marks on Google Maps, I identified a couple of areas that would offer safety, in addition to a chance of a February bass – something that is admittedly, difficult to achieve but is not impossible here in South Devon. I considered these sessions also, as scoping exercises, in order to confirm that paths (I use that term loosely) still existed to my chosen marks.

Even though I didn’t really expect to catch anything (which I didn’t!) it felt fantastic to be out on the coastline again after a week in London. So with plans and ideas for the new season constantly flashing across my mind (as much as taking in the moment) I embarked on 5 hours of fishing, completed over 2 sessions, both of which were on flooding tides in similar weather and sea conditions.

Session 1 – Sunny, with occasional showers and a rough and murky sea…


Session 2 – Calmer and colder… hence the return of the balaclava! You could feel the warmth of the sea spray…


Best of both

Lure fishing for bass is evidently more appealing to me, than attempting to catch them on bait; something that my clients and I share in common it seems. However, in regards to my own fishing I’m not too stubborn to ignore what is in front of me… During both sessions, the sea was heavily coloured with only a few centimetres of clarity at best however, the amount of weed floating around was minimal –  which was quite encouraging. So in addition to my Major Craft Skyroad 862 ML, I also carried (somewhat uncomfortably) on both days my 10 ft, 1-3 oz bass ‘bait’ rod and a couple of fillets of mackerel that I had bought from Tescos.

Both the marks I had chosen were sandy coves where I would be safely perched high above the breaking waves on the rocks almost surrounding the area. My plan was to cast the bait out onto the sand (in the hope of latching into a rogue monster bass!) and leave the drag set extremely light while I carried on lure fishing. If I didn’t notice a bite immediately, the fish would be able to run as the very large bait that was attached to a 6/0 circle hook – negating the risk of a fish swallowing the hook.

The last time I attempted this back in November, I connected with a large Bull Huss in very shallow water at night, no more than 5 yards off the rocks!

The IMA Hound Glide 125F – A great ‘all round’ lure that is useful in rough, coloured up conditions


What lure?

A question that I have been asked numerous times via my Blog or Facebook is… What lures do you use in rough murky conditions? Back in the late summer, I wrote a post here that covered the tactics and lures that, I personally, will consider using. Things like:

  • Fishing in very shallow water over clean (sandy) ground.
  • Using weedless, paddletail lures.
  • Working the margins, especially if the sea is full of floating weed.
  • Targeting tiny inlets or gullies – particularly over the high water spring tides.

Lures that quite literally ‘standout’ (lure colour is a blog post in its own right, but I like using white) or something that gives off a lot of vibration will definitely increase your chances – in the warmer months if not in February!

I’ve previously covered lures such as the HTO Artic Eel, Fiish Black Minnow and Illex Nitro Sprat of course – all of which I rate highly, even if the Artic Eel is a little less robust (the price reflects this to be fair). But a few others have caught my eye whilst I’ve been browsing that might be worth a using… Additionally,  some old favourites that I’ve found in my lure box (some of which aren’t weedless granted) could well be coming out with me during these colder spells, alongside the bait rod while the bass are thin on the ground. Lures such as:

Old Favorites

Rapala J13 (bottom right of the photograph) Still a brilliant lure when used in the right circumstances – casting into deeper gullies or inlets is my favourite method

Minnow and Jointed lures used for Bass

The Red-Gill Evo Stix – A very versatile lure that has been effective when fished in the margins as well as at range.

Reg Gill Slug Gill for catching Bass

The DelalanDe Sandra Shad – The 23 cm version is a decent enough mouthful for a winter bass!


To try in murky conditions?

Z-Man GrubZ 9″


DAM Effzett Kick-S Weedless Minnow (90mm)


Z-Man Scented Paddlerz 5″


What are your tactics?

All around the UK, anglers yearning for the post spawning bass will no doubt, be deliberating their tactics for the early season. Will lures or bait be your approach or do you adjust your methods to the conditions? Indeed, in some parts of the Country (for example Kent, Sussex or the outer edges of the Bristol Channel) the sea is rarely very clear for any length of time therefore, if you’re primarily a bait fisherman, I hope you might give lures a try. Conversely, if you’re a lure only angler – maybe consider lobbing out a large chuck of bait as well?

It’s certainly going to be my tactic in an attempt to catch a big winter, or early season bass.

A beautiful place to live even in the freezing drizzle!


Thanks for reading

Marc Cowling





  1. Ironic timing. I tried lobbing bait onto the sand between the rocks this morning after too many fruitless lure sessions ( the risk of losing lures remains the same but the chance of catching decreases to an unviable level ) . Needless to say I caught stuff all, lost some terminal tackle and asked myself why I do this, but when I logged on and read your latest post I was reassured that I’m not the only one.


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