Guided Bass Fishing – Success from inlets and shallow ground

Bass on Lures for my Clients – Success from inlets and shallow ground

Ben and his friend Dave joined me last week for a 4 hour session in south Devon. Ben had chosen the date therefore, I had to make the best of the forecast conditions – sunny, neap tides and no wind. I had arranged to meet them at 0730 with a view to fishing the final 4 hours of the flood. Following some research and reading of my diary entries, I decided that a couple of coves/inlets (adjacent to beaches) offered the best chance of a bass.

What a beautiful morning! Calm and still with a cloudless sky. And although the water appeared flat calm, the surf forecast from Magicseaweed (3 – 4 ft of swell) was spot on and was continually pumping some decent waves onto the coastline. Indeed, they were particularly evident around the extremities of the beaches where I intended to guide my clients. It looked good with decent clarity and some fantastic aerated water bubbling around the rocks.

Both of my clients on this day came from a freshwater predator and fly fishing background – but they also very much enjoyed catching wrasse on lures out on the open coast. They main reason they had booked me was because they both live a fair distance from the sea and wanted to learn how to catch bass on lures as an alternative to wrasse – normally it’s the other way around! Additionally, they were eager to learn about lure selection and the type of ground in which to conduct bass fishing.


Upon arrival on the cliff-top directly above the first mark – their initial response to my gesturing/pointing towards the waves breaking in and around the shallow/reefy/gullies below us was “Will you really catch bass there?” Yes, definitely! was my answer.

So with the tide beginning to flood into and around the myriad of rock formations and gullies found on this and many similar marks around on this stretch of coastline, I handed Ben a small surface lure in the form of a Duel Aile Magnet Slider (see below) and directed him to cast into an area of white water where two gullies converge, around a prominent finger of rock.

Duel Aile Magnet Slider 105mm (smaller of the two and yes, I did replace the hooks before using them!)


With Dave, I decided a different approach was required and proceeded with him out onto an island of rock that wasn’t yet cut off from the tide. It was on this mark that an earlier client watched a good bass painstakingly follow his lure (in similar conditions) in late April. With a shallow diving minnow (a Hokkaido Metsuki 130F seen below) deployed both clients were happily fishing while I kept a lookout for the larger waves…

I’d considered weedless weightless soft plastics such as the DoLive Stick and Shad, but with the amount of movement in the sea, it just screamed ‘sandeel imitation or prey fish being washed out of their lairs to me’

Hokkaido Metsuki 130F (Silver Bullet) – These were deadly last season

Hokkaido Metsuki

Fish on!

After about 30 minutes, Dave and I had to retreat from the island and it was while he was having a drink and a snack that I swapped Ben’s lure for one of my favourites – a Maria Chase BW (125mm/19.5g) in the Black Chrome pattern (see below). With the main gully that leads into this inlet now filled with around 5 ft of water I asked Ben to basically work the lure through it, keeping the rod tip down (in order to effectively work the lure right up to the rod tip) whilst keeping a low profile himself.

Ben working the Maria Chase sub-surface minnow – the bass was caught soon after

Lure fishing for bass

After about 6 or 7 casts a firm pull on the rod and a short scrap resulted in this admittedly small but perfectly formed bass – to be honest, the size didn’t matter to Ben. With Dave watching, what they’d achieved was confirmation that bass really do inhabit this type of ground in fairly turbulent conditions – something they were really surprised about and in complete contrast to their freshwater and wrasse fishing experiences.

With a couple of photographs taken and the bass safely returned, Dave was now utterly tuned in to his own environment – searching out a neighbouring gully with, as he put it “expectation, excitement and anticipation” of a hit on every cast. And with his similar ‘sandeel like’ lure attached and with Ben continuing where he left off, I must admit, I was quite surprised not to see another bass from this mark therefore, I made the decision to move after a n hour of fruitless cast and retrieve.

Ben’s small but extremely satisfying bass

bass in sunny conditions

Stunning ground

The second mark is even shallower and even more rugged that the first! But with enough water moving over it I instructed my clients to stand around 20 yards apart and cast into separate inlets. Both areas are effectively ‘dead ends’ where I know from experience, the bass move into once the water is around 6″ above their heads.

Dave hard it on the first mark – look at those gullies and that aerated water!

bass fishing

Ben and Dave were completely awestruck by the make up of this mark and commented repeatedly how different it was to any type of fishing they had down before. With Ben perched on a suitable rock firing out the Metsuki, I handed Dave a Bear King Slim Skimmer surface lure (very similar to an IMA Salt Skimmer) to work in the beautiful tables of surf that were trundling in across the reef. He was doing a great job, enabling the lure to snake, slither and pop on the surface but something didn’t look right… Even though the lure casts superbly, the small size and relative weight (13g) meant that it was moving through the water far too quickly with the waves. Put it this way, you wouldn’t see a dying fish (do we ever?) being moved through the water that quickly therefore, I changed him over to something more substantial – the larger Duel Aile Magnet (see above).

Dave on the second mark – the water in front of him is about 18″ deep

bass marks in devon

Lost fish and lost lure

A further 10 minutes had passed when a shout from Dave signalled that he was into a fish – a bass that he had seen take the large surface lure just before a breaking wave had enveloped it. But it was unfortunately a very short-lived affair – the small bass managed to wriggle off the treble (they were new needle sharp hooks) following brief contact of 2 or 3 seconds… Gutted.

Dave was of course, disappointed. But he was even more so when his braid parted some 2 yards in front of him a couple of casts later after snagging the lure on a small pinnacle of rock…. With the lure (one with some sentimental value to me as I’ve caught a lot of bass on it over the past 8 years) now floating around just out of reach, I asked him to keep a close eye on it whilst I re-tied a leader for him. 2 minutes later he was good to go but in the bright sun and white water he lost sight of it momentarily before declaring sheepishly “Marc, I’m really sorry but I can’t see it anymore”

He felt terrible, but as I said to him – asking clients to cast pieces of plastic with hooks on, into snaggy ground and then expecting not to lose them occasionally is unrealistic. It goes with the territory.


I would’ve happily remained out on the coast with Ben and Dave all day, as they were going to have some lunch and then continue fishing well into the afternoon with their newly acquired knowledge. But with their 4 hours (plus a bit more) completed I had to say goodbye.

Wrasse lure fishing is undoubtedly their first love in relation to fishing in the sea – but on those days when the sea is rough or when the wrasse just aren’t playing, they now understand what is required to lure a bass and ultimately, they were chuffed to bits to have caught and seen one.

But most of all, they can confidently approach this type of ground in conditions that they would never normally have contemplated fishing in.

A pleasant morning to be guiding clients

beautiful south Devon

Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling







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