My Recent Catches – A better ‘average size’

My Recent Catches – A better ‘average size’

The three sessions (all at night) that I’ve recently completed in and around my guiding and writing commitments have accounted for some lovely and lively bass. The schoolies that were prominent in early May seem to have vanished, to be replaced with a much better stamp of fish around my regular south Devon haunts. Indeed, my friends have also been catching them in the 3-4lb bracket, again in darkness.

So why aren’t I conducting more day sessions at the moment? Well, in truth, the water has been so calm and clear (in addition to it being very bright most days) that late evening and darkness has been offering the ‘best’ chance to connect. That, and the fact that the overwhelming number of my recent clients have been eager to experience bass lure fishing in the dark, mean that I’ve found myself in a pattern of late nights and very mornings – you could say sleep has been at a premium!

Bright Moon

I’ve been asked a number of times (most recently on Facebook) whether I think a ‘Full Moon’ decreases the chance of catching at night on lures. The answer is that it most certainly doesn’t stop me heading out, and I have caught (or seen caught) quite a few bass in these conditions – conditions that aren’t that common an occurrence. What I have noticed though, is that the smaller bass seem to take up residence over the reefs that I tend to frequent – primarily fish in the 1-2lb bracket.

I might as well have completed the first session out of the three in daylight, as the Moon was just so, so bright. I really didn’t need a head-torch to climb around the rocks (even though I, of course, did) to an area I’d earmarked as a potential safe ‘client venue’ in the future. It is a low tide mark facing the ebbing tide, that only has approximately 4ft of water flowing over sand flanked by a large reef. My theory was that the bass would navigate the coastline on the ebb very close to the reef therefore, I made my first casts as close as I dared to the sand bordering the weed/rocks.

First cast, in the most tranquil sea conditions you can imagine, with a darker coloured prototype Jim’s Lures Needlefish in what can only be described as a ‘squid’ pattern. I was positive that I felt a slight ‘brush’ on the lure (something that I do experience regularly when using these brilliant lures) but next cast, nothing… So I decided to really whack the lure out slightly further out and to the right – WALLOP! The rod was pulled down sharply! I was stood a good 6ft above the water therefore, I had the advantage very quickly despite an attempt from the bass to head for a protruding rock to my right.

Bass caught on a squid needlefish
A two pounder that really wanted the ‘one of a kind’ Squid Needlefish – which I unfortunately managed to lose following a ‘birds-nest’ half an hour later…

Pleasingly, a hunch that the bass might route through the area in the later stages of the tide had paid off, and to be honest I was expecting more bites and bass until a bloody great seal decided to come to the party – it ruined the fishing entirley.

Bass caught under a full moon at night
Look a that Moon behind me!! Proof (although it’s small) that they can be caught under a very bright, full Moon.

What a session!

My next ‘night out’ saw me walking a good two miles from the car, followed by a clamber around the rocks to a wonderfully secluded shingle backed cove – the type that I love to fish in low light conditions or complete darkness. With a small swell being pushed into the bay by a stiff and rather nippy easterly wind, I arrived on the mark just as the tide reached its peak (a 4.6m occurring at 2143) well into the dusk period.

A scour (25 yards out) in the flat reef in front of me, some 20ft long, 6ft wide and 4ft deep was my target area – a venue where I’ve caught bass previously (although this was the first time I’d fished it this season). In the dimming twilight, I was three casts in with a Pearl coloured Albie Snax (a lure that I think is even more effective when there is some movement to the water) when a slight tap followed instantly by a hard yank had me playing a bass that had presumably ‘followed’ the slaloming fish/squid imitation out of the scour. A great start that had already made the walk worth it!

ABU Garcia spinning reels
One of five over 3lb that I managed in a short session, on an ebbing tide using the very, very consistent Albie Snax – what a lure these things are.

Now it’s dark

It seemed to take an age for it to become completely dark, but when it did, it was as black as it gets due to the heavy cloud cover – I was in the zone now. About 50 minutes into the session and with the tide now noticeably ebbing down the shingle I was just beginning to consider a change of lure (to a small shallow diver) when the rod thumped down in that unmistakable style – again, in the proximity of the ‘feature’. This one felt better judging by the short burst of power (taking a metre of line), after which, it immediately turned and headed for the beach – shaking its head in the process. A quick few turns of the reel had me back in control before I whacked on the head-torch to see where it was.

UK Bass fishing guide
A better bass at approximately 4lb taken over an underwater feature – clearly the bass were using the ‘scour’ to hold, wait and ready to ambush…

Upon safely returning this bass in the opposite end of the beach, it was only another 10 minutes before I experienced an almost carbon copy hit/take and battle – this time, a slightly smaller bass than the last one was landed and safely returned, This was turning into a red-letter day (night)!

Surprise attack

As you can imagine, I was alert (despite the ungodly hour), feeling highly confident and full of anticipation every time I made a cast and retrieve by this stage, but it took a good 40 minutes before the rod was almost ripped out of my hands – blimey I love fishing like this!

Sometimes, when you hook a bass very close to you, be it from a rocky outcrop in turbulent seas in daylight, or on a calm still night they can almost be ‘stunned’ into doing very little – because perhaps, that you’ve had the audacity to hook them! But not this one!  It hit the Albie Snax extremely hard in the final two seconds of the retrieve, just as I was about to lift the lure out of the water. To put even more perspective on the where this bass hit me – the water was ankle-deep and only 1m from the water’s edge.

With line being pulled strongly in stages from the drag, I was mindful of the rocks to my left and happy that the bass was heading in the opposite direction – until it went broadside on me and went the other way… With side strain now being applied, in conjunction with a quick tighten of the drag I manged to turn it – surely she’d be mine! Maybe I imagine it, but if there is any surf about it always seems to be fiercer in those crucial moments that you’ve got a decent fish attached – and sure enough I had a couple of ‘please stay on’ moments before I could manoeuvre her onto the shingle – a nice one indeed at 64cm.

Savage Gear bass fishing gear
This one scared the living daylights out of me as it hit the lure extremely hard, almost under the rod tip! What a way to catch them!

By this stage, my ‘unhooking, photograph and return’ routine was slick therefore, once I’d crunched back across the beach to my rod and well and truly mangled lure I was somewhat surprised to receive a really solid take on the very next cast into the ‘scour’ – especially as the tide had imminently retreated. This one was a pussy cat in comparison to its predecessor, even though it was still a pretty decent size at 55cm (about 3.5lb).

Bass guide Marc Cowling
A happy Man indeed! Every one of these fish are a thing of beauty as far as I’m concerned!. My Wife saw this picture and said “you used to look at me like that!” Time to start spoiling her again I think!

What a three hours it had been – a leisurely and breath-taking walk, a degree of exercise and a very satisfying stamp of bass obliging all on the ebbing tide. Five hits and five bass is clearly an excellent hook-up rate, which demonstrates that the large 6/0 Owner Twistlock Strong Hooks that I use here do the business.

Rude not too!

With a client’s 69cm bass here fresh in my sleep ravaged mind, I knew the conditions on a similar mark would be spot on therefore, despite feeling somewhat jaded I headed out for a quick two-hour session – I just had too! The mark I chose to fish is effectively a shingle bank were the current is accentuated by a narrowing caused by the nearby rock formations.

My plan was to fish an hour or so either side of the high water period, and with primarly a sandy seabed and fairly deep water (8ft+) in front of me. It had already been a fantastic week therefore, rather than tying on a lure that I would normally target this area with such as a needlefish, I thought I would experiment somewhat, by using the 125mm, 19g Savage Gear LineThru Sandeel that had accounted for my client’s 69cm bass the previous evening.

For a good hour I flogged away, continually casting uptide and swinging the lure around in the current, but winding quite quickly so that the lure would swim in the upper level of the water column. These lures can really get out there and are very versatile when you consider you can fish them in a tide race, surf or even over snaggy ground in shallow water as they ‘glide’ very easily towards the surface and remain there on a steady retrieve.

It was around 20 minutes before high water when, after allowing the LineThru to flutter down, and then commencing the retrieve that I felt a slight bump, followed by a ful-blooded hit down the rod – all at a range of a 40m+… What a scrap! The bass kept swimming towards me, then turning and holding in the tide just shaking its head slowly – what a lovely feeling. I knew it was a good one, and when I eventually found it in my beam it looked awesome in the water and even better once I was holding her.

Bass caught on a Line Thru Sandeel
A slender fish with a big head – hopefully I’ll get to catch her again when she’s got a few more meals in her belly!

This beauty was deep hooked therefore, I took my time removing the treble before excitedly grabbing a quick shot (hence the red glow on my crazed looking face) – I didn’t measure her as I was keen to return such a specimen, but I estimate she was well over 5lb, maybe nudging 6 perhaps.

Guided Bass fishing from South Devon
I was really happy with this one as it proved to me that the previous evening’s bass caught y a client on the Line Thru Sandeel wasn’t a fluke.

Can’t wait!

In the coming days I commence the first in a series of my 3 Day Package Deals (3 days fishing and 3 nights accommodation for £499) – something that I cannot wait to complete and something that’ll report back on when I get a chance!

Thanks for reading,

Marc Cowling

DISCLOSURE: If you purchase any lures or equipment using the links contained within this post then I may receive a percentage of the sale as part of an affiliate program. Using these links will not cost you any more than it would from purchasing directly from the website(s).


  1. Wow Marc, what a night thank you for sharing your experience with us. The way you put it down in words it’s as if i were your fishing partner fishing with you.


  2. Having never used an albie snax lure before ive been amased how good they are. I’ve had some cracking bass over the last week or so up to 5lb mostly on the incoming tide and strangely all close to the shore but not at night, early morning or evening.
    They all took the lure as if they hadn’t eaten for days!!!
    All were safely returned
    Thanks for the reads Marc


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