3 Day Package – 19 Bass for a happy trio!
Following on from my first Package Deal (3 Clients/3 Days Guided Bass Fishing/3 Nights Accommodation for £499) this second ‘Taster Package’ was completed during the week commencing 18 June.
With the previous weeks westerly winds (that were very welcome) forecast to die away into nothing more that a variable light breeze, and the high tides dropping back to ‘neaps’ (occurring very late into the night) it offered me the opportunity to guide my clients equally between daylight and darkness – the latter of which they were extremely eager to experience.
I met Angus (a returning client), Rob and Tom at the Chillington House B+B Hotel at 0930 on a very cloudy, dull and drizzly morning, and following the obligatory handshakes, within minutes, we were on our way to the first mark.
Session 1 – Through the mist
The 30 minute drive was busier than expected, and because of the weather conditions we were unable to catch my usual glimpse (en route to this area) of the sea before parking. All three clients were more than suitably kitted out with the appropriate rods, reels, waders and lures – all of which they’d arranged or clambered into with vigour as I described the plan for the coming session.
The 5 minute walk culminated in us standing above the cliff tops and staring through the mist at the wonderful sea conditions (3ft swell/greenish water breaking around the rocks) and spectacular ground some 100ft below us – Rob’s eyes were literally popping out of head! Attempting to remain as calm as we possibly could (given the narrow path down to the beach) upon reaching the rocks at the eastern extremity of the beach. I then directed Rob and Tom onto their ‘platforms’ before highlighting the structure they couldn’t see beneath the surface, in addition to where I wanted them to cast and work the lures – a Megabass Zonk Gataride shallow/medium diver for Tom and a HTO Canine surface lure Rob.
Angus on the other hand was having issues with his reel, and upon furter investigation it became apparent that he’d ‘spooled up’ with too many washers attached to the spindle part of the reel – meaning the line was bunched up on the lower section of the spool. With Tom and Rob happily fishing I ensured I remained in close proximity of them and the net as I was expecting a shout at any second. It took a while to sort out the line lay on Angus’ reel, but once he was sorted he fished the opposite end of the beach over some broken ground/sandy patches (with the same lure Tom was using) as the tide ebbed out of the area – normally the best period here.
Surprisingly, no action was experienced on this first mark therefore, I made the decision to walk a further half a mile around the coastal path to a similar spot that would enable me to actually stand them within a couple of ‘features’ (the tide was now low enough to do so) that have seen previous clients and I catch bass over the high tide periods – something that was “fascinating and extremely helpful” as Tom put it.
With the three of them spread out across various pinnacles of rock, following a brief interlude with Tom using an IMA Komomo 110 through a narrow gully, all of them were now using medium-large surface lures such as the Xorus Patchinko II and the slightly smaller 125 version here into deeper sections of the reef – my net remaining well and truly primed!
Why all three on the same lure type? The sea conditions and nature of the ground (swirling water around protruding rocks) in addition to the fact that a client from the previous week had caught a very nice 60cm from the area (on the HTO Canine here) meant that for this final hour, it was all about searching out all the nooks and crannies around this stretch of reef. Ultimately, a sub-surface lure (even a weedless soft plastic)would not have allowed us to do that effectively.
Session 2 – Largest bass of the season so far
With an unexpected blank (I thought they would catch given the conditions) I was even more determined to place them onto some bass later that evening/night. The tide (a 4.8m) was due to peak at 2331 (nicely into darkess) therefore, I hatched a plan that would see all three clients targeting a patch of reef with Jim’s Lures Needlefish, Albie Snax and senkos (of various sizes and varieties) plus an adjacent reef over the top of the tide and well into the ebb. We arrived for this 4 hour session at dusk – something that enabled them to get their bearings a little, and so that I could check they were casting/fishing the lures accurately and correctly.
Dolive in a little cove
I’m very used to guiding/mentoring individuals as well as small groups from my previous profession, and something that I am very conscious of when out on the coastline with three anglers, is the need to share my ‘one to one’ time evenly between with them. This serves a number of purposes too – it means a client recieves some direct attention/guidance, I can learn exactly what they’d like to improve on or learn, in addition to allowing the other members of the party to relax into their fishing without me necessarily ‘on their shoulder’.
It was for these reasons, that once Tom and Augus were settled in, I took Rob to another part of the reef and asked him to attach one his OSP Dolive Stick’s in the Wagasaki colour. I talked through how to get the best out of this brilliant lure, including how I like to rotate the retrieve style between a straight retreive on one cast followed by a real ‘twitching’ pattern on the next. Rob made two casts and did a good job of ‘working’ the lure back to his stance, but I just needed to ‘tweak’ his approach slightly therefore, I asked him if I could make a cast in order to demonstrate… You know what’s coming!
By keeping a slight bow in the line, you can effectively make these lures ‘swim’ in a very subtle and even more lifelike way – very reminiscent of a small fish totally oblivious to any danger (the way they swim around most of the time). Just as I’d brought the lure over a patch of flat reef the rod tip smacked down and resistance was felt – at which time I instantly handed the rod to Rob in order to land the fish!
The only other time this has ever occured whilst guiding a client was also when demonstrating how to use the ‘Dolive’. Of course, it was truly Rob’s fish, and I felt terrible that I’d been holding the rod when it took the lure – typical, but I knew Rob’s time (for real if you like) would come if not tonight, over the coming sessions.
12 days prior to this session, a client had caught a 2lb bass (small admittedly) on the only needlefish I had at the time – which was one that I’d found earlier in that session. This was in fact, my lure that I’d lost 2 weeks previously therefore, the skin had effectively ‘peeled’ off of it to reveal only the silver foil... What’s more, my client on that evening had lost two further bass – one I saw and estimate at 4lb and another fish that hit him at range and just went like a train (just an unstoppable ‘beast’ I imagine that resulted in the hooks ‘pulling’ from the fishes mouth). Therefore, it was this rather dishevelled Jim’s Lures Needlefish that I attached to Tom’s lure clip with an Albie Snax attached to Angus and Rob’s clips respectively.
I love an ebbing tide – especially at night! 100% there is something about the water stripping off of a reef, in addition to all the life residing there having to move or hide, that brings the bass into feed avidly. I’d said to my clients before the session to not be too concerned if they hadn’t had a bite during the flood, as I was confident that in these now calm, very dark (overcast sky) clear water conditions that it would ‘switch on’ once the tide turned. And at midnight precisely, 30 minutes into the newly ebbing tide, the action duly began…
2331 (high tide) came and went without incident, but with all three anglers working hard at it I remarked to each of them in passing that once that tide really began to ‘speed up’ that their best chance of the day/night was upon them. “Yeh, Fish on!” I heard from over my right shoulder as I was taking a drink (as always). The shout had come from Tom who reported that “it isn’t big”.
But as I caught sight of it thrashing on the surface 10 yards out, alongside watching the rod tip ‘jagging’ downwards, I began to think otherwise. As the bass neared the beach, I switched on my red filter to see a good sized bass in the undertow “It’s a good one Tom” I shouted, as he lowered the rod/line so that I could grab the leader and pull the bass ashore.
A ‘Belter of a bass’
10 minutes had passed following the safe return of Tom’s very welcome and very lovely fish, and with his fellow anglers totally tuned into their surroundings and with levels of expectation hightened I heard that cry from out of the misty gloom yet again “Yep, another one – feels much bigger!” Music to my ears!
He was still using the ‘silver bullet’ (as it had been named) and as I ran the 20 yards or so across the shingle I knew straight away upon reaching him that it was a special fish. My headtorch went on and I started scanning the water, in conjunction with watching his rod thumping away and line being dragged at intervals from his spool.
“There!” As the 18″ swell brought a couple of livelier waves up the shingle I spotted it riding the crest of a wave.”It’s big mate!” I said to him “take it easy”. A very experienced angler, Tom didn’t rush the bass at all and remained exceptionally calm as I attempted to grab the leader. “She’s still got a lot of power Marc” he said, therefore I waited a further 20 seconds or so as this beauty ran slowly and powerfully in parallel bursts until I was confident I could grab the leader and gently guide her those final crucial centimetres onto dry land. What a ‘belter of a bass’ and one that I thought straight away might be larger than the 69cm bass a client had landed almost 2 weeks previously here.
A tiddler, then home
With Rob and Angus fishing about as hard as they possibly could, it was Tom, who yet again managed to land one more small one, on the ‘magic lure’. What did Tom do differently?” Rob asked as we returned back to the car – which was a very pertinent question considering he and Angus were situated 30 yards either side of him! It could have been the lure (I had changed Angus over onto a Needlefish after the second fish was caught) or maybe its colour? The next few sessions would offer more of an insight though…
Session 3 – Current
As I reversed my car into the B+B carpark, I could see three grinning faces in my wing mirrors! They’d all hugely enjoyed the previous nights endeavours, even though only one of them (officially) had caught. Pleasingly, they’re a real ‘team effort’ these sessions, which is another very satisfying aspect to it all.
Another murky morning greeted us, with my plan for this session being to guide them along a stretch of coastline that is in the vicinity of a very powerful tide race. Initially, they would be working surface lures around the protruding rocks, casting jigs (spinners) and allowing them to flutter down through the water column over pure sand, in addition to straight retrieving a Savage Gear Line Thru Sandeel with (not against) the fast flowing current.
The sea conditions were a lot calmer than I was expecting (hence the life jackets being worn by my clients) but there was a little water breaking close to the rocks therefore, these were areas we concentrated on. In truth, I was a little disappointed that no ‘swirls, follows or splashes’ were seen, so with the wind now dropping out completely, after three hours I called time on the session so that we could focus on what would be a 5 hour foray I’d planned for later that evening…
Session 4 – First ever ‘double hook-up’
The air was perfectly still as I slid on my waders in preparation to guide my excited clients. Indeed, they’d already dressed for the occasion at the B+B, and were clearly ‘champing at the bit’ to get down onto the picturesque shingle cove I’d earmarked as our venue for tonight.
It was already dark as we tiptoed over the pebbles, just as the flooding tide had covered the reef in front of us that was currently only 12″ under the very calm water. At this point it was just too shallow for the needlefish therefore, with the tranquil sea conditions also in mind (more subtlety required) I again attached white senkos and the Albie Snax to the clips before reaffirming ‘how’ to fish them.
High water (a smaller 4.6m) was due at 0038, which was pretty much in the middle of the night, as it were, considering darkness would fall between 2213-0419. Of course, in reality ‘proper’ darkness would actually occur roughly between 2300-0300. The weather forecast had indicated that the cloud would disperse (meaning the Moon would appear) and that fresher air would filter in too. Furthermore, on this particular mark, the bass have turned up across a broad spectrum of tidal ranges and states of the tide however, generally speaking, the fish normally appear 1½ hours either side of the top of the tide.
With all three anglers positioned evenly across the beach, and with Rob initially casting straight down the throat of an underwater gully (they’d be rotated through this zone throughout the evening). Tom and Angus were situated in a way that they could cast over and into two separate area (features) that I’d shown them via a photograph I’d taken of the area at low water some years before.
The first 30 minutes only produced a couple of tentative plucks, but with the water level now rising I changed Tom’s lure over to the ‘silver bullet’. Within minutes I heard a call from what was rapidly becoming a beautiful moonlit, starlit and rapidly chillier night – Tom was in! A fish of perhaps 2lb had hit the needlefish in the exact area (a deeper pool 3m²) once again almost bang on midnight.
The ‘dream’ nearly captured on film…
With Rob having been rotated with Angus and fishing only 30 yards away from Tom I attached on a brand new needlefish to his clip, before reiterating the instructions of rod up at 30-45 degrees and retrieving in a smooth manner and at a moderate-fast pace.
Since becoming a guide, it has always been a dream of mine to achieve a ‘double hook-up’ with two clients landing, holding and releasing two bass at the same time – well, on this night it finally happened! First up, Tom latched into something that felt bigger straight away and as that 3lb+ bass hit the shingle I heard Rob shouting “Fish on, Fish on!” to my right. Scrambling across the loose shingle with my headtorch on, Rob was grinning from ear to ear as he brought his slightly smaller bass ashore (initially, we both though it was a lot bigger but it was slightly foul-hooked under the lip).
Camera malfunction – Urrgghhhhhh
I didn’t have it all my own way though… Despite attempting all manner of fixes via various programs that can mend MP4 videos, unfortunately the SD Card/camera itself failed to record what I think would have been, by far, the best video I’ve ever captured of bass being returned. With both bass in the gin clear water and with three headtorches beaming down on them, they both practically smiled for the camera, before cruising off (15 seconds apart) across the reef – what a pity…
After landing yet another bass of around 2lb I asked Tom if he wouldn’t mind ‘lending’ his position and lure to Angus (who was yet to taste any success) if he caught another one – being the Gentleman he is, after landing yet another he of course, obliged. With Angus now on what appeared to be the most productive mark and while still using the Albie Snax, it took only a matter of minutes before he received the first solid bite – but unfortunately the fish didn’t stick.
Tom managed another two small ones from the gully on a white Jim’s needlefish, while Rob relentlessly continued to cast and retrieve whilst talking himself into catching the ‘big one’ by blasting his ‘needle’ a good 40-50m out in the now ebbing tide. As the Moon sank behind the cliff to the west, and the overall light levels having dropped a few notches, surely it would switch on ‘bigtime’ now?
With only 30 minutes of the session remaining and within seconds of the sky darkening Angus did it! He hit into a bass at fairly close range (10m) on ‘Tom’s needlefish’ this time and although it wasn’t huge, it was just deserts for the effort and attention he’d put into his fishing thus far. In total, 8 bass were landed from all different sections of the beach/reef during the session, and significantly, all three anglers had caught. A very satisfying nights fishing all round!
Session 5 – Daylight sightings
The two previous daylight sessions and lack of catches had surprised me somewhat – with the only logical explanation being that the bass shoals were simply further offshore chasing bait fish in what were becoming increasingly benign sea conditions perhaps? But as always, I had a plan which involved my clients walking across some pretty rocky terrain in order to access a long promontory of rock adjacent to a very wide sandy beach – my thinking being that the bass would exit the area and remain very close to the rocks/weed (cover essentially) as they moved back offshore on the ebb.
It was a hot, bright day therefore, I arranged for Angus, Rob and Tom to only fish for 3 hours before having a nice pub dinner, whereby we’d then drive to a completely different stretch of coastline to conduct a survey of the ground (that they’d fished on Session 2) over low water, prior to fishing over the exact ground (features) as the tide flooded into dusk and then darkness.
I knew what my clients were really looking forward to was the evening session… But fair play to them, they fished hard in that heat with a multitude of lure types. I’d left Tom searching out a number of interlinking gullies that meandered through the rocky outcrops – working his large surface lure and then a shallow diver as close as he dared to the structure – the latter resulted in a small bass that snatched the lure right on the edge of the rock he was stood on.
Angus and Rob on the other hand, were primarily, using sub-surface diving lures and casting them up-tide and parallel to the fingers of rock (with sandy gullies in between)that could be seen a couple of feet under the clear water. On many occasions I have caught bass here as the fish swim through these gullies and sure enough, through accurate casting and sheer perseverance Angus managed to winkle another out small one.
Literally a few moments later, as I was stood on a nearby platform, I witnessed three decent sized (3lb each) bass swim nonchalantly by – their flanks shimmering in the Sun that was beating down on all of us. I of course, positioned Rob onto this mark straight away and proceeded to hand him a soft plastic paddletail lure to ‘bounce’ along the sand in the hope that the bass had positioned themselves almost below us at the base of the rock (a common occurrence on this mark) but to it was to no avail.
All in all, that short session was a happy affair that provided my clients the opportinity to fish with lures in and around structure, and in conditions that (by their own admission) would have otherwise fased them.
Session 6 – Investigation…
With expectation levels through the roof (including my own) following a lovely portion of Cod and Chips (although your steak smelt amazing Angus!) we embarked on our final journey and to the scene of Tom’s 70cm bass. I’d shown my clients photographs of the area in preparation for them fishing it on Session 2, but not even that could prepare them for what they all agreed was the most valuable hour they’d spent with me.
At ground level, certain features set amongst a reef system and the reasons why bass will patrol and hold them, will really begin to make sense. As Rob put it “I would never have thought this is where bass would be, but now I’m stood here I can completely understand why”. That, in addition to the staggering amount of food (crabs/gobies/shrimps in particular) hiding under the half a dozen rocks we looked under cemented their approach to finding their own marks along their respective stretches of coastline.
A nice way to finish
Following that insightful exploration I spread my clients along a nearby reef with Rob and Augus fishing with weedless, weightless soft plastics (OSP DoLive Sticks) where it dropped off into sand, while Tom worked an IMA Salt Skimmer further out in the parallel running tide. Just before it became too dark I managed to photograph the three of them together (below):
Sitting and watching the tide flood in over a reef can be an interesting experience in itself. Sometimes you’ll see fish stealthily moving into position under ledges almost beneath you feet (wrasse and bass especially) while mullet will be seen cruising around and almost surfing the waves. Moreover, all those tiny culverts, channels and narrow interlinking gullies and deeper pools will begin to ‘fill in’ to display/highlight the natural routes that bass will most definitely use to navigate the reef.
Rob and Tom had agreed in advance to allow Angus to use what had been the most successful lure, to cast into the location they’d been stood only a couple of hours previously and where Tom had hooked the ‘beast’. But before that moment arrived the water would only be between 6-18″ deep over the main platform of rock therefore, as per the previous session, white ‘Waveworm Bamboo Stick’ senkos (here) and yes, the deadly Abie Snax were again deployed.
With Rob using a white senko and positioned on a stretch that I consider as one of my favourites when I’m out fishing solo, I stood with Angus as he searched out probably the shallowest section of all as the sky began to properly darken (around 2300). Just then, I heard a shout from along the beach – it was Rob! He’d been receiving a lot of interest and had eventually managed to snare a small bass of around a pound in weight – he was happy, but he still wanted that monster! He remained fishing this specific zone for the entire session and landed another two similar sized bass – both of which I think he enjoyed more for the fact that he had me sprinting (and sweating) across the 70m of loose shingle to reach him!
Back with Angus, and I was really willing him on and encouraging him until eventually BANG! Fish on! The bass had hit the Albie Snax within 7 yards of the rod tip and in water barely covering its back – amazing!
With the time just coming up to midnight and with four bass already landed, we had a further 3 hours to fish either side of high water – was this going to be another bumper session?
A couple of things had struck me so far this evening: the very early period in the tide that the bass (although relatively small) had arrived, in addition to the realisation that where we were positioned in relation to the topography of the cliffs around us, meant that the Moon would set just as the tide would turn… I did wonder whether a much larger stamp of bass would put in an appearance in conjunction with these elements?
With Tom now able to join us from his exploration of a neighbouring platform of rock (he was in my sight throughout) and with only a few ‘taps’ on the Albie Snax to show for his efforts, as high tide approached I decided to change his and Angus’ lures over to the needlefish – Angus on the sliver bullet and Tom on the white pattern that normally produces. Within, 15 minutes, just before the tide peaked Tom landed a bass nudging 2lb on his white needlefish, yet Angus, who was stood only 25 yards to his right didn’t receive a touch on the apparently ‘more effective’ lure.
Useful knowledge gained
This is where it got rather interesting for me from a diary keeping and a ‘future sessions in mind’ perspective. On each of the three night fishing sessions, the bass had arrived in earnest at around 2300-midnight once deep darkness had set in. But when I looked at the actual time that the fish were caught (rather than the state of the tide) it became obvious that they’d all been caught in that 2 hour window between 2300-0100. Thereafter, the fishing had seemingly gone ‘off the boil’ as it were.
My only explanation that I can possibly provide for these occurrences could be that the bass are waiting on the edge of these reefs as the darkness sets in, before positively ‘raiding’ them once they feel comfortable and secure (under the minimum amount of light) to do so. Once they’ve had their ‘fill’ so to speak they appear to return to the safety of the deeper water?
The there is Tom’s catch rate versus Rob and Angus’. This had been one of the main topics of conversation since he’d caught those three bass including that whopper on the first night. Is he retrieving quicker? Is he casting further? Was the silver needlefish looking more and acting more like whatever the bass ‘thought’ it was and therefore wanted to eat?
Firstly, the retrieve speed – taking into consideration Tom’s slightly larger (4000 size) Daiwa reel he was using in comparison to the identical and smaller 3000 Shimano Stradic reels that both Angus and Rob were using. I believe they were actually retrieving (following my direction) slightly quicker than Tom in order to compensate for the increased ratio/distance the lure would cover per turn of the handle that Tom was achieving on a his slightly slower and very steady retrieve.
Was he casting further? On the first night he actually didn’t have any backing on his spool therefore, the line level was actually very low in relation to the lip of the spool – essentially, he wasn’t casting any further than Angus and Rob. Most importantly though, he was hooking fish at all ranges – 10 yards out, 30 yards out etc…
The silver needlefish… Is there a correlation between a darker lure being evidently more productive when there is a bright Moon overhead? Maybe, but the first night was by far the darkest out of the three due to the cloud cover, and when Angus started using it halfway through the second night he didn’t suddenly start catching numbers of fish, yet Tom managed another two from an entirely different stretch of the beach/reef on the same lure, but in brilliant white.
It could have been sheer luck, or it could have been (as I suspect) that the way he was retrieving the needlefish (he didn’t catch on any other lure type in darkness) meant it was ‘gliding’ (they swim in a straight line with no wriggle at all) in, at quite possibly the optimum section/ribbon of the water column – what I think is the top 6″ beneath the surface…
Future ‘Package Deals’
As I write this blog post, I am in the middle of guiding another three clients (over two days rather than three at their request) that will conclude these initial ‘Taster Package Deals’ that I’d planned initially for only June.
However, following their overall success (it’s not only about the catches) it is my intention to release dates for further (3 Clients/3 Days Guided Bass Fishing/3 Nights Accommodation for £499) packages in late August, September, October and my favourite month to lure fish for bass – November.
Until then, I am of course, available to guide individual anglers, pairs or trios over sessions ranging from 4 hours to 3 days. Furthermore, if you would like me to provide a bespoke package, or would like to ‘get your name down’ for the packages I’m planning for the late summer/autumn then please do not hesitate to contact me here.
Thanks for reading
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).