3 Day Package – Bass! Under the Moon…

3 Day Package – Bass! Under the Moon…

For my third and final ‘taster’ Package Deal (encompassing 3 Days/3 Clients/3 Nights Accommodation for £499 per person) between 26-28 June, I welcomed Keith, Nick and Stewart down from Hertfordshire.

All three were dedicated, successful and experienced Trout, Fly and Salmon fisherman who had never caught a bass on a lure – something that they were extremely excited about achieving over the 3x 4 hour sessions (shortened from 6x 4 hour sessions and the price adjusted accordingly at their request) to be completed over the next three evenings/nights.

Session 1 – Shingle to reef

All three anglers would be utilising my equipment (rods/reels/lures) therefore, upon meeting and exchanging pleasantries, we were straight into the action by way of a short undulating walk to the mark, followed by a demonstration on how to ‘work’ a surface lure (Bear King Slim Skimmer) – a technique that Keith and Stewart would be utilising initially.

Marvelling at the lightness, crispness and ease of use of the Savage Gear Salt CCS lure rod in particular, both clients were quickly zipping out the lures into the ‘left-right’ flow of the ebbing tide from this large area of shingle adjoining a 500 yard stretch of reef.

Nick (who incidentally, had initiated booking these sessions as something he thought his regular fishing partners would also enjoy) was positioned further along the beach so that he could cast a Line Thru Sandeel into the slightly shallower water, in the vicinity of the intersection where the sand/shingle meets a section of flat reef/rock/weed.

Dusk and bass fishing
A gentle easterly breeze ripples the surface late into the evening during the first session.

Fish on

Taking into account the 5 hour+ journey they’d endured, I’d planned for my clients to fish the late evening and only 1 hour into darkness. As previously mentioned, I do like to use the first session to tweak some casting styles, perfect the way my clients are using the lures, get to know them and most importantly – to ascertain precisely what they’d like to achieve individually. Winking with a smile, “catch a bass” was Nick’s jovial response! He didn’t have to wait long as, just as I was changing Keith’s lure, I heard him shouting “Marc, Marc” from along the beach – wonderful!

Small bass on lures
You can see almost every scale and detail on the bass’ flank here – and Keith’s infectious smile in the background for good measure!

The Line Thru Sandeel has become a consistent fish catcher and one of my staple lures in recent weeks – due, quite possibly, to the amount of these bass fodder present in and around the marks I guide/fish. Helping Nick to land and unhook this welcome little bass was a satisfying moment, subsequent to me explaining the reason for this lure’s use – anticipating that bass would hold on the edge of the reef, facing the tide and waiting for items such as sandeel shoals to travel with the flow, whereby they would attempt to pick them off.

Session 2 – A short walk…

Upon confirming the booking, Nick had also stipulated that they (as a group) didn’t really fancy walking miles along weedy/rocky terrain, but that a 10-20 minute walk would be OK – which is precisely what we did on Session 2 “What a beautiful stretch of coastline this is Marc” they all commented, as the full extent of 5 miles of cliffs, countryside, and a very calm sea opened up before them as the Sun set behind the majestic cliffs – stunning.

I’ve written about this many times, but one of the things I ensured when I was preparing (over a 7 year period) to become a shore based bass fishing guide, was that I had a variety of productive marks that afforded easy-relatively easy access and that would consistently yield bass in a variety of conditions. The mark I’d chosen would be at the more extreme end of that scale admittedly, but, it would enable them to fish some fast running tide (ideal in the very clear water conditions) and from a beach in darkness.

With all three anglers spread out evenly along a headland and fishing with three different lure types (surface, sinking and shallow diving) in the tide race, and within ‘netting range’ should they require my assistance, I embarked on something I have become accustomed to in recent weeks – rotation! Spending 10-20 minute periods between clients – assisting, advising and talking through my decisions as to why I am asking them to use a certain lure, and cast it in certain direction and to show them images on my camera or phone of the underwater terrain etc. whilst the two others can relax into their fishing seems to work well judging by the feedback I’ve received from the two previous ‘Package Deal’ parties. Remember, this has been very new to me too!

Enthused

As dusk drew in, I asked Keith, Nick and Stewart to follow me (carefully) off of the rocks before it became too dark, and so that they could get their bearings on the beach they’d be fishing from once darkness had set in properly. Despite not catching so far during this session, I could sense their enthusiasm, anticipation and the sense of adventure associated to fishing (with lures) within such spectacular surroundings.

DSC01319a
In the failing light, I managed to capture this photograph of my clients – quite unbelievably, that is the Moon in the background.

The shingle beach itself has a number of adjacent coves that are accessible as the tide ebbsand where the seabed leads onto rocks and then pure sand. However, the main feature here is the close proximity of the main flow of current – that the bass use to propel themselves around this food rich myriad of similar beaches, coves, rocky promontories and islands.

Close call

With Keith positioned on the shallowest and snaggiest section of the beach, I attached a pearl coloured Albie Snax to his clip and proceed to talk him through how best to use it. Stewart was positioned on the opposite and cleanest (sandy) section of the beach fishing with a cream or ‘Bone’ coloured Super Strike Needlefish in preparation for me walking Nick around to one of the nearby coves.

I’d only turned my back for a second when “Yep! Got one on!” Stewart yelped from the shoreline. Leaving Nick, I ran down the beach to Stewart just in time to see the rod straighten… “Wow, it hit me really hard halfway in (20m) and was taking linestraight away!” Stewart said excitedly… I was hoping it wasn’t about to be one of those nights at this point – even though it was pleasing to know bass were about and feeding, even though it wasn’t yet dark.

Under the spotlight

It has to be said that this was, by far, the brightest Moon I have ever guided clients under – it was like being under a constant spotlight! Nick, who was now casting from the centre of the beach (following our short and fruitless excursion around the corner) as the tide ebbed off the pebbles and was beginning to uncover the reef was next to receive a ‘hit and run’ literally within a second of commencing the retrieve. Rtaher frustratingly, this fish also (very briefly) took line against the drag before slipping the hooks! Were the bass being reticent tonight given the very shallow water (12-18″) and brightness?

Bass on lures under a bright Moon
A magical evening to be out for sure. But with Stewart and Nick having both had bass briefly attached (only for them to escape) I was hoping our luck would change…

We needed a bit of luck and Keith was (thankfully) about to receive it… “I’m just going to quickly check to see if we can access another cove guys” I said. With all three anglers now stood ankle-deep in a remarkably calm sea, casting Needlefish and Line Thru Sandeels respectively in what was the final 30 minutes of the ebb, I wasn’t really expecting anything to happen until the turn of the tide…

Rounding a cluster of car sized rocks, and now crunching along the shingle towards Keith, I could see his rod silhouetted and bent over against the brilliant Moon. “Snag?” I said, “Nope a fish” he exclaimed! With that, my head-torch went on and I began to search the shallows as I was conscious of the barnacle encrusted rocks that were immediately to Keith’s right… “Keep some left sided pressure on it mate” I said, and with that the bass surfaced about 20m out – it looked decent!

Accustomed to tiring out trout and salmon in fast flowing water, Keith did an expert job of guiding the bass in through a gap in the flat, smooth, green weed covered rocks to my waiting hand – what a special moment in such halcyon circumstances. Moreover, the bass had taken the lure in 12″ of water covering pure sand, with Keith adding that he’d felt a slight tap/hit on the needlefish very briefly before the fish had smashed it properly!

Bass in darkness over sand
Measuring 57cm (well over 4lb) Keith’s ‘spade-like’ hands (he was a Farmer!) grip a fish that he said ranks as one of the highlights of his angling career.
Savage Gear and Okuma lure fishing set up
A beautiful bass next to one of my client ‘set ups’ – a Savage Gear Salt CCS lure rod and Okuma Inspira ISX 30 reel.

Guess the lure…

Something that is etched in my brain and in my diary is that it was the quite frankly ‘wrecked’, ‘salvaged’ and subsequently silver Jim’s Lures Needlefish that this bass had decided was its supper – the very same lure a that had been inside the mouth of a 70cm bass (amongst many others) the previous week here.

Flood and fish

Following the capture and release of this attractive, if rather lean bass, my clients and I were on a high! And with the tide just about to turn and flood (the best time on this mark) we were expectant to say the least!

What a truly, truly stunning night to be fishing it was – sheltered from the breeze, under the Moon, stood in the water as it crept up your ankles and shins just waiting for that rod to smack over!!! Keith (obviously) Nick and Stewart and I were all buzzing at Keith’s bass, the near misses preceding it, in addition to what I thought might be an imminent influx of bites and catches…

Standing next to Nick, re-telling how I’d thought Keith was initially snagged on the reef his rod hooped over as a bass snatched his white Jim’s Lures Needlefish only 15m in front of him, in water that would barely cover its spiky dorsal fin -quite  amazing really under this amount of light, in darkness…

Bass caught in very shallow water
Another glimmering bass from under the Moonlight – this time on a white needlefish taken only a few metres from our feet.

All in all, it really had been one of those magical nights (that had actually lasted 6 hours!) that you’re just so glad you’ve witnessed. I’d dreamed of placing three clients on this particular beach in the right conditions, although I was somewhat surprised that the bass were so keen to hit our lures under such tepid and illuminated conditions – the learning process will never cease!

Session 3 – Relaxing

With my party of clients eager to experience another evening/night session, but one that would finish a lot earlier than the previous (0300) sortie. I therefore decided to place them on a mark that would require only a short walk and wouldn’t involve rocks! A relaxing session in comparison…

Bass fishing in estuaries
Sometimes, there are bass literally jumping onto the hooks inside estuary marks such as this one! Not this evening though…

Of course, Stewart was yet to land a bass therefore, a plan was hatched (in agreement with Keith and Nick) to spend more of my time with him. With the main channel of this river very close to our position, I was hopeful that with the small surface lure I’d attached, he would experience that unmistakable swirl and splash of even a small bass moving back out to sea on the ebb…

First cast, and Nick (using the same lure) latched into a schoolie that shook the hooks after only a few seconds – it was looking good! We fished on for a good couple of hours, moving down the towards the estuary mouth in an attempt to find the fish, eventually changing over to needlefish and Line Thru Sandeels cast upstream as darkness set in.

Willing Stewart on, I stood to encourage him in that final 45 minutes of the session but unfortunately for him it wasn’t to be. “Thank you Marc, for a wonderful few days”. “We’ve learnt so much and caught some lovely fish within some marvellous settings, but I think we’ll call it a night” was Nick’s proposal – I reckon they’d have caught one right on low water but I completely appreciated the drive they needed to make early the next morning so we ended it there.

Fishing at dusk.JPG
This settled warm spell has produced some magnificent sunsets and sunrises – long may it continue!

I really, really enjoyed these three sessions with Keith, Nick and Stewart. They love their fishing and each others company while doing so. It was a privilege to be able to their guide and to share some memorable experiences – I hope to see them again in the future.

*** Following the enjoyment and overall success of the taster packages I completed in June, I will be releasing the dates of my late Summer/Autumn 3 Day/3 Client/3 Nights Accommodation Package Deals at £499 per person later this week*** 

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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