3 Day Package – Sessions to treasure

3 Day Package – Sessions to treasure

At last! The weather has finally warmed up (albeit in conjunction with a screaming easterly wind) and the larger bass have reacted accordingly. And yes, you read the excerpt correctly – one of my clients landed the largest bass that has been caught during a guided session so far (at 73cm) during a night session in which he was using a needlefish that he designed and built himself – huge respect!

Learning

In addition to the 73cm beast that you’ll read about later in this post, my clients also landed good numbers of bass, including specimens of 56cm, 60cm and 66cm respectively. However, more than anything else, the overriding aspect to the sessions was the sheer variety and diversity of the marks we fished, in addition to times (daylight, dusk and darkness) and the state of tide (flood, ebb) in which I asked my clients to fish them. So much learning took place during these sessions, as much for me, as indeed for my clients.

Whether they were having to contend with a heavy swell when belting out surface lures from rocks in daylight, standing up to their waist in the clear water from a beach at dusk or delicately fishing soft plastics or needlefish from a shingle beach during darkness I couldn’t have asked for more from them throughout what were truly memorable experiences.

Guided bass fishing sessions
The obligatory snap of my ‘quests’ before they embark on 24 hours of fishing over 3 days – they don’t look this fresh at the end of it all, but I don’t think they would have it any other way…

Melee

You may recognise my clients (Angus, Rob and Tom) from a 3 Day Package that I completed last June here in which 19 bass were caught, including a 70cm fish for Tom. So the first thrill for me was the fact that they’d all decided to come along again in order to enjoy each others company – both while fishing and outside of the guided sessions.

Rough seas and bass
Angus battling with calm conditions one minute and rough the next as the intermittent swell battered this exposed stretch of coastline during the first session.

The second thrill arrived only minutes into the first session when Angus latched a bass that grabbed his Xorus Pathinko 125 here amongst the melee in front of his stance (that you can clearly see in the photograph above). It was the events that transpired later into darkness that would prove to be unforgettable however.

Monitoring

A very important factor in regards to bass lure fishing is, more often than not, rammed home on the mark I’d chosen for my clients – a section of shingle, backed by low cliffs, and that is adjacent to a headland. It is this imposing promontory of rock that, I believe, holds the key to the venue’s relatively reliable success, as it creates a large tidal eddy in which smaller prey animals become disorientated, and that ultimately attracts the bass to this area.

It really is a case of monitoring which way the tide is flowing by keeping a close eye on where the lure exits the water at the end of the retrieve with weightless soft plastics, in addition to feeling for the pressure on the line with more substantial lures attached such as the needlefish.

Essentially, a large volume of water swirls on this mark, and if the lure is dragged (retrieved) against or across the direction that the current is flowing then the lure will be largely ignored. Yet, if the lure of continually recovered ‘with’ the direction the water is moving your chances of latching into a bass, and often a good one at that, increases significantly.

Bass on Savage Gear lure rod
Rob’s Savage Gear Salt CSS 9′ 2″ 15-42g lure rod here was certainly tested by this one!

It was following one such adjustment to his retrieve that Rob hit into the 56cm (4lb) bass above/below – the white senko as you can see delivering a quality fish yet again. Rob was over the Moon with his capture (that I helped him to land after being interrupted whilst retying Angus’s leader to braid knot and dragging half the spool of fluorocarbon behind me!) and I think it definitely helped him relax into his fishing as the pressure was now off.

Bass at night on white lures
You can see the delight in Rob’s eyes in this photograph – a really beautifully conditioned bass of just over 4lb.

Beast No.1

It was while I was fiddling with my action camera (the video of Rob’s fish was subsequently corrupted which was a real shame) that I heard Tom shout “Fish!” In my haste, I realised as I stood with him (with what I could now see was a very decent bass in the headlight) that I’d left the net 40m down the beach… A very accomplished angler, I knew that Tom wouldn’t panic as I urged him to calmly ‘walk’ the fish back onto the shoreline (with me following in behind the fish) in the tranquil and surprisingly clear water given the wind we’d had in the previous days.

Bass on silver lures at night
A wonderfully proportioned bass and one that apparently ‘fought like stink’ once it realised it was hooked!

At 66cm, the bass had grabbed (only just, judging by the hook hold) Tom’s self-designed 160mm, 20g needlefish only (what he estimated) 3m off of his rod tip, before dragging a fair few metres of braid against a tight drag.

Bass guide Marc Cowling
A cool customer who isn’t fazed easily, I would say Tom is one of the most talented anglers that I have had the pleasure of guiding. Furthermore, he does not deviate from what is required or asked of him – a model client!

Beast No. 2

You could’ve literally cut the air with a knife now – due primarily, to the fact that the wind had dropped out completely, but also because the levels of expectancy and anticipation were at fever-pitch! However, everything had now gone a little quiet, with only a few ‘taps’ registering on the rods of Angus and Rob…

I wandered over to check if Tom was OK and proceeded to ask him which direction he was now casting and retrieving his homemade wooden lure. “I’m ‘fanning’ the casts out Marc”, he replied. “OK mate”, I said, just concentrate on casting over to your left and at between ten and eleven o’clock to you instead”, as I’d noticed some weed fragments drifting as I’d waded gently over to him around a small collection of rocks.

Bass fishing on lures
A monster! The head and shoulders of this brute was massive, but I reckon she had only very recently spawned, as her belly was completely empty. I think that later in the season this fish would easily have topped 9lb.

Only 5 minutes had passed, in which time I’d checked on Rob and Angus, when, at a range of at least 70m from where I was stood to where Tom’s lure was landing in the water, I heard an almighty SPLASH! Before my mind could properly register what had occurred (my initial suspicions that it was a seal) Tom shouted out of the gloom “Yeh! Fish! And this one’s bigger!”

This time I did have the net in my hand as I entered the water to eventually join him, and as I hit the light I witnessed a huge crash, bang, wallop as the bass realised it’s powerful runs and headshaking were now futile when compared to Tom’s equally powerful Apia rod. The massive head on this bass appeared first in my beam and then its body, as my net took the strain and suddenly buckled! Luckily, I managed to almost ‘cradle’ this spikey, thrashing and musclebound predator between the mesh and my waders as I dragged it out of the water and onto the beach for him.

Big bass South Devon Bass Guide
A better photo and one that does the fish a little more justice. Someone is going to break that ‘double’ barrier soon…

With the needlefish now snagged in the net’s mesh, the bass actually unhooked itself (which was a stroke of luck!) and I took the opportunity to quickly measure her at 73cm. what a wonderful bass, albeit a rather slim one, that I presume had very recently spawned. It was for this reason that she was returned as quickly as possible – the short film (below) is of her successful release.

He’s only done it again!

The next day (following a very good night’s sleep!) we were out and about on an expanse of sheltered shingle with rocks at each extremity. It was a cloudy, warm and humid afternoon, with a lazy swell washing gently up the beach as I spaced my clients out and instructed them to work their surface lures in the vicinity of various underwater structures.

Second cast for Tom, and there was a boil and a splash at his lure – things looked promising… But it was a further 20 minutes or so, as I glanced over at him as I was assisting Rob, that I saw his rod bent and bucking away – he hadn’t done it again had he?

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He had! As I approached him with the net, I saw the broad dark back of a very nice bass now at his side and wallowing on the surface. It had hit his Xorus Frosty here, again, only a couple of metres in front of him, meaning the battle was somewhat short-lived (bass are sometimes quite subdued when hooked very close to you, either that, or they take off at break-neck speed!).

Bass on surface lures
A ‘perfect’ 60cm bass for Tom. “Blimey he’s a good or angler or just a lucky bugger” was Rob’s response!

My clients fished on for a further hour or so, with Tom receiving one more take in more or less the same position over the reef, but this time it didn’t stick. In the back of all of our minds though was the evening and night session to be enjoyed following an afternoon nap (for me anyhow!).

Better the devil you know

Although I was considering guiding them on a different mark from the previous night, given that the conditions would be similar (or so I thought) we all agreed that it made sense to return there for the next session. It was a case of ‘better the devil you know’ and I really didn’t want to be stood somewhere else (with no action) wishing we had returned there.

It has to be said however that the fishing was a disappointment, as although Tom landed two small bass during the evening and Angus landing a modest one in darkness and with a few ‘taps’ for Rob it was, in the main, eerily quiet – something that I could only really put down to the slightly smaller tide and increase in air pressure… Critically perhaps (although further experience and time on this mark may confirm either way) that whirlpool affect just didn’t materialise, as the current just wasn’t powerful enough to create it – food for thought that one, and most definitely a learning point for me to digest and test.

Final flings

With the forecast easterly wind now positively howling and gusting at Severe Gale Force along the more exposed stretches of the south Devon coastline, in conjunction with the very bight and strong sunshine, I decided we should head out to a sheltered open coast venue later the next day to fish early evening and into darkness.

Burgh Island fishing
If there’s a bit of white, bubbling and aerated water pushing around the rocks then a bright sky doesn’t bother me. However, the bass just weren’t feeding during this session, nor were they from a nearby cove once darkness fell.

Despite actually seeing bass in the water they just weren’t interested in anything practically ‘placed’ in front of their noses!  The combination of the unseasonable winds, seals feeding close by and only small numbers of baitfish present may all have contributed to my clients not catching. But as the ‘final flings’ of their lures approached I could tell that all three of them very extremely content with what they’d caught and, above all, what they’d experienced over the course of these sessions – sessions that I know they will treasure for a long time.

Treat yourself

Guided fishing holidays UK
A snapshot of what it is like to experience bass lure fishing along this varied and bass-rich coastline.

Having filled the final place, but then subsequently following a cancellation, I still have one place available on my final 3 Day Package of the 2019 season that will take place between the 15 – 17 September. If you would like to know more please follow the link here or please get in touch via the contact form below if you’d like to reserve/book the final place.

Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling

 

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