My Recent Catches – Hit! then miss…

My Recent Catches – Hit! then miss…

It’s a very busy time of year for me, what with the guiding and my writing commitments, therefore, when I do get the opportunity to fish I attempt to maximise it for all it’s worth! Following what was undoubtedly the most productive winter I have enjoyed as a bass lure angler, my ploy for this season has been to alternate between a ‘known’ mark during one session, and then somewhere completely new to me (but that I really fancy will produce) during the next. This tactic served me well, especially during January through to mid-April, as it enabled me to finally fish some areas that I’d had my eye on for years!

The risk

It’s perfectly plausible that some may view my decision to operate in this way as potentially ‘limiting’ during what are already short windows to fish myself. However, personally I am always content to experiment and explore as you never know – you might just find an even more productive mark than the ones that I/you regular fish. Ultimately, it’s a risk I am willing to take although, of course, it doesn’t always work out how you want it to…

Bass fishing holidays
A recent client enjoying a guided session during dusk – it has been too warm and sunny to be out guiding for long periods during the day just recently.


A recent session that was a ‘hit’ involved a 1½ mile hike (each way!) along arguably one of the most rugged sections of the south-west coastal path. But with the tide still a fair way out, during this expedition I was able to capture some photographs (that I will study over the winter) of the topography of the various ‘rocky and weedy’ coves en route to my destination.

Arriving just after sunset, my attempts to attract a bass passing through the deep water (15ft) covering the pure sandy seabed by casting a metal jig (the Major Craft Jigpara here) from a nearby headland proved futile. However, what I was really there for was to fish the adjacent ‘kelp cove’ from the shingle beach once darkness arrived…

Tailwalk EGinn
A well fed bass with a huge ‘spade-like’ tail. Incidentally, this was the last bass that I caught on the Tailwalk EGinn before I sold it to a client. A great rod, but I’ve decided to go back to an 8′ 6″ Major Craft lure rod.

Well earned!

It was incredibly calm during this session, therefore, I commenced proceedings with the lure that has served me so well in these circumstances – the Wave Worm Bamboo Stick here). I fished hard for several hours as the tide flooded, but it was 30 minutes into the ebb (as is so often the case from similar marks at night) and just as my back and right shoulder were beginning to ache that I latched into the ‘beasty’ in the photographs above and below.

Lure fishing guide Marc Cowling
It was very late into the night when this one hit (hence the bleary/crazed eyes) – what a shame I lost the one that ‘shredded’ my braid sending the Abu Garcia REVO MGX into retirement…

At between 4½ – 5lb, I felt that I’d really earned this lovely bass, and within minutes of casting the lure back into the underwater kelp forest again I’d received another savage take, before it seemingly ‘let go.’ But that’s not all, as rather frustratingly (both from the perspective of losing the fish, but also because the lure was probably left in its mouth) following a short period of inactivity the rod was yanked down sharply as what I think was a much better fish attempted to out-power me…

This was when I realised that the drag on my Abu Garcia had failed (I later discovered that the line roller had seized) as I witness the line shredding before my wincing eyes in the soft moonlight before finally ‘snap’ she was gone…



Onto the misses then! It’s been quite a bizarre season for me and many others it seems, in that the bass just aren’t resident (as yet) along certain stretches of coastline, and indeed, very specific marks that over the past two seasons have been exceptionally reliable – especially at night (another reason why I am exploring new venues). On the three occasions over the past month that I’ve decided to venture to a mark that I know intimately, on more or less the same sea conditions, tides and time of year as previous seasons I have only managed to catch a handful of small bass.

Bass lure fishing
My clients during this season caught a number of bass on surface lures, but they were all small, and it was most certainly harder going than I would have expected on this normally very reliable mark at this time of year… The better-sized bass were definitely elsewhere on this day!

I have a good feeling that these particular marks will eventually ‘come good’ at some stage of this season, but the high numbers of sandeels that I keep witnessing, in addition to (rather worryingly) an increase in seal activity could have altered the behaviour of the bass?

But sandeel are good right? I hear you thinking! Well yes, but I can’t help but wonder (based on numerous client sessions this season – more so the ones that have been highly productive) that the bass are seemingly following wherever these tasty ‘bass treats’ are going and just feeding up on them so much by day that they aren’t as ravenous as they ordinarily are by night… Just another theory of mine!

Bass at dusk on lures
The current stamp of bass prevalent around the south Devon coastline at present interspersed with the odd better one (see my next blog post).



More experiments

Continuing with the experimental theme, alongside utilising my self-designed ‘custom’ needlefish lure (that has been built by Jim’s Lures here) during certain sessions I also purchased the black versions of the Wave Worm Bamboo Stick (these were purchased from High Street Tackle in Ilfracombe here) to try during late evening/dusk forays and also for when the Moon is bright at night.

Marc Cowling Needlefish
The ‘Marc Cowling Signature Needlefish’ will be brought into production in the future…

The needlefish continues to yield consistent results (which is marvellous and bodes well for the future sales/marketing) over a real variety of marks, but it was also the capture of a plump 4lb bass on the black wave worm/senko during another exploratory session that was equally satisfying.

Black senkos in darkness
A black Wave Worm Bamboo Stick tempted this 4lb bass for me during a short session on a new mark.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead then, I have two of my 3 Day Packages coming up later this month alongside a three separate returning clients, therefore I fully expect to be posting up some images of their catches in the coming weeks. Furthermore, I am already making plans for next year’s guiding – plus, I will revealing some very exciting news by the end of the month… Hopefully I’ll find the time to catch a few bass myself in between!

Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling

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