Client Catches – Final flurry!

Client Catches – Final flurry!

As I intimated in my previous blog post here, the larger bass have (surprisingly so) been rather difficult to come by over the past two weeks. However, when you’re fishing along the wonderful ‘South Hams’ coastline you are always in with a shout – be it in the middle of the summer, or the depths of winter for that matter…

Someone who fishes practically year round, and who knows certain stretches of this mystical coastline like the back of their hand was my client (Jack) – an experienced local angler who had “done a bit of night lure fishing for bass.” But it was the prospect of learning how to catch them on needlefish that prompted him to start reading my blog posts – which in turn, prompted his girlfriend to purchase a ‘South Devon Bass Guide’ voucher for his Birthday.

Quite simply, he didn’t really know what they represented in the water or how to use them effectively – something that would be well and truly remedied by the end of what was a very pleasant session, with a very relaxed and exceptionally receptive client.

Jack working a surface lure as the light begins to fade – nearly needlefish time!

Over the ebb

Commencing the session during the late afternoon, my plan was for Jack to fish with surface lures from a large rocky promontory exposed to the lateral tide in daylight, before walking a mile or so to a shingle cove in order cover the ‘night time needlefish element.’ It was a hot day too, therefore I was somewhat surprised not to see numbers of cars in the lanes or bathers on the beach as we trudged to my chosen venue…

First up, and with a slight amount of white aerated water breaking lazily around our stance I decided that a shallow-medium diving minnow cast and retrieved around the underwater (but highly noticeable with polarised sunglasses) rocks surrounding our platform would be appropriate. Systematically, Jack set to work as I offered tips to improve his casting, alongside some guidance on how to work the lures more effectively (adding the occasional ‘twitch’ to the retrieve to entice or induce a bass into taking a lure rather than following it being one such observation).


For a good three hours Jack persevered with the hard diving minnow, various surface patterns in different sizes and a lure that has served me well this season under very similar circumstances – the 23g Savage Gear Seeker here. However, the action finally began once the tide started to flood, in conjunction with the Sun lowering behind us. Firstly, a couple of bass swirled at his surface lure, but before long a small one finally nailed it good and proper, followed by another soon after.

Seadra Spitta 125
At last! It took a while, but as the light levels decreased and the fresh tide began to push through the bass began to show up.


Now I’m not normally one to go on gut instinct in regards to mark selection when I am guiding clients, as I generally have everything planned as meticulously as possible and my decisions made as where we are going. However, I am also always open to suggestions from my clients or indeed open to remaining flexible. Therefore, as the sea had now settled beautifully into near as dam it completely flat calm conditions, I asked Jack how he felt about remaining where we were, and standing on another section of ‘our rock’ in order to fish into the 2-6ft of water in front of us into darkness?

Although this was something that I’d achieved with my fishing friend John (with a view to possibly completing it with future clients) this was only the second time that I have asked a client to stand on a rock to fish at night. “No problem Marc”, came Jack’s response.


As each star began to appear and the light evening breeze dissipated my client and I were stood side by side as he cast his needlefish up-tide, allowing it to sink horizontally onto the pure sandy seabed, before starting that very simple retrieve of one turn of the reel’s handle per second.

For a good hour it remained very quiet indeed, but just as the 3rd hour of the flood arrived, and with it the expected increase in the velocity of the tide Jack received his first ‘hit’. ” That was a fish I’m sure Marc”, he said on two separate occasions as he felt what I believe were small bass slashing (with their gill plates) the 150mm hand-made wooden Jim’s (here) needlefish.

A further fives casts later though and Jack found himself attached to a spirited bass that had taken the lure only a few turns into the retrieve – a fish that heralded a flurry of activity, with many small bass (1-2lb) landed, unhooked and released, interspersed with hits that didn’t properly connect.

Last chance

In the back of my mind throughout this period was the rising tide and the fact the we would have to navigate a pebble-bottomed gully that would soon fill with water behind us. After checking all was OK for the fifth time, I informed Jack that we only had five more minutes left before we would need to make our retreat. “Five more casts mate”, I bellowed into the darkness, as I washed my hands in a rockpool after unhooking his 7th bass of the night, and 9th in total for the session.

Sport fishing holidays and experiences UK
A suitably ‘bright’ bass to go with Jack’s rather bright jacket!

Third cast, and I watched him raise the rod as something that I’d been dying to hear all evening finally occurred – line being pulled from the drag! Even though it was very dark, I could still make out the his rod bent over and bucking against the myriad of stars above us – this is what dreams are made of as far as I’m concerned!

With the net extended and the headlight switched to full-beam the fish that Jack deserved slipped into the net… “That’s the one Jack!” I exclaimed, as full on ‘whooping for joy’ and ‘hand shaking’ ensued. At close to 4½lb, I was delighted that my decision to remain in one place and wait for the bass to come to us had paid off. Furthermore, I was delighted for Jack as, as he put it “I’ve certainly got a hell of a lot more confidence that these needlefish lures work now!”

Immediately after returning his capture (see above) we had to move, but within minutes of casting his lure in between a two outcrops of rock, but this time whilst standing on a sandy beach he latched into the smallest (but 11th) bass of what had been a tremendously exciting and rewarding session.

My Book

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I have very limited copies (55 to be precise) available of my recently released book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ that isn’t for sale anywhere else at present. Independent reviews of this publication (including one from the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society) can be found here.

Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling

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