Client Catches – Right place, right time

Client Catches – Right place, right time

A huge cliché yes, but the saying of being in the right place at the right time is never truer when it comes to bass lure fishing – something that is even more critical at this time of the year. But why is this the case? One word – sprat!

Sprat bass food
A very common yearly occurrence, and one that the bass and mackerel very much look forward to I imagine!

The sprat invasion that exploded during the final week of July here in south Devon quickly saw them dissipate and essentially ‘move on’ when we experienced two bouts of unseasonably strong westerly Gales during the first third of August. Rather frustratingly, the untimely aspect to these low pressure systems caused something of a vacuum in regards to the size of the bass caught, and it has been a real case of ‘if I could find them we would catch them!’ So although my clients have caught a lot of bass throughout the month, overall they have been a bit on the small side for my liking anyway. That has changed since the start of September however, as you’ll read in my coming posts…

Thought process

As ever, my thought process during the planning for the two four sessions my clients (James and Henry) had booked involved taking into account the recent whereabouts of the sprat, mackerel and bass (something that is, of course, impossible to predict) in addition to the forecast weather (the threat of storms) and the state/height of the tide. I eventually decided on a slab of granite that drops down in platforms into deep-water and that is swept by quite a vigorous tide – the type of scenario in which, potentially, a lot of fish, both prey items and predators can and do transit from tide to tide.

Bringing the session forward by four hours, due to the impending heavy and thundery showers, within minutes of meeting I’d demonstrated how I suggested they ‘work’ their surface lures, before positioning them onto their respective platforms. With James working his lure (a Seadra Spitta 125 here) continuously and Henry adding long pauses into his ‘walk the dog’ style of retrieve with his larger HTO Canine here I studied the sea in front of me closely for any signs of activity – be it terns, seals or bait fish scattering on the surface. Wooosh! A good 300m out from our stance I witnessed what I’m pretty sure was a huge bass leap out of the water – things were looking positive!


After checking that they were comfortable and correctly working the lures (which they accomplished fantastically well considering they don’t fish all that often) it took all of three casts for James to shout that he was into something! It was a bass, and their first during the their holiday in south Devon – although they’d been fishing pretty hard from their boat with lures even earlier that day. The confidence in the method certainly rubbed off on Henry, as within minutes of me returning James’ first bass of the session he announced that he was also ‘in’ – an occurrence that signalled a frantic hour of me un-hooking and returning a dozen or so bass.

Seadra Spitta 125 Veals
Costing £11.99, the Seadra Spitta appears to be a suitable (and less expensive) alternative to the Patchinko 125…

Although these captures were, once again, on the small (sub 2lb) all the signs were pointing towards the possibility that something more substantial would travel through our ‘swim’ as it were – with my thoughts being that as dusk approached the better fish might materialise. Furthermore, the tide would reach it’s low point and turn during this period and begin to flood – another ‘trigger point’ in which the fishing can suddenly switch on, or the bigger specimens put in an appearance.

The noise

I heard that noise… Line being dragged off the spool! And as I looked over to James I could see him scrambling to re-adjust the position of his hands on the rod and reel, as I tore about three studs out of my wading boots on the heavily barnacled rocks to get to him with the net! It wasn’t huge (at around 3½lb) but it had put a serious bend his meaty 20-60g Daiwa Prorex spinning rod whilst also making his ‘trip’ to Devon!

Bass on surface lures
That’s better! A fit and hard-fighting bass hooked in a fast-flowing current – wonderful!

Soon after, it was Henry who was calling me over yet again (I was getting knackered in the warm and humid air by all this running – around although I can’t complain!) as he latched into a slightly better bass than the ones he’d landed so far – this was more like it!

Savage Gear Horny Herrng
Not to be outdone, Henry landed eight of the nineteen bass they managed over the two short sessions.

Species hunt!

At this point, and as the Sun dipped behind us things began to get weird! Rather than bass hitting the lures it was all manner of other species that had suddenly decided they wanted to get in on the act! Clearly, although we couldn’t physically see any activity on the surface, there must have been a hell of a lot of bait fish (the sprat) in the area as my clients landed mackerel, pollack, scad and garfish alongside another decent bass for James – this was turning into a species hunt!

Pollack on lures dusk
A crash-diving pollack that I managed to extract from the weed for Henry!

With Henry now fishing sub-surface with a Savage Gear jig called a Horny Herring he received some all mighty hits and screaming runs on his rather soft and spongy spinning rod – the culprits being the pollack that love to hunt at dusk.


The next morning we met up at the same place and I gave my new ‘bass Jedi’s’ a choice: return to the previously evening’s venue or to try somewhere similar, but the opposite way around the headland in order to fish the flooding tide, at what I considered to be the optimum period. As the methods they would be utilising would be the same (based on the same sea state, depth of water and very bright weather conditions) they plumped for fishing a different venue.

Unsurprisingly, given the bass shoals are constantly moving with the bait fish in the warm water, it was a relatively quiet affair, with only three modest sized bass landed close to some structure and the very slight amount of white water breaking around it. I guess it really does ram-home just how capricious these wonderful fish are, and the affect that having an easily obtainable and readily available food source can make.

Thanks for reading

Marc Cowling




  1. Hi Marc,

    I just wanted to say that having read, and reread your excellent book, I am now reaping the rewards and starting to have some good catches of bass on the North Cornish coast ,and, at the time of writing cant seem to go wrong with the surface lures- with the “go to” lure being a little Savage Gear Manic prey!!
    I am now totally hooked on lure fishing for bass, and now feel confident of catching every time I go out fishing .
    Once again, many thanks for getting me on the right track with your excellent book!


    Tim Coe.
    West Devon


    1. Thank you very much indeed for your comments Tim, and I am so happy to hear about you success. If the book has helped then that makes me feel immensely proud, and extremely glad that I wrote it.
      Have a great remainder of the season.


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