Client Catches – Bringing out the beast!

Client Catches – Bringing out the beast!

“I’m shaking Marc, I don’t think I’ll be able to carry on fishing!” Paul’s words after we both admired one of the most beautiful bass I’ve witnessed, and certainly the largest Paul had caught (beating his previous ‘Personal Best’ during a session with me in June here) before placing her back to meander slowly, but menacingly away through the knee-deep water, under the illumination of our headtorches and another light source…

What is always a truly memorable spectacle and a moment to behold, was enhanced by the utter tranquillity of the night, the thousands of stars overhead and a dazzlingly bright and high Moon beaming down upon us. Quite possibly, one of the most perfect settings in which to be outdoors at night.

But what if you’re one of the new-breed of dedicated bass lure anglers out there and are thinking to yourselves… Aren’t bass supposed to be wary and difficult to catch under a bright Moon? Isn’t a very dark, cloudy night better to catch them on lures in darkness? Not that I’ve noticed…

Bright Monn conditions and bass lure fishing
Paul fishing adjacent to the mark we fished in darkness with the Moon (top left of the image) having risen during the late afternoon.

The figures

In my book, The Lure of The Bass, within the chapter dedicated to bass lure fishing in darkness (Chapter 7) I created a table of my results (over what was at the time of writing a 17 month period) detailing the catches my clients and I had achieved under a range of light levels associated to the sky being clear or cloudy, in addition to the stages of a visible Moon. Furthermore, the percentage of time spent fishing in conjunction with the percentage of bass caught under these varying conditions highlighted a number interesting aspects to the results – such as:

  • 68% of the catches were achieved when the Moon was present in some form (observed during 59% of the total time spent night fishing).
  •  22% of the catches were achieved when the light levels were intermittent (caused by the Moon rising, setting or being uncovered or obscured by the clouds during the session) – something that occurred during only 10% of the time spent night fishing.
  • 18% of the bass were caught under a ¾ or a Full Moon (very bright essentially) for 21% of the total effort.

Bar the ‘intermittent light levels’ figure (within which, the catch rate actually increased when the Moon appeared rather than disappeared incidentally) the figure that struck me was that the catch rate is pretty much relative to the amount of time spent fishing under those particular set of circumstances.

8lb bass client bass on a needlefish
The first 70cm/8lb bass that a client landed during a guided session with me back in June 17. On this occasion the Full Moon appeared from behind the clouds for only 3 minutes – the precise time within which this bass struck the needlefish!

Now, after scrolling through my extensive notes a further 12 months down the line from completing the book, I can confirm that the comparable catch rate is still within this ballpark – at 62% of the catches for 60% of the effort when the Moon was present and 14% for 16% of the effort under a ‘big, bright’ Moon respectively. Indeed, you could almost say that in the past year the figures confirm my initial assessment and conclusions.


The statistics above only tell a small percentage (sorry!) of the story however, as there are a number of other vital questions (some of which we’ll never know the answer to admittedly) related to the capture of what was a substantial fish – the fifth bass over 70cm that a client has landed with me, and the largest (to date) on the White Wave Worm Bamboo Stick here – questions like:

  •  What was the bass doing there?
  •  What was it feeding on?
  •  Was it a lone fish?
  •  Can this capture be replicated?
  •  Is there something intrinsic about the seabed that attracted that bass to that specific area?
  •  Would that fish have taken another lure type?
  •  Is that calibre of bass only present at certain stages of the year?
  •  Did the height of tide (a very small neap) mean anything at all?

These are all questions that I thoroughly enjoy attempting to find the answers to – as ultimately, they could help me to find a similar bass mark or encourage me to return to a know venue under similar conditions (be it Moon stage,  tide, sea state, water clarity, etc.) in addition to placing a couple more pieces of the bass fishing jigsaw in place.

White senko worms bass darkness
The unbelievably reliable Wave Worm Bamboo Stick – the front runner in the race for my ‘Lure of the Year.’

As I’ve mentioned before, I probably do overanalyse the catches that my clients and I achieve, and just as importantly, those days when it doesn’t go to plan. But this is what provides me with the confidence that I am doing everything I possibly can whilst planning for and during the sessions that I complete. The fact that I’d decided on this venue above all others is testament to this level of preparation.

Some answers…

What I do know about Paul’s magnificent bass is that:

  •  The fish was the third of the session, approximately an hour after he’d landed two small (1lb) bass from the same mark.
  •  The ‘beast’ was captured 2hr 20 minutes into the flooding tide in approximately 2ft of exceptionally clear water.
  •  There was nothing ‘noticeable’ about the seabed  – no features such as a large rockpool, scour, gully, weedbed or patch of rocks or sand. However, what I will say is that the venue is known (to me) to be an area that bass will patrol in and out of as the tide floods and ebbs.
  •  It nailed the exceedingly innocuous 5″ 13g ‘white worm’ fished in a straight line via nothing more complicated than a slow (just shy of one full turn of the handle per second) retrieve style after allowing it to sink to the seabed, and four quick turns at the start of the retrieve.
bass on lures in darkness under a full moon
Bass like this don’t come along very often, which makes the capture of this stunner all the more special given the overall conditions. I wonder if I/we will be able to replicate it in the future, on this and similar venues?

For me, it blows any notion that big bass are reticent to feed very close to the shoreline, under a bright Moon completely out of the water –  it certainly helped to bring this beast out of the depths…

Well done to you Paul – time for a double!

Thanks for reading

Marc Cowling




  1. Hey Marc…if you rember, my 70cm was also caught during full moon, calm night. Just as the moon was about to set. Very very similar conditions (on white snax in 2-3ft of water)


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