My Recent Catches – Frustratingly good…

My Recent Catches – Frustratingly good…

As I’ve intimated many times, November can be absolutely brilliant for bass fishing in general, providing the weather is on your side… For this reason alone, I would have to say that the past six weeks have been the most frustrating that I’ve experienced as a bass lure fishing guide – a feeling exacerbated further by the realisation that the fishing has actually been very good at times…

Perfect bass lure fishing conditions
It was a very rare blank for my client during this particular session – one when, ironically, I felt the conditions were actually spot on!

Yep, all that rain and wind wreaked havoc with the plans I had for my clients, meaning I had to cancel/reschedule a number of sessions (particularly during the first weekend of November when we experienced four days of torrential rain!) or simply ‘make do’ with the cards that we were been dealt on the days they had booked off work, etc.

Most of my clients were successful (there were two blanks during the sixteen sessions I completed) by utilising techniques new to them, fishing in darkness, or by using a lure type they’d previously never caught on. Furthermore, some of these catches were achieved in some terrible conditions – such as very rough and murky seas (the type they’d have previously walked away from), although I do have to report that these fish were on the small side.


If there is a silver lining to almost constant low pressure systems pumping in from the Atlantic at this time of the year (with their associated heavy rain and southerly or westerly winds) it is that, on the whole, it does remain on mild side. Indeed, the sea temperature here in south Devon was warmer in November (at around 13ºC) than it was in May and most of June (until we had that heatwave in the final week in June). For me, this is the ultimate barometer as to whether the bass are likely to be about, and most importantly, whether they’re likely to be up for chasing a lure!

Believe me when I say that I would’ve loved to have been highlighting numerous monster bass landed by my clients in this blog post, but instead, I am inclined to describe the catches that I have personally achieved during the second half of November. These were endeavours that were completed at very shorty notice, when the overall wind, weather and sea state aligned with the tides to enable me to ‘get out’ on the marks (often in the dead of night of night) and when I’d felt the conditions were, ultimately, extremely conducive to producing.


When my alarm wakes me at 2am to go fishing I either turn over and go back to sleep (I can’t deny it!) or I literally jump into life! But knowing that I had a very short window of opportunity (via a lull in the wind for 12 hours or so) during what I considered to be the ideal stage and tide height for the mark I intended to fish my reaction to the awful chiming of my phone was, thankfully, the latter…

Arriving at the venue just as the tide was beginning to flood, I was delighted to find the water relatively clear and surprisingly calm in the tiny shingle bay that I was (within 45 minutes of waking from my slumber) now stood in. It was stunningly tranquil, and above all, it also felt very ‘fishy!’

Twenty minutes into the session, and now completely immersed in my surroundings, I heard a fish ‘slash’ on the surface around what I estimated to be 30m out in the darkness, and to my 10′ o’clock. A few casts later, and a rapid swirling/splashing/thrashing sound occurred again – it just had to be a bass, I thought…

How to catch bass on lures at night
A ravenous bass if ever there was one!

I made a cast into precisely the area that I thought the culprit may be (an area adjacent to a bank of shingle and wrack) and low and behold, whilst the lure was slowly descending and just as I’d tightened up on it, the rod was nearly yanked out of my hands – as a very annoyed and presumably hungry bass nailed the Wave Worm good and proper!

Near 5lb bass mid November 19
A bristling 58cm bass that walloped the lure within seconds of it hitting the surface! I somehow managed to hear what I presume was the same fish attacking fry of some sort through my woolly hat!

No way!

Smiling to myself, I gently and successfully returned my spikey friend, before untangling the mess that was now my lure, clip and leader! Checking it for any frays, I found a tiny ‘nick’ about 12″ up the trace – something that had probably happened when the bass was busy thrashing about on the shingle. I duly re-tied my leader knot and proceeded to cast out on the same trajectory – albeit slightly further out than where I’d hooked it.

Sensing a slight acceleration in the force of the tide (isn’t a light, balanced rod, reel and fine diameter braid a wonderful thing!) I made a cast more or less straight out in front of me, so to gain the optimum amount of distance. I allowed the lure to gently drift, horizontally, through the 8ft of water to the seabed and commenced a slow-medium paced retrieve for twenty counted full turns of the handle, before allowing the lure to sink again for a further five seconds…

Shimano Dialuna
This fish was on steroids! Seriously, I have never had a bass of this size take line against a well-set drag like this one – fair play!

I twitched the lure back into action ever-so-slightly, and continued with what would be the final twenty-five to twenty-eight turns – bringing the ‘white worm’ all the way to beneath my rod tip. Just then, BANG! A bass hit the lure exceptionally hard and was now taking line at a rate of knots!

I honestly thought that this was a very large fish for the first fifteen seconds of the battle, as it was really pulling my arm! But once I’d seen it splash on the surface in the very low-light I realised it wasn’t unfortunately… And really, from that moment it proved fairly easy to steer what transpired to only be a 54cm bass (above) to my feet.

Later in the session, and just when I was beginning to dream of snuggling back into a warm bed, I landed another bass (in the 2½ lb range) that whacked the lure right under the rod tip – scaring the living daylights out of me in the process! So three nice fish was my reward for staying out all night, each hooked at very different ranges from my stance – which is a satisfying, if a relatively unusual occurrence.

Fresh air!

To say I’d ‘earnt’ my next session was an understatement! As for the entire five days and evenings prior to it I’d been completing a lot of DIY – painstakingly sanding and then applying an undercoat to our bannisters… But as I was without a client for what was probably the best day of weather in the entire month, I embarked on a solo mission to a stretch of coastline that I’ve largely ignored this season for one reason or another.

Estuary lure caught bass
A pretty bass, and one that took a couple of swipes at the Spittin Wire before hooking itself.

Armed with a box of diminutive surface lures and soft plastics, I was chuffed when a modest bass (above) grabbed the Whiplash Factory Spittin Wire here within a gully being fed by some lovely aerated water. It was a good start to what was a relaxing afternoon – a bit too relaxing from my perspective though, as nothing else came near the lure in daylight! To be honest though, I didn’t care!  As I was just happy to out breathing in some ‘fresh air’ again, directly, rather than through a protective mask!

Same again

I’m sure you’ve long since worked out that I absolutely love fishing in darkness with the exceptionally innocuous Wave Worm Bamboo Stick, or Senko Killers as they’re now being branded. Therefore, as dusk slipped quickly into darkness, I moved locations to essentially a rocky platform, leading onto a very rocky, snag-ridden beach, whereby I deployed my personal ‘lure of the moment’.

Bass on white soft plastic lures
The Albie Snax and Needlefish lures that have served me so well in the past will have their day (or night) again at some point in the future I’m sure… But for the now, the Wave Worm reigns supreme.

You guessed it, the Wave Worm helped me to land two more beautiful very late Autumn bass (fish that I felt guilty about catching to be honest as I’d have much preferred a client to have caught and released them) when the conditions were ‘spot on’ and I was lucky enough to have been able to take full advantage of the situation.

Marc Cowling bass fishing guide UK
I know I don’t look very guilty! But how can I not be happy about holding such a splendid fish – caught using a method which is about as simple as it gets!

The first bass that I landed in darkness on thius mark was in truly magnificent condition. And as I held her up to the flashing red light (as my camera counted down on the ten-second timer) I marvelled at the power and aggression flexing through the entire 62cm of its body – what a gorgeous fish!

As I mentioned earlier in this post, with the sea remaining warm and these fish intent on feeding avidly at this time of year they seemingly possess boundless levels of energy – proven in the battle, the unhooking process and how strongly they swim away (I’d suggest that there’s a greater danger to them injuring themselves when they’re thrashing around on the rocks/beach).

Cchung bass on soft lures
My second bass of the ‘night session’ and one that, surprisingly, made two attempts at snaffling the lure – again, something that is an atypical event in my experience – in darkness at least…

As the high spring tide began to ebb I ‘cracked on’ for a final hour of hard fishing. I had an inkling that a few more fish might move through here – as they’d often done so during the four month period (two years ago) when I’d put quite a lot of time into this mark. My patience and perseverance did indeed finally paid off, when a bass of 57cm took two swipes at the lure (the first of which registered via a tiny tap through my extraordinarily light and sensitive set up), before creating a foaming mass of water only 10m in front of me as it hooked itself – God I love these fish!

My set up

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So I’ve received a number of messages and e-mails asking me what rod and reel I am currently using? Therefore, I shall now reveal that the rod is a Shimano Dialuna S86ML 6-32g rod that I had to import from Japan via a company called JDM Tackle Heaven here. The reel is a Shimano Vanquish C3000MHG that I purchased in the UK (and received the next day incidentally) from a company in Dorset called Todber Manor Fisheries. They have a lure department here that I think is a bit of gem – particularly in regards to the high-end lure rods they sell (Major Craft Triple Cross and HTO Shore Game, for example), but more especially, for the Daiwa and Shimano spinning reels that they have in stock.

My Book

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Alongside the positive reviews in the angling press (most notably from the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society) I have been overwhelmed by the response from the readers who have purchased my book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ since its publication in October 18.

To receive e-mails and messages from my fellow anglers detailing, how, after reading about and putting into practice or altering certain aspects to their approach, has assisted them to catch more or bigger bass (both from venues they’d previously overlooked or on lures types they had never used before) really does make my day!

If you would like to purchase a copy, either for yourself or for as a Christmas present for someone else perhaps, then please complete the contact form below. The price is £18.99 which includes the postage and packaging to a UK address – although I can post the book to anywhere in the world (I’ve sent copies to South Africa, Australia and all over Europe).

2020 Vouchers

Guide bass fishing Christmas ideas

Have you been considering a guided bass lure fishing session with me here in beautiful south Devon? If so, then this might just be the final push you require – especially if you’re difficult to ‘buy for’ or have everything you already need (I’m thinking boxes of shiny new lures and a rather untested rod/reel!).

My ‘South Devon Bass Guide’ vouchers can be redeemed at any stage during 2020 and can be used as ‘part payment’ for either a 4 hour or an 8 hour session. Moreover, they can also be used in conjunction with one of my popular 3 Day Packages – the dates of which (for 2020) will be released very soon. My prices, including those for next year can be found here.

*Please note I am already taking bookings for next season, therefore, I would highly recommend getting in touch soonest to arrange a date should you receive a voucher as a gift*

To purchase or to enquire about one of these £50 or £100 vouchers you can also complete the contact form below and I will reply as soon as possible:

Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling





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