Client Catches – The perfect session?

Client Catches – The perfect session?

After a period in the ‘bass doldrums’, when the hand-sized joey mackerel were hounding the whitebait relentlessly yet the bass were conspicuous by their absence, things have taken dramatic upturn this past week. Indeed, I have a number of short stories in the pipeline, including some lovely bass for my clients (their first on a lure and some personal bests too) plus, a real whopper that I managed to land during a brief and unexpected session – isn’t it always the way!

The brief

To say Stu (a new client of mine) had received and read ‘the brief’ was an understatement. Having digested a number of my posts over the past 18 months, he arrived with what is a fabulous bass lure rod (for the money) and one that I mentioned in my previous post – the HTO Nebula 270 7-35g. This was nicely balanced by the usually and equally excellent (yet somewhat ‘stiff and clonking’ on this occasion for whatever reason?) Daiwa LT Ninja 3000C loaded with my favourite ‘Savage Gear Silencer 20lb in the dark green’ braid.

The Sun was hot and the sea exceedingly clear as we arrived above the first mark during mid-afternoon. The plan was to fish a tide race positioned above a series of ledges that I know the bass love to utilise a couple of hours either side of high water. “Surface lure, that’s what it’s all about this afternoon Stu”, was my comment as I studiously tied a new leader-to-braid knot for him – “we have to make any bass swimming along in the tide make an ‘instant’ decision” I added, “and something splashing either quickly or sporadically should prove hard to resist if they are ‘in the mood…”

Lessons

Although Stu had experienced catching his first ever bass on a lure (on the tiny yet brilliant Patchinko 100) earlier this season from the Suffolk coastline, it quickly became obvious (in the nicest possible way!) that both his casting and ‘walk the dog’ technique required some attention. To be fair to Stu, when we arrived the sea was rather choppy and irregular, meaning it would be difficult to see, and therefore coordinate, the rod and reel action required to really get the most out of the Patchinko II surface slider. However, after a bit of tweaking, alongside me asking him to ‘maintain the tension’ consistently, he was soon working the lure superbly – huge credit to him.

With some further guidance administered in order to really compress the Nebula, the ‘Big Patch’ was soon sailing out consistently and well into what I reasoned would be the section of water that would soon see the bass filtering into – shoal by shoal hopefully! Moreover, although my initial rallying and encouragement that “you’ll be casting that far and purring within an hour mate” (following a cast I’d made to demonstrate the rod’s prowess) might have appeared overly positive to Stu, he was indeed reaching the ‘tide line’ and retrieving the lure brilliantly within this timescale. “Good work coach” was his retort!

Near and far

For the next thirty minutes Sammy the seal and his mate just wouldn’t leave us alone, but about an hour before high tide it happened – splash, yes! Stu was in, as a 1lb bass walloped the lure about 15m off of our stance – which on this mark is about as near as they tend to get to the angler. Understandably, he was clearly a happy angler and client now that his labouring under the heat had paid off, and as we yapped about life, family and our previous careers a shoal of mackerel swished past us in the unbelievably clear water, signalling the next exciting chapter of the session.

Further out this time, a better bass nailed what is a very effective, if rather large (at 140mm) lure when used appropriately (deeper water, swell or choppy sea conditions in my opinion) and this time he said it felt bigger! Sure enough the bass below was soon nestling in the net, as all of a sudden things just felt decidedly ‘bassy’ with a few clouds obscuring the Sun momentarily alongside the baitfish and mackerel activity.

Working a surface lure effectively is fundamental to your chances of success.

A quick ‘grip and grin’ and within a series of swirls and more dedicated attacks on a lure that was looking more bedraggled by the minute, Stu managed to winkle out another smaller bass just as the tide reached its peak and the seals turned up again… It was time for a break – ooowww what I would have given for half-a-lager at that stage!

Concentrate

Like all of my marks – I know them very, very well, and although keeping notes clearly isn’t an exact Science when you’re dealing with a mercurial creature, I knew that Stu’s best chance of a ‘trophy fish’ would arrive on the ebb. Concentration was key now – slow the cast down, keep the tension on the line, make the lure thrash on the surface and then leave it to rest occasionally were my utterings…

I’d commented to Stu that I reckoned the next fish he’d hook would “pull his arm off” and true to recent form, this mark produced yet again as I turned just in time to witness Stu bent into what was clearly a much better bass. Characteristically (for this venue anyhow) the fish remained deep during the early stages of the battle, but as he brought it closer to a particular rock that was now just appearing on the surface, it did what most wily bass do – it attempted to drag the braid across and around it!

“Keep the side strain to the left”, “bully it”, “turn it!” were my instructions as Stu applied the requisite amount of power, as what I could see at a range of 12m was a good one. I reckon it came within inches of severing the line on the rock, but once the fish was on the surface and now wallowing and angrily shaking its head tantalisingly close to my net it was just a case of keeping the rod low (so to not be stood right over the fish with the rod bent right over) and coaxing her close enough for me to pounce – yes!, in she went!

It wasn’t my intention to make this just over 4lb bass to look like a battle-cruiser – it was just a case of asking Stu to adjust the angle of the bass in the very bright sunshine in order to capture a decent shot! It’s still a fantastic fish of course, and easily Stu’s personal best by some margin.

‘Peachy’ beach

It had been a good day out already most certainly, and with lots of options available to me in regards to some fantastically rugged marks close by, in reality, once the wind began to pick up the decision to move somewhere completely different was an easy one to make. So following a thirty minute drive along what must surely be one of the most picturesque roads on the south coast of England (yes, I’m a little bias!) we arrived on a clifftop car park ready for stage two of the session – dusk into darkness.

Here, what I can safely describe as a ‘peach of beach’ tucked away out of the stiffening breeze would be our home for the final three hours of the session. With baitfish (whitebait and sand eels) drifting around our knees as we stood in the water, and with the occasional swirl signalling predators on the hunt, it took only minutes for Stu to latch into the gorgeous bass below on the Patchinko 100 this time – a brilliant ‘small fish scattering and fleeing imitation’ in my view.

Thereafter, things went a little quiet as the exertions of the day started to take their toll – indeed, I even mistook a rock just about to become exposed as a big bass swirling after baitfish! The afternoon Sun had zapped us to be honest, therefore, just as the latter stages of dusk set in I suggested to Stu that we should ‘rest’ the area for twenty minutes in order to take stock, have a bite to eat and to discuss the virtues of the next lure he would be using – a white, 6″, OSP Dolive Stick.

Describing and demonstrating how the horizontal descent that these lures perform is (I believe) one of its greatest attributes, in addition to the 45-90o turn that the DoLive makes when you flick your wrist or turn the reel’s handle in short spurts, Stu was quickly mesmerised – even on an agonisingly slow retrieve these lures still look amazing by virtue of the gently waggling tail and the slaloming movement.

Grunt

All we needed to do now was fool a bass in the darkness and I could tick this session off as one that was nigh-on perfect! It didn’t start too well though because as we were about to wander down the beach and commence fishing a seal grunted its disapproval at us for being on ‘his patch’, before deciding to meander back into the depths and around to an adjacent cove – what characters they are!

This was it – cast out, ensure there was (again) some tension on the line so to remain in instant contact with the weedless soft plastic as it sank over the reef, before commencing a slow and steady retrieve initially, followed by bouts of pauses and gentle jerks of the rod tip… Fish! A bass had grabbed the DoLive within seconds of it hitting the water, before taking a couple of centimetres of line. Stu knew the drill pretty well by now though, and with my head torch banged on instantly another bass in the 45cm range (not huge, but immensely satisfying when you’ve never fished like this before) was soon being held up for the camera.

Stu then summed everything up delightfully when he said “I think that is an excellent time to call it a night Marc” – it really had been the most ‘perfect’ session. Stu’s review/recommendation that he very kindly placed on my South Devon Bass Guide Business Page can be found below:

“I had the huge pleasure of having a guided day with Marc. In the few days run up to it I was kept up to date with how the weather & tides were looking and where we might be looking to go. The day was everything I had I hoped it would be & much more!

From the very start Marc was on it with helping me with my casting, working the lure (I’m a bit of a novice) and all done in a great way that made you feel at ease & positive that you are going to catch that fish on the next cast! He has this amazing positivity & genuine excitement that passes off on to you & considering he does this for a living and sees fish caught he couldn’t be more pleased when it all comes into place.

Marc put me onto a few nice fish and always gentle tuition in little comments here & there to help. For beginners to experienced lure fishermen I would highly recommend booking. I have come away feeling positive about when the conditions are right I will catch! Thanks again Marc for a fantastic day.”

My Book

Released in October 18, after reading positive recommendations of my book, in addition from receiving emails from people who have read it and put the information contained within to catch their first or just more bass, is something that makes all the time and effort that went it extremely rewarding. Thank you – it is really, really appreciated. An independent review, written by the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society, can be found here.

Having sold out, I recently commissioned another batch. Therefore, with delivery of my self-published title ‘The Lure of The Bass’ due in the coming days, if you’d like to be added to my waiting list then please do not hesitate to contact me via the form below:

Thanks for reading as always.

Marc Cowling

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