Client Catches – Drawing them in…

Client Catches – Drawing them in…

A short blog post, but one that really emphasizes the importance of getting the tactics and/or methods ‘spot on’ in order to ‘tempt’ or ‘draw in’ the bass during a period in the year when their overall numbers are low, and their feeding habits are understandably sporadic in nature…

Below average

With the sea temperature rising exceedingly slowly, in part, due to the cold spell we’ve been experiencing recently, you can forgive any bass present to be lacking in vitality! Indeed, although warmer than many areas around the UK (at between 9.4oC and 9.8oC) the sea lapping the south Devon shoreline is decidedly chilly and slightly below average for the time of year – blimey, imagine what the fishing will be like when we enjoy a few days of 18-20oC ‘heat’ then!

Things are rarely this straight forward of course, but what is interesting is that alongside the personal best behemoth I landed on the 29th March (here), the other bass that I’ve caught just recently (alongside those landed by my first few clients of the new season this past last week) have been small and all landed in the darkness. Moreover, the fish that I have seen follow the lure, or that I have witnessed at very close quarters in daylight (including that 74cm whopper!) have essentially ignored the lures placed in front of them – and that’s the ones I spotted…

This suggests perhaps that they just weren’t in ‘feeding mode’, which in turn got me thinking that there is a distinct possibility that the bass present are saving/preserving their energy in order to hunt and feed at night – a period when the crabs are definitely more active and when any tiny fry present shelter in the shallows – especially if they’ve been warmed by the strong afternoon Sun – a theory that I cover in great detail within my new book: Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective.

Slow and Deep

When the bass are hunting ‘head down’ and snuffling along close to the seabed looking for crabs, gobies, blennies, rockling and the like, then a surface lure fished in anything but a few feet of water will most probably be largely dismissed. My clients have used them over the past week too, as the ‘walk the dog’ method is something they have either wanted to learn or that I’ve felt they should look to perfect as they move forward with their own bass lure fishing journeys.

Instead then, in addition to bouts of casting Savage Gear Pencil lures out in the surf, targeting lightly frothing and boiling gullies with deeper running hard minnows, and twitching weightless soft plastics over various reef systems, the humble paddle tail lure has seen a fair bit of water time. At the forefront of my tactics has been asking my clients to fish them slowly (just enough that the vibrating tails can be felt transmitting through to the rod tip) and deeply, plus as close to or on the seabed itself – the aspiration being to give any bass present the opportunity to ‘home in’ on it, track it, and then apply the least amount of effort possible in order to snare its meal…

The downside to this approach however is that in broad daylight, and particularly within the very clear water around the coastline at the moment, is that the wary bass will get an extraordinarily good look at the lure – which is when, based on dozens and dozens of experiences over the past few years, the darkness becomes your greatest ally…

A selection of soft plastic paddle tail lures including the Gary Yamamoto Swim Senko (far left) Sunslicker Swimish, Keitech Easy Shiner, Savage Gear Gravity Stick, OSP DoLive Shad and Effzett Kick S Minnow.

In addition to our chances being greatly enhanced by ensuring that this very successful guided session overlapped into the gloom, after asking my client to try all manner of lure types, approaches, retrieve styles and speeds whilst standing in essentially the same position for 6 hours, there were four or five attributes or facets that, between us, I believe ultimately culminated in the magnificent capture of the 67cm/7lb stunner depicted in this post:

  • Ultimate confidence in a specific lure type and method.
  • Trust in your instinct (in regards to the venue and conditions).
  • Concentration.
  • Perseverance.
  • A bit of luck!
A wonderful bass at any time of the year, my client was a little ‘shocked’ I think! Fair play though, he kept remarkably calm whilst battling this one (that was full of vivacity in comparison to the 74cm bass I landed late last month due to not having spawned yet I believe) – leaning on his lure fishing for pike expertise brilliantly.

Covering the above headings and elements one by one, I have already outlined my confidence in the overall method, but the lure that attracted the gorgeous early-April bass above was a white Gary Yamamoto Swim Senko, fished on a slow retrieve (one turn of his 4000 size reel per second) and very close (a matter of centimetres) to the bottom.

Incidentally, after unhooking and successfully releasing her, my client told me how this bass had made two ‘initial enquires’ in respect to the lure – signalled by a couple of soft ‘plucks come taps’ before a more solid sensational was felt. He added that it was more a case of sudden pressure rather than an instant and the more usual instantaneous ‘wallop’ or ‘hit’ – proof perhaps that the fish wasn’t in a hurry, and in fact followed and ‘mouthed’ the lure before finally engulfing it – classic early-season behaviour alongside being a classic case of drawing the fish in without alarming it.

A mangled (the soft body of the lure was ripped as you can see above) Gary Yamamoto Swim Senko that was torn away from the excellent 5/0 Eagle Claw 8g weighted swimbait hook.

Then there’s the instinct aspect. This is when, alongside deciding to stick or twist in regards to the actual lure attached, I believe I am really earning my money as a professional guide. I had played with the idea of moving to a different location towards dusk, but this venue, in the conditions I’d decided in the planning for this session where ideal, represented the ‘best chance’ I felt we had. Having reiterated the comment I made in my previous blog post to my client that “the bass at this time of the year are either the size of your hand or the size of your arm!” all I could now do was watch, encourage and hope that something would move through in the gradually quickening pace of small neap tide.

Concentration: Again, I’ve probably mentioned this before, but it does take a remarkable amount of concentration to stand, rooted to one spot, casting continually into the murk, and basically turning the handle – it sounds very simple (which indeed it is), but it is very easy to start retrieving too quickly, too slowly or even with a ‘fast then slow’ turn of the handle that will only serve to recover the lure in an unnatural and staggered state.

A meaty 9ft Nomura lure rod, that was placed under a lot of strain as this marvellous early-season bass neared the shoreline – upon hitting the lights this one also stripped a few metres of line off of the tight drag setting.

A virtue that I have mentioned many times is of course perseverance – an attribute that once you have a fair idea of what you’re doing is arguably the number one component to a successful session. It links in with instinct also, as there is a very fine line between being pig-headed, flogging a dead horse or possibly being delusional on the odd occasion about your chances of catching and knowing when to walk away – the water being dangerously rough being an example of this. Thankfully, my client on this occasion, alongside the vast majority of my clients it has to be said, possessed the ‘perseverance gene’ as I regularly call it!

Finally, I can’t deny that whenever I am out fishing or guiding a slice of luck is something that all of us need – particularly when the fish are thin on the ground, and even more so when you’ve just entered the final hour of the session. One of my jobs is to increase the odds in or at the very least place more of them in our favour most certainly, and by choosing to conduct this session so that it encompassed the turn of the tide, the changing light levels and a period within the tide in which I/we have previously enjoyed success on this venue I hoped to do that, but even I was surprised at the thrashing, angry and bulky beauty that appeared before me as I desperately tried to coax her over the rim of the net!

“It only takes a second to turn a quiet session into a truly memorable one”, a comment I’d only made a few minutes prior to hearing one of my favourite phrases fill the cold night air “Yes, this is a big fish Marc!”. Good luck in your own quest to catch a good-sized bass now that we can all venture a little further afield. They are definitely out there – you might just have to try a little bit harder or think around the problem a little bit more until their numbers increase and their metabolic rate rises with the air and sea temperature… Go for it!!

My Books

‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective’

As mentioned earlier in this post, I have recently released my second book titled ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 1)’. If you would like to discover more about this title and what is encompassed within the pages then you can follow the link to the blog post I wrote upon its release last month here. Furthermore, to purchase a copy you can either utilise the PayPal link below or for Bank Transfer enquiries you can utilise the Contact Form at the bottom of this post. PLEASE NOTE that the price (which includes the postage and packaging) to a UK Mainland/Channel Island or IOM address is £21.99, with the price to the Republic of Ireland, Europe or Worldwide at £24.99

Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective


‘The Lure of The Bass’

I have commissioned another print run (100 books) of my first self-published book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ with delivery from the printers expected around the 15th-17th April. If you would like to learn more, then a breakdown of what is encompassed within the chapters can be found via a blog post I wrote upon its release back in October 2018 here. Furthermore, an independent review written by the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society can be found here in which they described it as the ‘Haynes Manual’ of bass lure angling!’

If you would like to enquire about either ‘The Lure of The Bass’ or ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective’ then you can contact me via the form below, whereby I will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling

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