Client Catches – Murky Moments…

Client Catches – Murky Moments…

A question I am asked on regular basis is: how do I approach, and ultimately attempt to catch a bass on a lure when the water is very murky? So with some of the catches that my clients have recently achieved having been tempted during such circumstances, and within locations and conditions that I have actively sought out, rather than having to ‘deal with’, I thought I would write a blog post about these achievements.

What has been exceedingly satisfying for me as their guide, is that the majority of these catches have subsequently brought about those ‘light-bulb’ moments to the captors too – the ‘ah, I know of precisely the location where I can try this in my own patch now Marc’ or Wow, I now have the confidence to fish in such murky water’ type comment – both of which encapsulate one of the reasons why I love my job so much.

Another wonderful evening out on the rugged south Devon coastline as a client of mine practices his ‘Needlefish retrieve style’ before it becomes dark – more on this approach, alongside how we’ve recently been utilising ‘hard diving or sinking lures’ in my next post.


First of all, although the tactics, and to be more specific the actual lure types themselves can most certainly be used when the water is turbulent, rough, full of weed fragments and lacking in clarity on the open coast, within this particular post I am going to concentrate on the more brackish, peaty, rain affected estuary and muddy creek-type scenarios which, as briefly mentioned, I have been purposely targeting with my clients of late.

So why have I been shuffling around these rather ‘sludgy’ environments? Because the open-coast bass had, until recently, been exceedingly difficult to locate. Was or is everything ‘nature and bass’ related 4-6 weeks behind? That’s a blog post in itself isn’t it, but it’s been an odd season so far that’s for sure…

Wind and Tide

From a ‘tactics’ perspective first then, and with the forecast light 10mph northerly turning out to be a bloody stiff 25mph easterly that was howling down the estuary on this particular morning, I instructed the three returning clients who were enjoying one of my 3 Day Packages to clip on some soft plastics rigged onto 3-7g belly-weighted hooks respectively, instead of the surface lures I had been planning on placing at least one of them onto.

When wind and tide are battling against each other on the surface layer itself, in my experience it often pays to look ‘sub-surface’ instead in order to aid lure presentation. Therefore, with the additional weight added to the lures, designed to assist ‘tethering’ the soft plastics in question (a pure white OSP DoLive Stick, one in the lovely ‘Sight Special‘ colour and a ‘Paddle Tailed‘ white Savage Gear Gravity Stick) so that they remained close to the seabed or at mid-water level on the retrieve rather than to aid casting distance, as my trio commenced this session I was delighted to discover a definite contrast in the water’s clarity between the immediate muddy margins bordering the channel they were casting into, and a slightly more transparent central ribbon of water farther out in the faster running flow.

The OSP DoLive Stick in ‘Sight Special – a lure that as you know I think is amazing, in a colour configuration that is proving to be highly productive also.

So with the DoLives being fished on a slow and occasional ‘twitch’ retrieve, and the Gravity Stick being essentially ‘ploughed’ through the shallow (4ft) and choppy and ‘coloured up’ water water before us, on this occasion the bass (above and below) succumbed to the former. Moreover, almost as expected, the attack occurred within only a few turns of the handle after the lure had ‘splashed’ pretty much on the convergence between the more turbid section of water, before entering (via the retrieve) the clearer section – a sublime predator that was seemingly following this line as it were (as they so often do) as it provides them (as well as the angler of course) with a substantial advantage in the ‘hunter’ stakes.

My client (Rob) was especially pleased to be out-fishing his mentor Tom (of TC Lures) for a change!


There clearly wasn’t an abundance of bass within this south Devon estuary system, therefore, on the following day I took a punt on another beautiful waterway even though I knew the water would most probably be even murkier overall. Arriving at the bottom of the tide, the clarity didn’t look too bad at between 8-12″ initially, but as the pace of the flood quickened and the current began to stir up the mucky foreshore I surmised that a white, wriggling, throbbing or pulsing ‘paddle-tailed’ soft plastic, again rigged onto a 3-5g belly-weighted hook to combat or counter the powerful and laterally running flow/current over the wind on this occasion, should be the order of the day.

Yet another bass that fell to the charms of the excellent Savage Gear Gravity Stick (Paddle Tail) during this particular 3 Day Package.

I have heard from and have read about, many anglers’ experiences with a darker shaded or even black coloured soft plastic lure in very murky water, but I have to say that a white lure currently gets my vote. Ultimately though, like many, I suspect that it is the vibration that is being emitted that garners any initial attention, before the fish most probably sees the lure in the final second before walloping it!

This was most certainly the case as, a couple of hours into the flood, Rob’s rod thumped over following what was, in essence, a cast parallel to the gravel/mud/rocky/weedy shoreline. For a second or two I thought this fish was going to be a beast, but when it failed to take any line I suspected it was only around the 3lb mark, which indeed, it turned out to be (see below):

Proof that even in very, very low levels of water clarity that bass can ‘home in’ on the lure with no issue whatsoever.

A pleasing element to this capture was not only the fact that it had been caught in water with barely any clarity to it at all, but that it appeared just when I’d anticipated they would – within that natural trigger point (the like of which I cover in extensive detail within my most recent book ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective‘) that was the ‘speeding up’ of the tide during the middle portion of the flood or ebb, and when I believe bass, on the whole, travel and feed more avidly on such venues.

The difference?

Steeping away from murky water scene briefly, on another 3 Day Package I completed (the same one that yielded the 61cm beauty in the featured image and that I will cover later in this post) my clients were fishing within darkness on what can only be described as a rather ‘snug’ little cove, in what I have determined (over the course of fishing there on a regular basis over the past few seasons) as nigh-on perfect conditions…

A change of lure, from a subtle Wave Worm to a more conspicuous Savage Gear Gravity Stick Pulse Tail on this occasion proved to be the difference between a blank and putting a well-earned and well-deserved bass in the arms of my hilarious (in the nicest possible way) client Mark.

I’m often asked on what occasion or instance do I decide to change a lure for another type… Well, one of my answers to this is when I sense, suspect or have actually seen bass within our vicinity, but there are ignoring or aren’t prepared to take what we are putting out there in front of them. And this was one of those occasions, as considering the overall conditions (cloudy and therefore very dark overhead, with very calm and very clear water, in addition to a state of tide that has produced time and again) there just had to be bass out there feeding, especially as we’d nailed a small one on a surface lure at dusk.

The Pulse Tail version of what is becoming a ‘cult’ lure and one that I really like to use in darkness due to its very ‘straight tracking/swimming action – something that bass seemingly love when the lights go out and when you’re fishing in very shallow water covering a reef…

The difference, I believe, was placing Mark (above) onto a lure that was very simply ‘giving off’ more of a signature or trace in the water on this occasion – that’s the beauty of having two or three anglers to guide within the same session – you can try something different in order to ascertain what the bass want quicker, therefore expediting or increasing the chances of catching or the catch rate significantly.


Onto the story of the 61cm bass in the featured image (and below) then – one of two that my client (Louis) tenaciously extracted from an exceptionally muddy creek in which the water was, again, very cloudy close to his stance yet clearer (not clear by any means I hasten to add) further out within the channel I’d asked him to target.

Within minutes of commencing his fishing with the white Gravity Stick Paddle Tail I’d attached he was into a bass – the second fish that he said had followed the lure out of the clearer section of water on successive casts ,before snaffling it as it entered the brown(er) stuff almost at the end of his rod tip – the fish simply couldn’t see him of course!

The best was yet to come however as, just as I was talking through a technique with (typically) the client (Andrew) who was furthest away from Louis, the shout of “taking line” had me sprinting across the sticky, slippery and slithery foreshore – a glorious level of anticipation adding to my ever-increasing heart rate in those moments. What joy this brings me!

What a fish, and what a way to ‘break in’ a rod that Ben at The Art of Fishing has very kindly lent me – the delightfully easy to use Tailwalk Hi-Tide SSD 86ML 7-35g. I’m sure you would have noticed the ‘lure change’ above too – one that Louis administered himself, and that I don’t mind admitting one iota, as it’s placed yet another excellent soft plastic at the forefront of my thoughts and the possibilities for its use – we’re always learning! The lure incidentally is a 5″ Megabass Spindle Worm in (I think) the Pingisu Glow pattern rigged onto 3g Savage Gear belly-weighted weedless hook (here).

A thoroughly gorgeous bass and one that was thoroughly deserved. Louis had to depart not long after this capture during the 3 Day Package he’d booked himself onto with his fishing buddy Mark (one on which 20 bass were landed in total from a real varied selection of marks on and on numerous lure types and patterns). Congratulations on the new lure-caught PB bass mate!

So there you ago, a breakdown of the types of venues within which we’ve been chasing bass until the open coast ‘switched on’ (which it now has thankfully), in addition to the tactics, techniques and lures we’ve been using. If you don’t already own any of the lure types mentioned, and are regularly faced with less than clear water, then I hope this post facilitates or instils a little bit of confidence – you never know until you try for yourself…

My Books

‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective

I recently released my second book in March this tear 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, Henry Gilbey’s review of this title can be found here.

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. The price (which includes the postage and packaging) to a UK Mainland/Channel Island or IOM address is £21.99.

NOTE: The price to the Republic of Ireland, Europe or Worldwide address is £24.99.


Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective


‘The Lure of The Bass’

I have commissioned another print run of my first self-published book ‘The Lure of The Bass’ with delivery from the printers expected towards the middle of July – the price for this book is £18.99 to UK Mainland/IOM/Channel Island address is £21.99 to a European address.

If you would like to learn more, then a breakdown of what is encompassed within the chapters can be found via the 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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