Client Catches – Perfect Paddle Tails…

Client Catches – Perfect Paddle Tails…

First of all, apologies for the lack of a blog post in the past month! I’m afraid a combination of guiding three separate 3 Day Packages in addition to some one-to-one sessions, taking a week off to spend some quality time in Dorset for a short non-fishing holiday with my family, added to preparing to move house in 7 weeks (emptying my shocking garage and loading up the car countless times before heading to the recycling centre!) has kept me away from the keyboard.

It’s a pity too, as despite whacking up some of the catches on social media I’ve been absolutely champing at the bit to provide a more detailed insight into how my clients have landed some wonderful bass of late, including crackers of 68cm and 70cm respectively – achievements that clearly demand a blog post in their own right.

Sunset on the spectacularly beautiful south Devon coastline.

Under the sea…

You would have guessed from the title of course that a number of recent ‘client captures’ have come about following the targeted use of certain soft plastic lures of the paddle tail variety – namely the Megabass Spindleworm, Savage Gear Gravity Stick (Paddle and Pin Tail), Keitech Easy Shiner and the OSP DoLive Stick (arguably a paddle tail with that quivering node) all below with well-hooked bass attached to them as prime examples.

Alongside the immensely rewarding aspect to my job that is teaching and then placing some extraordinarily nice people onto some quality bass whilst breathing in the spectacular surroundings of south Devon, what has been especially satisfying of late is that not only am I using lures that hadn’t necessarily been ‘a staple’ edition to my lure box (the Dolive Stick aside of course), but that I am also utilising them (or rather rigging them) in ways that I haven’t always had complete confidence in…

From top to bottom: 5″ Keitech East Shiner, SG Gravity Stick Pulse Tail, SG Gravity Stick Paddle Tail, 5″ Megabass Spindleworm and 6″ OSP Dolive Stick.

On numerous occasions this season, it has been the humble paddle tail lure that has ‘done the business’ within environments and conditions that would ordinarily produce to a totally different lure type…To elaborate (in conjunction with something that is a fantastic example of just how two consecutive seasons can be so completely different in relation to bass behaviour), last year it was all about copious levels of bait fish and catching bass on surface lures, yet so far this season it has been the case that lures fished and retrieved under the sea, rather than on top of it, have yielded far more consistent results.

One of mine on the Daiwa Morethan 19 EX87ML 7-35g that I have been using alongside the Major Craft Seabass Custom 88M 7-35g. Bass larger than this modest 2lb fish have been difficult to come by on surface lures so far this season – although that could change should the expected annual influx of mackerel and whitebait materialise.

The choice

As confirmation almost, one of the great things about guiding two or more clients during the same session is that I can mix things up in relation to lure choice/selection, or even using the same lure and asking my clients to fish it in a slightly different manner until I/we find the winning formula or just what they (the bass) want on the day. With this in mind, there have been many, many occurrences recently in which I have asked one of them to commence the session with a surface lure – not just because I fancy it, or even because they have specifically asked how to be taught how to use one correctly (I would do this later in the session if this was the case), but actually because the sea state and overhead conditions have warranted their use, and because there have clearly been baitfish (in small numbers admittedly) in the water in front of us.

One of my clients (an excellent angler named Andrew) with a good bass taken in some coloured, yet very aerated water smashing up the shingle on a Megabass Zonk (in Pearl).

What I haven’t witnessed yet this year (and that was a continual sight last year) is these baitfish being noticeably harassed either by mackeral, bass, scad or anything for that matter – seemingly indicating that any bass (including the better-sized fish) present are: a) not aware of them (possible) or b) not interested (for a variety of reasons, that could include an easier food source being readily available or their metabolism and energy levels just simply not up for ‘the chase’ as it were…).

In rougher seas or when there has been a swell running though, it has often been the angler utilising the hard diving minnow that I have asked them to attach, cast and retrieve (as covered in my previous blog post here) that has experienced a hit, witnessed a bass follow or indeed landed one, and then another in quick succession, whereby I have exchanged the surface lure, or metal pattern that another client is using over to a IMA Hound Glide, IMA Sasuke, Daiwa Shoreline Shiner or what is a brilliant lure in murky sea conditions out on the open coast, the Megabass Zonk.

The winning combination out on the open coast when the sea has been rough and coloured up – a hard diving minnow in either a silver or white configuration – just what is it about white – either in murky water, darkness, or even on a very bright day in shallow water?

Situations and Examples

Back to the soft plastic paddle tails tough, and as you’ll read courtesy of the many examples below and in subsequent posts, not only of the clients’ catches but also that of my own, there has been a distinct set of components, or indeed a combination of two, three or all of them in which the aforementioned lures are becoming (in my own mind as I’m sure there are many, many anglers who are already doing this) perfectly and brilliantly suited to these environments, and are consistently coming up trumps – they include:

  • Weedy margins or clumps
  • Murky and brackish water
  • Strong currents/tidal flow
  • Undulations in the seabed
  • Bait fish present

Example 1 (Strong tide). The plump 53cm bass below was landed in shallow water (2ft) on a 5″ Megabass Spindleworm rigged onto a 5g belly-weighted weedless hook to combat both the powerful current, weed fragments in the top layers of the water (the added weight keeping the lure down) and the wind (otherwise the lure would have been dragged up onto the surface on even a very slow retrieve.

The largest of 4 bass that my client (Alan) landed in a short session on a 5″ Megabass Spindleworm – they were the first lure-caught bass he’d ever landed incidentally which is something I absolutely love being part of!

Example 2 (Murky water, Weedy margins and clumps of weed). A near 4lb bass at 54cm that utilised the clumps of weed close in to its full advantage! This crafty fish literally appeared out of the wrack right at the end of the retrieve before ‘nailing’ the White OSP Dolive Stick rigged onto a 2g belly-weighted hook. The water on this occasion was again, only 2ft deep but fairly murky with only 12″ of visibility.

One happy man! You may recognise him as the man who landed the largest daylight-caught bass (at 72cm) with me last year here.

Example 3 (Bait fish, Strong curent and Weedy margins). A proper dark-backed resident brute of a bass that hit a 5″ Megabass Spindleworm in deeper (6ft) water just within the edge of a powerful tide race. Of real significance is that my client noticed two bass (one very large swimming with a smaller one) chasing baitfish through the weedy margins in which he was stood – in fact they almost swam into his legs! Seconds later, this 4lb+ ‘stunner’ smashed his lure right under the rod tip – a combination of the fish moving through very quickly intent on chasing the ‘small fish’, in addition to not spotting him due to the weed cover – a useful constituent that the angler can use to his or her advantage as much as the bass is using it for concealment, and that element of surprise when hunting their prey.

Is there a more formidable looking fish in our waters? Not for me!

Example 4 (Undulations, Strong current and Murky/brackish water). Three beautiful 3lb+ bass that latched onto the vibrations of the 5″ Spindleworm and 5″ Keitech Easy Shiner respectively in, as you can see, some pretty turbid sea conditions whilst being retrieved over (and occasionally just touching to stir up the sediment) an undulating and gravely seabed. It is my belief that the bass can effectively ‘sit’ within these depressions with the full strength of the flow washing over their heads, whereby they can position themselves ready to pounce on anything that washes or is being carried towards them – it was most certainly the case on the three occasions below:

Example 5 (Darkness, Strong current and Weedy Margins). Darkness creates an additional layer of stealth and concealment into the bargain in that the bass will be ‘itching’ to slink into the shallows to feed on small fish, shrimps and crabs, with the added bonus being that they won’t be able to see you or get too good a look at that lure (something that they must do when the water is clear and the sky is bright).

The 5″ Keitech Easy Shiner (in white) rigged on a 3g Savage Gear weedless hook and the Pulse Tail version of the Savage Gear Gravity Stick (also in white) accounted for the 3lb and near 4lb bass below to my happy clients as the tide whipped laterally along an area of weedy shoreline. What is notable is that both fish attacked the lure at the end of the retrieve and literally off of the rod tip almost within the weed itself – scaring the living daylights out of one the guys!

My Books

Both of my books ‘The Lure of The Bass‘ (Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society review here) and my most recent release ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective‘ are currently available, albeit in limited numbers between now and an anticipated batch prior to Christmas. If you would like to purchase a copy please contact me via the Contact Form at the bottom of this page and I will send you the details.

Thanks for your patience and thank you for reading.

Marc Cowling

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