Client Catches – How precise is precise…?

Client Catches – How precise is precise…?

Thank goodness for that… I have finally moved house, unpacked (sort of!) and I can, at last, sit down and write a blog post! Phew! I am knackered I have to say, and guiding 3 Day Package parties with 3 anglers either side of the days I actually moved definitely knocked the stuffing out of me… Thankfully, those packages coincided with some marvellous weather and sea conditions that, without doubt, assisted those clients participating to land some equally marvellous bass – all of which will be revealed over the comings weeks unless you haven’t already seen some of them on Facebook!

Another beautiful bass is safely and successfully released by one of my recent clients.

So, following on from the ‘How murky is murky…?’ post I wrote a couple of week ago now, what is effectively ‘Part 2’ of this short series describes the catches achieved by my clients during two separate guided sessions, in which two specific and/or very precise characteristics (that I’d previously identified in relation to the marks in question over years of research) undoubtedly accounted for the catches you’ll read about below – including the stunningly silvery specimen being presented in the featured image.

Rocky road

I would absolutely love to post up an image or photograph of the exact pebble-filled gully in question here, but I’m afraid it would very possibly ‘blow’ the mark, therefore, I will have to describe it in detail instead. It is, as the heading suggests, a bass road or route of sorts, some 5ft wide and 12-15ft long, running at 90 degrees to the shoreline and set amongst an area of reef (flat rocks with adjoining weed beds) within easy casting distance from a converging or connecting patch of shingle beach – the type of which are exceedingly common here in south Devon and around the rockier areas of the UK and Europe I am sure.

One of my clients (who happens to be a bloody good angler) with a bass caught on the famed OSP Dolive Stick (in pure white) that had been consistently arrowed into and retrieve through the ‘rocky road’ just as this cracking bass decided to take a turn down it!

What is particularly noteworthy about this ‘rocky road’, that connects the beach, via the reef, to a large sandy expanse is that very few of the bass that my clients and I have caught along this 150m stretch of shoreline (10% perhaps) have been hooked outside of this very, very specific location in respect of the overall underwater seascape.

Clearly then, there is something intrinsically attractive about this feature that the bass just love to investigate, and it really is a case of casting a lure, very precisely, into it again and again until the bass turn up – which on this a occasion they did, although in short supply, which makes what turned out to be a kind of ‘experiment’ all the more revealing!

Another bass, taken on the same lure and from exactly the same, and exceedingly precise, venue/feature during another session.

With two anglers (who are good friends) my clients for the evening, once one of them had landed a near 4lb bass from the favoured zone, I immediately asked the successful captor if he wouldn’t mind if his mate slotted straight into position instead! He’d been casting and retrieving across the whole surrounding area for the past two hours or so without so much as a tap on the rod tip to show for his efforts. “No problem at all Marc” came the reply – which speaks volumes for these guys and their fishing friendship.

Although he’d initially been using the brilliant Albie Snax (if my memory and my notes serve me correctly) to search out the entire reef system, I’d subsequently asked him to change over to a white OSP Dolive Stick also, rigged onto a 3g belly-weighted hook (for additional distance/coverage and control in the very slight swell). With both anglers now using the same lure this had in fact been the first time that I’d guided two anglers along this fairly compact region in the darkness. It would therefore, be extremely interesting to see if another bass could be extracted from ‘the gully’ whilst his mate went about the casting and moving that hadn’t exactly served his mate all that well earlier in the tide and session.

Not a big bass, but one that provided confirmation (as much as anyone can possibly ascertain given we are attempting to trace and trick a wild creature) that this is the place to place your lure!

It didn’t take long, and when it happened I was overjoyed that I’d made the call to swap them over! Yet again, it was indeed the White DoLive Stick, gently twitched straight through the ‘rocky road’ that accounted for bass number two of the night – one in which no other bites were registered despite some serious interrogation of the adjacent reef(s).

Of note, although it does slightly contradict my assertion to cast repeatedly into a gully, pool or within the vicinity of a standalone patch of sand or weed bed, waiting for the bass to come to you, it can often pay to keep in your back pocket the capacity to leave one of these areas to ‘rest’, and to allow any bass in the area to move into them and become established as it were for 5-10 minutes before returning to it again. There have been many occurrences in which a lure delicately lobbed into a similar ‘bass lair’ has resulted in an instantaneous yank through the rod and the fish is on!

The ribbon

In my second self-published book ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective‘ I devote an entire chapter (as I did in my first title ‘The Lure of The Bass‘) to the movement and behaviour of bass. In particular, I concentrate on what I have determined are ‘Perceptible Pathways’ such as the very obvious (to the bass-trained eye) gullies, interlinking culverts, channels and pools, in addition to the inconspicuous or ‘Imperceptible Pathways’ such as the route a bass, or a school of bass will take, unbeknown to the unsuspecting bass lure angler, across certain types of seabed or within the fiercer sections of the current or tidal flow.

It was the latter of these two scenarios that my client in this short account would be targeting – an almost invisible ribbon of faster flowing water that the bass seemingly hitch a ride on – either to feed within or just to get from A to B… Here, the flooding tide is naturally forced or redirected around a mini-headland, and then across an adjacent bay in such a way that you can ‘feel’ its potency even on the smaller neap tides, particularly whilst utilising a weightless soft plastic at night.

By day, the first signs that I picked up on here where vast volumes of shells washed up on the tiny cove bordering the rocks here. But it was only when I returned to fish it some 4 years ago now, on a day when the water was so calm you would have thought you could have ice-skated out to sea on it, that I witnessed a phenomenon that I believe is quite rare – the current effectively ‘splitting’ in two…

I couldn’t actually see this occurring with the naked eye, and it was only whilst retrieving a small surface lure and occasionally pausing it that I realised that if I stopped the lure in one position it would move in the flow to my left, yet if I stopped it only a couple of metres away from this point it would move naturally in the current to my right. Pause the lure on precisely the right track or trajectory however and it would float quickly towards me – this had be something worthy of further investigation as a potential ‘bass route’ I surmised…


The first time I ever fished this mark in darkness I landed a number of bass up to 4lb, and ever since then, if the conditions are flat calm and there is head or crosswind to upset the ‘tidal balance’ here (wind against or across the tide isn’t pleasant when fishing at night when I like to know what is happening with a weightless soft plastic for as natural presentation as can be afforded) then almost anytime between early-April and late-January it will more than likely produce a bass – that is how consistent it is. In daylight it is fairly consistent, but I have to report that I have only encountered small bass, taken primarily on surface lures.

Perfect conditions, the ideal client, and a lure that is well and truly suited to the job of staying right on track (the ‘Pulse-tailed version of the incredibly reliable Savage Gear Gravity Stick) sorted this one out after being cast and retrieved into a narrow (2m perhaps?) ribbon of water.

The lucky recipient of a guided session and a trip to this venue was my client (Dave) who’d only recently taken up bass lure fishing from the shore. On quite a small tide, and with a bit of an easterly blowing serving to blow straight over our heads on this mark (which was one of reasons I’d chosen for this session), after witnessing a couple of small bass grab his surface lure, as the tide began to pick up I knew that the darkness would provide him with the ideal opportunity to break his duck on a soft plastic – something he was keen to achieve.

On what is essentially a rock mark for the darkness (a rarity for me), in which the water in front of you is only between 1-6ft deep the first bass that attacked his white Savage Gear Gravity Stick (Pulsetail) almost ended up on my lap! What a fright! Honestly, I was sat, with pretty much my wading boots resting in the water when, right at the end of the retrieve and almost to the minute when even the human senses could ascertain it had become dark, a bass attempted to grab the ‘GR’ as Dave lifted it from the water and scaring the living daylights out of me!

It was game on, and within a further ten casts he’d received a further ‘hit’ on the drop, and within another five or so casts, as the numbers of bass sidling through on the slipstream of the quickening current began to increase, he got walloped by a proper one!

This one really thumped the Gravity Stick halfway though the retrieve – an indication perhaps that it quickly swam up behind the lure in the current before side-swiping it as fish of this size (between 1-4lb) normally do…

So there you go, two examples of how the very accurate casting and retrieval of a lure, following some serious homework in relation to the marks, can pay off handsomely. In Part 3 (How shallow is shallow…?) I will share the short stories of three separate and quality bass (yes that 72cm/9lb+ brute is included!), landed by my clients in exceptionally shallow water – all of which were under a very bright, sunny sky too…

Thanks for reading.

Marc Cowling

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