Client Catches – Expect the Unexpected…

Client Catches – Expect the Unexpected…

A ‘hunter’s instinct’ – do all of us possess it? Yes, I think we do to a certain extent, and it is most certainly something that can be honed’ and/or refined in conjunction with chasing the mesmerising Mr and Mrs Labrax on a lure…

Being able to pick up on the signs of potential or impending bass activity, such as the turn of the tide, the changing light levels, bait fish appearing or a group of cormorants hunting nearby, or indeed, sensing when a change of lure may be required, an alteration to the retrieve style or trajectory, or even a shift of maybe only a few metres to search out a different submerged feature is just what may result in a boil, a hit, or a full blooded swipe at that piece of plastic you’re almost praying will be attacked!

Dusk. A period in the day when bass will habitually move into increasingly shallow water to hunt – even over pure sand as was the case on this occasion…


Like many of you, I have been lure fishing for bass for long enough to appreciate that we will never know even 1% of what really goes on underwater. Moreover, if there’s one thing that never ceases to amaze me/us about ‘a quarry that can have you in a real quandary‘ it is how they surprise us again, and again, and again…

Interestingly, what this means is that if you’re a relative newcomer, perhaps without any pre-conceived notion of how to catch a bass on a lure, then you may just land a fish of a lifetime within your first few casts, sessions or season such is the nature of ‘sods law’, together with a customary habit that bass possess, which is to routine turn up in places many of us believe, or once believed, they wouldn’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t – which is a contradiction in itself I guess…!?

A sandy beach was the location in which this client capture (of close to 8lb) was caught and released just recently. But was it prior planning, skill or utter fortitude that contributed to it completely obliterating his surface lure – or all three perhaps…?


When considering many of the bass catches my clients and I have achieved over the past five seasons in particular (the period in which I have operated as a full-time professional guide), I believe the constituents that have contributed the most to our relatively consistent successes are:

  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Tenacity
  • A dollop of luck on occasion!

You could almost say that the final two constituents kind of overlap or are interlinked in some way, and they definitely link in to that ‘hunters instinct’ I’ve mentioned, the ‘watercraft factor’ that is continually being augmented, and the age-old saying that you ‘make your own luck…’ Moreover, I can think of dozens of further examples: with the classics being a particular lure (one I haven’t seen before or had more or less forgotten about) that I’ve taken a shine to within a clients’ lure box and that has subsequently done the business (there’s a fantastic example here), or when I’ve decided to cast a lure somewhere bordering on ‘obscure’ or not really ‘fitting the mode’ only to be pleasantly surprised!

A slightly blurry image (apologies), but one that captures the aggressiveness of this beautiful bass none the less.

The standout

Getting to the crux of what placed the majestic, Sun-soaked and very near 70cm stunner featured in this post onto the sand and into the arms of one of my recent clients (Dave C) then, and it was actually a culmination of everything I’ve described above – except the lure that ‘lured it’ is an absolute stalwart in my own, and most anglers’ collection I would imagine – the Xorus Patchinko 125.

69.8 ish centimetres of brilliant splendour! Not quite 70cm, but a ‘fish of a lifetime’ as Dave described it all the same. Many congratulations!!

The standout contributor to this brilliant capture wasn’t only the way the lure was being expertly worked by Dave in some tricky conditions (very bright and sunny with very clear and calm water), but it was actually the type of venue itself – a primarily featureless sandy beach would you believe! I say ‘primarily’, as there is one distinguishing feature that would be exceptionally easy for the untrained ‘bass eye’ to miss and that is the way the tide interacts with the seabed within a specific sector (one particular corner) of the bay as it were…

Now, going all the way back to the start of this post, in addition to re-taking note of the four constituents that have aided our/my successes. During the dozens of times I have guided my clients on this beach (which is a place I will often teach people to work/retrieve a surface lure for the first time with a high degree of confidence that a sub-2lb bass will nail the lure and confirm that what they are doing is correct – that almost instance confirmation if you like) is the supposition that, based on its similarity to some very productive venues of mine, that it really should throw up a very decent bass, or at the very least, there is no reason why it wouldn’t


Oh No! I was looking the other way towards Dave’s father and brother fishing away happily when I heard him shout and saw the bend in the rod! It was immediately clear that this was a was a ‘good-un’, but there was a problem: the net was 20m away! Sprinting across the sand to grab it, and then sprinting back again to be by his side, it really was a case of thank goodness I’m a bit leaner and fitter than usual, as what was a real battleship of a bass boiled angrily in the shallows before us. After a nervous few seconds on my part in she went though – just as the hook hold failed too (and this time the bugger didn’t escape form my freshly sewn up net following the Houdini act of the 73cm bass from the previous post here!).

A mark that has consistently produced lots of small bass, but that I’ve considered many times while stood on it could or should produce something much, much bigger, eventually did!


Fish a mark/venue long enough and often enough and it will produce something special because you’ve chosen to fish it for a multitude of specific reasons, having the audacity to try something new aided by some previous experience and knowhow, or just sheer out and out luck that a near 8lb bass would swim past and decide to eat the lure – sometimes you can dare to expect the unexpected…

The Bass Fishery Management Plan (BFMP)

I know from the analytics on my website that many of my readers access my blog via Google searches and the like, and that many of my readers possibly aren’t active on Social Media platforms such as Facebook. I have stolen the information/guidance from various sources such as the Angling Trust, Save Our Sea Bass (SOSB) and The Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society but please read on if you care about the future of bass stocks/conservation and would like to have your say – and your say as a recreational angler and major stakeholder is indeed required.

In case you aren’t already aware, the UK government is re-evaluating how it manages our inshore fisheries by creating individual management plans for all commercially exploitable fish and they are starting with bass via something called The Bass Fishery Management Plan (Bass FMP). DEFRA has commissioned a research group called Policy Lab to work on the bass fishery management plan.

Please show your concern simply by registering with Policy Lab here: Bass FMP Contact Form.

Furthermore, you can register to take part in an online debate planned for mid-August by completing the the following form here:  Bass FMP Collective Intelligence debate. The debate will be limited to 500 participants only.

 Here’s what BASS/SOSB/Angling Trust believe we should be asking for:

  • A healthy functioning population of bass with plenty of protection
  • Effective and clear legislation, which is rigorously enforced
  • Fair and proportional access to the bass stock. In other words, as stakeholders, recreational anglers should have a decent chance of catching bass. (In 2018 UK commercial bass landings were less than £5 million compared to the c£200 million RSA expenditure on bass*.)
  • Protection of key habitats that support bass stocks
  • More data to be collected to fill knowledge gaps

Thank you for continuing to read/support my blog, and for considering The Bass Fishery Management Plan and its implications – this could the opportunity of a lifetime in regards to safeguarding these very, very special fish in UK waters.

Marc Cowling


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