Client Catches – Absolute Affirmation

Client Catches – Absolute Affirmation

Linking nicely into my previous post ‘My Recent Catches – Is March the new May?‘ is the account of two more recent bass that were landed by my first client(s) of the season, during the final weekend of March – yes, that’s correct – March. It is a story that I wanted to tell because, as the title suggests, it’s all well and good me writing how I have achieved significant success with a certain lure type and retrieve style, but teaching my clients to do the same is a whole different, if extremely enjoyable, experience…

Chasing early-season bass on the south Devon coastline is always a challenge, but it is one that I utterly relish.

A ‘sign’

I’d been very much looking forward to this session, not just because it ‘kicked off’ my guiding season for 2023, but also because I’d been ‘eyeing up’ this particular series of spring tides from the minute I received the Tide Tables in the post as, historically, this is when the first bass (those forerunners I discussed in the post via the link above) tend to turn up – especially if the sea temperature has or is about to reach that seemingly ‘magic figure’ (for south Devon at least) of 10oC.

My guests were Paul and his cousin Jason who’d booked this session 13 months prior. And with some excited correspondence leading up to the event, I was extremely happy for them (and me) to see the previous week of horrific wind and rain looking like it would be replaced by something far more settled and dare I say it ‘spring-like’ as the day drew ever closer.

Maybe it was all a ‘sign’ that we were going to catch… as I must admit that after landing the chunky 4lb+ bass with Henry a few days prior, whilst also witnessing sand eels and at least one other bass swim over my toes during that session added to the top of the spring tides now dipping into the first hour of darkness, all meant that I feeling very confident that we’d see some substantial silver during this session, despite the time of year…

The first of Paul’s bass on this late-March jaunt at 54cm, landed almost immediately following my demonstration of a particular method and darkness setting in. No surprises for guessing the lure type either! Yep, it’s the Savage Gear Gravity Stick Pulse Tail in the smaller 120mm guise here.

Old dogs

I know that Paul won’t mind me writing this one bit, as the comments and testimonial he left on my Facebook Business Pages and the various threads to highlight his captures summed it up wonderfully and very kindly when he wrote that: “you can teach an old dog a few new tricks if your name is Marc Cowling!” bless him. But after experiencing not so much as a sniff of a bass during the daylight hours, I was really hoping that my own comment that “even if we haven’t had a touch in daylight guys, I still fully expect us to catch” wouldn’t come back to bite me on the arse!

As dusk arrived, rather than labour on with the 5″ Megabass Spindleworm on Jason’s line and the Patchinko 125 on Paul’s – neither of which had been jumped on during the brighter daylight hours, I considered that while there was a modicum of light remaining, the time would be better spent by practicing and perfecting a technique they’d be utilising, both within darkness and a period in the tide when I was as certain as I possibly could be that they’d connect with a bass or two.

With Paul thoroughly ‘purring’ over the Tailwalk SSD Hi-Tide 90ML 7-35g lure rod and Shimano Stradic 3000 combo I’d lent him over his more cumbersome set up (I think he’s in the market for a new rod as I write this!) it was with the smaller 120mm Gravity Stick Pulse Tails, rigged with the 6/0 3g weedless SG hooks and the 1.8g SG spike weight (here) inserted in the tail section (to facilitate the deadly ‘level-sinking’ action, in addition to some very decent casting attributes) that I set to work with my demonstration.

A slightly ‘stunned’ Paul holding a beautiful 54cm ‘March Bass’ that proved beyond doubt that: a) they were there, and b) that they only wanted to take the lure in a certain manner, as no bites were forthcoming on the actual retrieval of the lures – something that isn’t unusual at all I know understand, appreciate and indeed, capitalise on.


“A high percentage of the bass I have caught, or that have attacked these very lures, rigged in this way, this year and over the winter period have hit it within 2-3 seconds of the lure ‘plopping’ into the water” I told them, “Therefore, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to ensure that you have as much tension as possible through the braid as the lure enters the water, and then begins to level sink” I added. “Really Marc, came the reply, “they’ll really hit it that quickly – Wow!” Paul added.

It was a glorious night to be out fishing, but it was about to become even more special as, twenty minutes into what I would consider as ‘darkness’ I heard a ‘squeal’ to my right! “Fish!” As always, the headlight was immediately deployed onto both the angler (Paul) and then the line/braid in order to ascertain where the fish was in relation to us, and the troublesome floating egg wrack that adorns this section of shoreline.

Just one of my client set ups – the Tailwalk SSD Hi-Tide 90ML 7-35g and Shimano Stradic C3000MHG.

Now at Paul’s side and with his rod tip high and the blank bent well over, it became apparent that the culprit had ‘made’ a thicker section of weed to Paul’s left. ” I don’t believe it Marc, it just hit the lure literally two seconds after I heard the lure ‘plop’ into the water, but then it just swam straight at me like you also said it might do!” he said excitedly, as I encouraged him to apply a little more pressure as I could see the fish was moving.

Eventually, with some added ‘persuasion’ and with a clump of the wrack still attached, Paul did brilliantly to extract the fish under my beam and began to bring her closer and closer to my waiting net – those rubbery lips and its open mouth the initial sight, before the entire body slipped over the rim and into the mesh. “Yeah!!!!!” So much for keeping a low profile though, as I suspect people over a mile away probably heard us!

A ragged-finned bass if ever there was one, but apart from that she was stunning like they all are of course!

Confirmation (as if it were needed!)

“That was absolutely amazing Marc! Despite my years of fishing with both bait and now lures, I never ever would have thought about ‘fishing’ a lure like that!” Clearly Paul was chuffed to bits with what he reckons was his best bass for a couple of seasons I believe (he’s had them up to 8lb in Dorset) but there was more to come!

When the next ‘hit’ arrived, Paul and Jason would be more than ready for it such were the levels of anticipation now, which, I can assure you if you’ve never lure fished for bass at night before, is a feeling absolutely exacerbated by the dimmed-down lighting. It would have been lovely for them to have caught a bass each, and Paul was especially fervent in his desire to see his cousin latch into one following his success, but it’s always the way that the bass have other ideas…

Confirmation, affirmation – whatever you want to call it, was well and truly achieved a further twenty minutes after the first assault on the Gravity Stick, and once again it was Paul who was the recipient of what he said was a ‘carbon copy attack’ on the lure. Plop… one, two, WHACK! Fish on, but thankfully this bass, that Paul said instantly felt larger and heavier decided to do battle with us out in the open water via splashing violently on the surface before Paul was able to inch her back to his/our stance – the experience of landing his first bass in this setting undoubtedly assisting him to remain in charge next time round.

He was happy I promise! Paul with his second bass of the evening at 57cm this time, which is a tremendous bass by anyone’s standards let alone in March.

As soon as I saw her I knew she was bigger than the first bass of the night, and sure enough, after a quick unravel of my new tape she registered a very, very pleasing 57cm – what a beauty! Strangely for this mark however, the first hour of the ebb didn’t bring any further interest, which was a real shame for Jason after I’d moved him to the ‘hot spot’ as it were, in addition to handing him the ‘lucky’ set up after Paul very kindly gave up both.

Off the scale!

To take a very good and/or experienced angler, and then teach them something completely new, immediately followed by witnessing them achieve that absolute and almost instant affirmation that it works is probably even more rewarding for me as a guide than assisting someone who has never fished before – it really is off the scale in the ‘satisfaction stakes!’

My Books

Notwithstanding the delay in despatch to my new title ‘Bass Lure Fishing – A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 2)’ (due to a printing error) that will be resolved by the 27th April, all three of my books are IN STOCK and available to order. Details of the contents of each respective title can be found in the blog post I wrote recently here, in addition to the various PayPal payment options applicable to each book at the bottom of that post.

If you would like to purchase either or both of ‘The Lure of The Bass’ or ‘A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 1)’ then upon receiving payment I will post these asap, whereas if the combination you decide to purchase contains ‘A Guide’s Perspective (Volume 2)’ then I will wait until this title has been reprinted before despatching it alongside the other(s). I hope that makes sense, but as always, you can contact me via the Contact Form below or directly at and I will answer your query as quickly as I possibly can. Thank you.

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