The in­side line

Im­prove your chances of suc­cess by stay­ing in­shore

Sea Angler (UK) - - Contents - Words by Tim Har­ri­son Pho­tog­ra­phy by Dave Lewis

Skip­per/bass guide Tim Har­ri­son’s in­shore tac­tics.

It’s com­mon knowl­edge that bass find the coastal fringes of the UK an at­trac­tive en­vi­ron­ment. With food in abun­dance and ex­cit­ing places both to hunt and linger, our coastal zone makes prime habi­tat for bass.

That’s good news for an­glers be­cause this fact puts these fish in reach of our baits. In fact, the shal­lower the water, the bet­ter. It seems there is noth­ing bet­ter for bass than hunt­ing the sea’s mar­gins in tur­bu­lent, fizzing water sur­rounded by noise, dis­tur­bance and food.

While it is easy to fish close in from the shore, it re­quires a change of at­ti­tude for boat an­glers. It is easy to jump aboard a boat and steam out of the har­bour and into the wilder­ness, but head­ing out deep is the wrong thing to do if you want to find bass with reg­u­lar­ity; you have to head in­shore. It is a steep learn­ing curve and one that I have tried to deny in the past.

Two ex­am­ples spring to mind. Up in More­cambe Bay, in Lan­cashire, is one of the nicest an­glers I’ve met; Ruth is com­mit­ted to her fish­ing and catches some crack­ing bass and cod. Her method is sim­ple; she is a boat an­gler, but goes nowhere on it. She fishes from her boat while it is on its moor­ings.

Ruth does it by walk­ing out to the ves­sel just as water laps at its hull, fish­ing through the tide and walk­ing back off again as the boat set­tles back on to the sand. On a nor­mal tide, she never has more than a cou­ple of me­tres of water un­der­neath her, and that’s where she catches.


Her moor­ing is in a small chan­nel be­tween acres of fea­ture­less sand and mud. She fishes in inches of water as soon as the tide starts to flood, and her best fish are of­ten seen be­fore be­ing caught. These fish push up the tide in their ea­ger­ness to be first to the food left ex­posed and vul­ner­a­ble at low water.

An­other great ex­am­ple is within my home har­bour at New Quay. In the bay I have an outer moor­ing where I leave 3 Fishes when wind al­lows. Un­like when she is on her in­ner moor­ing, she is per­ma­nently float­ing.

The lo­ca­tion is within 100 me­tres of the shore at high water and just out­side the in­ner safe dry­ing moor­ings. The outer moor­ing is shel­tered to the south and west by the sweep­ing curve of the bay, and on the in­side of this bay, land­ward of my moor­ing, is a small tidal reef. It is no more than 50 me­tres from 3 Fishes as she bobs on her moor­ing warps. It is in the op­po­site di­rec­tion to where the sea is, and at high water it has about a me­tre of water on top of it. Ev­ery sea­son I catch bass there.

Given a high tide at around first light, when all is quiet and the har­bour is sleep­ing, I can catch bass there as reg­u­larly as any­where else. It is eas­ier to put 3 Fishes on top of that par­tic­u­lar reef than many other lo­ca­tions. It is safe and fully shel­tered, but dif­fi­cult to fish be­cause it plays with my mind and, no doubt, the minds of my clients be­cause, in­stead of head­ing out of the har­bour, I head in­wards.

Once you can get your head around fish­ing close in from the shore, a whole world of bass-filled ad­ven­tures be­come pos­si­ble.

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