How to keep catch­ing bass on lures when those au­tumn storms blow

Sea Angler (UK) - - SEAANGLER CONTENTS - Marc Cowl­ing is a pro­fes­sional shore-based bass fish­ing guide. Visit his web­site at : southde­von­bass­

Are you ready, will­ing and able?

Deep At­lantic de­pres­sions or low pres­sure sys­tems driven by the jet stream to­wards our shores are ei­ther wel­comed or de­spised, de­pend­ing on what species of fish you are tar­get­ing. Cod an­glers, of course, love a tur­bu­lent sea and, to a cer­tain ex­tent, so do bass an­glers us­ing bait, when all man­ner of tasty morsels get torn from the seabed and dumped on to the shore­line.

If lure fish­ing is your thing, then how do you go about cop­ing with large swells, break­ing waves and the as­so­ci­ated murky, wa­ter, along with those dreaded float­ing weed frag­ments that can frus­trat­ingly hin­der a lure’s ac­tion?

Con­sider the lures at your dis­posal, and then de­cide if you are ready for the in­evitable on­shore gales. Are you will­ing to plan and pre­pare ac­cord­ingly so that you are able to carry on catch­ing?


First and fore­most , think safety. Sea An­gler con­trib­u­tor Henry Gil­bey com­pleted some fan­tas­tic work with the RNLI, high­light­ing the virtues of life­jack­ets and flota­tion de­vices that are so light and com­fort­able you hardly know you’re wear­ing them. For a num­ber of years, I have been wear­ing an Air­flo Wave Hop­per au­to­matic in­flat­able fly-vest when I am fish­ing from rocks. Quite sim­ply, you can­not take your eyes off the sea for a sec­ond - it is a hazard and it is dan­ger­ous.


Not ev­ery­one has the lux­ury of be­ing able to plan a week in ad­vance of a fish­ing ses­sion, and some­times you just have to make do with the set of con­di­tions you’re dealt in con­junc­tion with the spare time you’ve been af­forded.

How­ever, if there is one el­e­ment that you should def­i­nitely take the time to scru­ti­nise, ei­ther on the day it­self or in the 48 to 72 hours prior to a ses­sion, it is the wind di­rec­tion and strength. For me, this is the sin­gle most im­por­tant fac­tor when de­cid­ing which stretch of coast­line to con­sider fish­ing or guid­ing my clients, be­fore nar­row­ing down the op­tions even fur­ther by ex­am­in­ing my di­ary en­tries to find out how a spe­cific mark has his­tor­i­cally re­acted to a sim­i­lar set of pa­ram­e­ters.

Af­ter con­sid­er­ing safety, I an­a­lyse the mark or a clus­ter of marks, tak­ing into ac­count those re­gions more sus­cep­ti­ble to weed ac­cu­mu­la­tions heaped up on the shore and in the mar­gins, and how quickly and for how long the area ‘murks up’.

My de­ci­sion-mak­ing can be in­flu­enced by heavy rain (or re­cent heavy rain) and where flood wa­ter is run­ning out of streams, an es­tu­ary or off chalk or slate cliffs.


Once I’m ac­tu­ally out fish­ing, the type of lure that I will use when the sea is rough or there is a con­tin­ual swell run­ning is vast and var­ied. It will range from float­ing, sus­pend­ing to fast-sink­ing pat­terns.

Ul­ti­mately, in tu­mul­tuous seas don’t fish too light be­cause you’ll need to main­tain a mod­icum of con­tact with the lure in or­der to en­sure it is do­ing what it is de­signed to do.

For ex­am­ple, at­tempt­ing to work a 8-13g weight­less soft plas­tic or diminu­tive top­wa­ter lure that is be­ing swept and tum­bled around like a piece of flot­sam, or blown quickly across the froth­ing sur­face layer is un­likely to tempt a bass into chas­ing it. Fur­ther­more, a very shal­low-div­ing hard min­now will of­ten end up be­ing tossed around and ef­fec­tively spat out by the crests of the waves.


To al­le­vi­ate the sit­u­a­tion, you can look to use medium or deeper-div­ing float­ing min­nows be­cause they have the abil­ity to dig, grip or bur­row into the vol­umes of wa­ter be­ing shifted.

Along­side their in­creased sta­bil­ity un­der­wa­ter, these lures of­fer you the over­all con­trol and abil­ity to drift and float them around or above any struc­ture. The sus­pend­ing ver­sions are a use­ful op­tion if rocky ter­rain and snag­ging the seabed isn’t an ob­vi­ous is­sue.

Next, medium-to-large (130-150mm) sur­face lures, such as the slid­ers and pop­pers, will of­ten be de­ployed. Think Xorus Patchinko, HTO Ca­nine, Ra­pala Skit­ter­pop and my old faith­ful, the Storm Rat­tling Chug­bug.

This lure choice may come as a sur­prise to some, par­tic­u­larly those who en­joy ‘walk­ing the dog’ with smaller and sim­i­lar lure types when the sea is flat calm. How­ever, I can as­sure you that the larger bass (that are more likely to be close in­shore in rough sea con­di­tions) will al­ways be on the look­out for an easy and sub­stan­tial meal. They don’t get much eas­ier than a de­cent-sized fish (im­i­ta­tion) splut­ter­ing on the sur­face and be­ing washed above them in the melee.

Fi­nally, it may not ap­pear fash­ion­able, but there is al­ways a place in my lure box for a sink­ing me­tal or jig that can be cast a good dis­tance when bait­fish are be­ing ha­rassed, or, more likely when the wind, al­lied with the spray, is sting­ing my face. In­deed, many a first bass has been caught in this way.

Rough seas ac­tu­ally present the lure an­gler with sev­eral ad­van­tages over their quarry. You cer­tainly don’t need to worry about stealth, and the fact that a hun­gry bass will adopt some­what of an ‘at­tack first, ask ques­tions later’ ap­proach in these cir­cum­stances means that any­thing that splashes or flashes could be taken with ve­loc­ity and fe­roc­ity.


When the storm has blown through and the seas are sub­sid­ing, once you are able to gain safe ac­cess to a favoured sec­tion of coast­line chances are the churned-up sea will be full of dis­placed sed­i­ment and or­ganic ma­te­rial.

In this murky and cloudy sce­nario, my at­ten­tion will be drawn to­wards the use of lures with an ac­cen­tu­ated ac­tion and vi­bra­tion, such as a jointed div­ing lure. Think old school, such as the Ra­pala J11, J13 and Abu Ter­mi­na­tor, in deeper wa­ter.

You can also use sink­ing lures in­cor­po­rat­ing a jig-head and a pad­dle­tail, such as the Fi­i­ish Black Min­now, Illex Ni­tro Sprat and HTO Ar­tic Eel in shal­low wa­ter.

My choice of lure and the depth of wa­ter I’m us­ing them in may ap­pear con­tra­dic­tory for some, but my logic re­lates to two fac­tors – a fish’s lat­eral line and the light lev­els.

In deeper wa­ter I be­lieve the pul­sat­ing, throb­bing ac­tion of a jointed min­now will as­sist to ‘ring the din­ner bell’ to a hun­gry bass that may be swim­ming any­where within the wa­ter col­umn.

With re­gard to jig-heads and pad­dle­tails, it is the wrig­gling tail and the knock­ing and bump­ing ef­fect of the lure along a clean seabed in very shal­low wa­ter, in con­junc­tion with an in­creased amount of any nat­u­ral light pen­e­trat­ing even ex­cep­tion­ally murky wa­ter, that has brought me re­sults.

As an aside, if there is a zone of clearer wa­ter present, the bound­ary be­tween this and the cloudy wa­ter could well be where the bass are hold­ing up and wait­ing to am­bush their prey – ob­vi­ously, this is where to work that lure.


In the pre­vi­ous dif­fi­cult an­gling sce­nar­ios, any ad­ja­cent sand or shin­gle beaches can be an ex­cel­lent back-up plan to fish­ing from rocks be­cause they clearly of­fer far safer fish­ing. This, along­side the like­li­hood that weed de­posits could be more lo­calised or con­densed into a par­tic­u­lar zone can also serve to at­tract and con­cen­trate bass into that pre­cise area.

If you’re able to tuck in out of the wind (be­neath high cliffs, for ex­am­ple) or find a sec­tion of beach where the waves aren’t

smash­ing up the shore­line, then this is where a prom­i­nent weedless and weight­less soft plas­tic such as five-inch Al­bie Snax or sev­eninch Lunker City Slug-Go gen­tly twitched in the mar­gins could prove ir­re­sistible.

Even if there are float­ing weed frag­ments ev­ery­where in front of you, then thanks to the rigid­ity of the for­mer and the con­cave back (where the hook point sits), and the sup­ple­ness of the lat­ter, rel­a­tively has­sle-free fish­ing is at­tain­able and pro­duc­tive.

More­over, slen­der weedless soft plas­tic lures with a pad­dle­tail trail­ing, such as the ex­cel­lent Red Gill Evo-Stix, Gary Ya­mamoto Swim Senko – or in­deed a curly tail worked ex­cru­ci­at­ingly slowly, par­al­lel to and very close to the beach, is an­other ex­cel­lent tac­tic. It is im­por­tant to fish these lures weight­less, oth­er­wise you in­crease the risk of weed gather­ing on the line and lure.

Un­ques­tion­ably, it takes a bite or a fish hooked or landed be­fore any­one can have gen­uine con­fi­dence in a method, but the next time you de­spair at the ‘spi­der’s web’ of a low pres­sure syn­op­tic chart on the TV, or a sea that may at first glance ap­pear un­fish­able with a lure, con­sider giv­ing it a go with the tech­niques and lures men­tioned above.

Good luck, and stay safe this au­tumn.

Dig in – the lip or vane on deep, medium and shal­low div­ing lures

Ac­cen­tu­ated ac­tion – Illex Ni­tro Sprat and Fi­i­ish Min­now

Great in the mar­gins - the 5in Al­bie Snax

Ideal for cast­ing into the wind – a sink­ing me­tal

Per­se­vere for re­wards like this

Grips into waves – the Xorus Patchinko

Use in weed – the Lunker City Slug-Go

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