Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Guest blog post - Marc Cowling - How to find and fish bass marks part 1 - Depressions

A huge thanks to Marc Cowling of the professional guiding service South Devon Bass Guide for kindly agreeing to write some guest blog posts for me - and yes, it’s Marc from this recent blog post here, the guy I am going to be doing some co-guiding work with here in the UK. Marc runs his own excellent blog on bass fishing and this guest blog post is actually culled from there. I was that impressed with the stuff he wrote that I asked him if he would mind reproducing some of it on here as guest blog posts.

As with Keith White and his recent guest blog posts on here, I take my hat off to the anglers out there who so generously put such useful information out there for the likes of you and I to read. Thanks Marc. If you don’t learn something from this guest blog post then I would be gobsmacked, indeed I am more than happy to admit to how much information I have taken on board here. Have a good weekend, I am horribly overexcited to see if England can come away with a consecutive Grand Slam over in Dublin tomorrow evening. Still can’t believe how we blew away Scotland like that last weekend………….and to think they came to Fortress Twickenham with hope in their hearts eh?!

“This is Part 1 of a 6 part series of how to find your own bass marks and how to fish them. I will also cover the following:

Part 2 - Gullies

Part 3 - Quiet rocky/weedy coves

Part 4 - Patrolling Bass

Part 5 - Positioning Bass

Part 6 - Predatory Bass

What are depressions?

Depressions in the context of this post are areas of the seabed that are lower than the surrounding platforms in the form of natural rock pools. Some of my most consistent bass marks are these zones - as they are clear areas that bass love to either raid, congregate or wait; something that I will talk about in more detail in Part 5 - Positioning bass

How to find bass marks

Clearly, Google Earth is an exceptionally useful site that enables you a bird's eye view of any area of coastline over different time lines. Some satellite images are from 15+ years ago, allowing the essential ability (in mark spotting terms) to see an area at low tide and possibly, differing stages of the tide and certain sea conditions. All of which can also be extremely useful in determining whether an area could hold bass.

Look for Pavements

Pavements are flat(ish) expanses of rock that food items will be washed across during the ebbing or flooding tide or through general wave movement. If you can find depressions within pavements then this is where the bass will wait - very much like a sandbank, whereby the food items are washed over the top of the bank to the waiting bass.

I have marked with 2 arrows the depressions that run roughly parallel to the current and waves (in prevailing wind conditions) in images 1 & 2.

Image 1 - How a depression might look on Google Earth

Image 1 - How a depression might look on Google Earth

Image 2 - The same depressions in reality

Image 2 - The same depressions in reality

Mark 1 eyeball

Mark 1 eyeball

If you can find marks with depressions (via Google Earth initially) then the next thing to do is get out there and take pictures of the exact same areas on a low water spring tide. Nothing beats actually looking at a mark with your own eyes (Mark 1 eyeball). Indeed, it allows you the opportunity to 'test out' the route down or onto a mark, in addition to the nearest available parking where applicable. By putting in this kind of homework you'll be well on your way to maximizing the potential of a possible bass mark.

More examples

Image 3 - I once caught 3 decent bass (4 - 6lb) on successive casts by simply casting a 'Maria Chase' shallow diving lure straight out over the pavement of rock. Each bass hit the lure in the exact same spot as it appeared over the depression that is 2 ft below the platform itself. The bass were seemingly lying in wait on a very high spring tide when the depth of water above the pavement was around 4ft.

Image 3

Image 3

Image 4 – This is a classic spot for drifting soft plastics (DoLive Stick or Megabass Dot Crawler) into on a flooding or ebbing tide. Aim to cast the lure beyond the depression and let it drift within it for as long as possible. Retrieve the soft plastic very very slowly with the odd twitch, gradually bringing the lure towards the shore, whilst maintaining contact (a relatively tight line or slight bow is fine).

Image 4

Image 4

Image 5 – In essence, a large rock pool. But bass will look to hold up – facing the current in such places waiting for food to be brought to them. A soft plastic or surface lure worked naturally (with the waves/flow rather than against them) has worked well on this type of mark – especially if there is a series of waves pounding through and the lure is mimicking gobies and the like being washed out of the rock pools.

Image 5

Image 5

Image 6 - The same mark as Image 5 but with the tide flooding on a calm day. Note the natural 'bowl' of the rock pool and the way the waves are gently breaking further out. Imagine a 3ft+ of swell rolling in over this - potentially bass (and bass lure angler) heaven!


I hope Part 1 of the series gives you an idea of how to find and fish the types of marks where bass could be present. Bass are opportunistic and predatory, but most importantly they are often creatures of habit - meaning that if you can catch one in the vicinity of a very specific pool or depression then chances are, they'll be present again under similar conditions.

The satisfaction you'll get out of researching and fishing a new mark and then ultimately catching a bass from it takes some beating. No-one can get it right every single time and some marks that, with experience, can scream bass will often be (bizarrely) completely devoid across the whole tidal range and in all conditions - we'll never work it all out in relation to bass fishing, but it's definitely worth starting somewhere. Good luck finding the ideal bass mark!”