There were some spume tipped rollers trundling in from the deep Atlantic, their heavy green surging with a restless energy along the kelp strewn rocks, washing out the prawn, crab, baby pollack and gobies, and driving them deep into the undertow where the restless predators waited.

The shoals of sandeel would, or should, have been driven up hard against the rocks and little beach by the effects of the onshore wind which had been blowing for three days and nights now, where the rapacious bass would have herded and kept them until their hunger was sated. But the bass were not there.

After two or three hours working a variety of deep and shallow running plugs without a pull there was only one conclusion to be reached. The Bass were somewhere else tonight…a conundrum with which all Bass anglers are familiar.

This is not sedentary fishing, there are no bivouacs or campsites involved with this style of fishing. Mobility is the key to success, your rod and reel, a bumbag or small knapsack with a few lures, a chocolate bar, a water bottle and a torch is all you need to enjoy those early morning hours before the world is awake or those last hours of fading sunshine which can often be the most productive of the day. Besides which, its good for the soul to watch the sun go down in a celestial blaze of orange and gold.

It is a strange, but frequent phenomenon in that quiet hour after sunset, the waves will often visibly settle into a glasslike slickness. It is a time when noises, which in the daytime would have hardly registered on your threshold of consciousness, will raise a hackle of apprehension on the back of your neck. The darkness brings with it a heightened level of awareness which in today’s world is not a sensation with which we are too familiar. The sensations of the night are becoming a stranger to us, unless of course you are a bass angler or in the military !!

This is a time when a half a mackerel lobbed maybe thirty metres into the suds will find an ol’ granddy bass as the curtain of darkness tempts the wary old fish into the shallow water, foraging for whatever the tide brings out on the undertow. It is also a time when a noisy plug worked over the back of the waves will shake’em up and get a spontaneous reaction from these fish. Boy is that some fun!

Popping plugs are something of an innovation to many anglers in the UK but they are well known in more exotic areas of the world where the fish are more aggressive than those we are used to. Some of these popping plugs have a scoop on the front you could serve ice cream with, others have a simple angled face with a bulbous backend which causes some disturbance and makes a lot of noise…. just like some other bulbous backend’s !

You turf these things out into the darkness and "walk the dog" which is a succinct Americanism for working your rod to make the lure create a disturbance in the water. On quiet nights working these lures back you can hear the cupped lip of this type of lure pop-pop-popping along. Then all hell breaks loose as a Bass will come from no where and hit the lure so hard you can’t stop laughing and praying, all at the same time.

There is a quiet satisfaction to be enjoyed casting a bait a hundred yards or more and catching a Cod, or watching a float zip under the waves when a fine Bass or Pollack finds a prawn or worm bait….. but for sheer spine shattering excitement, nothing else in UK waters beats the excitement of a bass whacking a popping plug somewhere out there in the darkness…. have I got your attention yet ??

Fishing with plugs is not something new to UK waters. I have a book published in 1886 written by a chap called Willcocks, in which he describes salt water fly fishing and fishing with lures carved from wood… so it's not something new fangled. It is for me an interesting voyage of re-discovery of some of the values and thrills that modern generations of anglers have somehow lost along the way. You see some of these plonkers on TV, going around in Victorian clothing with lancewood rods, brass reels and horsehair lines, trying to emulate the fishing exploits of our forbears, what a total waste of good TV fishing time! But the basis of their idea was good, it comes back to values all the time, and I think as you wander an estuary beach after dark trying to tempt the fish with plastic plugs or even fly, I sometimes feel that I have an unseen but approving audience or is that the Celtic part of me bubbling up again!!

So how do you join the early risers and nighthawks. Well, an alarm clock is a good bit of kit, although if I am getting up at sparrows fart to go fishing, I find great difficulty in going to sleep. At two in the morning, if I find myself lying there waiting for the alarm to go off, I will get up…quietly, take the clock with me into the kitchen. Turn the alarm off, get dressed and go fishing, well what’s the point in wasting good fishing time. As Admiral Lord Nelson once said "attitude is the art of gunnery!" and attitude is required to join the nighthawks.

Secondly you will need the toys. An 11 foot spinning rod capable of casting up to 100 grams. A top class fixed spool reel loaded with 200 yards of clear 10lbs breaking strain monofilament and a bum bag stuffed with all sorts of plugs. The word in the trade is that they make plugs to catch anglers, not fish, and after many years I am still a mug when it comes to buying the latest and loveliest lure. Probably the most reliable diving plug is the blue or black backed Rapala J13 although there are many others which are pretenders to the throne. As for popping plugs, the heart stoppers, try the Storm Chug Bug, Duel Aile Magnet, Yo-Zuri Hydro Tiger or the Zara Spook. Harris Lures have them - call 01 692 581 388.

And go carefully…. It is a different world out there in the dark!!