Wow, great post:clap:Great post, Mark, let me try and answer your question!
I would arrive in the late in the afternoon to coincide with the bottom of the tide (as you did suggest). Like you, I would sit down first, away from the water, and have a look probably because I had walked some distance and needed a drink to help cool off before doing anything else!
First... think! What is the food source? Where is it coming from? I am going to assume that we are talking about grubbing around for crabs, prawns, wrasse, blennies and butterfish while taking advantage of any free swimming snacks that might happen along. Then, time on my side, Id walk around the bay, look for the features; gullies, ledges, boulders, weed banks, sandy patches, try to work out where any currents are likely to form and I WOULD PHOTOGRAPH OR FILM IT - even adding a commentary! (I have got into the habit of taking a pocket cam with me but you can do the same thing on your mobile). If there is a significant feature I want to be sure of picking out later, say, a collection of weed covered rocks on an otherwise flat ledge, I would pick up a can, bottle or something off the shoreline and put in line with that feature above the high water mark so that I have a datum, a point of reference, because its not so easy to pick out covered in water!
Now, the fishing..... Mike Ladle wrote of an experiment tracking the movements of bass and mullet over a known location and in it he says that the bass, and mullet, moved in AS SOON AS THE WATER WAS DEEP ENOUGH 6 to 9 inches!! I have to say that I concur with this and, anyway, who am I to argue with the Great Man? As the tide just starts to move, on with a small Sammy; its unlikely that any bass moving in with the tide is going to expect to find the biggest of meals just yet. Bright day, dull colour; dull day, dull colour I only have one of the small ones and it aint bright, but it does catch!! (Mental note: must get another!).Cover as many of the gaps in the weed, flows between rocks and filling gullies as you can the tide is only just starting to move, so it does not matter where you start (imo) because there is no significant lateral movement yet to influence the direction of the arrival of any fish. Cast.Twitch, twitch! There could be fish moving into any one of the gullies or holes that are starting to fill and they will be waiting to get into that weed bed, to try and catch anything that has taken cover, just as soon as they can! Look very closely for any signs of movement. Get that lure over, and between, as many of the features as possible - as soon as they are covered with enough water to allow a fish in (Ive seen enough bassies moving along the tide line with their fins poking out of the water and tails stuck up into the air to know that they will work right at the very edge in the shallowest of water). Dont forget stealth!!! Keep a low profile and dont scrunch on any shingle.
The beauty of a surface lure is that not only can I see the take, I can also see the missed ones as well, the sun is still up, dont forget, and there is no quicker way of working out if there is something around in shallow water than a Sammy. Sub surface lures do not often let me know when a fish has declined my offering and it can be difficult to know if that knock is a fish or a rock. There is no better way to stoke up my enthusiasm than seeing a great splash or swirl of a fish alongside my surface lure (other than catching it, of course). Subs also get stuck and junking twenty quids worth of lure on each of my first couple of casts is going to put a black cloud over this trip! If I do not see any interest in the first 3 or 4 casts, Ill move on to my next spot and try again. Using this method I can cover the whole bay, point to point. When I reach the end of the bay, Ill turn round, go back the other way and fish the old ground and the new areas that are being covered by the, now flooding, tide. I reckon I could pick up a fish, or two, with this approach.
I will have been fishing for an hour or more now, time for the next stage....The tide is flooding properly and there is a significant amount of lateral movement, the sun is lower in the sky and the little breeze there was has started to drop off. Change the little Sammy for a shallow diver, something like an SS Minnow or a Komomo. Cast out, hold the rod up and bring the lure back slowly, waking across the surface. Work the bay and points round, and back, again. Hopefully, I would see a bit of action using this approach.
Another hour, or more, has gone. The tide is ramping through now, so back to Sammy - a bigger one this time which casts further, a 115 in a sandy finish (I dont know the colour code, Im afraid). I go to the right and get as far out on the rocks as I can, then blast the lure as far out to sea as I am able to! Let it settle. As it starts to drift outside the bay just twitch the lure. Twitch, leave five seconds, twitch, leave five seconds. Cover the fIow at the head of the bay letting the Sammy drift around and into the calmer waters of the bay. I can cover a huge amount of water using this method and any fish will very soon make its presence known. As soon as I see any interest, I start working that lure to try and provoke a take. It could be worth hanging around on this point for a while waiting to ambush any fish moving in. If there is no interest, Id then move closer inshore and repeat the exercise.
Eventually, I will work my way back to the shoreline which will now be closer to the land because of the flooding tide, dont forget. Remember those photos? Time to get out the pocket cam and identify my underwater marks. Cast that Sammy out and start walking it over these areas. Work my way around the bay, back out to the furthest possible point on the opposite side, using a mixture of WTD and twitching over the marks I have identified. Remember bass sit in front of ledges and weed banks, as well as behind, so try all options.
If the conditions are a bit breezy, I may use a Gunfish or, better still, perhaps, a Chug bug because they make more of a disturbance to attract the fish.
Time for a break..... a drink and a sarnie.:icecream:
The tide is now high and the sun is low. Right, where is that marker that I left on the beach? Time for another change; off with the Sammy and on with the killer lure, the X-RAP!!! My favourite lure is a black and silvery brown XR 10 I got it in America and have not found one quite the same in the UK. Its a bit second hand now, and I have replaced the split rings and trebles with smaller, much finer versions barbless as well, dare I say! (Yeah, I know, Im a heretic! They always fall out, lose fish, head shakes, blah, blah! Dont agree, but I am quite willing to climb down on this one if I can stick my barbless treble in somebodys finger while they jump into the water to show me how they can simply shake it out as I try and keep a taught line:bleh::bleh. These mods, with the rod held high, allow the little Rap to swim that bit higher in the water helping avoid the snags. Cast beyond that mark I had identified, and work that lure back across: a steady retrieve, maybe a few snaps and jerks I am full of anticipation now and if theres something around it shouldnt take too long to find out!
A word of advice...never overfish the same bit of ground. I believe that bass quickly wise up to seeing the same bit of plastic swimming past so keep your efforts limited to a dozen, or so, casts at any one of the chosen spots and move on. Obviously, if you are lucky enough to locate a big shoal of fish then stick around (it probably wont happen, though!).
Work the bay, using the film and markers, through the dusk - and keep looking!! Cover any movement you see. I would be disappointed not to get a pull or two now (and Im often disappointed!).
The tide has topped, is starting to drop and I think back to the Mike Ladle reference the fish moved on as soon as the tide began to ebb and Im off.
Bit of a different approach than yours, Mark, and I would admit to a lack of experience using the many different types of lure that are available, but keeping it simple suits me!
As I said, great post and lets hope that a cross-fertilisation of ideas takes us all a little bit further down the right road.