Urgent - bass fishing being debated in the House of Commons on Thursday, so please, please email your local MP to get them to speak up for us

If ever proof was needed that bass anglers’ increased willingness to get more involved in trying to secure a better future for bass stocks is having an effect, then ladies and gentlemen, I draw your attention to this press release from the Angling Trust right here, and I quote: “North Cornwall MP and keen angler Scott Mann has successfully secured a three-hour backbench debate in the House of Commons to highlight the unfairness of the current measures on recreational sea anglers.” Make no mistake though, for all that it’s the politician’s name in there, there are a number of people who work tirelessly on our behalf who have helped no end here, and for little thanks and in fact often copping a fair amount of uninformed flak.

So there you have it. The subject of the recent measures that have been brought in and are in force right now are actually going to be debated in our elected house of power so to speak, and once again we as anglers who are directly affected by so much of this need to get off our arses and send an email to our local politicians asking them to speak up on our behalf at this House of Commons debate on Thursday this week at 2.15pm. Yes, time is of the essence, and yes, it’s hardly as if sending an email constitutes much effort on our behalf - but it is working. Emails, petitions etc., crumbs, they do get heard, and this is the proof. Scott Mann rang me a few weeks ago to speak to me about this stuff, and he said that he was going to push hard for a House of Commons debate, so let’s use this chance to be heard.

The work is not done. A debate has been secured, indeed the fact that recreational bass anglers are actually going to be spoken about in the House of Commons is quite something, but do not let up. Here is what we need to do rather urgently, and as before, it involves little more than clicking on a couple of websites and sending some emails. Please do this and give us recreational sea anglers the best chance to be heard.

Click here to find out who your local MP is - simply enter your postcode and quite magically the politician elected to represent your part of the UK pops up like a ray of warm sunshine on a wild winter’s day. Bless their cotton socks if you ask me.

You will notice that when this little ray of sunshine pops up on the website, below him or her is a button that says “Send a Message”. Please do so. Send him or her a message imploring them to get behind Scott Mann at this Thursday’s debate in the House of Commons. Below is some text that you can copy and paste. Simple.


Dear [INSERT NAME] MP

Please speak up for sea bass in Parliament on February 11th - we need your help

You are probably aware that there are an estimated three million people in the UK who enjoy recreational fishing but you might not know that the Sea Angling 2012 study commissioned by the government concluded that recreational sea angling alone was directly responsible for 10,400 jobs and some £1.23 billion in economic benefit. By far the most popular fish for sea anglers is the bass, the numbers of which have declined to near unsustainable levels as a result of more than 20 years of commercial overfishing. The government has quoted sea bass as having a recreational value of £200m to the economy, vastly more than the first sale value of all commercial bass landings.

Scientific advice issued by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) in June 2014 recommended an 80% cut in bass mortality across the EU area for 2015. This followed the 2013 advice for a 36% cut which was ignored. In 2014 bass landings by UK vessels actually rose by 30% (from 772 tonnes to 1,004 tonnes).

The UK secured some success in leading on the EU-wide introduction of the 2015 package of emergency measures to protect bass stocks with a ban on offshore pelagic trawling. However, the situation has continued to deteriorate. ICES advice for 2016 recommended catches of no more than 541 tonnes - effectively a 90% reduction on 2014. The 2015 measures are estimated to have reduced catches by only 36% and the European Commission accepted that they simply didn't go far enough. As anglers we were braced for further changes.

The original proposals from the Commission for 2016 included a complete bass fishing ban for commercial vessels and recreational anglers in the first half of 2016 and in the second half of 2016 a monthly one tonne catch limit for vessels targeting sea bass and a one fish per day bag limit for recreational anglers down from no limit in 2014 and a three fish limit last year.

Anglers were angered when EU Fisheries Ministers caved in to pressure from commercial fishing interests and granted four month exemptions to commercial hook and line and the highly damaging bass fixed gill net fishery – responsible for 50% of landings – wrongly referred to as “low impact”. Worse still the monthly vessel catch limits for the commercials were actually increased to 1.3 tonnes at the same time as anglers faced draconian restrictions.

Thousands of anglers are now at risk of criminalisation if they try to keep the self-same bass that a netsman is free to kill during the moratorium.

As recreational anglers, we were prepared to play our part in what we expected to be a fair, effective and proportionate package of measures that would help rebuild bass stocks but instead we have been singled out for over regulation while the commercial nets will continue to take vast quantities of fish, much of which is unrecorded.

The current situation cannot endure. The recreational bag limits are grossly unfair, they make a mockery of the law and fail to acknowledge that recreational sea angling is the most sustainable form of bass fishing which delivers the best economic return.

On Thursday, February 11th at 2.15pm, North Cornwall MP Scott Mann will be leading a three hour backbench debate in the House of Commons to highlight the unfairness of the current measures on recreational sea anglers. The debate is entitled: "Conservation of sea bass and the effect of related EU measures on the UK recreational fishing industry.”

Scott will be moving the following motion:

“That this House believes that the recent EU restrictions on recreational sea bass fishing are unfair and fail to address the real threat to the future viability of UK sea bass stocks; and calls on the Government to make representations within the Council of the EU on the reconsideration of the imposition of those restrictions.”

As my MP I'm asking if you would please attend this important parliamentary debate to speak in support of introducing revised measures that reduce bass mortality by restricting rather than increasing harmful commercial harvesting methods such as gill netting and instead promote sustainable methods such as hook & line fishing for both the commercial and recreational sectors.

The Angling Trust have produced this helpful briefing which you can find here: http://ow.ly/XWzUD

I would be most grateful for your support on this issue and look forward to hearing from you.

Best Wishes

[ADD NAME]


Please, please send this email immediately. We need our local MPs to speak up for us on Thursday afternoon. We have a chance to further help bass stocks and we can make a difference, indeed I would argue that it has never been easier to get our collective voices heard, so let’s not waste that ability. I will keep you updated on this blog of course, and thanks for doing this.

If you could take only one colour of hard lure out bass fishing, what would it be? A suitably big dilemma for a stormy weekend!

Why do I do this to myself? I have been thinking about putting this blog post up for a while now, but because the whole subject of lure colours fries my brain so much I have been sort of avoiding the issue. Cabin fever reigns though, and writing about all things fishing helps me deal with not actually being out fishing myself. Anyway, so you go bass fishing one day or night and convince yourself that colour means nothing because the fish seem to jump on anything, and then you go fishing the next day and they seem to be showing distinct colour preferences. So let’s pretend that you are going to take one box of hard lures out bass fishing with you, and because we are adults here and we entertain ourselves with only grownup thoughts, let’s also pretend that within this box can be hard lures of only one single colour. Come on then, what’s the colour going to be?

I think about the little fish that bass might eat and I imagine lots of lovely hard lures that look a bit like sandeels, mackerel, sea trout, mullet, blennies etc. Like you I am sure, I have a “one or two” hard lures along those lines that have all caught me bass. But then I start thinking about what colour of hard lure actually gives me the most confidence when I clip it on, and if I was to take snapshots of my lure boxes month on month, what would be the hard lure colour that was in there the most? Apply our human logic to it and it makes little sense when lure fishing is meant to be about tricking the fish into seeing our lures as foodstuff, but  if I could take only one hard lure colour out bass fishing with me it would be cotton candy. I know, I know, to us this lure colour looks like nothing that swims in our waters, but it has caught and continues to catch me bass in all kinds of light, sea conditions and water clarity, and as such it’s the one colour that overall probably gives me the most confidence.

It’s not as if I have a cotton candy version of every single type of hard lure I own, but if I was to imagine my “perfect box of hard lures for bass” - come on, you’re telling me that you don’t play this game in winter? - then I would think along the lines of what for me are the no-brainer lures that go in first, no questions asked. I turn 43 on Sunday and I am pretty sure that my two girls (9 and 11) already believe that they are more grownup than their dad is, and if they could see into my head and the fishing fantasies that I create for myself they would be packing me off to the funny farm.

Imaginary lure box or not, I know the first two hard lures that go in first nearly every time, and whilst here on this blog post I can only take the one lure colour, in reality it matters not. First to go in my lure box is the IMA Salt Skimmer in the cotton candy colour, and then number two to find its way in there is the cotton candy IMA Komomo SF-125. I’m only telling you how it is for me and you might well wonder why on earth I am so obsessed with this lure colour, but I can only go on a relatively few years of serious lure fishing and what I reckon has worked the best for me overall.

It was that now discontinued Maria Chase BW in the holo silvery colour that first got me going with regards to this sort of not very natural looking lure colour, and then it was my first ever IMA lure that happened to be the older style Komomo SF-125 in a shiny cotton candy colour that started my relationship/obsession with this daft lure colour. I remember being amazed at catching bass along the south east coast of Ireland in bright, calm and clear conditions, and the lure that sneaked them out when it got tough like this was more often than not the almost ridiculous looking cotton candy SF-125 - bear in mind that my knowledge of soft plastics back then was essentially squat. Sure, it could of course have been an entirely different hard lure from a different lure company, but I owned only one ultra shallow diver back then - and if a lure starts catching consistently for you, you naturally gravitate towards it. Or obsess about it. Or look at it a lot and contemplate kissing it. Or you go flat out and kiss it and then keep a brand new one in its box because you love it so much and you don’t want to ruin those lovely colours. Christ alive it gets worse!

I’m not going to go any further than the Skimmer and SF-125 here because my head is wrecked enough as it is. It’s not remotely realistic and it’s not meant to be, but if I could take only the one hard lure colour it would be cotton candy - there are plenty of other colours I love and adore (and yes, sometimes kiss), but in the spirit of this blog working best when I get feedback and correspondence from you kind people, please tell me what one colour you would take in the comments section below, and why of course, which in turn will further wreck my head and empty my wallet.

And of course the Six Nations starts this weekend, but this time around I am staying as calm as I can. There have been endless false dawns since those glory days leading up to Nov 22nd 2003 (what, you mean I haven’t mentioned our World Cup win on here before?!) and whilst I am excited all over again at what a new coach might mean for English rugby, my excitement is tempered with that embarrassing excuse for a 2015 World Cup campaign still living fresh in the memory bank. Here’s to a good few weeks of rugby. Dare we hope all over again?

I am going to copy and paste a very recent BASS blog post because it’s potentially some pretty serious news, and above all it proves to me that us anglers can actually make a difference if we shrug off the shroud of apathy that seems to afflict so much of UK sea angling and do something as simple as send plenty of emails to the right people demanding that we recreational anglers get a better deal. I will come back to this just as soon as what is going on has been better digested and I can provide further information on how to get on with this round of emails. Make sure to also check the latest Angling Trust bass briefing right here. Things are happening and we so badly need to keep the pressure on.

From the BASS blog: “Scott Mann, MP for North Cornwall and a keen recreational angler, has done a fantastic job in securing a three hour backbench debate on bass in the House of Commons on Thursday 11 February to discuss the motion: “This House believes that the recent EU restrictions on recreational bass fishing are unfair and fail to address the real threat to the future viability of UK bass stocks”. This is a rare and very important opportunity to influence the future of recreational bass angling by getting our arguments for a sustainable bass fishery heard in detail by key decision-makers. Please write to your MP ASAP telling them that you want them to attend the debate and that you would like them to give their strong support to our campaign for a bass fishery run to maximise the environmental, social and economic benefits for society as a whole, by giving priority to recreational bass angling”.


Please don’t be a typical bloke - get your moles and lumps checked out

My apologies, because I didn’t want to write more blog posts about cancer, but after what I have been through and so luckily come out the other side with merely a couple of scars and a nice big hole/dent in my leg, well my view is that if a few more cancer related words could end up helping out somebody here or somebody connected to you out then it’s more than worth it. First off, as per the title, please don’t be a typical bloke about medical stuff - go and get any suspicious looking moles, growths and lumps checked out. I was lucky that they caught mine early.

I’ll tell you what sometimes sneaks up and niggles at me about this cancer thing - the “what if?”. What if I hadn’t gone into my local surgery to get things checked out? I’d like to say that I did the sensible thing in getting a GP to look at the mole-type growth thing on my shin area that was starting to grow, discolour, and look a bit frigging dodgy, but in reality I went to get things checked out more so because my wife and mother kept on at me to do so - thank you! By going for a checkup at my local surgery I got them off my back, but left to my own devices I might well have left it until it looked really alarming - let’s face it, many of us here are blokes, and we are good at ignoring stuff like that and getting on with important stuff like changing hooks on lures etc. I’d never have gone to get my torn calf muscle looked over for example unless somebody who I respect and has medical training hadn’t told me to have it looked at when I got back from Ireland last October. I’m a bloke and I’ll soldier on regardless!

So please, if any of you reading this have any dodgy looking moles or lumps on you, or indeed you know of anybody in a similar boat, please go and get this stuff checked out. Whilst I have nothing but heaps of praise and thanks for the way in which the NHS has taken such good care of me and indeed continues to do so with regular dressing changes on the hole in my leg, there is another “what if?” aspect to this cancer thing that bangs home how lucky I have been. I refuse to beat myself up about getting skin cancer because from my understanding a melanoma is pure bad luck, so I was unlucky to get it and I am bloody lucky not to have it anymore - but the fact is that both GPs I saw at my local surgery who firstly checked me over and then later on cut the three moles/growth things off me both said to me “it’s worth getting them removed, but don’t worry, they aren’t remotely cancerous”.

Now I am not about to start blaming people here because I am one lucky sod to be where I am right now, and whilst the GP who actually cut the bits off me at the surgery said they weren’t cancerous, he did say that it would be stupid not to at least get them checked to make sure. I am confident but not 100% sure that sending those bits off to be checked is what every GP would do either as a matter of course or because they quite simply have to, but there is a part of me that wonders where I might have ended up if that bit on my leg especially hadn’t been sent off to be checked - which then led to that GP ringing me a few weeks later to say that they had found a melanoma in there, which in turn led to Derriford hospital and a proper hole out of my leg etc. We listen to our GPs because they are the professionals here, but I do wonder why two of them felt confident enough just from looking at me to pronounce me skin cancer free - when I wasn’t. It’s turned out fine and I am forever grateful to the system that got the cancer out of me, but not everybody is going to be this lucky. Please don’t be a typical bloke - get your moles and lumps properly checked out.

I’d so love to see (ok, own) a “proper” travel style bass lure rod

It has wound me up for years when I am travelling with fly anglers how all their multi-section fly rods are nicely packed away in their hold luggage. No sodding rod tubes that you have to cart through airports and get charged excess baggage for, and whilst airlines can of course lose any sort of bag almost at will, rod tubes seem to have a special habit of ending up broken. And yes, I speak from bitter experience. Don’t let anybody tell you that those Bazuka Pro rod tubes are unbreakable for example - bye-bye four prototype Conoflex beachcasters on a trip to Namibia many moons ago……….

Do I actually need a travel style bass lure rod? Come in, it’s fishing tackle isn’t it? Want and need are one and the same are they not? For the most part I drive over to Ireland, so the need to break rods down into multiple sections matters not for that, but there is still a part of me that has always wanted a “serious” travel style bass lure rod. I’d love it if we could easily source various kinds of lure rods in multi sections (stripers?), and I just can’t understand why most if not all fly rods break down into a length that can easily be transported in a hold bag yet trying to find a serious lure rod like this is not remotely easy. Is it because we as consumers don’t ask for them? High-end fly rods seem to work just fine not being two pieces, so I refuse to believe that lure rods could not be made to perform just as well when made in multi sections. Perhaps the market for them just isn’t there in any major way?

I’d still like one though because I know that I’d find a use for it. How about being able to leave a rod in the back of the car with a reel and a few lures, just in case? A few years ago I was kindly lent the roughly £400 5-piece Graphiteleader Argento Compatto 8'6" 6-28g (Sea Bass) Travel Rod. It was so handy at only 57cm long when broken down, and it’s a “proper” lure rod through and through, but for me it was just too soft in the tip to contemplate buying, and I think that when compared to other rods I have tried you are paying over the odds for it being multi-piece. I have also seen a couple of the older version Major Craft Crostage travel rods, but they didn’t do it for me and as a purely airline based travel rod were a no-go for me because they didn’t fit in the sort of hold bag I take with me - and into which fly rods fit just fine. I don’t know if this is still the case, but it didn’t make much sense to me at the time.

I have had a thing for APIA lure rods ever since I was first introduced to the awesome but discontinued APIA+IMA Foojin’AD Energy Flow 92ML (review here and the APIA rods I have fished with are here). Whilst it frustrates me that such a good brand of lure rods that work so well for how we lure fish here in the UK and Ireland is not more readily available to buy, I have used a bunch of their rods now and APIA is up there with Major Craft for me. Two rods brands that I like massively, for slightly different reasons though, and I have a couple more of the entry-level APIA Foojin’R rods here that are so good I can’t really believe it - reviews to come. I just saw on the APIA website the other day that they are launching a new range of “Foojin’XX” lure rods, and contained within that range is a 4-piece rod called the “Sea Farer 94MLX Portable” (9’4’’, 7-35g). I don’t even know if a 4-piece 9’4’’ rod would fit in a standard hold bag, but just the idea of such an awesome lure rod company making what could well be a “proper” travel style lure rod has got me excited.

I know squat about these new APIA rods and I am not about to go and buy a rod completely blind like that, but I wonder what other “proper” travel style bass lure rods might be out there? Have any of you here gone looking and had any success? Do you even hanker after a multi-section bass lure rod, or is it just me? I would seriously love to see that new APIA travel style bass rod, indeed there are a couple of regular 2-piece rods in that new range that I reckon could be worth a shout - and yes, I have issues with lure rods like you would not believe. I wrote a blog post many moons ago about travel rods and I see in my stats that it still gets looked at quite a bit, and this leads me to believe that there are people out there who are looking for decent travel rods. Fishing is so much about travel to me, whether it be bass, GTs, tarpon, stripers or whatever, and it does me in how few “proper” travel rods there are out there. Please, please enlighten me to stuff I should be thinking about……….