Two short notice places available in August on one of these (rather wonderful!) co-guided Ireland trips

I know it’s short notice, but we have a couple of places in August on one of these co-guided fishing trips I do with John Quinlan and their awesome Thatch Cottage Fishing Lodge operation. Timed to coincide with good tides and a time of year over in Kerry (south west Ireland) when the fishing can really fire - for bass of course, but also for a bunch of other species that we also tend to target when the conditions are right. If you read this blog then you know how much I am in love with spending time over in Ireland, and these co-guided trips for me are about as good as work is ever going to get, and I believe that sense of fun and adventure comes across in how John and I run these trips together. We do long fishing days, the food is outstanding, and we laugh a lot. What more do you need on a fishing trip?

Let there be laughter, and lots of it!

Let there be laughter, and lots of it!

The dates are:

  • Friday 19th August - arrive at Thatch Cottage Fishing Lodge
  • 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd - fish, a lot!
  • Wednesday 24th August - depart.

All fishing, accommodation and food is included.

Come along if you can - contact me here, and because it’s short notice we can do a bit of a deal. Getting to Kerry is pretty easy and we can help you with travel suggestions etc. Have a look at some photos from last year below. Nope, it’s not all about big bass and nothing else. It’s about catching fish and learning about lure fishing especially against the mighty backdrop of a very unspoilt and uncrowded corner of the world where time stands gloriously still. I know it’s short notice, but if you ever dreamed about fishing in Ireland then drop what you’re doing and come along. Hope to see you over there………….

I can’t get enough of the positivity that surrounds their fishing out here

I've been coming to the US for a number of years, always fishing related, and usually something to do with my working in fishing - and each and every time I cross the pond and spend time amongst US anglers, I am struck by just how positive and enthusiastic they are about their sport fishing. I just love it. I love talking with anglers from all around this vast country about their fishing, about how good it can be, how many anglers are enjoying so much fishing, and just a general absence of moaning and complaining.

The Fiiish stand just before the iCast show opened on Wednesday morning here in Orlando

The Fiiish stand just before the iCast show opened on Wednesday morning here in Orlando

It's bloody infectious, to the point that my head is in a complete spin yet again and getting anywhere close to being on US time simply can't happen. Early morning brain bouncing. Just when I think I am starting to get a slight handle on the different kinds of fishing, along come a bunch more anglers who then fry my English head with tales of their fishing around where they live. I could spend serious time out here.

The iCast show is a monster, and the positivity is just relentless. Granted, a lot of the fishing tackle here doesn't have many applications for the way we tend to fish at home, but of course there's a heap of stuff that would be great, and naturally there are some of the bigger companies making gear that I bet you any money we never see in Blighty. Take Rapala, a lure company I am hardly falling over myself to buy stuff from for my bass fishing, but then I wander around their huge stand here and I spot a number of new lures that I reckon could do plenty of harm for us. Will we ever see them for sale in the UK? From past experiences I seriously doubt it. That's but one example.

But for me it's all about the positivity mixed with the absolutely outrageous amount of salt and freshwater fishing out here. I have talked with so many US anglers about their local fishing and my head is a mess! I met a guy for example who lives in the Pacific Northwest and has the most incredible mix of fresh and salt stuff almost on his doorstep, and there's me thinking it's kinda steelhead and nothing more up there (as awesome as steelhead are though). How wrong could I be? Tuna, halibut, chinooks, various trout species, landlocked salmon, you name it, they've got it, and loads of good fish as well.

I've had a thing about seeing big redfish for a while now, and the “obvious” one if you like is those amazing looking Louisiana marshes in the autumn and winter time. I'd kill to see it and photograph it, but then I meet a guy who tells me all about the insane surf fishing in Texas for big reds, jacks etc., and it's just the sort of land based fishing I love - wandering up and down 60 mile long beaches on the hunt for fish, smashing big fish on lures in the middle of nowhere, and for me a perfect sounding mix of fishing and photography. I'm there!

I could I go on. Believe me, it doesn't matter when you think you know about US fishing, because you're always going to meet somebody from another corner of this amazing country who is doing fishing stuff you had no idea about. I love it, and whilst for many years I suppose I have specialised a bit for my work related travel in some very out of the way and remote places, I can't help but love the mix of civilisation and truly wild fishing out here in the US, and when you stir it up with such a positive feel and outlook from the anglers I meet, wow it's one addictive cocktail of adrenaline and dreams and not quite enough time yet wanting to try and experience as much of it as possible……...

Well done the Angling Trust and BASS with their response to the ICES advice for bass stocks in 2017

I had an interesting email from the Angling Trust a few days ago - did you know as an angler know that the ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas) advice is this: “ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, there should be zero catch (commercial and recreational) in 2017”? Moan all you like about the various recreational fishing organisations not magically and instantly getting you more and bigger fish to catch, but I choose to take my hat off to the various people who are fighting the anglers’ corner and so often go unnoticed and unappreciated. Below is the Angling Trust email I received:

“The Angling Trust and the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society (BASS) warned UK and EU fisheries ministers last year that their failure to take heed of the scientific advice and begin radically reducing the commercial catch limits would eventually mean more pain in the long run as solutions proposed by ICES would get ever more draconian.

They made it clear that they have no expectation that EU ministers will implement in full the ICES advice with regard to bass as "no scientifically advised moratorium has ever been introduced by the EU Council in the history of the CFP."

Both organisations have issued a joint statement setting out a call for all bass netting to cease and for bass to become a recreational and sustainable commercial hook and line species only. They want to see the introduction of a slot size for both hook and liners and anglers to allow the larger, most fecund individuals to be returned to contribute to stock recovery. Both the Angling Trust and BASS have made it clear that they see no case for further restrictions on recreational bass fishing given the strict bag limits that were introduced for anglers last year resulting in a zero take from January to June and a one fish per day limit for the remaining six months.

Martin Salter, National Campaigns Coordinator for the Angling Trust said: " The politicians have only themselves to blame and their blatantly political decision taken last year, in contravention of clear scientific advice, to grant a four-month exemption and larger vessel catch limits to inshore gill netters and hook and liners from the proposed six month bass moratorium, which was unfair, irresponsible and inflicted further damage on already threatened bass stocks. Recreational bass fishing, which now has a tiny impact on bass fishing mortality, bore a disproportionate burden of last year's catch restrictions and it is time that politicians finally grasped the nettle and end the unsustainable netting of this popular sporting fish before it is driven to extinction. "

Both the Angling Trust and BASS are seeking an urgent meeting with UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice to discuss the government's response to the ICES advice on sea bass ahead of the European Council of Ministers meeting in December where the final decisions will be made.

Nigel Horsman from BASS said :"This is a sad day for bass stocks and for all those thousands of anglers who take so much pleasure from catching bass. We can only hope that our fishery managers and politicians learn from their mistakes and heed the lessons from other countries, such as the USA, who have faced similar situations. It is imperative that no risks are taken with the ability of the remaining bass stock to mount a recovery. But, provided we do that now, I am hopeful that bass stocks will recover. But we must also fix the underlying cause of the current problem which is commercial overfishing on a grand scale."

David Curtis from the campaign group 'Save Our Seabass' added: "It is now confirmed that commercial fishing has put the very survival of the sea bass stock in jeopardy.  If the politicians do not now restrict the bass fishery to recreational angling and sustainable commercial hook & line fishing, we and future generations will hold them accountable for the disappearance of bass from our seas."

And here is that Angling Trust and BASS official statement on the ICES advice:

“The ICES advice for 2017 reveals a severe situation and a moratorium on commercial bass landings is now essential to allow bass stock recovery. Recreational angling bodies are not in the least surprised that ICES is now recommending a total moratorium on all bass landings in 2017. For several years we have warned that unless EU Fisheries ministers started taking heed of the scientific advice and began radically reducing the commercial catch limits then the solutions proposed by ICES would get evermore draconian. Politicians have only themselves to blame and their political decision last year to grant this year a four-month exemption and larger vessel catch limits to inshore gill netters and hook and liners from the bass moratorium was unfair, irresponsible and inflicted further damage on threatened bass stocks.

The Recreational Sea Angling (RSA) sector, which has least impact on bass fishing mortality, bear a disproportionate burden of this year's catch restrictions with a zero (Jan - June) and one fish bag limit (July - Dec). We believe the impact of RSA on bass landings was minimal last year and will be negligible this year, which expectedly will be confirmed by ICES advice next year. Further restrictions if needed must be sought within the commercial fisheries and not recreational angling.  

There has been strong criticism in Parliament and thousands of anglers have petitioned and demonstrated against these exemptions and the unfair treatment by comparison of recreational bass fishing. Both UK and EU Fisheries ministers should be aware that we will not accept a repeat of this unfairness in 2017.

We believe the following key points should be central to any strategy to rebuild bass stocks:

* If a moratorium is applied, it must be applied to all forms of commercial bass fishing.

* There must be no exceptions of commercial gill netting of any description.

* At the very least all bass netting should cease and bass should become a recreational and sustainable commercial hook and line species only.

*  Consideration should be given to the introduction of a slot size for both hook and liners and anglers to allow the larger, most fecund individuals to be returned to contribute to stock recovery.

*   We see no case for further restrictions on recreational bass fishing given the bag limits that are already in place.

* The government should speed up progress in coming forward with its promised Long Term Management Plan for bass, particularly in the light of the Brexit vote and the likely withdrawal of the UK from the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

It is with regret that we have no expectation that EU ministers will implement in full the ICES advice with regard to bass; no scientifically advised moratorium has ever been introduced by the EU Council in the history of the Common Fisheries Policy. Bass is caught in mixed fisheries as by-catch. This alone will be used as an argument to not introduce a moratorium. In light of the fact that Ministers will not follow the scientific advice and close the fishery we therefore recognise the need to secure fishing opportunities for members of the public fishing recreationally for the publicly owned bass stocks. We are in discussions with our European colleagues about coordinating a response from the recreational sector (whose economic value is worth over 30 times that of the commercial bass fishery) ahead of the Fisheries Council meeting at the end of the year.”

So there you go. I am flying over to the US this afternoon to help Fiiish at the massive iCast show in Orlando, so the blog might not be quite so regular until I get back in just over a week. In relation to the above, it’s interesting to note how serious somewhere like Florida is about their recreational saltwater fishery, indeed you don’t think about casting anything out there until you have bought a fishing license. Interesting as well to note how healthy their fishery is. Need I say more? Our fisheries and the recent EU vote bear parallels if you ask me - increasingly we stand divided in the UK these days, and I wonder where it’s actually going to get us in the long run? Anyway, here comes a week of 2am starts as per usual when I go to the US because I just can’t get on their clock! And of course a terrible case of bouncing fishing brain with all that gear at iCast and of course somewhere like a BassPro shop. Me? Never!

HTO Shore Game S962MLM 9'6'' 7-35g lure rod review - around £310

It’s going to be a sad day when the courier comes to pick this lure rod up, because I really don’t want to say goodbye to it. Holy cow this (TronixPro) HTO Shore Game S962MLM 9'6'' 7-35g rod is a weapon - so, so my kind of lure fishing rod, indeed it’s as if I could have asked for nearly everything I wanted from a “just that smidgen more powerful” than the 10-30g 9’6’’ Major Craft rods I have fished with a lot over the last few years - and then got all that in this rather special HTO rod. Yes, £310 is a lot of money for a lure fishing rod, and yes, I can’t imagine that the rather clever TronixPro people are going to sell millions of them, but their new HTO Shore Game S962MLM 9'6'' 7-35g lure rod is one hell of a bit of kit and I reckon it would work fantastically well for plenty of of anglers.

I haven’t put the 9’6’’ Major Craft Truzer up against this new HTO rod, but from memory I am pretty sure they share a lot of their DNA, and that’s meant as a big complement - a similar kind of overall feel and action, albeit this 7-35g HTO rod is that smidgen more powerful overall, and I like that. Until I come across something better, the 9’6’’ Truzer is my ideal lure rod of that length if you like, so I am sure you can understand my loving this HTO one because it reminds me so much of the Major Craft Truzer - with that slight increase in power as I said. I haven’t got a clue how far I can cast a lure and it means squat of course, but a few times the other day at a spot on the Copper Coast I caught the Xorus Patchinko “just right” in some bouncing conditions with a lively onshore/slight right to left wind, and I am pretty damn sure I have never, ever put that particular lure out so far. You know when you giggle because a lure seems to go so far? The rod’s a casting machine, but don’t let that hide the fact that it’s the most stunning rod for fishing any number of different lures and techniques.

We fished a lot with white senkos at night over in Ireland the other day, and this 9’6’’ HTO Shore Game does it really well, albeit you don’t actually need that bit more power for how and where we're fishing with them. It’s a stunning rod for working surface lures -  I love the fast action and how the tip helps me work surface lures so easily and efficiently, and bumping Black Minnows in current is awesome on this rod. I don’t really understand powerful/fast rods that then give way to a soft tip, so the way that this 9’6’’ HTO Shore Game rod just bends “correctly” if you ask me therefore suits me so well. I can’t tell you much more about the rod from a fishing point of view other than I think it’s a frigging stunning bit of kit.

OK, so I have a bit of an issue with the handle design, but that may well be a personal thing. When my hands are nice and dry I have no problems at all, but when it’s lamping down with my rain or my hands are wet from releasing fish or crashing waves etc., then the lack of duplon at the rear of the reelseat annoys me because my grip on it is now not so good. Not for one second would it stop me buying this rod, but yes, I do prefer something like duplon or cork behind the reelseat instead of simply the securing nuts and then grooved plastic of the actual reelseat. But hey, I fished just fine in some filthy weather and bouncy conditions with the rod. And yes, I love the Fuji Torzite guides on the rod and the actual handle length is perfect for me.

I like how this 7-35g 9’6’’ HTO Shore Game rod is that little but significant step up in power from something like the stupidly good (and should cost far more if you ask me) 9’6’’ Major Craft Skyroad Surf. We’re not talking say the Major Craft X-Ride 9’6’’ 15-42g levels of power, but I would guess that the TronixPro people have done their homework with this rod and reckon that the 7-35g rating covers the bulk of how we go about our shore based bass fishing here in the UK and Ireland - and I do have half a clue about how much thought, work and testing went into this rod and indeed the shorter/lighter one (review in due course). Bloody well done I reckon. If I was after a lure rod that was aimed squarely within that 7-35g range then I’d be more than happy to drop around £300 of my money on this HTO Shore Game S962MLM 9'6'', and at the end of the day I can’t tell you how much more I like it than that (I have found the rod for sale here if that is any help). Perhaps I need to kidnap the courier so he can’t take the rod away!