Are we finally getting back to "normal"?

Whatever "normal" is of course, but I wonder if as anglers we will ever understand the effects that I think our most recent winter has had upon our shore fishing especially. One could go down two roads I feel - either we feel nothing but doom and gloom about the state of our oceans, or we accept that it's never going to be perfect but in fact our last two winters have been on the freakish side to say the least. And if there is a "normal", will we get that again or are these winters now becoming the norm?

I don't know about you, but to me it feels that things are finally starting to get back to relative normality, and the late start if you like I choose to put down to the winter we had and the lasting effects the storm after storm after storm had upon our coastline. Sure, we get storms during winter, but when did we last have so many storms so close together like last winter? It may well be July now, but I just reckon that it's only now that the coastline is starting to feel more like it should at this time of year. My local Whitsand Bay though is still incredibly fragile, and when I was walking along the cliff tops on Saturday morning it was evident that just one day of moderately strong winds the day before had gone and blown most of the place out and brought plenty of weed in.

I am not hugely interesting in catching those infernal little pollack on my bass lures, but on the flipside I have noticed a serious lack of them so far this year - so the fact that I am starting to see more of them around and about I feel is a good sign that a relative kind of normality is coming back to our shores. I am happy to see them this year and may they jump on my lures as much as they like if it does indeed mean that we are leaving the effects of that winter behind. We had a few bass over the weekend, together with a bunch of small pollack and some wrasse on soft plastics, and that to me is feeling far more like summer shore fishing in my part of the world. I note as well that there were a few decent bass caught during the Art of Fishing lure festival. Are we close to where we kinda should be for early July?

What continues to worry me though is stuff like the reports I keep getting about small commercial vessels dropping gill-nets literally within casting range of the shoreline around here. Can somebody tell me categorically whether this is legal or illegal? Please tell me that these boats are not actually allowed to be doing this. In my capacity as a fishing journalist I of course earn money out of (sport) fishing, so do I really have a leg to stand on when I criticise this kind of behaviour by the commercial sector? Whatever the case, one must wonder if there can possibly be a shred of logic attached to the rape of our inshore waters? I am somebody who loves my fishing with a passion, but I also love to dream, and I can't help but dream about how frigging awesome our fishing could actually be but most likely never will be. Bear in mind that I have seen a couple of pretty much virgin fisheries, and they have forever affected me.

My most recent trip to Ireland was an interesting comparison, in that although we were affected by east winds and a lot of weed floating around, the place just felt more advanced if that is the right word - a little closer to "normal" than it felt around here, albeit I wonder what the local Irish anglers feel as I am merely a visitor who takes a mental snapshot on his short visits. The reports of the bass fishing over there are encouraging to say the least, although it fascinates me how on the same tides and conditions that different areas seem to fish so different to each other. One area fishes its socks off whilst another seems quiet etc. Fishing in a nutshell?

I have had a few standout entries so far for this DFR lure rod competition - see the blog post before this one. Keep them coming and I will announce a winner sometime soon. I have spent a bit of time now fishing with the longer 9'6'' DFR 8-28g lure rod and it's an interesting bit of kit that feels like a natural extension to that stunning 8'6'' model that is the prize in this competition. A full review will come sometime soon.