I’d find the proposed 2018 recreational bass fishing regulations a lot easier to swallow if they’d bloody well enforce the commercial restrictions

I am sure that by now you have heard the news from earlier this week that the recreational bass fishing restrictions for 2018 are not going to be the initially proposed six month ban and instead will most likely be catch and release for the entire year, with perhaps July and August to be set aside for an angler to be able to take one bass a day. Here’s what the Angling Trust have said this week, and I will continue afterwards:

(R)D412172.jpg

“After two days of tough negotiations over proposals from the European Commission that could have seen bass angling banned for the first six months of the year EU Fisheries ministers have announced the final measures for 2018.

This followed strong representations from the Angling Trust and representations from angling bodies and the tackle trade across Europe, including a 18,000 signature petition, calling for no further restrictions on recreational fishing for bass.

The package of measures for 2018 have been produced in response to advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) which shows that the Northern European bass stock is crashing. It was nearly 19,000 tonnes in 2010, but the forecast for 2018 is just 6,414 tonnes, a fall of two thirds. The stock is now well below the critical level of 8,075 tonnes (Blim), which means the future regeneration of the stock is now critically endangered and the stock may remain depleted for extended periods.

Anglers have argued that ministers need to address the prime cause which is commercial overfishing with nets rather than targeting the limited impact on the fishery from angling with hook and line.

Ministers announced this morning that catch and release angling for bass all year round can continue with the prospect of a recreational bag limit in the second half of 2018 depending on a data review of the updated ICES advice in March. (This was specifically pushed for by the UK delegation in response to our representations).

There will be further limits on commercial bass fishing as follows:

Fixed nets:

1.2t provision over 10 months (Feb-March closed).

– reduction of approx. 50 percent on 2017 BUT now a provision rather than by-catch. Therefore likely to be more enforceable as the by catch allowance was being widely abused.

Demersal trawls and seines:

Bycatch down to 1 percent of catch capped at 100kg for trawls and 180kg for seines per month over 12 months.

– reduction from 5 per cent and reduction of cap on 2017

Commercial Hooks & Lines:

5t per vessel per year over 10 months (Feb-March closed)

– reduction of 50 percent on 2017.

The Angling Trust is pleased that commercial over fishing of bass numbers continues to be addressed but obviously disappointed with the extra restrictions on bass angling. However, overall the settlement looks like about the best we were going to get in the context of the ICES stock assessment of bass numbers.

David Mitchell, Head of Marine at the Angling Trust, said:

“We are pleased that the proposed six month ban recreational fishing for bass was rejected and members of the public will be able to continue to fish for bass in 2018 on a catch & release basis all year round. Charter skippers, bass angling guides and other businesses reliant on bass angling at least now have some certainty and can plan ahead for 2018.

"The UK government confirmed that the measures for recreational fishing will be reviewed in March when updated scientific advice will be issued which will take into account the impact of the restrictions on recreational fishing since 2015. We hope at this point that the impact of recreational fishing will have been reduced and there may be the leeway for a bag limit to be introduced in the second half of 2018.”

And as was expected, there’s been all manner of reaction on various social media platforms especially - I can understand a lot of the different arguments, but I can’t help but wonder if the same levels of effort that go into the reactions were actually put into trying to do the right thing and work towards more fish for everybody, then where might we be? We seem to love ranting and raving after the event, but we ain’t nearly so keen on standing together and fighting for a better world. Anyway, I digress………

A potential twelve month catch and release recreational bass fishery will most likely personally affect me very little - I don’t kill the bass I catch and I am very much in favour of the bulk of bass we as anglers might catch being returned. But of course I can see how a lot of other stakeholders in the recreational bass fishery are very worried, and I do my best to understand their point of view and what might happen. With bass stocks being how they are though, I can’t help but feel that from a purely ethical point of view we should be returning the bass we catch, and of course there must also be the question whether we should even be sport fishing for bass these days anyway - but I do see how a purely catch and release fishery might adversely affect a lot of people.

(R)D432158.jpg

What grates with me the most is knowing how little will be done to enforce the new measures - firstly as an angler I have never, ever been checked on when fishing here in the UK, so what’s to stop me killing every single bass I catch, and secondly what really makes the whole thing a bitter pill to swallow is the rampant disregard so many commercial fishermen seem to have for the rules and regulations because they don’t remotely fear any form of prosecution. Why have laws if they aren’t going to be enforced?

I will draw your attention here to something I read on the Mounts Bay Angling Society page on Facebook, and I hope I am not doing anything wrong here by copying and pasting what I read into this blog post. This makes for some horrible reading……….

“Based on the MMOs (Marine Management Organisation) own figures and up until the end of September 2017 there were 3513 recorded landings of bass in fixed gill nets. 497 of these landings contained only bass – no other species at all – at a time when it is illegal to target bass with fixed gill nets. 100% bass in the landing - if that is not targeting bass perhaps the MMO can tell us what is. Now comes the crunch - How many fishermen have been prosecuted by the MMO for landing avoidable catches of bass - for targeting bass – NONE. The MMO know all about these landings – these are their own figures yet they do nothing about it. Some boats are transgressing time and time again. As far as bass are concerned netters are being allowed to catch what they want with total impunity. How can this be right? What is the point of legislation if those charged with enforcing it disregard it totally.”

“Further analysis of the figures below show: One vessel in consecutive months landed 1207 kg and 1034 kg. Another vessel in consecutive months landed 472 kg, 205 kg, 285 kg, 80 kg, 972 kg and 270 kg. When the MMO are charged with enforcing a monthly catch limit of 250 kg, (of unavoidable by-catch), how can you possibly not notice this! At least 61 incidences of the 250kg cap being broken have been identified.”

Now I have good reason to believe that these facts and figures above are true, and that the information wasn’t exactly easy to come by for various reasons which I am sure make some sense. What the bloody hell is the point of laying down various rules and regulations which are actually designed to help bass stocks recover but then don’t prosecute any boats which break these rules? Surely all this does is send out the message that it’s just fine to flagrantly disregard the already daft bycatch laws because you’re not going to get into any trouble at all? Would you pay your taxes if you didn’t have to? Sod that!

And then within the recreational fishing world, what on earth is going to stop unscrupulous anglers taking as many bass as they want, whatever the laws are? If the laws aren’t enforced then what’s the bloody point? As much as there are a few people in this world who I could quite cheerfully slap, I know that if I were to do so I’m going to get into some form of trouble with the law - so where’s the equivalent law based protection for the fish? There does seem to be a slowly increasing desire and indeed need to properly protect and grow the bass stocks, but if the measures brought in are so easily bypassable, doesn’t that then simply allow for human nature and the rampant disregard we have for the natural world to prevail instead?

 

Does your lure addicted brain work like mine? The cycle of lure buying and why it will never end……...

The question here is never, ever going to be do I need a new lure. Nope, we’re way past that and have been for years now. The question as ever it seems is do I want a new lure, and how do I then justify this purchase to myself? Allow me to talk you through a recent lure purchase and then please tell me if your twisted, lure addicted brain works along the same line as mine………..

So a while back I’m in Needful Things talking to the owner Leland Gaunt - this will make no sense if you have never read any Stephen King books (and if not, why not?), but I am talking about the Cornwall based Art of Fishing tackle shop and its owner Ben Field. So we’re yapping away and of course my eyes are furtively scanning the rather good looking shop in case there’s something new which I haven’t seen yet. Does Ben notice my eyes scanning his shelves? Well as subtle as I like to think I am being, in truth I think it’s pretty bloody obvious I am yet another lure fishing addict standing in the middle of a lure fishing crack house and doing my best to act a bit nonchalant about it.

I have a kind of cotton candy colour radar - if there’s a hard lure in a cotton candy colour then I’m going to notice it for starters, and if (help!) there’s a lure I haven’t seen before in that colour then alarm bells are going to start going off between my brain and my wallet. Holy frigging cow, can you imagine how weak I would be around a cotton candy OSP DoLive Stick? Be still my beating heart!

(R)D610947.jpg

Anyway, while I’m talking to Leland Gaunt my eyes alight upon a rather lovely looking APIA hard lure that I have definitely never seen before, and shock horror, it just happens to be in a lovely cotton candy colour as well. Without a doubt Leland notices my sharp intake of breath, and he then turns around, scans his bastard shelves, and like a magician might pull a rabbit from a hat, said new hard lure is suddenly in his outstretched hand and being offered to me for a closer look. “Have you not seen this new APIA Dover 99F lure?” asks Leland? “No Ben, I haven’t.” And bang, there goes my addled brain, straight into lure needing/buying/justification mode. I’m breathing a little faster, my eyes are no doubt bulging, and that bastard lure demon in my head is chattering away.

As I said at the top, do I need a new hard lure? Well believe it or not, I’ve got “a few” already, and I reckon I’ve got most bases covered. But I haven’t got one of these APIA lures, and I do love having a few smaller hard lures that look like they might cast well, grip in nicely, and swim at a kind of shallowish medium sort of depth. So I don’t need one, but oh do I now want one - 14g, 99mm long, and rated to swim at 60cm, but I bet you with the rod tip up it will go shallower if needs be. And of course the one in Leland’s hand is a lovely cotton candy colour.

OK, so far I am managing to resist, but then as we carry on talking about world peace and other such important stuff, I begin thinking about a particular spot on the north coast of Cornwall that could call for a lure like that. I tend to fish there a lot with the DoLive Stick which can slay on its day, but sometimes when the conditions are somewhere between perfect and on the edge of being too much, controlling a weightless soft plastic can be tricky - hence my thinking about a few hard lures which might do the job for me. Which of course I have already. Which of course isn’t the point here. The bastard lure demon in my head is going back and forth - should I, shouldn’t I? Well it’s obviously a foregone conclusion, but I play the game with my head before handing over my debit card and relieving Needful Things of a brand new, shiny cotton candy colour APIA Dover 99F.

Which then sits in my lure box for a while because I’m fishing so much with soft plastics. It sits there looking lovely, it’s ready to go with the barbs all crushed down, but it wasn’t until last Sunday morning that I was faced with exactly the conditions at exactly the spot for which I thought this little APIA lure might work. You know damn well I’ve got other hard lures which could have done the job, and Charlie who I am fishing with does very well at this spot by fishing a 120mm Fiiish Black Minnow along the reefy bottom. But such logic is often besides the point when you’ve got a new lure you are itching to try.

Anyway, I’m struggling to properly fish a DoLive Stick, so I reel it in and pull my box of hard lures out of my HPA bag at my side. Hang on, did one of them just wink at me? I could have sworn that little cotton candy APIA lure winked at me - “Henry, over here, clip me on, now is the time you worthless addict”. So I do. I give in and gently pluck the new lure from my box, clip it on, put my lure box away, and then I cast the lure out on the “can’t stop fishing with it and should have returned it by now”, outstanding HTO Nebula 9’ 7-35g lure rod. Holy cow this little lure flies, and in a strong left to right rip current and a good bit of bounce it feels like it’s gripping and swimming really nicely. “Oh you clever boy Henry, you did so well to buy me”. Do lures really talk, or is it that lure demon still chatting away inside my head?

(R)D510183.jpg

Whatever it is, I think I might have yelped for joy when about five casts later I feel a hard tap and then a bang and then I’m connected to what feels like a decent bass. It didn’t actually end up scrapping that well, but when Charlie kindly went down and dragged my bass from the water, I think I might have by mistake said thank you very much to my new lure before I said so to him. All joking aside - and the life of a lure addict is no laughing matter by the way - I get such a thrill out of buying a new lure (obviously) with a specific location and set of conditions in mind and then actually catching on it. The fact that this rather lovely December bass was surely around the 6lb mark was merely the icing on the cake.

I then hooked another bass not long after which annoyingly came off, and then not long after that my lure got caught up on a rock (it’s some pretty shallow ground) and my braid obviously passed straight over something nice and sharp and broke. Forlornly I looked out at the whitewater to see if my little APIA Dover 99F could be seen waving at me, but I couldn’t see it, and as I turned around to go and tie a new leader on, I said a quiet and sad goodbye to my little cotton candy friend.

Screenshot 2017-12-12 17.51.13.jpg

And so the cycle of lure buying kicks in once more. I took a punt on the lure, I caught a nice fish on the new lure, and then I lost it - which means that firstly I am going to have to buy another one because I now know it works, and secondly I can’t just buy another cotton candy one. Oh no, fear not brave soul, I can’t be doing with just the one colour now. I now need a few different colours because that’s the way my twisted, lure addicted brain works. Off to Needful Things I go to continue my cycle of lure buying weakness that goes around and around while I play at being a grownup dad who is meant to be more mature than his 13 and 11 year old girls………….

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

If this isn’t what fishing is all about then I don’t know what is, or how do you show how happy fishing can make people feel?

For all the beautiful places and wonderful light that fishing can put us right in the middle of, I often wonder how one goes about quite simply showing the sheer joy and happiness that fishing can give to people? For sure a particularly big fish tends to bring about a few beaming smiles, and for me fishing is always going to be so much about a mix of location, light, people and fish, but how do you go about showing the actual joy of fishing? The thrill, the excitement, the happiness and those heart pumping moments when you’re right in the middle of actually fishing and not simply cradling the piscatorial result of a particularly good session for example?

Now if there is one thing I very rarely if ever do is crop my photos, save for straightening the odd wonky horizon if needs be (what, surely not?!) and then cropping down to lose the dead edges as such. I shoot what I am trying to show rather than shoot deliberately to crop if that makes sense. But I was fishing on Saturday morning up on the north coast of Cornwall and we had a few nice fish in some conditions that were about as good as you could ever hope to see for where we were fishing - which then made Sunday blowing up so bloody hard as it did all the more frustrating…………

(R)D432188.jpg

Anyway, so I’m lined up on Charlie above, shooting a few photos at 200mm and f4, and for three specific reasons - firstly it’s not one of those days when the light screams shoot big and wide, secondly I have to be careful not to shoot certain landmarks and thus divulge where we were fishing for any number of reasons, and thirdly I want to show Charlie the angler off as the main subject of the photo more than the location and/or the light. Sure, I want to put him in the middle of some rather lovely tumbling sea conditions, but I’m trying to shoot a pure fishing photo rather than a mix of angler in the middle of the landscape kind of thing.

(R)D432194.jpg

And then Charlie goes and hooks a fish, as per the photo above. I don’t own a lens longer than my Fuji 50-140mm f2.8 (70-200mm equivalent) - it’s an amazing lens and I can’t ever imagine being without a 70-200 lens, but I don’t really need anything much longer, or if I do, it’s very rarely and I don’t want to be carrying more camera gear than I already am when I go out fishing. I can’t actually get much closer to Charlie than I already am and to be honest I am more than happy with the simple photo above from Sunday morning - angler genuinely into a bass, nice bend in the rod, I love the wintry looking colour of the water, and I like the fact that there’s a bit of a wave crashing into Charlie as he plays the bass which he had just hooked on a Fiiish Black Minnow (which he is rather good at fishing over shallow reefs).

Screenshot 2017-12-10 06.32.53.jpg

Anyway, I was editing my photos from Sunday morning and checking that the subject here (Charlie) was pin sharp, and as I was zoomed in at 100% to do this I noticed the look on his face as per above. As I said, I don’t crop my photos, but Charlie’s face was such a picture of pure joy and happiness and thrill and excitement that I thought it would be fun to crop right in and give you a better look at it for the purposes of this blog post. For all that I love to shoot anglers in good looking places with a lovely bit of light, I wonder if Charlie’s face in fact says it all - the pure joy and happiness that fishing can give to an angler.

I am sure as an angler you often get asked why on earth you love fishing so much, and any angler of course knows that it’s a kind of an impossible question to answer - so I wonder if Charlie’s face at hooking into that rather nice bass as per below is quite simply the reason why I go fishing? Is there much more that needs to be said about how special going fishing really is?

(R)D510193.jpg

Are we anything more than a ravenous cancer upon the natural world? Will we keep on taking until there is nothing left?

If animals and fish and birds could talk, I would prostrate myself before them and beg forgiveness for what we are doing to them. Give it another few thousand years and I wonder if mankind will be any more than a mere footnote to the history of this glorious planet, derided as the species which came so close to emptying the seas and causing the extinction of nearly all living things. I tend to be a pretty positive person, but sometimes something really gets to me and it snowballs into a blog post like this……………

(R)D432156.jpg

So my mate Mark and I are fishing on the north coast of Cornwall on Tuesday morning of this week. Conditions are pretty tasty albeit the actual fishing wasn’t exactly firing liked we hoped it might. Anyway, we’re fishing away and then a commercial fishing boat turns up and starts to haul a great big gill net in not very far from shore at all, as per the photo above. But no, I am not about to have a rant and a rave against commercial fishing, for if the licensed vessel was observing the size and catch limits then it was doing nothing illegal.

OK, so it hardly fills us with cheer and goodwill to watch a gill net being pulled in right in front of where we are fishing, and whilst I am not laying the blame for a poor morning’s fishing at this boat’s door, to be perfectly honest my will to continue fishing that particular session left me. I made some phone calls when I got home to check that the commercial boat was fishing legally - and it was if size limits and catch restrictions were being correctly observed - albeit of course they were not legally allowed to be targeting bass and instead I am sure were gillnetting the mullet and then if they “by mistake landed any bass in the process”, they could legally land them as part of a bycatch regulation.

Yes, I know it makes no logical sense how this could be allowed to happen, and as much as I want to give that particular commercial skipper the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t to know that at this time of year and in this part of Cornwall there tend to be a lot of mullet and, shock horror, bass shoaling up close to shore, my guess is that he knew exactly what was going on and then of course how he might manipulate the insane regulations. I don’t know this for a fact, but with how mankind treats the natural world I can’t help but err on the side of cynicism at what was going on right in front of us. We can argue back and forth until the polar ice caps do actually melt and we are left clinging to our lifejackets while what’s left in the oceans has the last laugh, but we know that we take too many fish from the sea. Is it simply our nature as human beings to keep on taking? And how long can it go on for before there really is practically nothing left?

(R)D432161.jpg

And to be perfectly honest it depresses the hell out of me. Why do we do it? Why do we take and take, even when we know that fish stocks are in trouble? By no means am I some eco warrior who doesn’t use plastic bags for their food shopping or eats only tree bark and builder’s putty (sorry, I meant tofu or whatever that stuff is). I embrace certain elements of technology for both work and leisure, I live in a nice house, we burn plenty of wood in the winter, and I use most likely a lot of electricity doing what I do. My carbon footprint can’t exactly be that great with the amount I have flown for work over many years now, I eat plenty of meat, and I drive an epic diesel car.

But I wonder what the hell we are doing here. Are we going to keep on taking and taking and killing and killing until someday in the not too distant future there’s going to be very little or quite possibly nothing left of the natural world and the creatures within it? As I said, I am not picking on commercial fishing only when said vessel was most likely obeying the laws laid down by the powers that be, rather I must call into question firstly the powers that be, and secondly what seems to be a complete lack of respect for the world around us. Does morality ever come into the decisions that are taken? Will mankind ever do the right thing quite simply because it’s the right thing to do, or will it always be about power and money and votes? Does the natural world stand a bloody chance?

Can you imagine if one day a decision was taken to better protect the fish stocks that was based on morality and not politics or money or protecting the rights of the commercials? For all the scientists and studies and politics going on at the moment with bass and bass stocks, everybody who spends any time around these fish and the sea in general knows they are in trouble. It ain’t bloody rocket science. But why are they in trouble? Drum roll please, and don’t faint at the shock, but it’s because we take too many of them out of the sea to eat, end of. The commercial sector can bleat on about jobs and livelihoods and future generations of commercial fishermen, but they know as well as anybody that too many fish are being taken from the seas. Morality doesn’t come into it on any level though, and as each successive generation finds less and less out there to harvest, one must surely wonder if at some point our rampant disregard for the natural world will be our downfall - and what’s left of the natural world I am sure would breathe a collective sigh of relief……….

Gear of the Year 2017 - Part 1

It’s around that time of year again when I like to look back on here at the fishing gear that’s impressed me the most over the last twelve months or so. As much gear as I might get to play around with, I think there might be some similarities to my Gear of the Year 2016 Part 1 and Part 2 posts, but because I don’t plan this I guess I’ll write these new posts up and see where I’m at when they are done. Another year nearly over and yet again we are some lucky lure anglers if you ask me with what is increasingly on the market at what are often some really good prices. As for where we might be this time next year with bass stocks and potential restrictions, who knows? Anywhere, here goes…………….

(R)D431319.jpg

Lure rod of the year 2017, whatever the price - I have thought a lot about this, and although I have been lucky enough to fish with a few not remotely cheap and really rather lovely lure rods this year, I still keep coming back to the rather more “budget” HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g (review here). Is it really that good? Well I knew it was something a bit special the first time I ever picked it up, but now that I have fished with it a hell of a lot? Yes, big time. This 9’ 7-35g Nebula is just ridiculously good, and I’d still be saying that if it cost a whole heap more. I have a similar specced lure rod here that is at least three times the RRP of this Nebula and which I have fished with loads and loads over the last few years, yet I am choosing to fish with the Nebula - I like it that much. I said in my review that it was a game changing lure rod, and I stand by that.

(R)Dbw610352.jpg

Best hard lure 2017 - Not a new one at all, and my choice here is down to me loving it for my own fishing as well as loving it more and more as a lure for guiding work - it just catches bass in a bunch of different situations. It casts a mile, you can simply wind it in, it works in calm conditions, rough conditions, night time, and also in a good run of current. I like the size, I like the colours, hell, it’s been my go-to bouncier conditions hard lure for a few years now, and I haven’t come across anything else that has persuaded me otherwise - what has crept up on me about this lure in 2017 is how often I find myself getting our clients over in Ireland to clip one on and then seeing it catch fish. The IMA Hound 125F Glide is my hard lure of the year 2017.

(R)D611211.jpg

Best accessory 2017 no.1 - The excellent HPA 40 litre waterproof rucksack. I have used this rucksack as good as all year without any problems. Comfortable to carry, it holds enough gear for me (and that includes a camera plus lenses etc.), obviously it’s waterproof which is really handy, and it hasn’t failed and started letting water in around the bottom part of the rucksack.

(R)D429955.jpg

Best breathable waders 2017 - I have tried some other waders out this year, but still nothing has impressed me as much as the Vision Ikon breathable chest waders (review here). Logic says that there should surely be a pair of breathables out there that offer more for the money, but if there actually is then I haven’t come across them yet. A bit bloody brilliant if you ask me. OK, so the two pairs of not bloody cheap Simms waders I have owned are supremely well cut and are a smidgen easier to wear as a result, but the far cheaper Vision Ikons I have used have lasted longer and I’ll take them thank you very much.

(R)D611210.jpg

Best braid 2017 - Take your pick from Sufix 832 (review here) or Sufix Performance Pro 8 (review here). Yep, I’ve got a serious thing for Sufix lines, and the fact that they do two such good braids for such sensible money does it for me in a big way. Go for the Sufix 832 if you want a very slightly thicker but seriously robust 8-strand mainline, and then if you want an uber-smooth, very thin and very long-casting, high end Japanese style 8-strand braid, go for Sufix Performance Pro 8 - and the fact that this perfect mainline is also now available in a bright orange colour has immeasurably improved my life!

(R)D430788.jpg

Special mention lure rod 2017 - If the 9’ 7-35g Nebula hadn’t come along then I’d have gone for the sublime and bit more luxurious if you like Tailwalk Salty Shape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g (review here). A sub-£200 lure rod that is easily on a par with the outstanding Major Craft Skyroad 9’ 10-30g rod, this particular Tailwalk rod is arguably going to suit some anglers a bit better than the cheaper Nebula - but why? Because as much as I love a very fast action on a lure rod - like with the Ex Fast Nebula - the Tailwalk is not quite as fast, and for some anglers this makes it that little bit easier to fish with. I like the Tailwalk Salty Shape Dash Seabass 90ML 9’ 7-28g a hell of a lot, but I gave the Nebula the top spot because it’s priced so aggressively.

Gear that I have used for so many years now and continues to work so well that I have basically given up looking for an alternative 2017 no.1 - The Under Armour Heat Gear compression leggings and the Under Armour Cold Gear compression leggings and compression long sleeve top. OK, so I certainly wasn’t born to compress, and men in tights does garner me a few weird looks from time to time, but I just can’t imagine not wearing this Under Armour compression gear under my waders when I go fishing. It works that well. I am still on my original two pairs of Cold Gear leggings and compression tops, and that’s more than six  years of use now. OK, so I wear that stuff when it’s a bit colder, but it still adds up to a hell of a lot of use over six years, and I am only on my second two pairs of the lighter weight Heat Gear leggings that I wear when I don’t need the warmer Under Armour Cold Gear stuff - basically a hell of a lot. Over the last six years that I’ve been using Under Armour leggings especially under my waders I have taken the odd gamble to see if something else could do any better, and those gambles are now sitting in my cupboard because they were a complete waste of money. I include some leggings in that gamble category that are referred to on their tackle company websites as being specialist under wader wear - but they haven’t come close to how well this Under Armour gear works.

My biggest fishing like a tit moment of 2017 - When I broke the rather lovely Favorite Skyline SKY-862M 8’6’’ 6-21g due to landing a bass about as badly as you could ever hope to do so! Seriously, if it had been caught on video it would have made the most perfect “how not to do it” instructional clip. Fishing eh? You think you’re doing it ok and then fishing reminds you who the boss really is.……..

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

The HTO Nebula 90M 9’ 7-35g (my best lure rod of 2017), is back in stock in the UK and Ireland - yippee!

First off, please take this blog post as it's meant to be - which is me being genuinely over the moon to see such a good value for money lure fishing rod back in stock much earlier than I had originally been informed. Please don’t take this blog post as me trying to get you to buy this amazing lure fishing rod through my affiliate links. For sure I will link you through to somewhere below that does have an affiliate scheme with me, but as per my disclaimers that I always put up, if you are after this rod then you need to know that of course it’s available from other tackle shops. 

(R)D431556.jpg

It’s not often that a lure fishing rod comes along which impresses me as much as this new HTO Nebula 9’ (2.7m) 7-35g. There’s more and more really good lure fishing gear out there these days for us addicts to lay our hands on, but just sometimes an item of tackle pops up that to me represents something that I absolutely love using AND it’s at a ridiculously good price. This 9’ 7-35g Nebula is just that item of tackle (review here), and I have fished with it now for long enough to know that it’s almost stupidly good. I have tried and tried but I can’t trip it up. I have absolutely full blooded cast with a 35g casting jig (and caught bass on it) but the rod doesn’t feel as if it’s really trying, yet with a 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick on it this rod feels utterly sublime.

If you like an EX FAST (as per HTO describe it) precision wand of a lure fishing rod that’s going to cover so much of the bass, pollack and wrasse lure fishing you may well do, plus you don’t want to spend a heap of cash, then find a way if you can of at least getting a look at this Nebula. Seriously, I am in this slightly strange position of having some lure rods here that are worth far more than this “kinda budget” Nebula, yet I am choosing to fish with it over them. I don’t have to, it’s my choice what I fish with, but it’s that good for how I do a lot of my lure fishing that I want to keep fishing with it.

(R)D611174.jpg

I don’t know if my blog review of this rod had any kind of effect, but soon after I wrote it this particular 9’ 7-35g Nebula sold out here in the UK and Ireland. To me it proves that lure anglers tend to be on the lookout for a quality fishing rod at an incredible price, and as much as I have been fishing most of the time now with the review copy of the rod that I have here (oops, I’ve sort of forgotten to return it to HTO!), I have also felt a bit guilty that I’ve got one here when I know that there have been anglers out there looking to buy one. I was told by HTO that there would be a load more Nebula rods back in the UK for most likely January or February 2018, but then a little birdy told me earlier this week that in fact they were going to be back in stock either right now, or over the next few days.

Does Father Christmas know how good you have been this year? I am constantly trying to be as good as possible here at home because my daughters are forever reminding me that I won’t be getting a stocking if I misbehave. Yes, I know, it’s meant to be the other way round! If Father Christmas is true - and let’s be honest, he must be, because I keep getting parcels of DoLive Sticks in the post that I can’t remember if I ordered or not? - then he has done him and his reindeer proud this year by making sure the Nebula rods are back in the UK before the year is out.

If this blog post is of absolutely no interest to you then I wish you a good weekend and I’ll see you back here next week. I don’t usually do blog posts like this, but with how much feedback I have been getting about these outstanding HTO Nebula rods I thought it might be helpful to keep you addicts up to date. There is a very good, slightly more powerful version of that 7-35g Nebula that I have fished with and reviewed here, plus a bunch more rods in the range that I haven’t fished with yet. Have a good weekend, and remember, Father Christmas is watching!

(R)D611179.jpg

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

I don’t see a way around waders being almost an expendable item for saltwater fishing - with the crux being how much you are prepared to spend for that limited life

I reckon I’ve been wearing lightweight breathable chest waders for the bulk of my saltwater fishing for at least fifteen years now, and possibly longer, plus I have worn them for much of my freshwater based fishing photography as well. All in all I guess this adds up to a lot of experience with many different makes and models of breathable waders - and nothing yet has changed my opinion that as sure as night follows day, these kind of waders are going to fail at some point if you use them a lot for saltwater fishing. It’s more a matter of how long you can get out of them before something goes wrong………...

(R)D429426.jpg

Note that I am not complaining here, because however much we want what are generally not a cheap item of clothing to last forever, as saltwater anglers we are still putting something that has been designed for freshwater fishing through a generally much tougher life than was envisaged for them. Sure, some waders without a doubt last far better than others, but I kinda think that lure anglers especially have been wearing these waders for long enough now to have realised that a pair of waders for saltwater fishing in the UK and Ireland is almost an expendable bit of gear if you like - and the choice we have to make is how much are we prepared to spend on them when we know that they aren’t going to last anywhere near forever. But then what does last forever in saltwater fishing especially?  

How important are waders to you? For me they are as vital as a lure rod and spinning reel, as in nearly every single time I go fishing in the UK or Ireland I wear my chest waders. I know that some braver anglers than me have various wet wading systems they use, and I have tried some myself, but the simple fact is that I hate being wet when I am fishing, and however warm our weather may sometimes get, our waters still feel bloody cold to me! It may be different for you, but I need those waders as much as I need a rod and reel.

I have tried many more pairs of waders than you ever hear about on this blog, and with how long I’ve been wearing breathable chest waders for my fishing and indeed photography, I have distilled my experience if you like down to this simple “fact” - if I get a perfect year out of my chest waders then that’s pretty damn good, accepting that if I slip or fall and somehow put a hole or tear in the material then that’s my fault and I need to patch it up. I’ve met some freshwater anglers especially who can’t believe how I get through waders when they’re getting say fifteen years of perfect use, but then it turns out that these guys are salmon fishing for two weeks a year and that’s it!  

The lifespan of your waders may well be different to mine. Take my year as a kind of average, because I’ve got longer out of one pair of waders, and I sure as hell have also got a lot less as well - my record was getting wet feet with a brand new pair before the first day with them was even finished! I have worn high end Simms waders which are without doubt the most comfortable waders I have ever worn, and I have worn distinctly budget waders, with many in between - but as much as I am always very much hoping that spending a whole heap more on a pair of breathable chest waders is going to buy me a considerably longer “perfect wader life”, so far and rather annoying this hasn’t been the case. Don’t get me wrong, I am ever hopeful here and I will keep looking and then report back if I am successful, but so far I stand by the one year thing - with any longer being a real bonus, however much they cost.

I was wearing a very comfortable and well designed pair of chest waders from the start of this year for example, and with how well they were working for a few months I was getting pretty excited about them - or as excited as one can get about a pair of chest waders! But I was out photographing some fly fishing on a reservoir, I waded out to line up a shot and suddenly I’m feeling distinctly wet around the crotch area. Now I may be getting older, but I am pretty sure I’d still know if I wet myself by mistake. Nope, these waders which had been working so perfectly up until literally the day before when I had been out (saltwater) fishing had gone and completely failed out of the blue around the crotch seam area. Oh well, another pair bites the dust.

I will keep on looking and trying different pairs of breathable chest waders as and when I can, but when I need to buy a pair then for me it’s going to stay the same as it has done for a few years now - I am accepting that around the £200 mark is what I need to spend to get me a pair of waders that  will do me for at least a year (and I got I think a year and a half out of my last pair). You might not like hearing this and I am not remotely trying to tell you what to do here by the way -  I am merely telling you that after a number of years and different waders, I have arrived at a figure of roughly £200 for at least a year of use - unless as I said I fall and rip them or whatever, which I have done, and it’s why I always have some of that Aquasure stuff here.

(R)D429802.jpg

Why the roughly £200 figure though? Because nothing yet has changed my mind that the Vision Ikon chest waders are the best all round ones I have come across so far, and they tend to cost around £200 - keep an eye out though, because sometimes you can find them on a bit of a deal. Should I balk at spending £200 a year (ok, hopefully a good deal longer if all goes well) on an item that I am expecting will eventually fail on me? Well first off I can’t get by without a pair of chest waders, secondly I want them to be comfortable and easy to wear and as tough as I have found for the price - which the Vision Ikon waders are - and thirdly I don’t see much choice here. I don’t drink or smoke, fishing is my life, and I need a pair of waders that I trust will do the job for me. As I said, my eyes are always open, but at the moment that is where it’s at for me with chest waders.

 

Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ S90ML 9’ 7-24g lure rod review - not remotely cheap

I really enjoy messing about with different lure rods and then reviewing some of them on this blog here. Some I like more than others, some don’t float my boat much from the off and I am not inclined to spend my own precious fishing time thrashing them any further, some go back from whence they came and I really miss them, and some go back and I don’t miss them that much. The odd rod though really, really gets to me, and this not remotely cheap Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ S90ML 9’ 7-24g (£439.99 UK RRP) is one of those rods - sure, I don’t need it, but much like the sublime Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel, holy hell do I want it. That’s my first problem.

(R)D431964.jpg

My second problem is that my mate Mark who manages the Art of Fishing tackle shop in Wadebridge now owns and fishes with this utterly sublime Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ S90ML 9’ 7-24g rod - which means that although I am successfully holding out on buying one so far, most times I go out fishing with Mark and he’s waving this wand around like a frigging magnet for my debit card. Yep, damn right £439.99 is a lot of money to spend on a fishing rod, but so what? You either have the money or you don’t, and you either would spend that sort of money on a lure fishing rod or you wouldn’t. Once again it’s personal choice and I am not about to apologise for reviewing a lure fishing rod that costs this much money. I have fished with it, I have an opinion about it, and I am telling you about it.

Screenshot 2017-11-27 08.39.17.jpg

First off though, and let’s get this out of the way so you can stop reading if needs be - this Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ S90ML 9’ 7-24g lure rod is not for you if you’re after a rod for blasting out the Xorus Patchinko or fishing rougher conditions with something like the IMA Hound 125F Glide. Same for bumping fast runs of current with heavier soft plastics - don’t go for a rod like this, but then it’s surely fairly obvious that a lure rod rated 7-24g is not going to be for this kind of bass lure fishing anyway. But if you want a seriously high end lure fishing rod that’s a smidgen lighter than your standard say 7-30g range of lure rods because you are fishing various locations that warrant the use of soft plastics such as the DoLive Stick, plus “regular” surface and hard lures and so on - and you are prepared to spend north of £400 on it - then I implore you to take a long, hard look at this utterly sublime Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ S90ML 9’ 7-24g rod. Holy frigging cow this rod is something very special indeed…….

(R)D432043.jpg

It will come as no surprise to you if you read my blog that I am fishing more and more with soft plastics rigged weedless and weightless especially - and yes, the 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick is top of the tree for me. It is only natural therefore that I am going to keep an eye out for lure rods which I think might fish lures like this really well, plus of course surface lures like my beloved IMA Salt Skimmer, and ultra-shallow diving hard lures like the killer little IMA iBorn 98F etc. And then of course we’ve got the white senkos at night, plus smaller needlefish like the lovely little 17g Spofford’s Lures needlefish, the Albie Snax, and so on. A lot of my bass fishing takes place in locations and situations where I can quite happily use a lure rod that’s rated “only” 7-24g.

Gotta love that Sufix Performance Pro 8 braid in that bright orange colour!

Gotta love that Sufix Performance Pro 8 braid in that bright orange colour!

(R)D611223.jpg

I really like the 9’ length with this Tailwalk, and I love how it feels with a Shimano 3000 size spinning reel on it - please bear in mind here that I have only fished with these reels on this rod, but I would hope it’s fairly obvious that you don’t want to be sticking a much bigger and/or heavier spinning reel on it. The rod handle I guess might be a Marmite thing, but it floats my boat in a big way. I like how my reel hand can feel the actual blank, and I also like how the bit that tightens down to the reel and sits under my reel hand when I am casting and fishing has a really nice bit of grippy material on it. This Tailwalk rod is rung with Fuji Torzite guides and it just smacks of serious quality - which indeed it should at the price, but seriously, it’s as if a proper angler who actually goes out fishing designed this thing because it looks and feels so good.

(R)D510149.jpg

You would not expect or want a rod like this to be some scaffold pole of a lure rod, but then I also don’t want some floppy stick just because it’s a bit of a lighter rod. I would suggest that Tailwalk have got this TZ S90ML spot on - it’s delightfully light and sensitive, but it’s also got plenty of power and guts if you do need to push the 24g top end. I have watched Mark fish some surprisingly lively conditions with this rod and he never had any worries, bearing in mind of course that he wasn’t having to push the kinda next step up bigger, heavier lures out there. The rod can easily cope around the 24g top end of its casting rating, indeed it’s quite something how well it pushes a lure like the 23g sinking version of the new Savage Gear Sandeel Surf Walker surface lure out there - holy cow it flies! What I am trying to say here is that with this Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ S90ML 9’ 7-24g rod, you’ve got a lighter rod that can actually cope with things that say another lighter again lure rod like the rather lovely Favorite Skyline SKY-862M 8’6’’ 6-21g would not be enjoying that much. That 24g tip on the Tailwalk does make a difference here.

Webp.net-gifmaker.gif

And for me I can’t stop smiling when I am fishing a the various sizes of OSP DoLive Stick rigged weedless and weightless on this rod. I know essentially squat about fishing rod design, and considering that the DoLive Stick is very much a freshwater lure on the Japanese OSP website, I seriously doubt that this is the case - but for me it’s as if Tailwalk have designed the perfect bass fishing rod for fishing these lures (and other lures like them of course). It’s just an absolute joy to wind this rod up, let these lures fly, and work them back - and when you get that delicious jolt of a bass hit run down the rod and into your arm, I defy any angler not to smile like a kid in a candy store. There’s oodles of power to deal with decent bass if needs be, and I can’t get enough of how intensely pleasurable it is to fish with this rod.

Now can you understand why I said at the start of this review that it’s bloody hard when you go out fishing and your mate is using and loving and cooing over this exact rod that I am doing my utmost to resist buying? This is going to be a long term test of my will power…………….

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

 

It’s so damn easy to wear a lifejacket, but I need to remember how to actually wear it

To be perfectly honest I feel a little embarrassed and also a bit bloody stupid with how damn easy it is to wear a lifejacket for my fishing - embarrassed because I have avoided the issue for so many years now, and bloody stupid for not having been wearing one. I am not here to tell you what you as an angler need to be doing, but I would urge you to at least try and see one of these modern lifejackets and understand just how easy they are to wear - but if you are anything like me then you might need to remember how you actually wear one………..

(R)D432112.jpg

I’m sure we all have our own ways of getting geared up to go fishing - if I am fishing relatively local to me then I put my waders and boots on at home and jump in the car with my rod on the Vac-Racs, and if I am going to be driving a bit further then I will tend to chuck waders and boots into a plastic box and put them in the boot. What I am saying here is that my waders and boots go on first - I am a typical bloke in that this is how I do things and that’s the way it is. Are we not creatures of habit?

So I’ve got my waders and wading boots on. Depending on the weather and/or how far I’ve got to walk, I either put a jacket on (the consistently excellent Vision Kust wading jacket) or fold it up and put it in my waterproof rucksack (this HPA one here). The important part for me now is that I almost automatically put my lure bag on - it goes on the outside or top of whatever my final layer is if that makes sense. I have tried and tried but I still can’t find a better way to carry my lures AND have them easily to hand to change over if needs be while I am actually fishing than this simple HPA bag here - and for a few years now I have used it in conjunction with a shoulder strap and waist belt and it’s as light and easy and efficient to wear as I can ever imagine a way to carry and access my lures could be.

And then I put my HPA rucksack on and head off fishing - nine times out of ten I’m going to put my rucksack down on a rock or sandbank or whatever when I am actually fishing, but the thing I am getting at here is that I am so used to my lure carrying bag or system if you like being the last thing I put on or indeed take off to get the waders down and have a pee. Or at least it was the last thing I put on until I started wearing a lifejacket…………

(R)D432006.jpg

A few times now I have got out of my car, geared up to go fishing, and because I am a bloke and therefore I am a creature of habit I have found myself putting my lure bag shoulder strap over the top of my lifejacket, before realising that in fact I have done things wrong and I need to go back a step. Think about things here - an auto-inflate lifejacket needs a completely unimpeded path if you like to automatically inflate if you get washed in, so if you put anything over the top of it (like my shoulder strap), you are kinda negating how the lifejacket needs to work. It’s only habit that has made me gear up the wrong way a few times, so by making sure to wear a lifejacket most of the time now I guess I am starting to change my habits.

What I need to remember to do now then is to get myself geared up with HPA lure bag (and shoulder strap) and/or wading jacket, and then put my lifejacket on last. Very importantly here as well - if for some reason I need to carry my rucksack whilst I am actually fishing (deep wading or something like that) then as with making sure the shoulder strap on my lure back is UNDER my lifejacket, I must also make sure the strap that goes across the top of your chest on a rucksack is also put UNDER the lifejacket. Sure, it’s a tad fiddly to do, but I rarely carry my rucksack while I am actually fishing, and even if I do, does a tad fiddly bother me for one second if my lifejacket might one day save my life?

OK, so you’re dealing with an extra implement if you like here, but it’s merely a matter of changing your habits slightly if you want to wear a lifejacket for your own shore fishing. I have seen various “discussions” back and forth online about those slingbag style bags that some anglers like to use for carrying their lures, but unless I am mistaken they simply don’t work with a lifejacket. The whole point of a lifejacket is that it needs to be fixed in place across your top half, with that very important crotch strap properly secured as well - so whilst you can perfectly easily wear your slingbag underneath your lifejacket like I do with my HPA bag/shoulder strap arrangement, obviously you can’t then “sling” your slingbag around to your front if you are wearing a lifejacket.

So what do you do? Well it’s up to you here, but I would proffer the simple but unavoidable fact that a slingbag isn’t going to save your life whereas a lifejacket could well do so. If you want to wear a lifejacket and you currently use a slingbag (and I personally can’t get on with them at all so I am fine here), then I am going to suggest that you find a different way to carry your lures. Is this a bit of a pain? Maybe, but again, what’s more important here? A way of carrying your lures, or correctly wearing a lifejacket? Pretty damn simple if you ask me.

I can’t get away from the fact that a lifejacket is another thing to remember, but over time I am going to assume that taking it with me and putting it on last will become as natural as taking my lures and lure bag with me. Sure, a lifejacket is another thing to have to take off if you need to have a pee and you’re wearing waders, so to this extent I am absolutely loving this pair of zip front chest waders I am currently wearing. As with my HPA lure bag, I have tried my best to find a pair of lightweight, breathable chest waders that work as well for me or offer better value for money than the outstanding Vision Ikon ones - but I can’t. They are bloody brilliant, indeed I got about a year and a half of hard saltwater use from my first pair before anything went wrong with them.

And I am currently trying a pair of the Vision Ikon Zip (front) waders - so far, so good, and as much as a zip down your front is handy anyway, crumbs is it a godsend when you are wearing a lifejacket. I can keep everything on (lure bag, wading jacket and lifejacket) and easily go for a pee because I’ve got that long zip in the front of the waders. Sure it’s more awkward than if you were wearing a pair of budgie smugglers, but hey ho, it’s more than doable and it’s a whole heap easier than having to take a load of stuff off to get at what you need to get at.

I am still alternating between the two very lightweight and easy to wear lifejackets that have been kindly loaned to me - the Spinlock Deckvest Lite and the Crewsaver Crewfit 165 Sport. In due course I will review them both as such, bearing in mind that they will be reviews based mainly on how they are to wear and put on etc., because in January we will get the chance to spend a day with the RNLI up at Poole and properly test a lot of stuff out in their training tank. You all have a good weekend. Loving the Ashes as ever and loving the fact that we turned the Aussies over in the rugby last weekend.

Oh, and I forgot to put this up the other day - I am over the moon to get the front cover of the new issue of Sea Angler magazine with a shot of a night lure caught double figure bass. That was some fish for Steve and I love the fact that Sea Anger picked this photo out for the cover.

Screenshot 2017-11-24 05.09.49.jpg

 

 

Surely now is the time for anglers to actually come together and fight for their right to be able to go bass fishing next year

I have never subscribed to the age old thing that as anglers we have some sort of exclusive right to go fishing and take fish to eat, but as a group of people we are stakeholders in the marine environment, and we have as much right to go sport fishing as a surfer does to go surfing etc. As I am sure you have all seen up on Facebook especially, there is an EU proposal on the table which is calling for a ban on anglers fishing for bass from January to July 2018, and then the next six months would be fishing for bass on a catch and release basis only. And yes, whilst there are proposals to severely restrict commercial landings, by no means do these proposals propose stopping all commercial bass fishing activity like they propose no sport fishing for the first six months of 2018.

First off, please note that these are leaked EU proposals, so don’t go flying off the handle like far too many anglers have been doing on Facebook. Please, please read this blog post because it will help you understand exactly what is going on and also what we need to do as anglers who want to go fishing but also do what is right to help protect and improve bass stocks for the future. I would suggest that with what could happen here - and note the word could - if we as anglers don’t work together and get off our collective backsides then we never will.

This is going to be a long blog post because I am going to copy various easy to read and digest stuff in here that I would urge you to take the time to read. As a group of enthusiasts we UK and Irish saltwater anglers are at best apathetic in general, but surely even the merest hint that proposals like these are on government tables needs to be taken seriously and acted upon. Please, please don’t do what we usually do and bury our heads in the sand and hope it all goes away. Surely what has been going on over the last few years worries the hell out of you how we as anglers are facing more and more restrictions, whilst far too many bass are still being commercially harvested all around us. Which group will have fully paid up professionals in the ear of the government to work on protecting as much of their fishing as possible when the December meetings occur? Well considering we don’t pay anything to try and protect our fishing, I will let you work that one out……….

Anyway, first and foremost, I am going to copy and paste the SOS (Save Our Sea Bass) website campaign details in here - it’s so easy to digitally sign a petition, and I would urge you to do so right here, but in reality it is letters and emails from individual anglers that means far, far more. Please follow the instructions below and get on with sending those emails and letters. After that I am going to copy and paste an excellent blog post from the TopFisher.eu website that perfectly explains what exactly is going on here with these leaked proposals. We need reaction, but I urge you to read everything here and then react because you actually know what is going on, rather than simply reacting to numerous inflammatory Facebook posts.

Do you legally want to be doing this next year? If so (no brainer, surely!), please act now

Do you legally want to be doing this next year? If so (no brainer, surely!), please act now

From the SOS website:

"Fishing for Sea Bass Is Not A Crime – Don’t Let The EU Make It One!

The EU wants to make it illegal for the public to catch or keep any sea bass in 2018.  But they are only proposing to restrict 1% of commercial hook & line vessels targeting bass in the UK. This is unfair and disproportionate.

Members of the public who enjoy angling and eating some of the fish they catch have already suffered severe restrictions since 2015 in order to protect bass stocks. Now the right of the public to catch a bass for the table is about to be taken away from us.  Don’t let the EU remove a right that is part of everyday life for millions of people.

We urgently need you write to your MP, asking him or her to talk with George Eustice and Michael Gove and urge them to protect the public’s right to catch and eat bass.  It’s easy to do, just follow this link: (below are the details of what you need to do via that link)

Email Your MP Today

Please take a couple of minutes to ask your MP to protect the public’s historic right to fish for a bass to feed their family.

The EU Commission’s proposal is unfair, disproportionate and completely unenforceable. It would criminalise thousands of anglers whose activities have had the lowest impact on European Bass stocks.

We are calling for the EU Fisheries Ministers to defend our rights and to continue to allow anglers to catch bass throughout 2018 and keep one bass a day from July‐December.

  • Copy the ‘suggested wording’ text below (or even better, use your own words);
  • Enter your postcode in the box below;
  • Click on the ‘Connect’ button to goto to the Writetothem website;
  • Paste your text (or add your own words), enter your name, address, etc. and hit send!
writetothem.com

Suggested Wording:

I’m writing to express my serious concerns over the recent proposal by the European Union Commission that that sea anglers should no longer be allowed to retain a single bass caught in 2018 and face a complete ban on even catch & release bass angling for 6 months of the year. This has sparked outrage amongst angling groups, tackle shops, fishing guides and charter boat skippers, particularly because the Commission is proposing that some forms of commercial fishing should continue and is clamping down hardest on the sector that has had the lowest impact on bass stocks.

Members of the public who enjoy fishing for bass from the shore or from pleasure or charter boats make a significant contribution to hard-pressed coastal economies – estimated by DEFRA to be as much as £200 million a year and far in excess of the value of the commercial fishery. Not only is it ridiculous and utterly unenforceable to suggest that anglers can stop a bass, rather than a pollock or a wrasse from biting on their bait or lure, it is monstrously unfair and completely unenforceable.

As my MP, I would like you to raise these matters in the House of Commons, if possible at the forthcoming Annual Fisheries Debate, and to write to Fisheries Minister George Eustice calling on him to:

  • Firmly reject, at the European Union Fisheries Council meeting, proposals by the EU Commission which seek to restrict anglers’ historic rights to the public Bass fishery, whilst allowing commercial exploitation to continue.
  • Make clear that this measure is unfair, disproportionate and completely unenforceable. It would ‘criminalise’ thousands of anglers whose activities have had the lowest impact on European Bass stocks.
  • Insist that there can be no justification for increasing the already severe restrictions on anglers who have borne a disproportionate burden of recent restrictions.
  • Continue to rebuild Bass stocks by limiting their commercial exploitation by restricting bass fishing to sustainable hook and line fishing only.

The sea angling community and those businesses which it sustains will be most grateful for your support."

(Henry here - if any of these links don't work properly, please just go to the SOS email campaign page here and do it there.)

If you require any further information please download the full Angling Trust briefing here

writetothem.com

And now for a full and easy to read explanation about what exactly is going, please read the blog post below that I have copied and pasted from TopFisher.eu - with my profound thanks to them for allowing me to do so..

"Firstly to appreciate what is happening to bass you have to have some appreciation of the general politics that surround all fishing negotiations.

In this case the EU Fisheries Commission will put forward a position paper and the fisheries ministers will debate the proposals and will come to some sort of agreement based around the pressure applied by commercial lobbyists and the need to protect stocks as outlined by the scientists.

Technically speaking the EU commissions hands are tied. The EU has committed not to knowingly fish a species into oblivion. Where the politicos do not have sufficient information the “precautionary principle” applies. Decision making must be conservative at least until better information is gathered.

So, a discussion paper began to circulate in mid-November. This non-paper sets out the proposals for bass for 2018.

It advocates:

Recreational: Six months total ban on targeting bass. Six months catch and release.

Commercial: Netting of bass prohibited and no by catch allowance. No landing obligation (bass caught as a by catch must be thrown back to the sea). Limited hook and line commercial fishing is permitted to a max of 4ton per boat per year.

By any standards these are fairly draconian proposals. It is important to realise that these are just that, proposals. Nothing is set in stone until the December council. Between now and then the lobbying continues and countries will decide on their position. Most EU positions get somewhat diluted before a deal is reached.

There is one thing to remember about bass. The EU has been moving towards these type of measures slowly, as they do. Over the last few years they have made concessions to the commercial lobby to allow some bass fishing. It always obvious if the desired effect is not achieved then the commercial lobby runs out of room as the next set of measures are put in place.

It is simple really, if the commercial fishing people could have managed their catches then the status quo would have been achieved. Instead, commercial fishing took bycatch allowances to mean business as usual. Obviously the catches for the year did not match the planned allowances that would let stock recover. The EU are not fools! Is is the usual modus operandi of the EU the road will be narrowed further in terms of commercial fishing. The catch rate will be reduced. This should not come as a surprise to anybody.

The continued ban on commercial fishing in Irish waters continues. (Henry here - one can dream……..)

The UK situation

Since the publication of the non-paper on bass there has been somewhat of a frenzy on social media. Many look on the notion that bass cannot be retained by anglers to be a serious threat to their civil rights. Many look at the imposition of a six month “closed season” to be a threat to their way of life and the ability to earn a living where they are guides and charter skippers. Remember that these are still only proposals!

Some on social media blame the EU for imposing these rules and are looking forward to Brexit and the time when the UK control their waters. I have news for you, the UK already control their own waters inside the 12mile national limit. One has to wonder whether UK politicians would take the hard decisions needed to protect stocks of bass from a commercial industry that has shown itself unable to self-regulate. You would fear for bass in that situation.

Some on social media are blaming the UK angling organisations for the regulations that have been imposed. Many are pointing to apparently inflated figures for angling participation in the UK as being the reason for restrictions. The UK is not alone in this situation. The EU is taking stock of information from France (There are more bass anglers in France than the UK), The Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and Spain. This is not a case of decisions in the EU penalising Uk anglers. This is an EU-wide subject.

Some on social media are reckoning that UK angling organisations are responsible for the spotlight falling on bass. Anecdotal evidence would say that sea anglers have been largely ignored as a lobby group. The spotlight is falling on bass because catch rates were increasing yet scientists are warning that the species is beyond the point where it can save itself without protection measures.

Some on social media are blaming UK angling organisations for over stating the numbers of participants in sea angling and as a consequence the amount of bass that are retained by the recreational sector. There is no doubt that participation levels were over estimated in various studies. The UK does not have the monopoly on this, a recent Irish study commissioned by Inland Fisheries Ireland has largely been swept under the carpet in terms of angler numbers as it is felt to have over estimated.

There is no doubt that recreational fishing has an impact on bass stock. Before the recent EU regulations there was no limit to the amount of bass that could be retained (Other than in Ireland). Without doubt the situation remains that anglings effect on retained fish numbers has to be seen as reducing mortality by a huge degree as compared to the free for all that existed.

Screenshot 2017-11-22 05.31.08.jpg
Screenshot 2017-11-22 05.31.18.jpg

Angling mortality

Many would be concerned about the figures for post release mortality in bass. Many bass anglers were practicing catch and release before there were any rules. In Ireland we have largely a catch and release fishery since the 1990’s. In their advice for the stock International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES) a figure of 20% post release mortality is used. This would seem excessively high. Consider the results of the ESB Bass Acoustic Tagging Programme in Cork Harbour – 100% Survivability of implanted bass over 30 days (After 30 days it was felt that any mortality could be for many reasons). The study was not a post release survivability study, but the results cannot be ignored nonetheless.

You can read more on the study here.

Screenshot 2017-11-22 05.31.27.jpg

Where do we think the future lies for bass?

I would take the same opinion since the first rules were brought in by the EU. The EU has made concessions to the commercial industry. The EU know well that the desired effect will not happen but political and economic considerations are important in decision making. As each year passes the EU will get to the position that they adopted at the very outset – Bass will be a species that will be commercially fished by rod and line commercials only – Artisan fishing that will benefit local communities. The methods are shown to be sustainable and undersized fish can be released with a high degree of survivability.

Anglers will have to contend with something like a one fish rule per 24hrs all year round.

We have been largely fishing to regulations such as these in Ireland for years now. We are accustomed to them and there is a degree of pride in our effort to conservation our bass stocks. You must remember that by the late 80’s bass were commercially extinct in Irish waters.

As bass stocks improve in areas where there have been traditionally good stocks you will find that commercial fishing will be given greater quota from time to time. Anglers will benefit from increased allowances too. Some countries, like Ireland, will maintain bass as an angling only species and hopefully will reap the benefit in terms of increased participation and a corresponding increase in tourism and other repeated revenues.

The furore at the present is based on a proposal. It will be December until we see what the final regulations will be. It might be an opportune time to contact your representatives and make your feelings known. If you still condone the work of UK groups like the Angling Trust and UK BASS it would be a good time to support them. Irish anglers can contact their local TD’s. Maybe it might be better to email Michael Creed the minister responsible for fish and fishing."

Excerpts from the EU Paper:

Screenshot 2017-11-22 05.31.50.jpg
Screenshot 2017-11-22 05.32.03.jpg

It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside

My alarm’s set for 4.45am on Saturday morning, but being the early morning tit that I am, I wake up at 4.30am instead - which is a bit of a lie in compared to the 4am alarm call for fishing the previous morning. Anyway, I get up and wander downstairs, say good morning to Storm, put the kettle on and get myself ready to go fishing. Full on winter compression gear because it’s looking a bit nippy outside, and as Storm looks somewhat quizzically at me, once again I remind myself that I was born to compress.

A couple of cups of coffee later and I head outside to I strap my rod to the racks on my car and then scrape a layer of ice off the windscreen. I am feeling a little smug but also a little less manly because I’ve packed a pair of gloves in my rucksack for this morning - is it a getting older thing that you feel cold weather in the hands a bit? Never used to at all. Storm jumps into the car boot, in goes my rucksack and lure bag, on go the waders and boots, and we’re off.

I’m not far so it’s not long after my car is as warm as toast that I get there. The sky is full of stars, it’s nice and dark, and there what looks to be a gentle little swell rolling in. Perfect. I want the first of the ebb tide and then a bit of first light. I’m feeling pretty confident. Nobody else around (my mate Mark is due to turn up later on), Storm’s as excited as ever to get going, it’s a bit bloody parky but the walk down to the rocks will get everything moving - does a Saturday morning get much better? Regular people are still fast asleep, but because we are anglers we get to access parts of the day that most other people don’t - and it still gives me a thrill.

Things are looking that good that I am pretty confident of at least getting a hit from a fish within the first few casts - and I do. Just a gentle bump on one of those white Albie Snax lures, but it’s a sign of fish and my confidence levels are sky high. An hour later without a fish though and my confidence levels ain’t so high.

I see Mark’s headlamp wandering down, so I head back to my rucksack to grab some coffee and change lures. As much as I am obsessed with the DoLive Stick, I haven’t been fishing them in the dark, but I am hearing more and more about anglers who are doing well with these lures fished fairly slowly at night. No fish yet so it’s got to be worth a lure change.

Mark gets there, we say good morning and all that, and I tell him I’ve had no bass yet, but that I am changing over to a DoLive Stick as now seems as good a time as any to try it out like this. Great minds must think alike here, because Mark’s already got a DoLive Stick clipped on and he’s ready to go. The tide’s dropped enough so we can just about wade out to a bit of reef we both like.

(R)D431582.jpg

Bear in mind that I have been fishing on my own for an hour - it’s dark and cold and there’s the merest hint of first light approaching from the east. I’ve seen a few shooting stars and my confidence levels have had a boost after that bit of coffee, a lure change, and Mark turning up all raring to go. This has surely got to be it. We never really deserve a fish, but I kinda feel like I might be owed a bass or two…………

So you can imagine how warm and fuzzy I instantly felt inside when Mark shouted across to me that he was into a fish on his first sodding cast. Bless his cotton socks and all that, it makes me feel so joyous that my mate has caught a bass on his first cast of the morning on a lure/method we have been meaning to try, whilst my previous hour’s thrashing yielded precisely squat save for a bass nudging my lure but obviously deciding that I wasn’t remotely worthy of further attention. Are those trumpets I hear, signalling my joy at this (his) capture?

“Well done Mark, nice fishing (you spawny git and it wouldn’t be remotely funny if you fell off your rock when you went to land the bass)”, or something along those lines! OK, so his bass wasn’t exactly going to break any records, but on this cold November morning I am not feeling so warm all over that my mate has caught a fish on his very first cast. I’m pretty close to blubbing with sheer joy that it’s happened like this, and I wish no wading related ills on Mark at all. Hell, as I wipe the tears of joy from my eyes and concentrate on my own fishing (blanking), I ponder upon the meaning of life and how fishing in all its glory can make me laugh and cry at the same time. I never did catch a bass on Saturday morning, but my frosty morning’s couple of hours of thrashing the water sure did feel a whole lot better because my mate caught a bass on his every first cast! Was his soaking wet foot after our fishing the next morning the fishing gods getting one over on him for me? Honestly, I didn’t find it remotely amusing at all………….