Competition winner to be announced on Friday, plus Ireland close season ?

Thanks to all of you who have entered this competition I am running here on the blog - on Friday I will announce the winner, but please remember that there is still a bit of time left to enter if you fancy a crack at winning one hugely impressive lure rod. See here for all the details. This Major Craft Crostage CRS-762M/S lure rod is one review rod I have played with that I am going to reluctantly hand back, and I hope the winner of the comp gets as much pleasure out of fishing with this rod as I have. I had wrasse to I am guessing around the 5lb mark on it out in the Isles of Scilly the other day and it coped them with perfectly.

Here's that "shorter" handle I was on about in the original comp blog post - it confused me initially, but as I have fished more and more with the rod I am now of the opinion that the handle works perfectly for the way in which we might fish for wrasse. When you bump various plastics along the bottom on a Texas rig or with a jig head, that slightly shorter handle means the rod tucks away very easily under your forearm so that the whole rod becomes like a seamless extension of your arm. I also see no reason why anglers who want a shorter lure rod aren't going to love fishing this Major Craft Crostage for bass as well. Why not ? I have been using my review rod with the new Daiwa Theory 2500 spinning reel (see here) and to me they have felt like a fantastic combination. I have to give a lot of credit to these specialist companies here in the UK who are getting us more and more access to some great Japanese fishing tackle.

Here's a photo of Storm from out in the Isles of Scilly the other day. I have always believed that it's a good thing for kids to grow up with a dog, but then of course my wife and I grew up with them and as a result we are very "doggy" people. Not for everybody of course, and as much as my girls loved and adored our old sheepdog Jess, to see Storm actually growing up with them is fantastic. I honestly do think that having a puppy in the family that needs lots of attention, love, training, walking and feeding is helping my girls learn more about responsibility and selflessness. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing them get back from school and rushing out into the garden to play with Storm. The simple pleasures eh ? Those couple of months we had without a dog after I had to put Jess down just before Xmas were (for a "doggy" family) pretty rubbish, and our household feels complete again with Storm. I miss Jess like crazy of course, and my eldest girl especially will sometimes just dissolve into tears because she's missing her, but having this puppy is like starting all over again and we are loving it.

I am off to Ireland next week for a quick trip and then I am back over there for a longer jaunt in the middle of July - don't forget that the inaugural Irish Bass Festival is running 20th, 21st, and 22nd July and there is still plenty of time to enter (see here). I hope to see you there because it's going to be a blast. Next week I am actually going to be staying in The Grand Hotel in Tramore which is where the prize giving etc. is going to happen for the festival and where many of the entrants will be staying. Ireland's bass close season ends this Friday, the 15th June, so from Saturday I would imagine that there will be a lot of somewhat desperate anglers out and about on that magical coastline.

I am completely behind measures that are designed to help protect fish, but I must admit to feeling somewhat unsure about Ireland's month long bass close season (15th May - 15th June). Assuming that this month ban is designed to help protect spawning bass, it strikes me that for much of the Irish coastline that the dates are out of kilter with when the bass are actually spawning. The protection of fish must be a priority, on that there is no room for complaint if you are a sport angler, but I do feel for a country like Ireland that I believe is seeing increasing numbers of recreational anglers travelling over to take advantage of what I reckon has to be the finest shore fishing for bass anywhere in Europe - then right slap bang in the middle of what is potentially some great fishing and they are hit with this month long close season. I hear that there are various talks going on about this close season and the timing of it - might the timings of the close season be shifted to better reflect what is happening with the fish ? Not for one second am I saying that the close season is not helping to protect the bass, indeed I sincerely hope it is, but might another way be to have a long "no take" season for the bass that is more rigorously enforced ? Dare I imagine a potential sport fishing license that would help to fund proper enforcement, like how it seems to go on and work so effectively over in the US ? (nowhere being perfect of course). Perhaps it's a sad fact, but in many places around the world it's when more anglers go fishing that fish are better protected because more anglers equals more money to pump into conservation. Not always I grant you, but it can work like this. How about say January to the end of June to be a "barbless hooks only, no take" season, and then for the rest of the year anglers can only take one bass a day to eat - but with a slot size ? Many anglers want to eat fish, but I can't see any point in taking a really big bass to eat - how about a slot size of measurements that perhaps equate to a fish of around 2 ½ to 4lbs, and if you are caught breaking these rules then you face some serious consequences. Perhaps I am a dreamer, but I can but hope that a country like Ireland continues to recognise what they have and what they might do to protect and improve it as a resource - and then you never know, perhaps the UK might finally wake up and start doing something meaningful about the bass stocks over here.............