We had the first day of the Hooked Live show here in Dublin yesterday, and it's a truly excellent event - some great stands, plenty of gear for sale (including lots of bass stuff), and just a really good feel about the whole thing. But as always with shows like this, for me the greatest thrill is getting to meet lots and lots of fishermen. It's the greatest sport in the world, and coming to a show in my most favourite country on earth is just awesome. Talking fishing is as cool as it always is. Not that we anglers like talking about fishing or anything like that !!
Much as we hear about how good the Irish sea fishing can be, I still think there is a huge amount of fishing over here that people are doing and we are not hearing about (plus any number of fishing locations that have never been fished). Although you might think that this is because the Irish lads do not want us to hear about it, from my experience this is very rarely the case. A more open and friendly bunch of anglers you would be hard pressed to find anywhere. But I do have a theory as to why we don't hear about some of the fishing, and it goes like this :
A lot of the Irish sea anglers simply don't know how good their shore fishing actually is - but when it's compared to shore fishing elsewhere that is. Think about it. What we do day in day out is our "norm". Our regular fishing is what we do, and if you have not done much fishing elsewhere, firstly you don't have anything to compare your "norm" to, and secondly you are going to accept that your "norm" is just how it is. So a lot of these Irish anglers who are fishing away just would never think to shout from the rooftops about how awesome their fishing is because they quite naturally assume that fishing is like that everywhere. So you can imagine the guys talking to me about their catches, and wondering if I am alright as my eyes start rolling in my head and my jaw begins to slowly hit the floor. Sometimes I actually stop the guys in mid-flow and ask them if they know how good their fishing is.....
OK, so I got talking to a lot of different fishermen yesterday from all over Ireland - as in the UK, the interest in going lure fishing for bass is just exploding, but at times I literally start shaking when some of the guys come out with the sheer numbers and quality of bass they taking at times. Nowhere fishes well all the time, the sea is far too fickle as we know, but there are pockets of good anglers over here who are sometimes catching bass on a level that can be hard to comprehend. Honestly, I have heard lots and lots before, but there are a lot more bass anglers over here doing really well than I had previously imagined, and from a wide range of locations across Ireland. And there are various locations that keep on cropping up in conversation over and over again. Believe me, I never need much of an excuse to come and explore more of this awesome country........
If we stay on the bass fishing for the moment, the guys from IrishBass.org are here to keep on drumming up support to try and protect this fantastic Irish bass fishery - please do all you can to help these people fight for one of Europe's great fisheries. See here and here for details. It does not bear thinking about that such a valuable recreational fishery could be potentially so badly harmed.
I got to speak to various Irish anglers yesterday about such things like big numbers of huge stingrays, serious numbers of large hungry mullet, thornback rays, pollack, wrasse, tope, hounds, you name it, these guys have it. The shore fishing for properly big stingrays in very shallow water seriously floats my boat in a major way - I have caught plenty of stingers in Angola and the Florida Keys, but it would be a huge kick to catch and photograph them in European waters. That's another photo trip on the To Do list. Plus the sea trout fishing off the shore on lures and flies - it's a major form of fishing over here, and I have yet to see a sea trout taken off the shore. Put that on the list as well. Perhaps it's best to just give in now to my urges and just move over here for good.
But the one tough thing about this show was having to watch the England v Ireland Six Nations rugby match in the bar yesterday afternoon - judging from the levels of cheering, I am pretty sure I was the only English bloke watching the match. We came so close, but as I thought we might, when it came to the crunch, England capitulated. The noise levels at that last Irish try was immense, and when the final whistle went I hung my head in my hands and wished it all could have been so different. Today is the last day of the show and then I am flying back home tonight. Next weekend it's the big bass fishing over in Nantes, France, and I am seriously looking forward to that one.