I love living in south east Cornwall and of course I love the fishing around me. If we take out of the equation the fact that the bass fishing this year is who knows how late to really get going, we can get some decent fishing when conditions come together, indeed Cornwall and Devon still produce some really good bass each year to what seems to be a growing number of anglers getting into lure fishing especially. But when I go out bass fishing around where I live, how much confidence do I have that I might run into a serious bass or two ?
OK, so it might well be partly down to my own personal lack of skill and knowledge, but I can't pretend to feeling enough of the time that I am in with a shout at a "proper" bass. I really enjoy the fishing and of course a big bass can turn up at any time, but let's not try and pretend that our waters are stuffed full of big bass that regularly come close inshore. I wish it were different and I am sure there are a multitude of reasons for the fact that our average size of bass that we catch is in reality not very big, but it is what it is and we can't bury our heads and hope it's going to magically change for the better anytime soon. And yes, I also accept that some parts of the UK do perhaps see greater numbers of the larger bass (and I am talking about shore fishing here).
But when I go bass fishing over in Ireland I can feel the change in me. The whole thing just feels different to me because I know firstly that I am going to see or indeed catch a larger average size of bass (with some decent conditions of course), and secondly that there really is a good chance at seeing a special bass almost at any time. Nope, it's never as if double figure bass come crawling up your line, and yes, they are not a common thing by any stretch of the imagination, but I have seen a fair few now come out of Irish waters now and without a doubt it's a different feeling for me when I fish over there. Perhaps I feel a little more "alive" because the fishing is that bit better ?
Why though ? Why are there generally bigger bass over in Ireland ? I just don't know. Sure, you must give the country credit for doing what they do to try and protect their inshore waters, but there has to be something more to it than that. Is much of the south and south west of Ireland just the perfect inshore bass fishery as regards the variety of terrain for example ? I can't help but wonder how good the bass fishing actually was here in parts of the UK during the "good old days" when one has to imagine that there were greater numbers of fish around. Why as a species do we do what we do to the resources on this planet ? If only fish were warm and cuddly like a little lion cub instead of being somewhat out of sight and therefore out of mind................
And there are a few specific locations that we fish on the south coast of Ireland where you can't help but feel even more alive if that makes sense, because you've either seen the size of fish come out or else you've heard the stories of what has happened when things go right. Do you ever recall hearing about a lure fishing session for example when five or six double figure bass were caught, and I am talking being caught from a spot that I guarantee most anglers wouldn't even look at here in the UK. Nope, it's not a common occurrence, but knowing it has happened before means that it can happen again, and for me it creates this different feeling when I am doing my bass fishing in Ireland - with a big thanks of course to the incredibly kind local anglers who are so forthcoming with their time and help, and without realising it, how much of a bass fishing education they are helping to give me. You know who you are and I am forever in your debt.
I was fishing a spot on Wednesday evening not very far at all from where I stay down at the Gold Coast Golf resort in Dungarvan. Again, it's the kind of spot that I would most likely walk past if I was bass fishing here at home, but Ireland is that little bit different and you need to approach it with a very different mind-set (more to come on this). There's a heap of bass moving around, and less than fifteen yards from me a double figure fish is mooching around. I know it's over 10lbs because the bass stuck its head out of the water and I also got a look at the big tail when it swirled. I am crouched down as low as I can get (stealthy fishing with Henry !!), trying my best to lead the fish with my soft plastic, but knowing in reality that I just can't properly go at this fish because of the suspended week clogging up my lure and hook on every cast.
Frustrating ? You bet, and yes, I split the sky with some language that is not repeatable here, but for the life of me I can't recall ever seeing anything like this back home. As I said, I love living in the south west and my local fishing gives me plenty of buzz, so I am only being honest with you when I admit that the bass fishing I do over in Ireland gives me even more of a buzz. Like anywhere you are hoping all the time that the fishing is going to fire, but one must also accept that conditions are what they are and that you're living for when things fire. But there is always that chance at something a bit special turning up or taking place, and yes, it is this knowledge that gives me a different feeling when I am doing my fishing in Ireland.
And then I hear from a couple of mates that when I was crouched down trying to catch that 10lb bass that they were fishing a spot close to home that can produce some good bass fishing sometimes. They had not a sniff though, and we are talking about some good anglers here on some tidy conditions - it can't help though that they watched as a boat came right inshore and dropped a great big gill net all over the rocks right in front of them. Do "our" fish stand a chance ? I love the life we have got here in Cornwall, and as much as the thrill at getting home and seeing my family is immeasurable, I can't help but look in my rear-view mirror as I leave Ireland behind and wonder..................