I was at the Hooked Live show last weekend in Dublin and all the anglers who came up to talk to me (thank you by the way) wanted to talk about one thing and one thing only - bass fishing. I simply could not believe the level of interest in bass fishing in fact, to the point where it really made me stop and think for a while about where this all might be going, and how "big" this lure fishing thing could become. For most of my fishing life it has been the sea and the fish that swim in it that have fascinated me, yet never in that time have I seen anything like what is going on right now - and if you ask me it's just hugely exciting.
Now when I ask how "big" this all might get, I am not talking about the fishing tackle market or the money spent on say actually going out fishing. I don't sell fishing tackle, I don't take people fishing and as such I have no commercial interest in that side of it. Other people do though of course. What interests me is simply the increasing levels of interest in going bass or lure fishing. Fishing soft plastic lures for wrasse may well be on the increase, as is what some people call LRF, or ultra-light lure fishing, but these for the moment are very, very small when compared to bass fishing interest as a whole. Bait fishing is always going to be there, but the stuff that I get asked about the most is without doubt lure fishing for bass. Of course it's always been there, and I guess while we have bass it always will be, but at the moment it seems that nearly everybody I talk to or correspond with in fishing either fishes for bass already, has just taken up fishing for bass, or desperately wants to get into it. So where might it all go ?
If we take Ireland as almost a kind of case study, what makes me perhaps the happiest is the feeling I am getting that Irish anglers are coming to the realisation that around their shores they have a truly world class saltwater fishery. Forget for the moment that they have stacks of other saltwater fish and think about the bass here. The fact that I travel a lot for my work I hope gives me a pretty open mind when it comes to fishing, and as such I accept that it can be hard to put a scale on what you have on your doorstep if you don't have first hand experience of other fisheries. How can you put a sense of scale on something if you have no external experiences to compare it to ? The guy who catches silly numbers of kob for example off the beaches of Namibia most likely does not know how good his fishing really is, and it's the same over in Ireland - but changing I reckon. I honestly believe it's fair to put the bass fishing they have over there as world class, and without a doubt an increasing percentage of Irish anglers I am coming into contact with I feel are beginning to really see what they have - and in turn I would then hope that they realise what they have needs proper protection and management to safeguard it for the future. And I am just loving the fact that at a show like the excellent Hooked Live that so many Irish anglers want to talk about their bass fishing. I have no time for anglers who almost taunt other anglers with the fish they catch but then won't divulge any of what they are doing to catch these fish. What's the point of that ? Sure, nobody expects a successful angler to go shouting about the exact marks they fish, but one of the reasons that this whole lure fishing is growing so much has to be because there are so many people sharing so much helpful information. Those of us who do this fishing don't find it daunting or scary, but think about what it can all seem like if you are getting into it and haven't got a clue what stuff like weedless, OTD, hard lures, soft lures, Texas rigging, Walk the Dog, 8-strand braid, PE ratings, pencil poppers, LRF, HRF, back tide, making tide, new moon springs, fizz, clarity etc. actually mean in relation to the actual fishing. Potentially confusing eh ?
Could lure fishing perhaps rival what carp fishing is today for example ? Who knows ? I am not going to say it will, but for sure I am not going to say it won't. A part of me is always going to worry that when it comes to bass we simply don't have enough big fish around our UK shores, but if you then branch saltwater lure fishing out to wrasse, pollack and this ultra-light stuff for example, plus bring in freshwater lure fishing for species like pike, perch and chub, then who really knows where this might all be in another five or ten years ? Imagine if over time lure fishing for trout took off in the UK and Ireland. This might seem like sacrilege to the ears of some fly fishermen, but over in Japan there seems to be a whole tackle industry devoted to lure fishing for trout, and I see it happening in some European countries. Could it actually happen here ? It's easy to say no way, this is the UK, but never say never in fishing. Might this whole street fishing thing take off big time here ? These are some exciting times if you ask me. Lure fishing is what it is at the moment, and in truth it's most likely not nearly as "big" as some people involved in it actually realise, but from my own perspective I am sensing an almost unstoppable, growing increase in interest. But what do you think ?