I have read some stuff online recently which got me thinking that a number of UK anglers think there is currently a six month long ban on catching bass - but this is categorically not the case. There is no ban on going bass fishing. I am not going to get into the farcical goings on as regards recreational anglers being required by law to return all the bass they might catch until the end of June whereas commercial fishermen are not, together with the somewhat scary fact that our esteemed Fisheries Minister George Eustice MP claims that gill-netting is “sustainable” - nope, that is for another day.
No, this blog post is about the fact that sport anglers are categorically not banned from going bass fishing at all. Get out there! I have no idea how the government is implementing or indeed policing the no-take law for bass that us anglers are currently governed by, but by law you must return any bass you catch until the end of June 2016, and then for the rest of the year you may take one bass per day as long as it’s over the minimum landing size (MLS) of 42cms. Now I know that plenty of anglers release all the bass they catch anyway - me included - but I wonder if the fact that the law states all bass must be released until the end of June means that some anglers either aren’t going out fishing, or else they are targeting other species until July when they can then (legally) take their one bass a day to eat.
And I also wonder how many anglers have simply got the wrong end of the stick and believe that we are currently subject to a six month long bass ban/close season? For all the work that the various fishing related organisations do on our behalf, it’s not as if the government seems to be that good at getting the relevant information out there. Sure, they can quite happily spend our tax money on sending us all (biased?) leaflets about the whole Europe thing, but if you took a poll of say a thousand UK based saltwater anglers, I wonder how many of them would know what on earth is going as regards bass fishing right now?
Would a proportion of anglers not go out bass fishing anyway because they couldn’t by law take any of them home to eat? I have no issues at all with being required by law to return the bass I might catch (ignoring for now the commercial sector issues), but I don’t eat fish myself and I like to put bass back anyway - so these new laws make no difference to me anyway. But how many anglers want to take the odd bass to eat and have been put off going out bass fishing purely because of the law change which means they can’t do so until the end of June? Going fishing is of course rooted in the whole hunter/gatherer part of us, however much some of us might like to return certain species, but I assume that some anglers simply can’t face fishing for a species that by law they can’t take home to eat. Are there charter skippers out there for example who would routinely target bass who have had a dropoff in bookings? If so, holy cow that must be galling when the commercial sector is allowed to carry on like they are.
And what’s the story say with spear-fishing? What happens if I go and badly deep-hook a bass and I know it’s going to snuff it - must I by law return what is essentially a dead fish? By the letter of the law I assume that I must, but what would be the sense in that? Logic would of course say take the dead bass home rather than fling it back in the sea, but as you can no doubt ascertain, I’m not sure how much logic there is to the whole bass debacle! Whatever the case, there is no “bass ban”, indeed there is no month long close season (May 15th to June 15th) over in Ireland this year either. OK, so this knowledge was only made official and public last week - talk about leaving it perhaps too late for visiting anglers to take advantage of some cracking bass tides - but there’s no reason not to get out there bass fishing save for the sodding conditions hardly playing ball! If not being allowed by law to take any bass home to eat until the end of June stops you heading out bass fishing then that is up to you, but personally I am absolutely buzzing about the rest of the year. Have a good weekend. As per my last blog post, I am feeling the need to do some more DIY!