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FISH OF THE MONTH COMPETITON - sponsored by CLOVEN HOOF...

August 13, 2018

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BIF, Bass, Bosh...

 Bass make you happy, even if you have to put them back...

 

The day of judgement has arrived... 

 

BACKGROUND - twenty years ago, John Darling wrote in his book, BASS FROM BOAT AND SHORE, that bass fishing was getting more and more difficult. It was quite possible to just have a 5 or 6lb fish for your days shore efforts...

 

2005 - I start shore guiding. I get a good reputation, because I find clients fish in the 5lb to 6lb at least every other session...

 

2011 - I dedicate my guiding to lures. Because although there are still bass to be had on baits, the number of blank sessions made it far less viable to sell as a product. Lures produce action, if not always size.

 

2017 - The stock has dropped so much, in order to give quality sessions, I am forced to get afloat. I find a business partner (Capt Bruce) and together we invest a huge amount of money, gambling on the future fisheries decisions to be all about conservation in the stock...

 

The reality of the stock crash, through my own experiences.

 

 If the ICES advice been implemented, there would have been very little of this next year


What could go wrong? ICES, the International Council for the Exploration of the seas, is a group of scientists funded from various govenment to give factual information on the state of all stocks, that informed decision can be made at each years EU Fisheries committee meeting, regarding quota management, the tool of choice (and in my opinion starting to bear fruit just as we are about to leave the system) for ensuring sustainability of commercially targeted fish. 

 

What we at BIF were shocked to see, in the ICES advice, was a recommendation of six months zero effort from Recreational Sea Anglers. Basically, no fly fishing. And lure fishing, would need to be aimed more at the plaice, gurnard, cod, wrasse and pollack. We would not be able to market our product using bass as the proposed target, even though inevitably  many would find their way onto our hooks. When I first read it, I was completely confused. And then I spotted a figure...

 Bass fishing cements bonds...

 

The figure, was a claim that with catch and release, the recreational sea angler inflicts a 15 percent mortality rate on the stock. This got me thinking. I had kept an eye on a study last year in Cork harbour. Very easy to do with social media, and happily one of the guys involved was happy to post up the progress. One of the side products of the study (which was actually focused on the movement of bass in Cork harbour) was that after 30 days, 100 percent of the tagged and released bass were still alive. And they had been caught on lures. So, why the 15 percent...

 

Some further drilling down, and perhaps the reason for the figure. It all hinges on the term RSA. In the Uk, a recreational sea angler, is somebody with rod and line. They have no rights to sell what they catch, but absolutely have rights to take home to their family, fish caught that satisfy the legal restrictions on that fish, such as minimum size limits (although actually, there are fifty shades of grey around that statement, but for the purpose of this blog entry, we really dont need to go there...). In France, however, the term RSA also includes a group of hobby commercials. They longline, net, and get limited quota to sell to cover their costs. In the UK, thats called a commercial.

 Quality bass in shallow water on the fly... As good as it gets in UK saltwater fly fishing...

 

If you long line, and a bass ends up on the end, its likely dead already. If you net, and land a bass, its likely dead already...

 

Well, today the fear has passed. Plan B, had it happened, was to get our coastal certificate, which gives us a 20 mile radius, and access to the wrecks, and take shore luring afloat out there. Almost certainly with devastating effect. And a lot of death, as the increased depths mean returning fish is a lot more complicated. I am happy to say, that the European Commission heeded concerns about RSA. We ARE allowed to fish for bass all year in 2018. It will be business as usual. All about the fun...

 

Foodies, however, will be perhaps sad to hear, there is ONLY catch and release for bass all year. If you are one of our many clients who love to catch bass, but are also happy for something for the table, do not worry. We will take it out on the black bream till June, and then till December there will be any number of tasty options, for 30 minutes not targeting the bass. We want our foodies to keep coming back for sure. They are our only excuse for sticking hooks in fish. 

 So much more to bass fishing, than the eating...


I dont see it as the end of the politics though. Bass are a clear winner this year, with commercial takes also being reduced dramatically. There are two ends to this problem though. There is much concern about recruitment also. And it seems, very little is being looked at here, which is actually far more important than harvesting in many respects. What if the mature bass are spawning, and the eggs arent hatching? Just think back to the dog whelks and antifoul situation not so long ago...   And in addition, we now have 12 months to get ourselves detached from the French RSA's. We are Sports Fishermen. Certainly, BIF and every client that has fished from BIF1 should be considered sports fisherman. And should the specter of zero effort raise itself again, I would argue strongly for permitted methods. Lure fishing does not inflict heavy mortality on the bass stock, which the Cork study rather proves...

 

 

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