A new  horizon for bass ?
Mar01

A new horizon for bass ?

I confess that I wrote this blog on December 16 th . So I am rather late publishing but it still seems relevant or perhaps more so ?   Today Im just back from the Cornwall IFCA meeting and I have a big grin on my face , at last after God knows how many years of campaigning I was there to witness the show of hands from committee members supporting the netting ban inside our estuaries. This is just one more huge stepping stone on the way to a well managed bass fishery capable of supporting a large number of low impact high yield stakeholders . Hook and line commercial fishermen will be just as encouraged by this as the most hardened shore anglers who catch and release all Bass. Its been the week of weeks in Bass management and campaigning and I can honestly say I feel quite emotional about whats happening. I remember perhaps 8 years ago things were looking so grim. I honestly did wonder if my son would ever have a bass fishery out there in his adulthood. The implications of the new legislation from Brussels this week is collosal . It wasn’t so long ago that we had the increase in minimum landing size , introduction of  bag limits , close seasons , monthly catch allowances for commercial harvesting . Things are heading in the right direction after decades of neglectful management. Plus we have had the added bonus of mild winters enhancing Juvenile mortality figures , talking of which the man , the legend Derek Goodwin was there to witness the meeting . He is one of the countless hidden heroes in the story of Bass conservation and a true gentleman who has been taking samples of  Year 0 class bass for decades.   At that meeting today I realised that I knew at least a third of the committee members , most  of the IFCA staff and likewise most of the anglers there to witness the meeting. This is the result of years of dogged harassment on my part. I tend to have far more enthusiasm than base knowledge but I made it a personal mission to pester everyone I could about bass years ago . I remember then CIFCA chief officer  Eddy Derryman and his next in command  invited me to a private meeting following years of endless emails and phone calls from me . I focused on the MLS if i remember correctly . I was confronted  with the reality that I faced a wall of bureaucracy and numerous departments , MMO , DEFRA , CIFCA . My head was spinning !! I was certainly...

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A call to ” Arms ” !!
Sep30

A call to ” Arms ” !!

The day started so well on the 30 th july , a dawn patrol out of mylor and plenty of good quality bass landed on surface lures, big bass hitting a Patchinko has to be regarded as the ultimate start to a day  . Later in the day I had my traditional bass Fishermans afternoon kip and decided to go to the skatepark for a session in the bowl , at 7 pm I pushed it too hard , the back wheels skidded out and I slammed side on into the face of the bowl , my humerus bone snapped clean in two .   I actually called Matt jones and Mac while I awaited the ambulance to tell him the bad news, zen 2 would not be launching on Sunday morning . That was 10 weeks ago now , my arms healing well . It has been as painful mentally as it has physically . I have an x ray next Wednesday . My gut feeling is that the doctors will tell me that its time to start physiotherapy . My greatest challenge now will be to rebuild the muscles and get the mobility back in my arm . I  am desperate to get back out there and  have been rescheduling bookings into November. Its the prime month for catching bass on the south coast and I have no intention of missing it but given that I can not lift the weight of my arm its going to be a fight .     I have pretty much disappeared from the radar for for 10 weeks now but I need to reach out and ask for help . We have seen so many changes in commercial and recreational bass fishing legislation recently , mostly for the better and I believe we are starting to see the positive benefits on the water , there remains one stone that has not been overturned and now at last the one thing that has always and depressed me the most in the fishery is under the spotlight . I have always made this my personal mission and I (amongst other people )  have been harassing Cornwall Ifca to sort this out for years . This is the big opportunity to end the disgusting practice of netting inside our estuaries , the small community of fishermen and poachers out there know this has been coming and I imagine most of them have realised that their days are numbered , we have a new MLS , closed seasons , shut the pair trawling down , bag limits , commercial catch limits . You cant expect to make the...

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EXTINCTION
Feb16

EXTINCTION

I don’t bother with the local rags but when I saw the wealthy fisherman /  businessman Chris Bean looking glum faced on the front cover of last weeks West Briton I just had to grab a copy and find out what the article tiled”  EXTINCTION ” was all about . It was a classic example of the rhetoric that has gotten Bass stocks into the state they are now. Hook and line guys take a fraction of the numbers that the inshore gill netters do. The H & L guys I know go to sea to find Bass while other fishermen such as Chris Bean will stay close to the shore line and in some instances lay nets worryingly close to Bass Nursery Areas .  A very depressed local commercial fisherman  told me of the 600 Kgs Chris landed in a day , spitting distance from Gillan Creek , an area I used to fish with clients that has strangely gone down hill for the last few years ! That is just the tip of the iceberg and one of countless big days these inshore netters have .     So I replied to the article , my reply can be seen below . Someone had to do it and get a few home truths into the hearts and minds of the readership . ”Bass stocks in crisis” would have been a far better sub heading with regards to” excitction ”!...

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Nightmare or Dream come true?
Dec14

Nightmare or Dream come true?

Zen2 is a great example of a low impact high yield fishing business but a ban on catch and release Bass fishing until July may destroy it ? These are exciting and worrying times in the history of European Bass , stocks are low , something is finally being done to address this problem . I think we are all aware by now that finally after decades of neglect and spineless management policies throughout Europe our beloved Bass are now at the top of the list of priorities and the hottest topic in fisheries .Recreational anglers and organisations such as UKBASS have been relentless in pursuit of a better deal for Bass as a species and also Bass Anglers. I have been active for sometime now and have become something of a thorn in the side of Cornwall IFCA over the years . I have hassled and irritated the officers , pushed for private meetings , attended fisheries meetings and taken on the gill netters head on both on the water and at the table . We know the statistics about the value of recreational angling . Im not anti commercial fishing. I am anti bad fisheries management . I also own a small boat licensed for hook and line commercial fishing . 2016 will see the tenth anniversary of my Bass guiding business. The first time I took someone Bass fishing I charged him £ 60 for a full day of shore fishing, it makes me smile when I look back ! I think in 2006 I did 10 days guiding . Ten years later I charge an average of £320 a day I own a sports boat modified to be an MCA coded charter. boat . I fish guide for Bass 100 – 120 days a year. If you take into consideration the additional revenue I bring to this small Cornish Village in terms of holiday accommodation , meals in the local restaurants , beers in the pubs , pasties in the bakery ! I have worked the figure to be in excess of £ 70,000 . ( I spent £9,000 at Tescos in Helston on fuel for my boat last year !! ) One of the biggest names in hook and line Cornish Bass fishing wrote an article for one of the local newspapers earlier this year, moaning about the 42 CM minimum landing size . According to that article I think he made around £ 10,000 a year from harvesting Bass . But now the business that I have worked incredibly hard to build up over 10 years faces uncertaintity .Completely banning all Bass fishing...

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Treble hooks suck !
Jul26

Treble hooks suck !

Im not too sure how long it is now since I made the decision to switch to single hooks on my hard lures ? I guess it has to be a couple of years now . I do still have a few lures in the box with treble hooks but as they corrode they always get replaced with single hooks . Heres the reasons why and my  findings and feelings on the subject Fish care  If you fish with treble hooks its only a matter of time until you will experience fish getting hooked in the eye , gills ,face . Its pretty grim to witness . In the old days I was 100 % catch and release . I do ponder as to how many Bass I sent swimming off to a watery grave or at the very least seriously affected their chances in the harsh world I returned them too ? How well can a one eyed Bass hunt or avoid predators ? The vast majority of the fish I catch annually are returned. I owe it to myself and the fish to make this process as pain free and stress free as possible(for a fish and angler !)  . I want that fish to survive the event and get bigger and hopefully return to my hook in a few years time . I hate that solemn feeling when I return a messed up fish and the sense of farce  around the event .   Fewer lost fish  Making the switch to single hooks  required a leap of faith . I remember a long discussion years ago on the UKBASS forum . A few guys waded in and were quick to discount the idea, suggesting that the net result of the switch would be less fish landed. I completely disagree with this now  having hooked and landed so many on singles and lost so many  fish on trebles .Its logical . If I cast a hard lure its invariably a surface lure . Bass will slash and swipe at this and try to stun the prey . With treble hooks we often hook our fish in the cheeks or flanks , sometimes even the tail ! When a Bass attacks a lure with a single hook it will often take quite a few hits before its is on , but when its on, `ITS ON  ,  its hooked fair and square in the mouth. I am now playing a fish on a size 2/0 hook ,  with trebles I may be playing a 10 lb bass on one size 2 prong hooked in the cheek  . No thanks !! You will...

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C-Bass Project on Zen2
Feb24

C-Bass Project on Zen2

Im not used to so many positive things happening around Bass and today was hopefully another good day for the future of the species .  This afternoon I attended a meeting deep in the heart of the commercial fishing world, the Sea fish training room at Newlyn. I was absolutely amazed to find the room full of people from both recreational and commercial fishing , it was the number of commercial fishermen in attendance that really shocked me , it does beg the question , were those guys there concerned about the future of the wonderful species or were they simply concerned about their livelihoods ? I guess the two go hand in hand , are these inshore guys willing to contribute to the campaign to save Bass or do they think they can slip through the radar  ? Lets see ?  I have attended a few fisheries meetings and one thing that amazes me is just how little so many of these professional Bass fishermen actually know about the species and the changes in the stock dynamic . These guys are generally playing catch up and are  now keen to show their faces at all meetings involving Bass , suddenly I think they realise that if they may need to  start playing the violins and drowning out the scientists . The closure of the offshore fleet will have made them realise they could be next  on the hit list . Anyway enough of that and onto  C-Bass   The project is a mixture of both electronic tags and also traditional tags . The electronic tags are limited to a hundred or so, we viewed the data from a few electronically tagged fish  that have been captured and it was quite amazing to see just how much territory these fish do cover , one fish went from North France across to East coast of England , then across to Holland where the fish laid up in an estuary for sometime , then eventually West and I think was landed in Dorset .  I am excited to be one the first 5 guys on the project. I received an invite a few months ago. I jumped at the chance . I understand that the project will widen out to involve more people later in the year . So today I joined 3 of the 5 ”taggers” after the meting and had some training with tagging the bass . Just for the record these Bass were all from CEFAs tanks rather than wild fish , the big one was 67 cm and the fattest most obese Bass I have ever seen , you could tell it had lived on cake and burgers in a tank....

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First Decade
Feb18

First Decade

It has only this week suddenly dawned on me that I have managed to pull this off for 10 years ! I have just had a quick scroll back through some images from various chapters within the last decade , some of which seem like 20 years ago. I guess that means I have been keeping busy . Ten years ago I launched uksaltwaterflies.com from the spare bedroom at our old house overlooking Porthleven harbour . I had run out of options in Cornwall as every other avenue had back fired on me so I decided to follow my heart  . In the early days Cally went to work and I looked after our baby boy 3 days a week . (He’s not a baby now , he’s talking too his mate on his mobile phone !!) It was hard work juggling a website and a baby . The business grew 2 fold year on year from 2005 to 2009 it was an exciting chapter and I worked my nuts off .  Then the recession found its way to my door. The fishing trips seemed to balance on a knife edge as more and more people put a stop to the exotic holidays in the salt. I had a great run of luck but I knew that that chapter was drawing to a close. 6 or 8 weeks a year out of the country was starting take a toll on my heart. I just seemed to miss my family more with each new trip. . 7 years of fishing 2 – 3 weeks on Cape Cod was starting to wear thin too. Ive landed every Striped Bass I ever need too . I had a deal with the landlady of my base camp on the Cape. It was simple . I said the day she solicted  my customers was the day it ended , she let me down  , it broke my heart to be let down by someone I had come to treat as family.  Cape Cod was over . I said goodbye to that lady knowing I would never return .     I think the greatest pinnacle of my travels was the second trip to St Josephs Atol in the Seychelles, Everything about that trip was epic. We had great bone fishing in the flats , we fished for GT’s with Popping gear, we drank ice cold beers at lunchtime . I slept out on deck under the stars and listened to music on my first generation i Pod staring up into space every night .Cally was heavily pregnant with our  daughter and holding the fort at home .  It was the great company...

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A forgotten fish
Dec18

A forgotten fish

I have just been flicking through some photos from this year and  I found this one . Its a fish I had completely forgotten about in the blur of days at sea chasing Bass in Devon and Cornwall . The first thing I notice  I look so bloody happy  !  These fish just excite us so much . The second and more significant thing was a friend in the background. He’s a rod and line , lure fishing commercial bass fisherman , the passion and knowledge I have for bass is eclipsed by that man. I share the water with these guys . We share and exchange knowledge  . We also share the same future if Bass are not rescued from the industrial scale and abusive fishing practices that are taking place out there . We don’t agree on everything but theres so much common ground . This amazing silver fish has been left for dead by the bureaucrats in Europe.  This should concern the man in the background as much as the grinning charter skipper  in the foreground . Im afraid we share the same fate . Can we work together to save Bass...

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The Division Bell is Ringing
Nov12

The Division Bell is Ringing

Do you know what the division Bell is  ?   It just seems to me that a Bell is tolling right now . I have backed off from political blogs these days . I live in a small corner of the UK ,surrounded by commercial fishermen , many of whom share the same reefs , slipways, pubs or car parks as I do . I have said a couple of things I regret but I stand true to a great deal of what I thought and said about the harvesting of Bass before. I read back through a few old blogs of mine recently ,  thats what a blog was supposed to be , a diary ,a record of events, a place to scribble thoughts and feelings as the bloggers journey unfolds.  This life on the water has brought me closer and closer to the very people that I once blanket categorised as the bad guys.  I like to think I have a far more balanced understanding of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. As each day goes by I realise that recreational anglers and the majority of hook and line commercial fishermen have a vast amount in common and equally good reason to fear for the future of Bass. We all LOVE Bass , bass fishing and the coastal world that bass fishing takes us too.  When I scroll though my list of friends and acquaintances on my mobile phone I now have commercial Bass fishermen and recreational Bass lobbyers alongside one another and I speak to them all fairly often . Its that common love of Bass working its magic again ! We know about the Sea Angling 2012 Survey . We know about the ICES report and the recommendation to cut bass landings by 80 % in order to avoid a disaster . So what is happening ? Well its embarrassing ! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry  . Im glad its not me that has to stand up and present the latest recommendations and look another human being in the eye . These pathetic half baked suggestions will hardly make any difference what so ever. I will link to a Bass Blog rather than simply repeat the same words .http://www.ukbass.com/bass-press-release-sea-bass-dont-let-the-eu-off-the-hook/ I could rant on about MLS- Pair Trawlers – Hopelessly useless proposal of a one bag limit on recreational anglers and the insult it delivers . I wont , what I dream or at least ponder endlessly about is commercial and recreational fishermen working together . I think we need each other and the common enemy is bad management...

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Stargazy Squid
Oct16

Stargazy Squid

If ever I come home full of excitement and try to capture the feeling while its there for my blog , it will normally be some report of a big Bass , perhaps hectic sport or maybe just a great day with great company on Zen2 . Well today I did come home with a spring in my step and the feeling that perhaps everything is falling into place.  I have put aside every spare penny this year following my decision to take up commercial fishing during the winter months . I cant spend 6 months of the year out on the water surrounded by all that marine life and beauty and the other 6 months trapped indoors. There have been times when I wish I was a grizzly bear . I could just sleep in a cave and awake in the spring .   This was not an overnight decision it was the result of perhaps 2 years consideration . This 10 year journey into the world of self employment via fishing has had many chapters and I have  done some amazing things , travelled the world and fished alongside hundreds of people , just an incredible decade both professionally and personally. Being booted off a building site for being the worlds worst carpenter  in 2004 was one of the best things that ever happened to me ! The fishing thing all started because I had exhausted every other traditional avenue , in the end I just thought Fuck it I will follow my heart . This continues ! At 630 am  Sam and I launched my work boat Stargazy into the black remains of the night . I was still rigging the navigation lights at 10 pm last night . I needed to test out the Suzuki DF 25 engine one more time following a fair amount of fiddling with different propellors to suit the hull.  We’re still not really there yet. I think I may need to upgrade to a 30 hp engine ? My knowledge of squid fishing is limited at best . I do however get to spy on the squidders as I come and go on Zen2 . I also have a few friends out there on the water , the inevitable result of spending so much time in the same office space as the commercial fishermen . Its hard to stay hating people when they always smile and wave at you as you by !  Sam and I drifted around keeping an eye on the other boats and how they fish for squid. We landed only 5 . I did however bump...

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