Friday, April 26, 2013

Where are we?

Despite a mildish winter the howling and relentless Easterlies throughout March and into April have set back the whole of nature so it’s not surprising for the fishing to follow that pattern and make for a slow start to the Bass fishing year. Being that, frustratingly, things only seem to really get going a few weeks before the close on the 15th of May it will be interesting to see if the pre close action really gets going at all. It is encouraging to see strong indicators of the onset of summer in all the new plant growth of leaves, buds, flowers etc along with arrival of summer migrants such as the wonderfully aerobatic Swallows but what I’m really wondering is what will be the true state of the Bass population in 2013 as accessible to shore anglers such as myself? It’s been pointed out many times to me now by those who have fished Bass all their lives that things are not what they were and also, are not what they should be. As we all know, after a collapse in stocks due to overfishing, in 1990 laws were put in place to protect the species from being commercially overfished in Irish waters and these laws became permanent in 2006 good news, job done, or maybe not.....?

The picture that’s clearly emerging is that despite these legal protections the fishing is declining year on year, and why is that? If the majority of Anglers are C&R which I believe they are or at least abiding by the law either the law is still allowing too many fish to be removed, poaching and netting are rife or the fish are being hoovered up offshore. With the equipment and techniques now at our disposal catches should be far out weighing those of five or ten years ago but the evidence is they simply are not. Probably the truth of it, which I’m purely guessing, is that its all of the above and more to varying degrees.

A more recent negative influence has of course been the weather, successive bad summers has made Bass fishing unbelievably hard at times and for last year in particular. More times than I care to remember I fished long and hard in what seemed like perfect daytime conditions for very little return, with night fishing the only way of improving ones chances which is not everyone’s cup of tea and should be done with great care. The general trend of warming water temperatures should in theory have improved things for Bass and may do over time but as previously said it’s not evident in our catch rates as yet. I think everyone at this stage Bass fishers or not are hoping and praying for at least a reasonable summer with some stability in the weather patterns which will undoubtedly help the fishing, at least in the short term, we shall see. I’d welcome other views on this important topic.