With the “famous” West Wales BASS fish-in event taking place over the weekend it seems topical to post an article first used in our BASS column in Sea Angler several years ago. The meeting is about far more than fishing alone – which is just as well given my catch record there – and this article focuses on the “social aspects” of the event.
Any Port in a Storm
A dozen or so bass anglers sat in a large tent, happily putting the world to rights. Our voices raised to counter the sound of wind on canvas and the waves breaking on the nearby shore. Some drank beer others cider. A few of us sipped on cheap port someone had been more than keen to pass around. Many more optimistic anglers present at the meet had already retired to their beds, hopeful for a lull in the weather for the early-morning bait fishing. Being more inclined to fish lures, and given the prevailing conditions, it seemed a late night wouldn’t cost me good fishing time – only brain cells.
We had converged on this part of the Welsh coast for a weekend B.A.S.S “Fish-In” – an event in its umpteenth year. And despite being a member for 10 years, this was my first attendance at an event of legendary status.
As I studied the contents of my beaker, wondering if the suspect liquid might dissolve my teeth, I listened to jokes, banter and debates around me. Appearances and accents revealed a diverse bunch, with differing approaches to angling. Some fished from the shore, others boats. Some cast bait, others lures or flies. Yet we had travelled here from all parts of the UK and Ireland to fish, united by B.A.S.S. and our passion for bass angling.
After discussing favourite lures, then bemoaning how B.A.S.S. is wrongly believed by some as a catch and release only group, the conversation moved to why we had joined. When my turn came I told how I discovered lure fishing for bass in the 1990s and found it surpassed all my other angling, but quickly realised that excessive commercial exploitation threatened the fish and my fishing. So in common with half of those in the tent, I joined B.A.S.S. to support campaigning to promote more and bigger bass in our seas. Some others present it seemed had joined to improve their fishing knowledge. Regardless of why we had joined around me sat the greatest reason for joining B.A.S.S and one of the reason I could never contemplate leaving. Some of these members I’d met through the Society years before and had shared many fishing adventures with. Others I’d chatted with on e-mail for ages and only met face to face for the first time today, yet already they felt like old friends.
As the wind again tried to blow the tent away, I lifted the beaker to my mouth and winced as the drink burnt my throat. On seeing my expression the bloke who poured the offending liquid smiled knowingly. I raise my cup in his direction. Unable to suppress a grin I made a toast; “Any port in a storm”. For a while the groans of laughter and verbal abuse masked the noise of the elements outside, while a well aimed nut flew out of the shadows and struck me on the head. Before today many told me the event was about so much more than just the fishing; I was now beginning to see what they meant.
Author : Matt Spence