Watching our neighbours

For UK Bass anglers, it’s not always been easy to have visibility on the quality of fishing, or the angling activities of our neighbours around Europe.

There’s been an increasing awareness of the Irish scene over recent years due to the good work done by the Irish in promoting fishing tourism from the UK and France with a strong presence in places like the big annual exhibition in Nantes (Salon des Pêches en Mer Nantes). Also Bloggers and journalists such as Henry Gilbey have increased the interest in Ireland through their visits & published articles. All of this activity has helped a lot of bass anglers to understand the rules & regulations in place to try and manage / preserve / protect the Irish bass fishery.

The beautiful bass that we chase

Throughout the rest of Europe it’s been more difficult, with language barriers creating an obstacle to understanding. However, popular Blogs such as Labrax Squad with it’s mix of tackle reviews, fishing reports & political news items, have given a certain amount of visibility into the Dutch bass scene.

The French, Spanish, Portuguese fisheries have still yet to be fully understood by UK anglers, but again increasingly through popular Blogs, Facebook, etc.. the knowledge is spreading.

In the case of France, there has been a trickle of improved information of late, with UK anglers traveling to France to fish in ‘species’ competitions, and bass anglers from Wales, Jersey, England & Scotland heading across to fish in a friendly competition with the APSB (Association Peche Sportive du Bar) last year, & again later this year.

UK French and Jersey bass anglers

Inside a typical French tackle shop

Inside a typical French tackle shop

This has all helped to understand some interesting developments over the past couple of years, including an increase in the French MLS (minimum landing size) of bass to 42cm. This measure is in place for recreational anglers only, with still some work to be done on changes for the commercial fishery. One of the interesting points in France, is that the Fishing Tackle companies seem to be getting actively involved. Ultimate Fishing are an extremely well-known brand in France, with a large presence in the angling press, in exhibitions and shows. They got behind the push for the increase in the MLS to 42cm, even selling T-Shirts in support, so a recent article from them is also of interest. We’ve run it through Google Translate, & although the translation isn’t perfect, you should be able to follow the basic idea of what they are trying to achieve ….

Click here to see the translated article.

It’s quite refreshing to see a tackle company putting it’s head above the parapet. Many feel that the only way of truly making progress on a UK or European level is for anglers, tackle companies, tourism boards, hotels, B&B’s & professional fishing guides to all unite and use their collective numbers & monetary value to bring about changes in the way that our collective fishery is managed. Could we be seeing some progress on that front ?

Do we cross our fingers, or should we all do something more active & positive ?

1 Comment
  1. I have lived in Portugal for nearly 13 years and throughout this time I have regularly fished for Bass or Robalo in Portuguese.
    The Bass there are caught and retained whatever the size, the locals thinking that if you return a fish of any species it will ‘tell its friends and you will not catch any more that day’.
    Obviously this results in a great many Bass being removed from the fishery, but whatever, there are still a serious amount of Bass present and in some very large sizes indeed.
    I personally have caught two over the magic 20 and one slightly smaller, plus many others of varying decreasing weights, but these pale into insignificance when compared to what I have seen caught or in anglers bags, two fish are always at the back of my mind, those being caught by an old guy on a rod purchased from a street vendor! One of these two fish went over 10kgs and the other well above 11kgs.
    These fish were caught after the ‘angler’ concerned had watched the locals catching lots of Bass from a large shoal stationed just off the western mole at the entrance of the river (at Tavira), had returned to the town via the ferry, and purchased the rod with reel and line included, then brought himself a buldo (clear bubble float) and two rubber Ragalu eels and then proceeded to land the bigger of the two Bass almost as soon as he re-joined the local anglers on the mole, the second, smaller fish was landed by handlineing because his reel had seized, both fish were netted ashore by the local regulars.
    Personally I have caught over 100 bass in a single morning using the local ‘buldo’ technique, all were released (save a few for my neighbours) the fish coming in one side of my boat and going over the other!!
    When the fish are there, the numbers are truly staggering, but the real big fish, those over 10kgs are usually talked about until a comparable or larger fish is caught or lost.
    Personally I lost an absolute monster, witnessed by many regulars and a local sardine boat crew when it surfaced beside them, this fish took a live sardine but broke the two hook rig at the net. Thereafter knowing the scale of the fish present I only fished single circle hooks.
    Incidentally I have had one fatality using (non offset Eagle Claw) circles, that being a fish of just under 19lbs which died when the hook penetrated its throat.
    If you get a chance give Portugal a try, because along its entire coastline there are opportunities for some very big fish indeed.

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