It’s going to be a busy summer!

Greetings folks! Apologies for the radio silence over the winter.  Although I haven’t done much actual fishing, I have been busy with various fishing-related projects (more about these later) and activities, and getting some domestic chores out of the way.

Fishing not much to write home about

Last year’s fishing wasn’t much to write home about. I’d better not mention how many trips I made (too many!), but only 36% of these produced fish, and the number of fish I caught per hour was just 0.36. The  average size was 42.3cm. The longest fish I caught was 60cm; I  had 3 of this size (one of which is the featured image to this post).

As always, I expect this was partly down to me messing about too much (although I did try to focus more last year!), but it doesn’t paint a particularly good picture about the state of the bass stocks at the moment. There are signs that numbers may be on the increase, perhaps boosted by recent good year classes (e.g. 2016), but few would argue that the size just isn’t there –  just 2% of my fish were 60cm or over, and this is fairly typical of anglers’ catches.

New challenges

As for this year, I’m hoping to catch a bass on ‘creature baits’, like these from Bass Lures UK. Mind you, I’m not the only one – it seems like most anglers who fish with lures in estuaries, are going to try them! That’s what’s great about bass fishing – it keeps throwing up new challenges, so even if the fishing is not what it might be, there’s still something new to keep our interest up. I’m going to try them both weighted and unweighted, worked slowly along the bottom with occasional pauses and twitches.

With the blackthorn in bloom, the bass will be making their way to their summer feeding grounds, so it’s time to start thinking about testing the water.

Catch recording scheme

One of the fishing-related activities I’ve been busy with over the winter is preparing the annual report of the BASS Catch Recording Scheme. This scheme is in its third year now, and producing some interesting data. Hopefully this is of value to anglers with regard to their fishing, and in helping to bring about improvements in the management of bass stocks. If you’d like to take part in the scheme, you can find more information here,  but please note that you’ll need to be a BASS member to do so (or see the report); you can join for the modest sum of £25 here.

Talking to students

In February I was asked to talk to undergraduates at Plymouth University as part of their final year module on fish and fisheries. I thoroughly enjoyed talking about the various roles and projects I’m involved in (including my fishing!), and it was a privilege to help the marine biologists and policymakers of the future appreciate some of the issues affecting the bass fishery from a recreational anglers perspective.

All about the bass

As a follow-on from the Supper4science project I’ve been helping with the organisation of a one-day symposium at Essex University dedicated to bass.

This is very much a first for me, and not something I envisaged doing in my seventies! It’s such a privilege to be involved in what will be a very interesting and useful day. You can find more information about the symposium, and register your interest, here.

Juvenile bass surveys

I’ve also been busy preparing for the start of this year’s juvenile bass surveys, which we’re hoping to start early next month. You can find out all about these via our website, and if you’d like to help with the surveys, just leave a comment, or get in touch via the contact page on my website.

As part of this year’s surveys, we’ll be helping scientists from Plymouth University, both in collecting samples for research, and in deploying underwater cameras as part of the ‘Finvision’ project.

Looks like it’s going to be a busy summer!

All the best,

4 Replies to “It’s going to be a busy summer!”

  1. It’s been a long wet winter Robin, hopefully we will have a warm sunny Summer, settled sea state with good clarity, do you think all the fresh water in the estuaries will affect this year’s class.

    1. Hi Jonathan, nice to hear from you.

      Interestingly, our paper suggested that increased winter river flow resulted in greater ‘0’ group abundance, so perhaps the 2024 class will be a good one?

  2. I reckon you’ll be Professor Bradley soon Robin!

    I do like the idea of those creature baits and a few years back watched videos of them being used in estuaries in Brittany. They were sight fishing and dropping crab lures in front of some enormous bass. Exciting fishing, just a matter of persevering and putting a lot of time exploring.

    1. Hi Peter. Ha ha! Prof. Bradley eh! The academic side of things does seem to have taken off a bit, and I’m loving being able to get involved in this in my retirement.

      Those French guys certainly got me thinking about the creature baits.

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