Let’s hope we can all go bass fishing again soon

What might have been

I had hoped to be telling you about my early season bass fishing exploits with my mate Steve Ainsworth, hopefully blessed with one of those lunkers making their way back to their summer feeding grounds; or catching some nice Channel Islands bass with my Guernsey mates; maybe even describing the first trip to my crab traps to collect peelers.

Steve Ainsworth with an 11lb 9oz beauty caught at the end of March 1994. For the full story (including why he’s wearing a suit!) you’ll have to read my book.

This terrible disease

But the COVID-19 pandemic has put paid to all that. This terrible disease has stopped us in our tracks. How can something smaller than a speck of dust wreak such havoc on the world? Whether the cost is measured in human, or in economic terms, the scale of it is hard to grasp. This pandemic is being compared to the Second World War – it’s certainly the most catastrophic thing I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Our lives have been turned upside down, affecting our physical and mental wellbeing, our work and livelihoods, our travel plans, our interaction with friends and family, our personal freedom, and of course our hobbies. Scanning my diary, the only bass fishing-related activity I’ve undertaken since my last blog is collecting razors on the big tides just after the full moon in March.

To show a razor clam coming up after salting
A razor fish surfacing after salting.

Staying at home

But curiously, I’m not crawling the walls in desperation to go fishing (yet!). Maybe that’s partly because, by some strange coincidence, the bass fishing in my area doesn’t really get going until June anyway.

Maybe it’s also partly because my heart just isn’t in it. When you see what’s happening to people at the moment, with the desperately sad stories of those losing the battle against this killer virus, it puts going fishing for fun into perspective.  The danger that our doctors (including my own two corona heroes) and nurses, and all the other key workers, are putting themselves in, and the sacrifices they are making, is truly humbling; it’s also very worrying for them and their families.  I found this short video, Our Heroes , incredibly moving.

I’m following the Angling Trust’s guidance  that we should refrain from fishing, pending the agreement of specific guidelines for recreational fishing with the (UK) Government. I think it’s important that we all do our bit, and set a good example to others.

It’s difficult to say how this whole Coronavirus situation will play out, but it’s just possible that we might see the relaxation of some of the restrictions next month. Whether this will allow for angling, in some limited form, to take place, remains to be seen, but hopefully as we go into June the chances of this will increase. But beating this virus is the overriding priority, and we must do whatever’s needed, however long it takes.

Bass fishing in March

The only bass I’ve heard about since my last blog are the odd fish to 5lb in estuaries, and a few (mostly small) fish caught by Dan Richards on Sandy Andy lures (along with some good-sized sea trout) – in both cases these fish were caught before the lockdown .

My mate Simon De La Mare had better luck over on Guernsey in March, before the lockdown there (now updated to allow recreational fishing from the land as an open sea activity). He finally cracked a new mark, after numerous blanks, with a bass of 6lb 2oz on a black Sidewinder Super Solid Sandeel (6″, 25g) lure during daylight, with the water very dirty from a recent storm. A couple of days later, the weather had calmed down, and the tide and conditions were right to fish the new mark in the dark for the first time. On the second cast, his white DoLive (don’t you just love these things!) was smashed, and after an incredible fight, he slid ashore the biggest bass he’s had in 5 years – an 8lb 2oz cracker. Nice one Simon!

Simon De La Mare (he’s in there somewhere!) with his 8lb 2oz Guernsey bass.


I may not be fishing, but I’m still getting my ‘exercise’ with my daily walks with Toby.  Mind you, we’ve had to cut down to one a day, around the village, under the current Coronavirus restrictions.  To be honest though, at 14, Tobes was starting to struggle anyway, so I think he appreciates the lighter routine. As much as he’d like to be down on the beach, clambering over rocks, or walking miles along the coast path with me, his poor old legs can’t manage it so well these days.

A coastal walk with Toby – in happier times.

Walking has taken on a new meaning in these strange times – it’s more about giving everybody a wide berth, and anticipating whether there’s enough room for you both to pass. It seems more like driving than walking! Most people have quickly got the hang of it, but the odd hasty route deviation is still required!  It’s still possible to chat with people though, provided you keep your 2m distance. Some people are nervous, and quickly move on, while others are keen to engage, perhaps as a consequence of their social isolation.

Keeping busy

I haven’t been idle during the lockdown. Having already completed my pre-season preparations, like many redundant anglers, I’ve been scouring the homestead for jobs that need doing – the garden has never looked so kept, the garage and shed have never looked so tidy, and the car has never looked so shiny. I’ve even been cleaning windows! As a result of all this endeavour, I’m absolutely awash with brownie points – it’s just that I can’t use them!

Freezer disaster!

While we’re on the subject of garages, Angela exclaimed “What’s that awful smell”, as she entered the hallowed man cave. “Well it’s not me dear – it must be the coat I wear for bait fishing”. But then I remembered that she had only recently washed it, almost certainly since the last time I went. “Hmmm”, I mused, slamming the garage door shut, “I hope nothing’s died in there”; “it’ll probably go eventually” (the smell that is).

The next morning I decided it was time for a tidy-up in the man cave, ready for when I can start fishing again. “Better just check the freezer while I’m at it” I thought. This was just a routine check, you understand, such as I have performed on many occasions since I inherited the freezer from a neighbour, some years ago – although I must admit that recent events have somewhat distracted me from this. Despite a slightly battered top draw, with one broken hinge, it has always performed perfectly, protecting the treasures of razor fish, squid and mackerel baits contained within.

As I opened the door, the smell hit me like one of my mate’s worst eggy farts – it really was that bad! If you’ve ever cleaned out a sandeel or fish tank, you’ll have some idea of the smell. “Christ, the bloody thing’s packed up”, I muttered, as I touched the squishy 1lb box of squid on the top shelf. The plug was still in, and the switch was down, so I guess it must have just given up the ghost – several weeks ago, judging by the smell!

As I decanted the freezer’s stinking, dripping contents into a bin bag, I wondered what the poor bin men would make of the evil-smelling mess on Monday morning. I did momentarily consider refreezing the razors (even though I didn’t have a freezer!) – they say they work even better when high, but this was more a case of advanced putrefaction. Even the hungriest bass would have turned its nose up at them – assuming they managed to stay on the hook.

So it was in the bin they went – even those 50 odd big razors I collected only a few of weeks ago! I suppose the fact that I can’t actually fish at the moment is some small consolation. If you know of anybody with a small under-bench freezer going second hand in my area (Cornwall) please let me know (not that I’ll be able to collect it anytime soon). At least my fridge is still working, so I can store any crabs I collect – if I can ever get to the coast again!

Helping to inform and entertain

I find that just thinking and reading about bass fishing helps to pass the time and lift the spirits at this difficult time. Organisations like BASS and the Angling Trust are adding extra content to their websites, to keep anglers informed and entertained during the current lockdown. It’s well worth checking these out.

Boost to bass stocks?

With markets collapsing, and restaurants closing,  commercial catches of bass will be reduced. While this will undoubtedly cause hardship for those involved, at least bass stocks might benefit, especially since some may still be spawning for a few weeks yet.

Well, that’s it for now folks. Keep safe, stay home, and let’s hope things get back to normal soon. We will get through this!



14 Replies to “Let’s hope we can all go bass fishing again soon”

  1. Very good read and times like this we need things to read or do thank you Robin keeping all in touch stay safe mate

    1. Cheers Rob, glad you enjoyed it. Let’s hope we can throw a few lures together this year. Look after yourself.

  2. Hi Robin,
    A good read as always, and a lift to the spirits in these difficult times .
    I just wondered if you had given any thoughts to the BASS Cornwall fish in this year, and if this is likely to go ahead, or possibly be postponed until later in the summer ?
    Keep safe, and lets hope that we can all get back to normal soon and get some fishing done.

    1. Hi Tim. Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for commenting.

      We’re going to make a final call on the Cornwall Fish-in about the middle of next month. It all depends on how things go, but I’m keeping everything crossed that we can go ahead in some shape or form at the end of June, as planned. Take care.

  3. Great blog mate and sums up how we all feel . I lost my 27 year old son to a brain tumour 2 weeks ago, he lived in Sheffield with my ex wife, I found out through Facebook as my ex wife and daughter have disowned me. Funeral next Friday but cant go .
    When I had my breakdown 4 years ago it was spending time by the lake that got me through it . Hope all this clears up sooner rather than later

    1. Hi Bob. Thanks for commenting.

      So sorry to hear about your son Bob. I can only offer my sincere condolences; you must be devastated.
      You’re right in what you say – this wonderful pastime of ours really does have healing powers; let’s hope we can all get down to the coast before too long.

  4. Hello Robin
    Firstly, I took your book to Ireland last Autumn and what a great read! I am sure many anglers will relate to much of the contents just as I did.
    The ‘lock-down’ has given me an opportunity to write something for the BASS magazine. I first visited and fished in Ireland, Kerry, in 1970. Although I have not been every year since it is still a 50 year span since that first trip. ‘The Troubles’ that re-surfaced in 1969 made my brother, Chris, & I a little wary. Then in the early 80’s I embarked on a self-build house near Tavistock. Encouraged by friends, the plans grew from a two bedroomed agricultural bungalow to a six-bedroomed 3000 square foot house. How I ever finished will be one of life’s mysteries but finish I did although had no time for much fishing.
    I trust we shall all get back to bassing in due course but caution must be the by-word.
    Kind regards, Tony

    1. Hi Tony. Great to hear from you, and thanks for your kind words about the book – this is exactly why I wrote it.

      Every cloud has a silver lining, as they say, and if the lockdown has led to an article about your exploits in Ireland that’s great; I shall look forward to it immensely.

      I think, when we’re eventually allowed out again, it’ll be like the whacky races heading down to the coast!

      Stay safe,

  5. Robin,

    Thanks as ever for a thoughtful and enjoyable read. Strange times indeed. We have members in GBASS providing critical services and self-employed with kids and no income. Luckily, we can go fishing for two hours, I even managed a couple of schoolies off the top on a patch yesterday (and my arm, heavily strapped, held up).

    I’ve always appreciated the privilege of fishing and some of the great people you meet through it. On that note, hopefully you get back to Guernsey sooner rather than later and we can catch a biggie, blank, and have a pint.

    Keep good,

    1. Cheers Bryn – appreciate the kind words.

      Great that you were able to get out (not that I’m at all jealous you understand!) and your elbow held up; I know you’ve not been able to do much fishing for a while.

      I take my hat off (I’d better put it on first!) to people like yourself and others, who provide such essential services, particularly in these very challenging times. I count myself very fortunate in being provided for in my retirement, unlike so many others, and at least I have a garden, and am not couped up in the house all day. My only worry is the safety and health of my family.

      Rest assured, I’ll be over on the first available ferry! Very much looking forward to chucking a few lures, or a big bait, with you. Take care mate.

  6. Robin,

    Thanks for updating the blog which I really enjoyed reading. Whilst these are very difficult times for us all, I keep having to remind mtself that it will pass. My main thoughts are with the people who are on the front-line like your family who are doing a very brave and outstanding job in saving lives.
    Life is so very prescious to us all and you cannot put a price on that.
    If staying at home means that we all doing our bit and we have to wait a bit longer to get out then I think that is a small price to pay.
    Everyday we are another step closer to things getting better.. and eventually we will be able to get out and enjoy what we all love doing so much. All in good time… stay positive…


    1. Hi Luke. Glad you enjoyed the blog, and thanks for taking the trouble to comment.

      I totally agree with everything you’ve said.

      We will get through this!

      Looking forward to another 8lber weekend!

  7. Your freezer mishap reminded me of one of Brian Warne’s habits (see ‘Shore Fishing’ by Clive Gammon). Brian used to use knuckle-fish (slipper limpets) for bass when they were some of the baits available in the colder months. He would not use them until they were very stinky; he used to put them in a biscuit tin with the lid on and wait – and wait. Then ,when they were smelling awful he had confidence; Brian caught a lot of good bass on the IOW (see the copy of his diary in that book).

    1. Hi Alan, good to hear from you.

      I’m wondering if I should have kept some of those razors now. Mind you, without a freezer, I think they would probably have walked out of the garage on their own by the time we’re allowed out again!
      Good to know that slipper limpets really do catch bass; I often see these when crabbing, so I might have to try them.

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