The future of bass fishing is in our hands

As I’m sure many will know, Defra are working on a Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) for bass. As part of this, they have commissioned Policy Lab to collect people’s views about what’s wrong with the status quo, and how this can be improved.

This is a chance, perhaps our only chance for years to come, to achieve a bass fishery which reflects the needs and aspirations of anglers, and recognises the huge socioeconomic contribution recreational sea angling makes to society.

There are lots of ways in which things could potentially be improved if anglers have the will to ask for them. The Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society and the Angling Trust  have worked very hard to come up with some serious proposals in this regard. But it’s also vital that as many anglers as possible engage in the process of developing the  FMP via Policy Lab. It doesn’t need to get complicated – at the end of the day it’s about being able to regularly catch bass when you go fishing, and having a realistic chance of catching a few decent-sized ones each season.

I recently attended one of Policy Lab’s drop-in sessions – at Newlyn. It was good to see other anglers keen to share their views and experiences. I found the Policy Lab staff easy to talk to, and they were genuinely interested in my comments.

Yours truly, with fellow BASS members Tim Coe, Malcolm Gilbert, Brian Collick and Peter Maddern waiting to share their views about bass management with the Policy Lab team.

Although these sessions have finished now, you can still have your say by taking part in the collective intelligence debate starting on 15th August – click on the link for details:  Bass FMP Collective Intelligence Debate, hosted by Policy Lab (1).  And you can always email your thoughts to Policy Lab via

As part of my ‘lived experiences’ of bass fishing, I submitted  a report on the standard of bass angling in Cornwall, on behalf of the Cornish Federation of Sea Anglers, to Policy Lab. You’ll find this on the CFSA website here. If you fish in Cornwall, and aren’t already a member of the CFSA, why not think about joining – either as a member of an affiliated club, or a personal member?


Fishing-wise, things are pretty quiet at the moment. I did manage a couple of bass in the mid-fifties while estuary fishing earlier this month, including my first half-decent one on a surface plug.

I was using my all-time favourite Yozuri Arms Pencil, worked with my usual turn-stop-turn of the reel handle retrieve, when the fish slammed into it. The size 1 VMC barbless single hooks held well, and made for a quick (and painless – for the fish and me!) return to the water. Sadly, these lures are no longer available as such, but you should be able to find them, albeit in a different colour range, by searching under ‘Duel or Yozuri Silver Dog 90’.

A 56cm estuary bass caught with a Yozuri Arms Pencil surface plug.

There seems to be a few bass around the 26cm size in or near estuaries at the moment. Like this one, which was my first bass on an IMA ‘Chappy’ lure.

A feisty 26cm bass taken on an IMA ‘Chappy’ surface lure.

I was interested in what year class it was. From its length I estimated this to be a 3 year old fish, so from the 2019 class. Hopefully you can make out 3 rings on some of the scales I took in the photo below. 

Bass scales – from a 3 year old (2019 class). Note the replacement scale at the bottom in the middle, with the amorphous centre, contrasting with the 3 rings which can be seen on some of the other scales.

Our juvenile bass surveys suggested this class was reasonably good (but nothing compared to the great classes in the past).

In the last few years, I’ve found that the fishing hasn’t really become consistent in Cornwall until August. As this is just around the corner, I’m hopeful that things are about to take off (we’ll see!).

Handsome boy

Readers of my book A Bass Angler’s Life  may recall that our late golden retriever, Toby, was awarded 2nd prize in the ‘Most Handsome’ category in the fun dog show at  the Classic Cars and Country Show at Trewithen Gardens near my home. Despite our current dog Archie’s somewhat (very!) excitable nature, I couldn’t resist entering him for this year’s event.

To his credit, he was a very good boy. As we waited for the judge to take in all the other ‘competitors’ I whispered  “no pressure” to him, reminding him of his predecessor’s achievement. But he is a handsome boy, and I was half expecting it when the judge turned towards us with the second prize rosette.

Archie – not to be outdone by Toby.

Light show

A recent Facebook post from the Kernow Weather Team  talked about bioluminescence in the sea at night. This is something I see quite regularly during the summer. I always think what an awesome sight it is, lighting up the waves, and even giving a momentary trace as your lure or bait comes through the water.

The other night I thought I was seeing things when the weed on the beach literally sparkled – like some early Christmas light show, as I put my rucksack down on it. Just to check I wasn’t seeing things, I walked heavily across it. Sure enough, every step lit up the weed. Amazing!

That’s it for this month. Thanks for reading.


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