Anglers concerned about bass

Sea anglers' fears that the failure to impose higher catch size limits on bass could lead to a steep decline in stocks, have been reinforced by recent fish surveys by the Bass Anglers' Sport Fishing Society (BASS).

Sea anglers' fears that the failure to impose higher catch size limits on bass could lead to a steep decline in stocks, have been reinforced by recent fish surveys by the Bass Anglers' Sport Fishing Society (BASS).

Through the National Federation of Sea Anglers, beach men wanted to increase bass size limits

from the present 36cm to 45cm to protect breeding stocks, writes Roy Webster.

However, this conservation measure was rejected by DEFRA.

Now BASS have laid a dossier in front of DEFRA, insisting that the numbers of young fish around the local coastline have plunged to an all-time low. As a result the Society has demanded a close season for the species to co-incide with the spawning period, hoping to allow stocks to recover to sustainable levels.

Chairman of this restoration movement John Leballeur said he had not known a time in the past 20 years when the number of baby bass had been at such a low ebb. “There has been a sharp decline in recruitment due to spawning failures,” he declared.

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DEFRA officials promised to consider this fish survey whose findings suggest that one of the most beneficial decisions for the species would certainly be a close season for all forms of commercial fishing including the damaging gill nets running between February and April.

In addition, BASS have set out their proposals in a letter to the Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw emphasising that a three months statutory close season would allow mature fish to breed successfully and thus would benefit all parties and go some way to avoiding an almost total collapse of bass stocks and avoid a similar disaster as the North Sea cod wipe-out.

DEFRA's response so far suggests that their own fish surveys indicate that bass stocks currently appear to be sustainable.

Even so they are reviewing the 37 no fishing zones around the United Kingdom in order to access whether further measures are required.

Some rod and line anglers believe they are doing their bit by adopting a 'put back alive' policy for bass they catch. But although this practice may well induce a feeling of responsible wellbeing, these caring anglers are simply sending the fish into the snares of the commercial meshes.

Certainly keen bass anglers fishing for the pot are benefiting along beaches north of the town where substantial numbers of schoolies and one exceptional specimen of 8lb have been reported in north Norfolk.

Town beaches have produced small bass and the remnants of spring codling, but the main quarry from the sandy shores between Sea Palling and Horsey are likely to be smooth hound as well as the odd decent bass from the barrier reef areas.

On the freshwater carp scene Caister rodman Duggie Collins bagged a brace of common carp scaling 20lb and 22lb while fishing his favourite Taswood Lakes.

Hall Farm, Burgh Castle, continues to provide sport with quality carp especially for Steve Peters of Gorleston who had four beauties headed by a 21lb 4oz mirror and Mark McSweeny of Gorleston who bagged five fish to 17lb 12oz.

Results. Sam Hook Sea League, River Bure Estuary, Caister: P Tovell (Gorleston) 2lb 15oz, W Perring (Lowestoft) 2lb 5oz, D Reed (Sheringham) 2lb 1oz.

Caister Ship, Holly Farm: Carol Waldron 41lb 13oz, K Dyball 35lb 5oz, J Starling 31lb 12oz.

Great Yarmouth Freshwater AC, Abbey Waters: C Hodgins 70lb 15oz, K Brown 70lb 14oz, M Eckest 49lb 2oz.

Sportsman's, Burgh Castle: K Southey 37lb, L Arnold 30lb 9oz, P Selby 20lb 4oz.

Stalham, Old Stables: M Harmon 14lb, J Hehir 9lb 13oz, D Egerton 9lb 7oz.

A new fishery is suitable for staging events for up to 30 competitors.

This is the Park Farm Fishery at Hockering, just off the A47 where at least one lake will be reserved for pleasure anglers, depending on the match entries.

This fishery, of three lakes comprising about five acres of water, is the brainchild of Norfolk match angler Mike Dossena who has stocked his waters with 5,000 carp to 4lb and substantial numbers of bream and roach.

Angling club representatives and individuals are invited to view this fishery by appointment (01603 881119). It opens for business on June 16.