Glenn Kilpatrick

Ok To Kill Bass

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Is It OK To Kill Bass ??

What Is The Truth About Bass Stock Levels In UK Waters ?

Anyone who reads the various sea angling forums and websites on the internet cant have missed the increase of individuals preaching catch and release on the species of bass. Statements like “You should have put it back !!!”, “Another one gone”, “There will be none left” greet anyone who dares to admit to even keeping a single fish for the table.

As a webmaster of a fishing website this growing trend of giving people a hard time for killing bass really concerns me. I myself was met by a firm no when I requested a link from another bass fishing site on the internet, the reason being – “There is pictures of dead bass in your gallery”.

Primarily I do wonder if the more people make these statements then more people will accept them as gospel truth without ever questioning them, and secondly as the webmaster on a forum I worry that the preaching of catch and release leads to people living in fear of admitting to catching and keeping bass to take home.

The knock on effect being that they still keep the fish but dont bother to make a report or post an article onto websites like this because its just too much hassel to deal with the individuals out there who come back with statements like those mentioned above. It doesnt take a genious to realise that a website without posts and pictures soon becomes a boring place to be.

Over time I have witnessed many internet forums taken over by anglers preaching catch and release, and over time each one has become almost inactive with very little of worth to actually read on there. Maybe the time has come to live and let live ?

Maybe we should accept that not everyone will behave in the ways we want them to. Maybe the judgmental attitude of the catch and release brigade should stop before they ruin every website on the internet and alienate themselves from the grass roots anglers out there who go fishing and sometimes keep thier catch for the table.

Catch And Release On Bass Is A Pain In The Ass
To deviate ever so slightly from the subject of catch and release I have, over the past few years been reading the website of The Bass Anglers Sportsfish Society (B.A.S.S.). If you go there today you are greeted by a story which paints a rather gloomy picture for the survival of bass stocks as a whole.

Delve a little further and things get gloomier still with statements like “A combination of unfolding circumstances is leading to the rapid destruction of the country’s inshore bass stocks and a loss of the valuable Recreational Sea Fishery, along with thousands of jobs in the Recreational Sea Fishing sector”, “UK anglers will soon start to see a disastrous decline in both the number and size of bass available in the important and valuable Recreational Fishery.” and “unless the Government takes rapid and firm action to further protect bass stocks and to ensure adequate enforcement, it is likely that the developing and valuable Recreational Sea Fishery for bass will become another ‘what could have been’ to be laid at the foot of the Government”.

If you spend some time on the BASS website you will find article after article about the poor state of bass stocks in the United Kingdom.
Well, it all sounds like serious stuff, and with Bass stocks knocking on the doors of oblivion you can start to see why people believe that catch and release on the species is so important. After all if you follow the undertones of the news on the B.A.S.S. website, that next fish you kill could be the last of the species – or could it ??

Ive always been an inquisitive type and less than happy to accept everything Im told as truth without some sort of hard evidence. The Bass Anglers Sportsfish Society are a specialist group, and perhaps you should just accept thier word as truth, after all they are a group of specialists on the species – arent they ?

Catch And Release On Bass Is A Pain In The Ass
Not quite sure if I should take their word for it, I set about finding some evidence for myself. I had been told of a Scientist at CEFAS called Pawson who had provided the government with research evidence said to prove that an increase in the minimum landing size for bass would in fact cause long term damage to the stock, and see a large increase in commercial discards of the species.

Through googling the term “Pawson+Bass” I found several intersting articles. The first a research article by Sven Kupschus a Scientist at the International Council For Eploration Of The Seas (ICES). Amazingly this article was suggesting quite the opposite to the doom and gloom picture painted by B.A.S.S. Infact he was saying that Bass stocks may actually be on the increase. Quote – “First and foremost, the stocks are expanding under increasing exploitation levels, suggesting that they are exploited sustainably.”

Catch And Release On Bass Is A Pain In The Ass
The next article I found was one by Pawson himself, saying basically the same thing as the guys at ICES. Next I came across a rather interesting article from www.seafish.org. Within their bass advice PDF article was a very surprising graph which actually showed a large increase in spawning size bass stocks over the past 20 years in all UK areas (these are the fish which are supposed to be none existent – the big spawning fish). Continue searching and you can find lots more on the internet that is in direct conflict to the picture being painted by The Bass Anglers Sportsfish Society.

Catch And Release On Bass Is A Pain In The Ass

Conclusion – Dont Believe All You Are Told Without Asking For The Evidence To Back It Up !

The conclusion I draw from my little exercise of search and find on google, is that maybe you shouldn’t believe everything you are told just because it comes from a group with perceived specialist knowledge on the topic of bass fishing.

Initially I believed the doom and gloom stories painted on the B.A.S.S website. The catch And release zealots that roam around the internet striking fear into bass anglers over the future of bass fishing made me want to check out this subject for myself, and so I did.

I was shocked by the results of a Google search exercise which offered lots of evidence in direct opposition to the suggestions of the BASS organisation, I was even more shocked by how easy it was to find. However I note these research articles from Pawson and Kupschus are rarely quoted on the bass fishing forums splattered across the internet and I was unable to find direct links for these articles anywhere on the B.A.S.S. website – I wonder why this could be ??

So maybe its time more people started to look beyond the words printed on angling websites across the internet and check a few things out for themselves. Quite why an organisation like B.A.S.S seek to mislead their readership I am unsure, but given my findings today, that is what they appear to be doing.
Anyone wanting to check out the research from Pawson and Kupschus can do so at the links below. You can also find out lots more on the subject by googling thier names – its that simple.

http://www.ices.dk/products/AnnualRep/ASCproceedings/2007/Annual%20Science%20Conference%202007/CM-2007/O/O0107.pdf

http://www.defra.gov.uk/marine/fisheries/fishman/bass.htm

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.seafish.org%2Fpdf.pl%3Ffile%3Dseafish%2FDocuments%2FSeafishResponsibleSourcingGuide_seabass_200906.pdf&ei=fU2cSpT4M8egjAfYzI3bDQ&usg=AFQjCNGJpNWJCK-Ul1giu5rjB05Bb79R1g&sig2=aYL6bME6s8cIwHvTRAYGsg

Just to give a little background about myself. I am a firm believer that anglers should be able to make up their own minds about retaining fish. I will happily support the right of one angler to return a fish as strongly as I would another’s right to keep it for the table. I am against the anglers who allegedly take bags of bass on a daily basis from around power station outlets. However I firmly believe that is you wish to take home a sensible amount of fish fro the table then you should not be hassled for doing so.

My displeasure is with those out there who seem to think everyone should put their fish back as they are damaging fish stocks. Quite what they base their assumptions on is beyond me, but its time it was stubbed out before our beloved sport is damaged for good.

Please take some bass home for your tea if you want to. You are not damaging fish stocks, and you have every right to keep any bass you catch if you so wish.


22 Responses to Ok To Kill Bass

  1. John Vis February 23, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Dear sir,
    I really agree with your statement this is a good article
    What happens over here that a lot of people are preaching catch and release but take there fish home
    We run a commercial kayak fishing guiding service and we never take fish when clients are fishing with us for ourselves (we dont want to offences anyone).
    And of course we eat seabass we catch more than we can eat so a lot is released
    For the clients we have the only restriction they must measure 40 cm .
    A lot of them never caught a bass before and it would be very disapointing if they could not take their fish home.With compliments
    Johan Vis

    Reply
  2. frank ,leeds February 24, 2010 at 10:28 am

    why do people carry on about killing bass ,how many do we catch a year as rod and line fishermen,not many . the larger commercials will take more in a good day than all us put together so if you have a gripe take it up with them,there the ones doing the damage to our sport not the very odd fish taken for the pot by anglers,after all bass is one of the best eating fish so why not reward yourself with a good meal now and again . the price bass fetch on the market is there downfall and human greed will always be there to take advantage, oh for a perfect world . frank

    Reply
  3. Steve B, Hants February 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    With regard to keeping a bass (or two) for the table… could/should these fish be within a certain “slot-size”?

    Too small <36cm and its illegal anyway – to large, say a big female around the double-figure size, and it will probably not taste as good as say a 3 to 5 lb fish, which will feed a family of five quite easily. And just how many should you take? Some people just can't seem to stop themselves at one or two fish. There really needs to be some sort of limit on what anglers are allowed to take daily, like they do in the U.S.A for their striped bass.

    Reply
  4. Evinrude Outboard February 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Not really sure exactly what you’re squawking about in this post. Maybe you could read up the subject before offering such thoughts to the rest of us.

    Reply
  5. jomc February 27, 2010 at 9:25 am

    An excellent article, well presented and researched. I hope many other people see it.

    Reply
  6. Borderover February 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Yes well done to speak out against the zealots, we have the same thing on salmon angling forums and I believe there are far greater threats to bass stocks than anglers taking a few for the pot. Having said that there is a disgraceful situation at Torness Power Station in East Lothian where a total disregard for legal takable sizes seems to be the order of the day and everything taken is destined for the fishmongers slab in nearby Dunbar.

    Borderover

    Reply
  7. admin March 2, 2010 at 12:32 am

    quote “Maybe you could read up the subject before offering such thoughts to the rest of us.”

    You sound exactly like the sort of person Im talking abut in the article.All Im saying is that there is no harm in keeping fish, its totally legal, and no-one should be made to feel guilty about it.

    Reply
  8. Martin McGrory April 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Dear Sir,
    I find it refreshing to hear the voice of reason.
    If fish stocks are in decline (if), then surely the correct response is research to establish the facts and the correct appropriate action based on that research. Knee jerk reactions teld to lead us in the wrong direction.
    Interestingly I note that with Atlantic Cod the situation is different. No knee jerk there, the advice is to reduce commercial fishing (which is what is damaging the stocks), and the odd Cod caught on rod and line will make no difference.
    Why the sudden change with Bass?
    If there is one rule for Cod, why a dirfferent approach for Bass?
    And if the stocks are in decline who is responsible? Is it my sixty seven year old neighbour who takes 2 or 3 mature Bass a year for the table or the endemic commercial overfishing?
    If anyone is serious about securing fish stocks for the future then they have to have the gut to take the fight to the parties who cause the decline and not attack other anglers, who, at the end of the day, have the same rights as them.
    I look forward to hearing the voice of reason again on your very excellent website.

    Reply
  9. STEVE November 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    yeah one or two bass every now and then is ok but 5 in one go is way to much keep one or two and put the rest back.

    Reply
  10. Sherburn Sean November 7, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    What research evidence are you basing your conclusions on Steve. Sounds like the usual nonsense you read on too many of these angling sites.

    Reply
  11. bonamy martel November 23, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    While I am happy to take fish I also feel that taking more than a couple per session is not really necessary. There has been a noticable reduction in bass stocks around the channel islands in the last few years as important nursaries are placed under increasing pressure from commercial fishing. I find your attack of the BASS website rather unfortunate as they represent an important body of anglers who are willing to take on the political and commercial powers to fight for the long term preservation of this important fish. There is no doubt that the current lack of measures to protect the species is impacting their sustainability and it will take a coordinated effort from anglers to instigate any change. Encouraging anglers to employ a catch and release policy beyond the taking of reasonable numbers of fish for the table is healthy as it instills a general awareness of the issues and this will be needed if anglers are to actively press for the long term protection of the fishery. As for your claim that BASS are merely spreading exaggerated propoganda for their sensationalist cause, I am sorry to inform you that the article regarding Dr Pawson along with the above graph (now long outdated and hardly relevant to the current situation) featured on the BASS website in december 2005
    http://ukbass.com/2005/12/bass-mls-scientific-view_09.html
    when you say that you were unable to find any link to pawson’s articles on the BASS website, did it perhaps occur to you to search for paulson in the search engine box provided? their are currently 11 such links as the BASS website frequently refer to his findings. I hope that readers will heed your excellent advice that they shouldn’t believe eveything they are told, and in this case apply it to your post.

    Reply
  12. admin November 23, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    It doesn’t seem quite right to me, that when you make an observation of a society like BASS that you are said to have “Attacked” them. The wording is far too strong and emotive. My article is simply an observation of their website and policies with the addition of available research evidence. I will be the first to admit that bass do some good work, but I feel they are let down badly by some of their members and the way they choose to use their website to promote a doom and gloom picture of bass fishing in the UK which is far from factual.

    Reply
  13. Keith Pickering May 31, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Last October I caught three bass in one evening – I kept two and returned the third. They were the first bass I’d caught for at least ten years but at the time I had to stop myself feeling guilty about killing them. To some, I’m a murdering b’stard for killing any or them – but come on – I may not catch any for several years again so I don’t think I’ve really done much harm!
    Excellent article, by the way!

    Reply
  14. Jonny October 1, 2011 at 8:06 am

    If I’m hungry, I’ll keep the fish I catch, if not then I’ll release them. If I was hungry enough (literally starving) then I’d happily eat the last bass in the world and not feel guilty. But… Taking fish that you aren’t going to consume is just pointless and a total waste.

    I do not see what the big issue is as the amount of rod/line sea fisherman is so small that it cannot be making that much of an impact. It must be down to the commercial fishing which has to be better regulated as consumer demand increases.

    Like all things in life, both extremes are totally incorrect and a sensible, moderate, considerate approach to keeping fish is what we all need to adopt.

    I’d much prefer to eat a fresh fish I caught from the sea rather than from a supermarket! Think what more damage they do ….

    Jonny

    Reply
  15. rab August 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    great article ! the BASS approach is very similar to the approach of other doom and gloom merchants,callum roberts stated the north sea would run out of cod due to over fishing,and the famous ridiculous statement by SSACN last year that irish sea tope numbers were down by 75% ! (i note one of your posters CPS appears to be sticking worthless SSACN tags in them ,does he know the returns are so low for tope they are meaningless ?)

    te one thing they all have in common is promoting doom and gloom to help them with their funding.if the outlook is bleak,and they are seen to be trying to do something,they will get the funding they need to promote their own narrow minded views.

    there is a bigger single factor than commercial fishing involved in all fish recruitment and that is the plankton trends.mature fish can lay as many eggs as they want,have 100% hatch rates,but when they reach the larval stage and slightly beyond,if there are very low numbers of plankton they arent going to survive.

    the marine world is a boom and bust world dependant on natural trends.yes there has been commercial overfishing on a grand scale in the past ,but whats left of the uk fleet couldnt overfish rutland water these days.currently numbers of fish are on an upward trend and anglers of my generation are experiencing some of the best fishing of their life,and it looks like it will continue that way for the forseeable future.

    Reply
  16. barry luxton August 23, 2012 at 7:10 am

    This year in particular i have seen a pleasing amount of different year classes of bass caught, top, middle and bottom end of the channel. One mark in particular had bass of all ranges together, from mls upto double figures. There has also been very good reports of bass throught out the internet grapvine. Yet bass and co are plugging away at the poor quality of the stock and it’s decline and the imperative need to up the mls. I am aware of the bass specilists including within the likes of the trust who will dearly love to see a controlled and regulated bass fishery in the uk. Again what i am seeing is rsa proposels, nothing commercially, unless they (bass and co) are hiding some nasty proposel for the commercial sector. We hear also of rsa selling through the back door of this specis and again the need for regulation. Shortages, never hear of them, commercial restrictions, nope, none given. You also hear of massive trawler damage raping the stocks, etc, etc, yet when you look at the landing figures from different ifca areas, the majority of commercial landings are either line caught, gill netting with a very small amount landed by trawler. To me that sounds sustainable and healthy. What about bass and the war cry that the ‘o’ class had been wiped out one year? What ever came of that. As i am more louder than the web master, i have no problem in issuing a challange, show us the need, evidence of restrictions. If there is a need, a package will be required and developed by all and not just secret behind closed doors and secret email discussions. A facebook post by one of the trusts ambassadors, Mr M Salter re bass legislation Quote: ‘were working on it’. Openess and transparency if you please.

    Reply
  17. Jan Soetaert December 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I can not agree more on your stance on misinformed, scientifically unfounded conservation tactics. What is the use of catch and release if I go the same weekend to the fishmongers to buy a non-sustainably caught fish?
    I would also like to see a valid study on minimum landing sizes. With minimum landing sizes we are literally encouraging anglers to return bait fish and take out the mature breeding stocks (not that I am encouraging to take undersize fish home for the cats but the whole reasoning seems backwards). Same is true for trawling boats that are obliged to throw undersized dead fish back in the sea. I plead for thorough research on the topic and introduction of a maximum landing size if proven beneficial!

    Reply
  18. Seb October 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Hi there,

    I don’t believe bass stocks are decreasing and regarding catch and release I do think if your not going to eat it then yes release it back for another day as there is no point wasting a life. Now bass stocks on other hand I went bass fishing for the first time last month I went with a friend who had fished the same spot 10 yrs ago and he said that he used to catch bass there back then. So I was a little unsure to say the least that the same group of fish would be in the area but kept open minded anyway so we were sat in our inflatable boats tied to a boy in Dartmouth Devon the tide was 5m using live shrimp with just a 3 way swivel small weight and 6ft clear trace line so the tide starts going out and suddenly the ratchet on the reel starts to move and then it’s racing taking line like its in a race made us both jump I could see the rod bending with the fight my friend rob was trying to bring in while I was trying to get the net my ratchet was starting to click and and click rob told me to wait for it till it runs so anyway when he brought his fish in it was a school bass and mine had gone along with my bait.
    Hours passed and tide was coming in again that was the only action we had In till on the way back to shore I left my prawn in the water towing behind us no weight just the swivel as we passed through these two rocks my ratchet started to go again and then out of nowhere boom this fish was moving at some speed ratchet buzzing away while rob was trying to net it I was trying to keep the hook in its mouth finally it was landed it was my first bass I had ever caught I was so happy I must say I didn’t release it but it did taste very nice we weighed it and it was just over 3.5lb once gutted. After I caught that one rob set his rod back up and put a prawn on we went on to catch 2 more that day in less than 10mins the other 2 weighing in at 2.5lbs which his mum had one and he had one too. The time after that we caught one slightly bigger than my first with same set up I had the swivel poking out of water and trace line in for around 4ft while setting up the other rod as me n rob was chatting I had this huge splash next to me made me jump at was a greedy fat bass that just hit my prawn when I got it in the boat the prawn was still on hook it was around a 3lb fish after gutting it I found a whole hard back black crab would explain why the fish didn’t swallow my prawn. We went fishing there again 2 days ago and caught 3 more bass and named the rock bass rock, I’m going to try trolling on Monday coming I have a little eddy eel 3″ and a 7″ on seperate rods going to troll to the river mouth and back and see if I pick up and hungry bass.

    We put bass back that are too small but over 1.5lb we DO keep.

    Oh we caught a little thorn back ray too but it was released

    Reply
  19. Frank Beaugendre October 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing your common sense views on bass fishing.

    I left BASS some years ago because I came to the conclusion that the views of some BASS members ( not all) would turn out to be counterproductive to the health of the bass fishery.

    Frank Beaugendre

    Reply
  20. Frank Beaugendre October 29, 2013 at 10:09 am

    If anglers stopped killing bass commercial fishermen would end up as the only stakeholder group with the right to kill bass. They would then exercise even more control over the management of the bass stock which would mean that it would prove even more difficult for anglers to improve the management criteria of the bass fishery.

    In future disputes over say the minimum landing size or the amount of bass commercial fishermen can retain would the public be more likely to side with commercial fishermen seeking to maintain their livelihoods to feed the public or the specimen hunting bass anglers seeking to catch a PB?

    Reply
  21. Dave November 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Nice article and good to hear an alternative viewpoint.

    I guess we are all a little different. I keep the odd fish, between say, 2.5 and 4.5 pounds, for the table. I only ever take one per session and don’t catch them for friends or sell them. Over the course of a season I probably keep around 5 bass. I’m not suggesting we all do that – it’s just my way of doing it.

    I’ve taken a friend this last year who keeps everything he catches – even tried to keep ones that I have caught and am returning. He says it is a drop in the ocean compared to what the commercials take. He’s probably right but if we all followed his lead it could have an effect on inshore stocks. I think we need to help set an example and to be seen to be doing our bit to conserve stocks if we are going to criticise those who don’t.

    I agree that if there is a decline in stocks, and recent research would tend to indicate that this is the case, then legislation to curb commercial fishing is required. Start by stopping commercial exploitation of the spawning areas at spawning time. This would make a hell of a difference. One of the issues is that this is not just a matter for our government but rather for the EU. Countries such as France have “historic” fishing rights whereby they are allowed to fish in areas within our waters that our guys can’t fish – not that these are spawning areas but I use it to illustrate how complex the legislation that currently exists actually is!! It needs to come from the EU so perhaps the Euro MP is also the guy to hassle as well as George Eustace.

    Even with this legislation in place there is the cost of policing it – something we don’t appear to do very well with our existing legislation. I refer to the practice of fishing for bass from boats in nursery areas which appears commonplace in some areas.

    The big argument is that the recreational sector brings in far more money from bass fishing than the commercial sector. The more recreational anglers the more money the exchequer gets; the more bass to catch the more recreational anglers we have and the more money they spend. If they don’t catch and give up bass fishing then we don’t have that money. It’s in everyone s interests to manage our bass stocks sensibly. The maths is simple.

    If we want to limit or stop commercial fishing for bass then perhaps we need to be setting an example. While there is nothing wrong with keeping a fish for the table I feel there is something wrong with killing everything you catch. Two a day should be plenty and maybe a maximum of 20 a year although this would have to be self policed.

    I think it’s about “doing our bit” to preserve stocks no matter how small that may be. We can’t do anything about the effect that cold winters have on year groups but we can help conserve our inshore stocks by only keeping what we will eat on that particular day.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share what is purely a personal view. Great site and some great posts in this thread.

    Reply
  22. frank December 7, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    If bass was to become a sport fish (a recreational only species) as Martin Salter of the Angling Trust seems to hope, I think there is a good chance that sea anglers won’t be allowed to kill bass in future years- the coarse fishing majority will see to that !

    But why stop at bass? The Angling Trust seems intent on promoting catch & release only angling in Marine Conservation Areas. They are disappointed that the government is only proceeding with 31 instead of the 137 MCZs that were proposed. Thank goodness I thought, imagine all the other areas in which sea anglers would be compelled to put all their fish back.

    I do not know precisely how or who agreed this policy. I found out about it an angling trust leaflet I received in the post some years ago. I did not renew my AT membership as a result.

    I valued the potential sea angling offers to catch and take home a bit of fresh fish and did not want to remain a member of an organization that did not seem to value or wish to protect my rights to take some fish home to eat.

    Do sea anglers really want to be compelled to put all the fish they catch back and buy fish to eat from the supermarket ?

    Frank

    Reply


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