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.
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 ?
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.”
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.
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.
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.