Friday, 23 August 2013

Swordfish caught in the UK!

People will tell you that there are some species of fish that you will never ever see landed around the UK’s waters. And this is one of them caught in a Salmon net from the UK’s waters yesterday.
These are very rare to the UK coastline but it just goes to show that sometimes strange things do happen at sea.

This fish was caught on the morning of Wednesday August 22nd just off of Sunderland’s North East Tyneside Coast from the famous Souter Lighthouse by Ian Wakenshaw on the ‘Beverley Ann’, a catamaran that specialises in netting Wild Salmon and Sea Trout.

Fishmonger Rob Latimer now has this prize catch on his slab. It is the second Swordfish Rob has heard of being caught in North East waters in the last few years. When it comes to sea fish it is always worth noting that there are no fences out there, and quite often larger fish species will follow large shoals of smaller bait fish as they feed on them and this will occasionally take them way off course.

Swordfish are normally found in tropical climes of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans where the water temperature is up around 18 °C (64 °F) and 22 °C (72 °F) so you can appreciate that it is very rare to see them stray into the cold North Sea. They are actually known for moving into colder water in the warmer months to feed, and among the Billfish the Swordfish does have the highest tolerance to temperature.
In fact on the What Fish UK ‘Preferred Territory’ map, we have placed the last reported sighting that we could find as Barry Island in Wales along the South West Coast of the UK, the nearest facing to the Swordfishes natural habitat.

Back in 2009 a Mr Jim Nettleton watched a group of gulls picking at something on the beach at Barry in Wales, on closer inspection he found a dead Swordfish washed up on the shore.
(Photograph by Jim Nettleton)

Swordfish were caught in the late 20th century in the waters off of Ireland but they have not been there in number for many years.
We have seen one report of Swordfish being caught (again in a net) up in Northumberland back in 2007 by a Mr Peter Dent (Photograph by Alan Charlton) This fish unfortunately suffered injuries and also had to be destroyed.

There have been a few other sightings of Swordfish around the UK from places such as Poole Harbour in Dorset and Teignmouth on the South Coast of Devon. A Jackie Hazel and Paul Fenton happened to be on board Tiger Charters dive vessel from Devon when they photographed a large fish in the water that swam past the boat a few times before disappearing. The fish was 3 metres in length including its stunning sword shaped snout, this would indicate a Swordfish from other conformed records. They managed to get this shot of the fish.

All of the fish caught/found have been around the 1.5m – 2m mark weighing in from 30kg up to 75kg. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

What Fish UK Interview With The Bass Society.

The What Fish UK Smartphone App Bass gallery section has been sponsored for 2013 by the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society or ‘BASS’ as they are better known.

BASS is an organisation that among other things is dedicated to the conservation of the European sea bass.

Recently What Fish UK managed to get an interview with Mr Ian Misselbrook Chairman of BASS, our aim was to find out more about this society.

Q - WhatFishUK:
Hi Ian, thank you for finding time to take part in this interview.

A - Ian:
You are welcome.

Q - What Fish UK:
Ian, what is your role in the BASS society?

A - Ian:
As you mentioned in your introduction – I’m the current Chairman of BASS and have been for the past three years. As a group we try to keep official stuff to a minimum but we do need an active committee to ensure the smooth running of the Society, to plan ahead and keep our members happy by providing what they want and we have always run the Society on this basis. 

Q - What Fish UK:
How long has the organisation been running for?

A - Ian:
BASS was founded in 1973 so this year is our 40th anniversary year.
Sadly – many of our founding members like Clive Gammon, John Darling and David Hill are no longer alive, but their legacy is a society to which anglers who enjoy catching bass, want to learn more about bass and how to catch them can belong. If anglers also want support our work in restoring bass stocks then that’s great but it isn’t a condition of joining.

Q - What Fish UK:
What exactly does the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society do?

A - Ian:
Well – we have two functions really:
First and foremost we are a fishing club and although the membership was based in the UK we now have members from across Europe and further afield.

Secondly we are an organisation that believes its members have the ability to encourage the conservation, research and protection of the European sea bass, as well as, to improve and pass on to others the techniques of angling for this great sporting fish. We campaign for better management of bass and the selective retention of bass for the table.
We recommend that our members observe a minimum size of 48cms, take a maximum of two fish per day and ten fish over the course of a year. These are guidelines - not rules - in fact many of our members release most of the bass that they catch.

Q - What Fish UK:
We have two adverts for your society on the gallery pages of What Fish UK in the Bass section, on one of the adverts you quote ‘Let Our Bass Breed’ what is the meaning behind this massage?

A - Ian:
We’ve all become familiar with the warnings that many of our global fish stocks are under pressure and for bass, this is no different. The Society was formed because a number of bass anglers were worried about the increase in commercial fishing for bass and things haven’t changed. Some would say they’ve gotten worse. Female bass don’t become fully mature until they are around 42cms in length, so to have a minimum landing size set at 36cm seems madness when you consider that the bulk of the bass killed by commercial and recreational fishermen won’t have spawned. We’d like to see the minimum landing size increased to 48cms to ensure that female bass have the chance to spawn at least once before they are removed. It just makes sense if we want to maintain and rebuild our bass fishery. 

Q - What Fish UK:
How would you say the BASS society has changed over the years from its beginning?

A - Ian:
I think the biggest change has been in the way in which our members fish for bass. Forty years ago we were mostly fishing for bass with bait but now we have a really strong membership made up of bait, lure and fly anglers. Bass really are a species that everyone can fish for and I’m pleased to say that many of the country’s top lure and fly anglers are members of the Society. 

Communication of our aims has also changed. Apart form our quarterly BASS Magazine we now have a regular monthly page in Sea Angler magazine. The internet has also made a big difference to the way in which we operate and communicate. We have a very informative website, a members’ forum and we’ve recently launched a blog to reach a wider audience.

Q - What Fish UK:
Are there any upcoming events or meetings of interest for the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society in the coming months?

A - Ian:
BASS holds what we call ‘Fish-ins’ a weekend of fishing and banter where our members can get together to exchange tips and ideas and have a laugh. We’ve also recently become involved in The lure Forum (TLF) fishing get-togethers which have been a great success. We usually attend three or four countryside and fishing shows each year such as the CLA Gamefair and have a great relationship with the Salmon and Trout Association (S&TA) with whom we share a stand. So if you see us out and about with the BASS stand (it’s not easy to miss) come and say hello and have a chat.

Q - What Fish UK:
Where do you see the BASS society’s future, and how do you think the society will grow and move forward?

A - Ian:
I’d like to think that we can develop closer ties with other angling groups who share an interest in fishing for bass. We already have strong links with the National Mullet Club and the Angling Trust as well as the S&TA and TLF and I’d like to see this number grow.

Q - What Fish UK:
A lot of the people that will read this interview will be interested in finding out more about the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society, do you have a website?

A - Ian: 
Yes the site can be found at

Q - What Fish UK:
And finally is there anything of interest that you would like to share regarding the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society or any points of interest that you would like to tell potential members of your organisation?

A - Ian:
BASS is sometimes accused of being a one-species club but the reality is than many, if not most, of our members fish for a wide variety of species in salt and fresh water. I’d just like to say that if anyone out there is interested in catching bass, whether they are a beginner or an old salt, they’ll find a friendly bunch of people in BASS who are willing to share ideas and develop friendships.

Q - What Fish UK:
Ian - from What Fish UK thank you very much for your time.

A - Ian: 
You are welcome.

Here is a picture of Ian with a different species of Bass. This Striped Bass was caught during a fishing trip in Cape Cod in the USA.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

What Fish UK Sponsors Charity Species Boat Competition.

The What Fish UK Smartphone App recently sponsored a fishing competition that was almost tailor made for the App. 

The competition was the 2013 Dog-fish-dave Marina Developments Ltd, Cobbs Quay’s own Species Boat Competition in aid of the Ocean Youth Trust South, MDL’s charity of the year.
15 boats carried a total of 60 fishermen out on July 13th to fish the 8 hour species competition.

What Fish UK sponsored the competition with various rods and reels and other prizes. The 4-man first and second place teams won a rod each and so did the top female and top junior anglers on the day.

The competition started with coffee and bacon sandwiches and each skipper collected a pack on the morning that consisted of various goodies including feathers, zip sliders, sweets and of course your boats personal ID tag to put in the photo when taking the shot of the fish you have just I.D using the what fish UK app.   

Ass soon as the skipper had collected the pack the teams set off into Poole harbour and beyond and the competition began. The rules were simple each angler in the 4 man team were allowed 1 rod with three hooks and there were no restrictions on bait. The aim of the game was to catch as many different saltwater species as you can in the 8 hours of fishing. Each species was worth fish points and depending on how easy it was to catch that species, points were awarded, i.e. pout was 2 points but a Tope was 25 points.  On top of the fish points you were awarded bonus points for the number of species the team caught i.e. two species was an extra 20 points and ten species 100 points the team with the most points wins the prizes.

26 species of fish were caught they were Bass, Tope, Smooth Hound, Black Bream, Red Gurnard, Tub Gurnard, Mackerel, Pollock, Poor Cod, Pout, Scad, Weever, Whiting, Ballan Wrasse, Cuckoo Wrasse, Dab, Plaice, Turbot, Thornback Ray, Undulate Ray, Garfish, Blenny, Goby, Corkwing Wrasse, Goldsinney Wrasse, and Rock Cook Wrasse.

So onto the results:

1st place with 19 species was ‘Double Bubble’ skippered by David Doig with 426 points

2nd place with 17 species was ‘Court Jester ‘ skippered by Neil Sturt with 386 points.

 3rd place with 17 species was ‘Wight Magic’ with 342 points

 4th place with 17 species was ‘Kingfisher’ 340 points

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed boats all caught 17 species however with the way the scoring works they all had different point values and that unique scoring method sorted their placing.

A big congratulation to Emma Mumford who was our top lady on the day and Bradley Toms, aged 9, who caught 5 different species to take home a prize of a rod and reel.

The competition raised £555.00 for the Ocean Youth Trust South, MDL’s charity of the year 2013.

After speaking to Dave Wilson (Dog-fish-dave competition organiser) he said:

“It was a great day with great weather and the fishing was spot on, it was great seeing the anglers using the What Fish UK Smartphone App to help recognise the species of fish that they had caught. We are looking forward to hosting the competition again next year and we will be looking to What Fish UK for continued support.”

For the What Fish team it was great to hear of the App being used for exactly the reason that we invented it for. Incidentally I have heard rumblings that next year the entire What Fish UK Smartphone App team will be taking part in the event so we will be sponsoring a very good prize for last place ;-)

Many thanks to Dave Wilson (MDls Regional Director)  for organising a great event and we were very pleased to see the Ocean Youth Trust South, MDL’s charity receive £555.00.

Well done to all involved.