So, you’re a UK lure angler and you want to live the American Bass Pro dream. What can we do about it?
The historic link between Hard Rockfishing and freshwater bass fishing has never been clearer to me. Us rockfishing enthusiasts inherited US bass fishing methods without even knowing; Texas rigging, senkos, baitcasters, the list goes on. But recently, after enforced screen watching through the various lockdowns of the past few years, I really got into following the high-quality content spewing out of the modern US bass pro tournament scene. Bassmaster, Major League Fishing, and the like. And along with quite a few other UK lure anglers I assume, I now spend a lot of my time day-dreaming about becoming a pro bass fisherman.
Dan and I became sponges for US bass fishing information through the lockdown years. So much so, that when we were finally let out to fish again we ranked first and second in the two biggest lure fishing competitions in our calendar. I put a large proportion of the factors that led to those victories down to the new skills and mindset that we’d learned during our time in front of YouTube. But the reality is, it’s extremely unlikely that British anglers will see a developed lure fishing scene like that seen over in the United States, in my lifetime at least. Hell we may never even see a sizeable fishery that allows lure fishing 365 days a year…
Or maybe we already have one. The sea!
Initially it makes a huge amount of sense to relate what we see in US freshwater bass fishing to our own freshwater lure fishing opportunities. But actually, as I already mentioned I have serious doubts whether lure anglers will gain a serious outlet in my lifetime. The waterways are just too limited, shared with too many other interests, and restricted by archaic rules. This has played out in my mind over the past couple of years and generated frustration that I can’t go out and replicate what I’ve learned on screen, here in the United Kingdom.
Fast forward to today and I feel a bit dumb not to have made the link to Hard Rockfishing sooner. I guess the reason it didn’t relate to US bass fishing much quicker was the lack of a noteworthy tournament scene. But that might come. Standing back for a moment and concentrating on what we CAN do in the UK, instead of all that we CAN’T, Hard Rockfishing is clearly the obvious outlet for any UK angler interested in fishing styles they have seen their favourite bass pros throwing.
Let’s not forget that HRF already has pedigree here. The loose backstory is that Japanese anglers with not too dissimilar challenges to our own – limited access to freshwater, but lots of saltwater (high population, small island nation) – took what they knew from their largemouth bass fishing and applied it to the ocean. Hard Rockfishing was born. For over a decade now, HRF has grown hugely popular in Japan. From boats to shore, there’s even a healthy tournament scene with proper professional anglers.
So is HRF not the obvious channel for our pent-up enthusiasm for US bass fishing? Granted, we have to make allowances for the fish species we have available. Ballan Wrasse grow to over 9lb but their relatively small mouths limit certain techniques designed for bucket-mouth bass. But in a lot of ways, Ballan Wrasse more closely mimic freshwater bass than our own ‘sea’ bass does.
In some ways I feel that it is inevitable that I will want to focus more on UK HRF in coming seasons. I’m already enjoying applying some of what we’ve learned these last few years to my local wrasse population. The best is yet to come.
If I’ve piqued your interest in Hard Rockfishing and you would like to know more, please check out the Ultimate Guide to HRF (and Lure Fishing for Wrasse)