Record bass on the cards?

“The bass are getting bigger all around the coast – and a new British record is definitely on the cards!”

That’s the bold prediction being made by leading sea anglers after a huge 16lb 6oz specimen was landed in bumper a week which also saw dozens of double-figure fish caught and a monster specimen which would have smashed the national best caught in a trawlerman’s net.

Various marks have been producing large bass in the recent cool spring conditions, with Kent hotspot Dungeness proving by far the most prolific, throwing up the best fish of the year so far to Brian Lee. The Rye Harbour-based rod took the beast from a shore mark known locally as ‘The Point’ after it fell for lugworm presented on a three-hook flapper rig.

Other anglers getting among the big bass at the popular South East venue include Paul Hodges, who took an 11lb 8oz personal best as part of a six-fish haul, while Tonbridge Wells rod Adrian Colliver fooled a near 20lb brace during a charter boat trip off the coast.

These huge fish pale into insignificance, however, when compared to the massive 22lb 8oz bass which was entangled in a trawler’s nets out of Minnis Bay, Kent, last week – a specimen that would have obliterated the current record by almost 3lb had it been caught on rod and line.

According to experts and local anglers, there are a number of reasons why the waters off Kent have become so productive for big bass in recent years.

Seagull Fishing Tackle boss Tony Hills told AT: “The gradual increase in water temperature over the last 30 years has helped slow-growing species like bass mature faster. Also, with the crash in cod stocks over the last two decades, bass have become the top predator and they have feasted on the hordes of whiting fry and packed on the pounds. The winter just gone produced an 18lb 15oz fish, which is ounces off the record, so it shows the venue has the potential to rewrite history.”

It appears the Kent coast isn’t the only hot bass area at the moment however, with a number of big bass being reported lately from ‘surprise’ marks.

Sea Angler magazine features editor Paul Fenech has been inundated with catch reports in recent months and he said: “The record could definitely go, and with bass moving north it could come from anywhere. I’ve had reports of a brace of 13lb fish from the South West coast of Scotland – an area where they were unheard of a few years ago. Many anglers practice catch-and-release too, and this is helping the shoals regroup. There’s no doubt about it - it’s a great time to have a go for a big bass!”