Richie Ryan writes on the recently published ESB Sea Bass Tagging Project  paper published in Nature…

The ESB Sea Bass Tagging Project was an exciting collaborative research program and a paper has been published recently and it makes for very interesting reading indeed. The study was funded by ESB and Science Foundation Ireland. It was led by the Coastal and Marine Research Centre of University College Cork in close collaboration with Inland Fisheries Ireland and the local angling community. Richie Ryan has been in touch to give the background to his input from the initiation of the project. “Shorty after I set up my guiding business the call came from Dr. Tom Doyle to participate in the acoustic tagging of bass in Cork Harbour. To say I was excited about being involved was an understatement. Was I up to the challenge, were the bass there in sufficient numbers, so many imponderables. I felt I could offer a better return from the shore even though I had a fully licensed boat. As it turned out this proved to be a good move”.

bass tagging
Dr. Tom brings a bass to a recovery cage following tagging as Richie looks on

Richie continues the story , “I was now faced with bringing the team of Dr. Tom Doyle and Damien Haberlin to marks I jealousy guarded . It was most anglers’ torment. But if I couldn’t produce bass of a decent size and quantity then it made the whole enterprise unviable. As it turned out Dr. Tom marvelled at the size of bass caught at one particular shore location. The fish were all between 5-8 lbs weight. In addition, the boat team led by my great buddy Jim Clohessy and comprising close friends Pat O’Shea and Andy Davies would be the opposition. They were far better anglers, I was up against the best. Tom and Damien did instil a bit of competition every so often just to keep up the pressure and keep us on our toes. My shore companion Kevin Mc Loughlin and myself were egged on and to everyone’s surprise the boat team were finding it hard going at the start. After two outings the shore team had 9 bass to the boat anglers 6. Tom wanted 15-20 bass each year. At the start I remember Jim saying to me “From the boats we could get 15 in one day” and I thought, yes , that’s a possibility.  But the fishing was beginning to taper off and we didn’t know it. Were the bass getting cuter or were they just not there in numbers anymore? As it turned out it was difficult enough to tag 15 bass of an adequate size on those few shore and boat outings each year.

The paper…

The paper is well worth studying, bass enthusiasts will glean some vital information about the movement of bass in estuaries. Richie stated he wasn’t a scientist but was blown away by two things, the bass’ site fidelity and their migration clock.

Read the full paper here:

Richie the bass angler
Richie the bass angler