The key to any successful and sustainable tourism initiative is achieved through marketing a clear sense of difference from other competing destinations or services. For me,whilst working as a guide, this was achieved by basing development locally and using marketing aimed towards the International travelling angler. This angler was tempted by the local attributes and strengths of Wexford as a bass angling destination. The fishing was ‘combined’ with the many varied and challenging angling coastal environments and complimented by a variety of heritage sites and the abundant local flora and fauna.
Whilst working now on articles for angling publication or here on my site I try to portray both Ireland and Wexford in a very positive light. I do this by making the most interesting photographs that I can, not only of the fish but of the people who are fishing with me and also the environment and time in which they may find themselves. There are many things other than fishing that make any trip to Ireland worthwhile, and its important for me to remember that if I’m out there working differently now. Not only am I looking to capture that possible ‘trophy’ moment, but I’m also hoping to record the influences and environment that are shaping peoples experiences of the country in which they are investing a lot of personal time. The culture, the lifestyle, the history of Wexford and Ireland all play a part in shaping a sense of authenticity.
The more that I do this it becomes more obvious there are times when I don’t see what visitors marvel at or appreciate and I find myself missing the moment for them. It’s possible to see the same thing so many times that you don’t appreciate it any more. I am always conscious that over-selling a product could have a negative impact on any business, especially a fishing guiding service.
Angling guided services should not to be encouraged or developed for their singular sense of ‘self promotion’, guides don’t need to demonstrate their angling prowess, we take this as a default – to be a bass guide is to be many things but successful bass guiding in Ireland is not about standing alone in isolation but rather more about building a sustainable small local community based economic and development tool aligned to creating a total experience – authentic, unique, and integrated to the concept of the sustainability of the fish and angling environment.
The Wexford environment doesn’t possess dramatic, jaw-dropping scenery. It doesn’t have the ruggedness or sense of wilderness that you get on the west coast. It doesn’t have outstanding architecture. What Wexford does have is a multiplicity of different smaller environments and opportunities that are much more complex and which interact in a way that is so subtle it can almost be overlooked. You must look closely, almost discover each one be it cultural, natural, or heritage in order to experience the fullest and greatest depth of detail.
The richer the experience offered to the angler the greater the chance of diversification into the local community and support of ancillary services, good food, good music, immersion in modern Irish life, Irish home made product, visiting anglers cant get this at home.
Not only is it important to realise that each experience is unique, but spending time in many different fishing environments or places of heritage enables people to realise the interdependence and influences one environment has upon another. It is only through this understanding and wider sense of enjoyment comes a much greater appreciation and understanding, advocacy and empathy for protection and conservation of the resource in all its aspects.
Ultimately this ‘impact’ is what I try to create now in my few projects, the readers and visitors to my blog. By facilitating people into a multiplicity of venues, the sanctuary of estuaries, the excitement of rocky shores, the thrill of fast moving, powerful currents, the more likely they are to see and feel the ‘Wexford angling experience’ that I try to create. Not only do I hope that this provides a positive environmental impression and experience of Wexford and indeed Ireland, but it also creates a realisation that even after spending a lifetime of fishing for bass in these venues that you are simply scratching at the surface of the sheer number of methods, techniques and presentations that you could make to catch them. There’s a fine line between selling the fishing and managing your clients realistic expectations.
“EVEN AFTER SPENDING A
LIFETIME OF FISHING FOR BASS IN THESE VENUES YOU REALISE EVENTUALLY THAT YOU
ARE SIMPLY SCRATCHING THE SURFACE OF POSSIBILITY.”
Most seasoned travellers will know that to expect too much is to invite disappointment. “There are not as many fish as I expected”, “The fish are smaller than I expected”, “The weather is different than in my own country”. The weather is the major stage on which all the elements will perform. In Ireland that factor is enough to strike fear into the heart of any guide. It’s simply not possible to plan at times. The seasons of 2007, 2008 and 2009 were extremely difficult for bass fishing. And this is where the paradox lies. Wexford has its unique environments, it has its own sense of itself and it has a superb saltwater sporting fish that performs admirably on fly or lure. But it performs only on the basis of two key elements one which is predictable (the moon) the other (the weather) is not so regular. The portrayal of the fishing and the fishing environment must reflect this performance risk accurately and fairly to visiting anglers.
We all know yes, that at different times bass can be caught with different methods. All anglers have their preferences and the more sporting the method employed the more the weather will impact negatively upon that method. It will force you into circumstances where you need to ‘angle’ much more creatively and efficiently. By combining the environmental impact and the challenges that the weather creates for lure and especially fly-fishing, this fusion of influences must somehow manage to enhance the experience.
In other words, it’s not always easy to come to Wexford to catch bass at the drop of a hat. It can take time and effort, patience and depending on circumstances this could be days, weeks or even years.
When it’s difficult it’s the smaller decisions, the unexpected surprises like the glimpses of fish in a wave, the perfect cast into a gale, the surface strike in pouring rain –moments of genuine satisfaction that make fishing what it is.Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s easy, it’s not! At times the sun shines and every fish is big and silver and each cast produces a miracle. Those are the days that we fish for. But remember too – Wexford and Ireland can be challenging, but they have many different rewards if you know where to look and if you like to discover and learn the best way – personal time invested.
‘AT TIMES THE SUN
DOES SHINE AND EVERY FISH IS BIG
AND SILVER AND EACH CAST
PRODUCES A MIRACLE OR NEARLY AND MEMORIES ARE FOREVER FORGED IN GOOD COMPANY AND SURROUNDINGS.’