Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The king of fish

As my mate Graham Hill calls them, bass surely are the king of our European sea fish - what could be more impressive than this spiked predator ? I am in love with these fish, partly because I so enjoy the light tackle methods we use to fish for them, and partly because it feels to me to be such a pure form of fishing. No stupid rigs that take a day to tie, no heavy rods and reels and no crowds of anglers if you go to the right places. Standing waist deep in the surf and touch ledgering or perched precariously on some jagged rock edge casting lures, fishing for bass is simply wonderful. This fine fish was taken on a crab bait in south east Ireland last week, when Graham and I yet again had the coastline virtually to ourselves. If I had the money I would buy a house in this part of Ireland, for the fishing is sublime, and I do not say that lightly. Please give me more time to spend over there, but life has a habit of getting in the way of one's fishing does it not ? Already plotting my return trip..........
If black metal is your thing, check out the new CD from the Hungarian band Sear Bliss, called The Arcane Odyssey, it is outstanding. Their last album was immense, but this just might top it. Metal and bassing, what more does one need ?

Sunday, 28 October 2007

The killer lure.....

We managed a good plugging session yesterday before the worst of the weather came in and forced us off the rocks - I nearly got washed off a rock into the bargain, but when there are fish around you are naturally going to push it a bit to get at them. Managed a nice bass of about 6lbs on the killer lure that always seems to work for bass - the Maria Chase BW in holographic silver colour (get them here). You need to work it really fast to get it moving correctly, but I have yet to see this innocuous looking lure fail, it really seems to be that good. They are not very expensive either and if you go plugging with 30lb braid on your reel then you can wrench the lures out of most snags anyway. Awesome fish, it hit me about ten yards off my rod tip, I saw it come out the weed and smash into my lure just so hard - yet again it has been confirmed to me just how good the shore fishing in Ireland is and I am going to keep coming back as much as time allows. The bass fishing is about as good as it is anywhere I have ever heard of.
Will post some photos when I get home, I am working on a different laptop out here and I can not process my RAW files into a format that I can put up here.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Plenty of bass.

I can't put any photos up, will do when I get home, but as always it seems, the bass fishing here in SE Ireland is fantastic - first cast with a crab bait gave a nice fish on a stunning mark. Plenty more fish to baits and lures, weather is perfect at the moment, but due to change. Got some very cool photos, these fish are just in perfect condition.
Will post more when time allows...........fish to catch !!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Off to Ireland....

All packed and ready to head over to south east Ireland today. I am really looking forward to this trip, it is always good to see some decent bass fishing and going to Ireland is always very special. Have not seen my mate Graham for a while (the guy on the right above), so it will be a blast to fish and photograph together for a few days. Apart from the bass, we might have a crack at some other species like cod, flounder etc. It is such a pretty coastline and I am sure that like always, we will see no other anglers all the time we are out fishing. Anybody who is really into their shore fishing owes it to themselves to check out the fishing in Ireland - there is plenty of info on my website, access it here.
Taking over a few bits and pieces to try, including my new Van Staal fixed spool reel that I picked up in Denver a few weeks ago. I did not mean to buy it, but it was so hard to resist - I got one of the VSB series in the silver colour. For ages I have been wanting a full waterproof fixed spool reel that does not mind being drowned when out bass fishing, and also being taken for the odd swim when fishing abroad. The reel I have got is for my bass fishing really, but it is tough enough to fish for GTs etc. with big poppers. There are plenty of great fixed spool reels on the market today, especially from Shimano, but not many take well to being drowned. I have also got a brand new headlamp to try that I got from Veals Mail Order. It looks fantastic - light, very powerful and unobtrusive. It is called the Silva LX 5 watt.
Will try and update this blog out there, but apologies in advance if it is not possible. This kind of trip is a big part of my job - heading out somewhere to take photos of good looking fishing that then form part of various magazine features that I produce, and I love it. Some people out there might know me from the TV programmes that I make, but the bulk of my work in fishing is actually photographing and writing about it.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Last minute, very affordable Florida fishing deal....

A friend who runs a guiding operation down in the Florida Keys has just emailed me to say that due to a last minute cancellation they have a very cheap week's fishing on offer - B&B, boat, guide, free car hire, all the fishing you could want etc. Great time of year for sharks, sailfish, tuna, cobia etc. Click here, or email Rodney for further details. I have fished with Rodney a few times now and will be back out there next year - a thoroughly nice guy and he really knows his fishing out there. The Keys are plain awesome !! (and very cheap and easy to get to, direct flights to Miami all the time, stock up on cheap fishing gear while you are out there as well)
Gutted about the rugby, but we have to be honest and admit that the best team won - sure that when I am living on a mother ship this December with a bunch of South Africans, hundreds of miles from the Seychelles, that they are going to give me a little bit of grief about the great win. Keep the World Cup warm boys, it's coming home in 2011..........
And of course, a huge congratulations to Nick and Sue Hart on the arrival of their baby girl.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

THE day is here.........

I still can not really believe that we are going to play in the final of the Rugby World Cup tonight, but the big day is finally here - so hoping that England can go on and win it for second time in a row. Imagine what kind of achievement what would be. Trying to also get organised for my photo trip to Ireland, but how can I possibly concentrate properly with all this rugby excitement going on today ?
Enjoy the game, let's hope we beat South Africa - I have a sneaking suspicion that the comeback story has one final chapter to play tonight and that Vickery will be lifting that trophy triumphantly. I know some guys who are actually going fishing tonight in the Plymouth Shore League competition - how on earth could the organisers have possibly planned for it to run this weekend ? Mad !!!
Not sure if the nerves can hold out...........

Thursday, 18 October 2007

It's getting very close.......

THE FINAL is getting very close now, hard to concentrate on much with all the building excitement going on. The 2003 final was emotional enough, so what is this one going to be like if we win ? (be confident, WHEN we win more like). Bring on Saturday evening.........
Also starting to get ready for my trip over to SE Ireland, leaving next Tuesday, will get the Rosslare-Fishguard Stena Line ferry and then drive to a hotel near to a good friend of mine. For four days I will get the chance to fish and photograph this wonderful part of Ireland again, and all recent reports are of some outstanding bass fishing, especially to surface poppers (the large blue backed Yo-Zuri Mag Popper lures are working well, as well as the tried and trusted holographic silver Maria Chase BW ones, get them here). No doubt the fish will also take crab baits at a few quiet marks that nobody else seems to ever fish. The west coast of Ireland is staggeringly beautiful, but most people just do not realise that they are leaving behind some of the finest bass fishing in Europe.
Trout Fisherman magazine has published a good looking couple of features this month that use my photos and Nick Hart's excellent words. One on casting and one on our recent monster coalfish adventure over to Norway, see here for some photos. That fishing was off the scale.
As autumn is very much on its way, here is a classic, "moody" steelhead fishing shot from a couple of weeks ago in the wilds of British Columbia. Mountains, autumn colours, mist, torrential rain, cold water and big wildlife - what more could one ask for ? (the angler in the photo has lost all feeling in his feet, but that's fishing)

Monday, 15 October 2007

Bring on THE FINAL

Much as I love fishing, the biggest thing this week is without doubt the monster game coming up on Saturday evening. Even if 20lb cod were crawling up the line and asking to be caught, nothing would give me cause to miss watching the biggest rugby match since the epic 2003 game. I simply can not believe that we are in the final again, never thought I would get back from Canada and be able to watch England in the semi-final, let alone THE FINAL. It is going to get rather emotional !!!! All credit to the players, to come back from where they have been is extraordinary - not sure if I can keep a lid on my high state of excitement this end. All credit to South Africa, they played a good game to reach the final, I thought that is where they would be at the start of the tournament. Rest assured that plenty of wind-up emails and texts are winging their way between me and the guys I know down there through fishing. May the best team win - England of course. On the fishing front, it really makes me happy to hear of some good early season cod fishing from the huge Chesil Beach; that is great news that a few fish are showing up. Hopefully this might give rise to a better winter's cod fishing throughout the UK - it can not get much worse than last winter.
In the middle of processing a stack of photos from Canada and here is one that I think sums up the steelhead fishing - imposing, snow-capped mountains, autumn colours, angler in the river fishing with a double-handed fly rod, waiting for one of the world's great fish to hit. Here for a couple of weeks and then a quick trip over to SE Ireland to go bass fishing and photographing on those big spring tides at the end of this month. Click here for some photos from previous trips.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

About as good as it gets

What a way to end the trip - surely one of the best steelhead fishing days that anybody could hope to experience. We were taken miles up an old logging trail and then hiked up and down a seriously brutal river valley two times to access a bunch of different pools and runs. And the fishing was just epic - steelhead up to 20lbs were landed from the most stunning, wild stretch of river that I am guessing is hardly ever fished due to the sheer physical effort required to get in there. The last fish of the trip fell to Pete and this 16lb steelhead really took off down the river, with Pete and our guide Dustin in hot pursuit. At one point Dustin had to literally grab Pete as they waded across a deep bit of the river to maintain contact with the fish. Trying to keep in touch with the camera was somewhat interesting, but we got it nailed. What a stunning fish to finish this trip on.
British Columbia has totally blown me away, as indeed did the east coast of Canada. It was more than I could have wished for before we set off and I am returning home with a stack of photos that I am confident do some kind of justice to the place. You owe it to yourself to come out here sometime soon and check out the east coast sight fishing for Atlantic salmon, and of course, this epic steelhead fishing amongst some of the most extraordinary landscapes you can possibly imagine. Get in touch with Pete McLeod at Aardvark McLeod and talk to him about some far out fly fishing trips as soon as you can.
We have had all kinds of weather out here, from a couple of relatively warm days on the east coast to some seriously cold and wet days out here in BC, plus everything in between. Decent wet weather gear and breathable chest waders are totally invaluable for this fishing, in fact I would say that they are more important than the gear you choose to fish with. I am really pleased that my Hardy EWS waders and wading boots have coped admirably with the living hell that I have put them through, and my Greys GRXi wading jacket has been the star of the show through some rather "interesting" rain !!
Anyway, time to pack the gear up now and get ready for the long journey home, arriving back at Heathrow midday on Thursday. Can't wait to see my wife and two girls, plus of course I am getting rather excited about England v France on Saturday. Bring it on.......

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Chrome coho

Sunday was without doubt the wettest day I have ever fished or photographed, in fact I had no idea that a sky could hold that much rain. We went up the stunning Kasiks river in a jet boat to fish for coho salmon, but with the high river levels, the fishing was pretty tough. The incredible scenery more than made up for it though, with huge snow-clad cliffs and mountains plunging right down to the river. Pete had this nice, fresh coho salmon on an #8 fly rod and it gave him a hell of a scrap in the fast water. Have a look at the rain coming down and you will see how glad I am that I had invested in a proper waterproof cover for my camera.
One more day's fishing left out here for Pete and I and then it's back to the UK, in time for the England v France rugby at the weekend. This BC trip has been quite something and I am already working out when to come back - what a country.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

End of the road - next stop Alaska

We went looking for a few coho salmon today, on the way down to Terrace - wound up in a small town called Stewart, right next to the Alaskan border. We saw a few black bears feeding on the side of the road as well which was seriously cool. We fished the freezing cold Bear river for a few hours. Pete managed to catch this pretty coho salmon on the edge of a good looking run, stripping the fly back right to the rod tip.
Currently here in Terrace and it is raining seriously hard, but hopefully it is going to stop and then tomorrow morning we can go chasing the steelhead and coho on the local rivers. A few more days here in Canada and then it's back home, with a stack of photos of some of the best looking fishing on earth. BC has blown me away, and we still have three more days of fishing and photography left.
And on the rugby front, wow !!!!! I am stunned that England beat Australia, and perhaps even more stunned that France turned over the All Blacks..................ouch, that must have hurt. Now it seems that the World Cup has suddenly opened right up. Going to be back home for the semi-finals and the final and I can't wait to see my family.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

The mighty steelhead

What a place - yesterday we had incredible blue skies and I was able to shoot with the snow-capped mountains surrounding us, just like I had always imagined BC to look like. Today we had cold, driving rain, howling winds and leaden skies all day, but this is what autumn steelhead fishing is all about. Saw a nice couple of fish today, including this stunner - the steelhead is a mighty fish, and I am fast learning why these creatures attract such die-hard dedication amongst fly fishermen. Today was a day for shooting with a fairly long lens and keeping nice and tight against the trees and mountains, but I managed to get some very cool, moody shots of the guys fishing. Had to really bump the ISO up at times to get usable speeds, but that is why digital is so brilliant for shooting fishing. It gives me complete control when I am battling the elements like I was today - with my waterproof cover for the camera and lens I was able to shoot all day without any great hassle.
We are moving on down to Terrace tomorrow to fish and photograph some different rivers for steelhead, and on the way we are going to try to fish the Bear river around Stewart for some coho salmon. Apparently it is a stunning area, but then it all seems like that around here - I am already planning a return trip, it really is that special. Going to look into photographing the fly fishing for the big chinook salmon that run the rivers in summer.
Too much to do, too little time in which to achieve it............

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Truly wild - British Columbia

We are deep into the wilds of British Columbia, about four hours north of Smithers, next stop the Alaskan border. On the drive up here we saw a black bear on the road, and on the way to fishing this morning we saw a few wolves crossing in front of us. The fishing guides all carry high-powered pepper spray to ward of "interested" bears !! This is how I imagined this place would be, and it is a total dream to be here photographing and fishing.....so few people, such a pristine environment and some of the most incredible scenery I have ever seen.
Wading big rivers for the magnificent steelhead and using big, graceful, double-handed fly rods is just awesome - put it with the kind of backdrop you see above and you will see why a place like this is so exciting to a fishing photographer. I am so excited all the time that I can hardly sleep. Moody light, snow-capped peaks, autumn (fall) colours on the trees and Spey casting - does it get any better ? I keep thinking that a great big grizzly bear is going to come and check me out, because they have seen a few recently, and the advice is to make as much noise as possible and under no circumstances should we run away. Easier said than done !! This steelhead fishing is just off the scale and I can't really believe that I am in such a special part of the world for my work. Much as I love the UK, it is quite something to fish and photograph in a a place that is so truly wild and under-populated.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Stunning fish

I thought you might like to see this awesome fish - Pete McLeod of Aardvark McLeod with a pristine Atlantic salmon. Shooting with a wide lens in a stunning river location like this was just incredible, especially when you can see the fish stacked up in the water. Anybody with any interest in salmon fishing really should check out this clear river, sight fishing on the Gaspe peninsula. Talk to Pete about it, I know he is really excited about offering this unique fishing to his clients.
We had a hell of a travel day yesterday - flew from Gaspe to Montreal, via Quebec, then Montreal to Vancouver, right across Canada, and finally from Vancouver up to Smithers. We are now about to drive another 200 miles further north to check out some steelhead fishing in the true wilds of British Columbia. There is snow forecast, plus very recent reports are of some excellent fishing, with plenty of fish coming into the various river systems. Local advice is to keep an eye out for grizzly bears. I have been looking forward to photographing steelhead fishing in the wilds of BC for many years now, so it is somewhat hard to contain my excitement !! Sleep is not really an option.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Is this unique salmon fishing ?

Look closely at the bottom of this photo - the black shapes you can see in the water are a load of Atlantic salmon stacked up on La Grande Riviere in eastern Canada. Sight fishing to these salmon is simply incredible and unlike anything I have seen in freshwater fishing. We went on a huge walk yesterday, miles down the Pabos North river, to fly fish a virtually virgin pool that was stacked up with some really big salmon. Pete nailed a couple of smaller ones on small wet flies, but I watched as a monster, surely 30lb salmon charged across the pool to hit the fly, only to turn away at the last moment. This is wild fishing, got some awesome photos and some unique material. There was a really hard frost on the ground when we left Gaspe this morning - it will not be long there until all the rivers and even parts of the sea freeze over. -20C is a very regular thing there in winter, stacks of snow as well. But even they talk of their weather changing from year to year.......
Currently sitting in Montreal airport, waiting for a connecting flight to take us across Canada to Vancouver, and then up to Smithers in the wilds of British Columbia - it is now steelhead time, and I really can not wait to photograph this awesome looking fly fishing. Not sure about internet connection where we are headed, but I will update this blog if at all possible.