Friday, 30 November 2007

Still getting ready...

Work is not allowing me much time to really get everything together for this Seychelles trip next week, but I am flinging things in a bag as and when I think about it. I am seriously excited about going, but there is a lot of work to clear. As I said earlier in the week, this kind of remote, mothership/live aboard trip means we can only take limited gear, so from a photography point of view, this is what I will be taking :
  • two Canon 1D MK11 cameras
  • Canon 16-35mm f2.8L lens
  • Canon 70-200 f4L IS lens
  • undecided at the moment between Canon 15mm fisheye and Canon 24-105 f4L IS lens
  • Canon 580 EX11 Speedlite flashgun
  • Hoya polarising filters for the lenses, plus a back-up one for the 16-35 lens
  • my 10.6 inch Fujitsu laptop - this thing has done fantastically well for me, it is a real workhorse
  • Freecom portable external hard drive
  • Sandisk memory cards, cables, battery charger etc.

I am also going to sneak my new Van Staal reel in to my bag, with a travel-style heavy duty Greys spinning rod and a few lures. At night I can mess about a bit off the boat when we have done the flats fishing, there are always loads of GTs hanging around the boat, and big dogtooth tuna are there as well. If I hook a monster one of these I expect to be smoked !! Last year I had a reel emptied in about five seconds, I have never seen anything like it.

I shot a really good looking winter stillwater trout feature for Trout Fisherman magazine earlier this week. Nick Hart and I managed to get the material we needed before the rain came in. Really lovely little fishery called Valley Springs, and Nick did well to catch a few good conditioned rainbows with the size 10 Stalking Bug you can see in the photo above. The feature will be in Trout Fisherman sometime soon. These smaller stillwaters really make you work as a photographer, for their very nature somewhat limits what you can do creatively, especially when the skies are overcast. But I reckon this kind of shoot sorts the men from the boys !!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Getting ready....

Between frantically checking the edits made to my book and writing/photographing magazine features, I am starting to get ready for a trip back to the Seychelles next week. I reckon the ultra-remote atolls that lie many hundreds of miles away from civilisation offer arguably the best saltwater fishing anywhere on this earth. Nowhere for starters can you sight fish the flats for such insane numbers of big GTs like the one above. I am heading out there for my third trip to photograph this extraordinary fishing. There is only one group of guides that I trust for this "out there" fishing and that is the FlyCastaway guys from South Africa. You can book trips out there through the fly fishing travel company Aardvark McLeod. This kind of fishing is expensive, but what price the best there is ? See a bunch of photos from my recent trips here and here.
What you can carry is limited by various factors - weight restrictions, the sheer physical nature of the fishing (lots of walking and wading in serious heat) and actually photographing on the flats. Being out all day means that I need to carry camera gear plus sufficient water (dehydration is bad news), and changing lenses while wading is really difficult. Using one lens for long periods is a great discipline, but big blue skies usually allow for a lot of wide-angle photography. It is about as exciting as fishing and fishing photography is ever going to get. I spend most of the time on a trip like this in a complete state of excitement and then just collapse on the plane journey home.
All my camera gear for this kind of flats trip goes in a Lowepro DryZone Rover. This is a great bag for walking miles and miles, and it has an inbuilt water bladder system that is invaluable. Polarised sunglasses are essential : use the Maui Jim ones and you will not go far wrong. I am taking the Lagoon model with the HCL lenses, and a spare pair for a backup. I wear all the usual tropical fishing clothing - shirts, shorts, flats boots, neoprene gravel guards, hat etc. I have yet to find a better suncream anywhere than the awesome BullFrog. Annoyingly we can not get it in the UK, so I always pick up a load when I am in the US. I use the factor 36 Quik Gel that remains waterproof for ages. I have never burnt with this stuff once.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Record ray - returned

Huge congratulations to Welsh angler Mark Jones who caught this huge 15lb 11oz small-eyed ray last night - this stunning fish is over the British Record size. I am in awe of Mark for taking the decision to safely return this magnificent fish unharmed. He is a thoroughly nice guy and a very good angler, and I know how much this fish means to him - and I know he does not regret returning the fish one bit. Mark knows what he has accomplished, and a pointless dead fish is not going to prove it any further. Well done Mark, all credit. I wish I had been there to see a fish like this being caught, thanks for letting me use the photo here. Your time for a monster eel at Devil's will come I am sure......
If there is one thing in UK sea fishing that I really despise, it is the killing of fish purely for weighing purposes. I have done it in the past, I am sure we have all done it, but it is a farce and does our great sport no good at all. The sooner all UK sea anglers wise up to this the better. There is nothing wrong with taking the odd fish to eat, but anybody who takes fish purely for weighing is in my mind doing something that no angler can ever justify.
Well done Mark, great fish, and hats off to you for putting it back. Bet it was cold out on those rocks last night !!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Spend time looking

I've always really liked this photo, and while it might not be much more than a pretty "angler standing in good light overlooking a beautiful coastline" kind of shot, to me it makes a valid point - all of us would be more successful in our fishing is we thought more about where the fish might actually be. I could bang on about watercraft until the end of time, but in my mind it is about the single most important element to a lot of fishing.
My mate Del rang me from his home in the stunning Isles of Scilly last night, to tell me that he is seeing stacks of big mullet around. It always amazes me that so few sea anglers head over there to fish, because it can be awesome. Such a great place, so many marks to fish and usually a stack of fish to catch, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. I fully expect Del to land a mullet over 10lbs over there sometime fairly soon. What about this winter ?

Monday, 19 November 2007

Stormy skies.....

I shot this photo earlier in the year, in June to be precise, but at the time I thought it looked far more like winter than summer - but then we did have the most dire weather for much of what might loosely described as "summer". It reminds me a bit of the weather at the moment, as winter tries to really set in, but autumn does not really want to budge. North Cornwall is a stunning part of the world, indeed I have spent holidays close to Trevose Head (in the background) all my life and I hope that my two young girls grow up to love it as much as I do. Who knows, they might even like fishing !!
There is a nice feature of mine out in Sea Angler magazine, about mullet fishing on Plymouth breakwater with some very good local anglers. Look right at the end of the magazine for the article. And it was a sunny day as well. Mullet are awesome fish, indeed I hope to manage a quick trip over to the channel island of Alderney in January if time and weather allows. The islands of Sark and Alderney have some of the best mullet fishing going, and the depths of winter are prime time for the big fish. Wrap up warm, think out of the box, and who knows what you'll hook.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Winter trout fishing

These increasingly cold days and nights might not give you cause for thinking much about trout fishing, but there are many smaller stillwaters that stay open right through the winter. I shot a nice feature with Nick Hart late last week on a stillwater near to Honiton, called Hollies Farm trout fishery - Nick caught some good fish in tricky conditions, and whilst these stillwaters are never going to rival pretty rivers and big lakes, they do keep the fly guys fishing. Above is one of the rainbows that Nick landed.
Nearing the end of this fishing book that I am working on, full details to follow in due course. It is going to look fantastic when it hits the shelves. Might even get a day off to go fishing when it is finished !!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Fish on Friday

I watched that new Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (is this the right spelling ?) programme last night and it was great fun to see guys out sea fishing and having such fun at the same time. Alderney and Guernsey are great places to go and fish, indeed I am always a little surprised that more anglers do not visit the Channel Islands. Did you see those tide rips last night ? Believe me, the waters over there are very exciting to fish...........I am thinking about a few trips back over there myself next year, principally for the winter mullet in Alderney and then some bass plugging later on.
Have a look in the latest issue of Trout Fisherman, I have a really nice saltwater fly fishing feature in there on the outstanding bonefishing at Los Roques. Look at the back of the mag, and the words are by Nick Hart. We went there earlier this year through the excellent Aardvark McLeod fly fishing travel company and I would advise you to get yourself out to Los Roques as soon as you can if bonefish are your thing. It is a perfect escape from a UK winter !!
My mate Graham Hill is the guy above with the bass, taken on a lure over in Ireland. All our fish were released, in fact they always are. He has recently told me that good numbers of cod are turning up and he has had a load to just under 10lbs. I feel a return trip is in order when I have completed work on this book.
There is an awesome new metal CD you have got to listen to - by a Ukrainian band called Drudkh, their new album is called Estrangement, and you can buy it here. This band is just fantastic.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

My apologies......

I am sorry to the people who have been emailing me through my website and have not been getting a reply from me - I do not like being unable to reply, but the simple fact is that I am just completely snowed under with working on a fishing book this end and I have very little time. Very close to deadlines and all my current efforts have to go on this (monster) project - I will give some proper details of this book in due course, it is going to look very cool indeed.
Above is a shot of my mate Graham plugging for bass the other week in Ireland - good conditions, perfect to get the 16-35 lens on and really get close in amongst the crashing water. I love this kind of fishing and photography, it is such fun to be a part of. The camera gear gets a bit of a soaking from time to time, but the pro Canon gear is as tough as it comes (touch wood !!). But for some reason we caught no bass that afternoon, when everything looked so likes to bite you in the behind sometimes, to remind you who is the boss. Nature is never going to be beaten.
Anyway, back to the book, when really I just want to go fishing.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

A metal tragedy....

I was really sad to read that one of the most talented drummers in the extreme metal scene has just died - Witold 'Vitek' Kieltyka of the awesome Polish death metal band Decapitated was only 23 years old and tragically died after sustaining massive head injuries from a tour bus crash in Russia. Far too young.
Go and listen to their latest album "Organic Hallucinations" to see just how supremely talented this guy was.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Tight Lines

Just off to London to do the Tight Lines programme for Sky Sports.............thought you might like to see a good looking bass to get you through a Friday. Nailed this fish on the Maria Chase BW holographic silver lure, it is a killer of a plug and should be in everybody's tackle box. This was the fish that I nearly got washed off a rock for - was it worth it ? What do you think !!! Naturally the fish went back safely.
And what a joy it was to have a fully waterproof fixed spool reel to go bass fishing with. Now I can use my plugging rod as a wading staff without fear of trashing my reel. Expensive it might be, but you get what you pay for - the Van Staal VSB150 (silver colour) that I bought out in Denver really was all that I hoped it would be. Normally fishing tackle is no more than a necessary tool to me, but this reel is a serious bit of kit that I hope will last me for a lifetime of bassing, plus some trips overseas to play with bad boys like GTs, snappers and tuna. For bass fishing it is loaded up with 30lb Sufix Performance Braid and it casts like a dream - not one wind knot.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Classic surf fishing

There is something quite magical about standing thigh deep in the tumbling surf and fishing for bass. If plugging is the modern method, then touch ledgering in amongst the breakers is about as classical and traditional as our sea fishing gets - and I love it. Those bass have this incredible ability to home in on your baits right amongst the turbulent water and that bite is always unmistakable Don't get me wrong, we all miss a few because we get terribly overexcited, but the beauty of this fishing is in its simplicity. The real trick is reading the water and working out where to put your bait.
I have been using the Greys BZe 3-5oz rod for a couple of years now and I have to admit to seriously liking it for this kind of fishing. A 4oz plain lead and a good sized crab bait are perfect to get this rod working properly. As you can see, breathable chest waders are essential for bass fishing, whether in the surf or plugging from the rocks, and we used the new Greys G-series ones to great effect over in Ireland. Fairly cheap and they seem to be rugged enough to cope with it all.
A load of photographs from my recent Canada trip have been loaded onto my website, check them out here. Hover your cursor over the small thumbnail and a larger one will appear as if by magic !! This was one of the most special trips I have ever done, and there is also a load of stuff over at Aardvark McLeod's website on what to do, where to go and how. Get yourself out there, it really is that good. Talk to Pete, Charlotte or Jamie and they will get it moving.
I am off to London tomorrow to appear on the Sky Sports programme Tight Lines - done it a few times before and it is always a blast. The host Keith Arthur has a fishing encyclopedia in his head, he seriously knows his stuff and is always cool to talk to. Click here for transmission times.