Friday, 28 December 2007

My review of 2007

2007 - what a year. Where on earth has it gone ? Does time go faster as you get older, or do we remember less and less ? Whatever happens, working in the world of recreational fishing still proves to be a dream come true. My work takes me all around the world for photographic, filming, writing and consultancy purposes, but wherever I go and whatever I see, still I love my home fishing. Give me a plugging rod and a lively sea and I am a happy man. How could anybody ever tire of being around our bass ? Meeting all kinds of people involved in fishing is always a thrill for me, and working with some hugely talented anglers is just plain awesome.
Below is about the most impressive fish I have seen this year - South African fly fisherman Rob Lewis with an estimated 40lb bumphead parrotfish taken on a turtle grass flat on the remote Seychelles atoll of Providence. I am still sure that I am the first professional fishing photographer to have witnessed and photographed these incredible fish being sight fished to and caught on the flats, on the fly - what a thing to see, and they have been catching these now on a fairly regular basis up to around 70lbs !! Science seems to say that this should not be happening, but it is. The South African guiding company FlyCastaway are the guys you need to fish with - book a trip through Aardvark McLeod. There are plenty of photographs all over my website, click here to see.
My favourite bit of kit that I bought this year was this outrageous looking fixed spool (spinning) reel pictured below - a Van Staal VSB150. Sealed, waterproof, horribly strong and just about perfect for so much of my fishing. My first fish on it was an Irish bass of about 6lbs. I caught a few GTs off the back of the boat in the Seychelles the other day, and the biggest perhaps was close to 50lbs - the reel was impeccable throughout. I have no affiliation with Van Staal, but I am more than happy to recommend a quality product. If you are trashing your fixed spool reels because you keep getting them soaking wet, then this reel is for you.

Being a complete music freak, how could I not tell you what I believe was the premier extreme metal release of the year ? A daft name for a band I know, but the album Theogonia (cover below) by the Greek group Rotting Christ was for me my number 1 release of the year. I have played this CD so many times that I can air drum to the whole thing !! It is awesome. There was stacks of good metal released this year and I look forward to spending too much money again next year on new CDs.

Work related travel has taken me to some very cool places this year - Venezuela, Florida, Colorado, Norway, Seychelles (twice), Ireland, and Canada. Nothing to me beats seeing different parts of the world, for fishing is a truly global sport. I have shot sea fishing, freshwater fishing and plenty of fly fishing, but still to me fishing is simply fishing, whatever way you choose to do it. Every day I photograph fishing is special in its own way, whether home or abroad. I don't really care if fish are big or small - as long as it looks good and the people involved are having a good time, that is all I want to see. Photographing fishing is my obsession and I have some exciting stuff lined up for next year. Watch this space to keep up to date with what is going on. There will be a few surprises I can guarantee you................
But the biggest single thing work wise for me this year was signing on to do a fishing book for the worldwide publishing house Dorling Kindersley, otherwise known as DK. It was a monumental project that took over my life for close to six months, but the results are worth it - see here for a look at the cover, and then click here to pre-order it. It is my second book for DK and I am really proud of what has been achieved. I passionately believe that the sport of fishing is an entirely logical and simple thing to do, and the flow of the book corresponds to my beliefs. Plus there are a stack of very cool fishing photos in there as well !!
Check out the DVD of my brothers' feature film, in shops now. Click here to buy the DVD of their awesome film "Rise of the Footsoldier". It is a big release and there is an excellent "making of" on the second disk. They are busy writing a new script with a view to filming next year.
On a more personal note, I am going to do all I can to give my family more of my time, for the book took up too much of it. Work is important of course, but nothing will ever beat spending time with my wife, two young daughters and of course, my sheepdog Jess.
A very Happy New Year to all of you, and may 2008 be a good one for all the right reasons.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Happy Christmas

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and New Year, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. 2007 has been an awesome year here, and I hope it has been for you - here's to 2008. Always good to be busy with work, but next year I am determined to actually do more fishing myself.
I am hearing about some good fish around the south west - masses of big winter flounder, with plenty topping 3lbs, plus a few big cod from the Tamar, including one of over 22lbs the other night. The Tamar is something else - a place that can drive you mad over time with its many different moods, but you know that at any moment it could throw up a fish of a lifetime. Put some proper time in and next time it could be you landing a fish like this.
Above is a photo of top South African rock and surf angler John Crabb pushing his boss Gerhard Laubscher in at the end of our trip the other day. John is an awesome guide for FlyCastaway, plus you would not believe the fish he catches off the South African coastline, indeed we have made plans to meet up later in 2008 and fish/photograph together - watch this space. They catch monsters from the shore, including all kinds of sharks, sand sharks, kob, garrick, huge GTs, various reef species, plus monster honeycomb rays. Bring it on !!
Happy Christmas. I will post more in the New Year.........

Friday, 21 December 2007

Home sweet home.....

These remote atoll trips involve living on a mothership, and each day tenders run you to the nearby flats for the fishing - the boat we stayed on is anchored here just off Assumption atoll, where we picked up the boat and steamed overnight to Cosmoledo. I really like the whole dynamic of a trip like this. Assumption has a landing strip, hence us flying there from Mahe, and the fishing is fantastic - around the boat were masses of different fish, and I saw a manta ray swim past. Look how close we are to the shore !! GTs flock to the boat at night and spend much of the time smashing into hapless bait fish - the aggression levels of these fish is truly amazing. Anglers have caught sailfish, wahoo, GTs, yellowfin tuna, dogtooth tuna and bonefish around Assumption before even heading over to Cosmoledo. To spend time around such pristine waters is wildly exciting and every day I have to pinch myself that my job enables me to do things like this. I'll happily photograph most kinds of fishing in most kinds of places, but to walk on wild flats with perfect weather is something else entirely. And to see so many fish around is like being in your own private aquarium.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

The milkfish man

The milkfish is a quite extraordinary flats fishing quarry, but their gentle looking nature belies a ferocious turn of speed when hooked. Arno Matthee (pictured above, one of the FlyCastaway guys, without doubt the most skilled and professional guiding outfit I have come across) is the guy who is credited with working out how to successfully catch milkfish on the fly, indeed the very fly has been generously named after him. Arno's Milky Dream is THE milkfish fly. You can not believe how hard these milkfish fight - Arno hooked this one on his first cast at a pod of feeding fish, but even then it took all his skill and perseverance to land it on a 10 weight fly outfit. The remote Seychelles atolls are among the few places on earth where you can target big, flats-based milkfish on the fly. FlyCastaway have been running another mothership operation over on Providence, a huge, virtually unfished atoll I have visited a couple of times - click here for photos. We crossed over with the Providence guides back in Mahe on our way home, and the stories were incredible - monster bonefish and GTs, plus good numbers of bumphead parrotfish to over 70lbs on the fly, on the flats !! I photographed these fish earlier in the year, but the guys are finding some really big fish and I was told that sometimes these extraordinary fish will poke their strange heads out of the water to take a look at you. They do take flies, so get yourself out there as soon as you can. This is cutting edge fly fishing. Speak to Pete at Aardvark McLeod and he will sort you out a trip.
Not long until Christmas now - where has 2007 gone ? I am really looking forward to taking some time off with my family, and then getting my head down to make 2008 an even better and more exciting year. Working in fishing for me is a dream come true, but most anglers would not believe what it takes to make it work.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

GT fever.....

Surely the most aggressive flats-based fish there is, the GT defies belief - to watch a 60lb plus predator rush at a fly with such aggression that half its back comes out of the water on the charge gets me very single time. Arno Matthee nailed this big GT on the first day of the trip, using a 12 weight outfit. I also saw my first big tiger shark later on that day, swimming close to us in a small depression on the flat. These remote atolls are truly wild places. Not much comes close to this Seychelles fishing.

We had perfect weather every single day, and the guys caught a stack of fish. I love it when the sun gets really high and bright, illuminating the clouds with a slight tinge of pink. I shot virtually the whole week with my 16-35 lens and a polarising filter - what a treat. I am in the middle of processing the shoot at the moment, and I will post more photos here in due course.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Awesome Seychelles

I have just got back from another mind-blowing trip to the remote Seychelles atoll of Cosmoledo - my third time out to this part of the world, and each time I am totally blown away by the insane fishing and the pristine nature of this these unique environments. A hard frost at Heathrow airport was a hell of a shock to arrive back to - and I know your hearts bleed for me !! We had perfect weather the whole time and I got some seriously cool photos.
Over the next few days I will tell you more about the trip, but in the meantime, above is a photos of one of the world's truly great fly fishing quarries - the milkfish. These fish fight so hard you would not believe, and they are seriously tough to hook, but what magnificent fish to see. There were huge GTs, bonefish and milkfish caught on the flats during the week we were there (plus many other species), and if you can you owe it to yourself to fish these pristine waters for yourself. The FlyCastaway guides are the best in the world, and you can book a trip there through Aardvark McLeod. The remote atolls offer arguably the finest saltwater fly fishing on this earth.

Monday, 3 December 2007

My new fishing book

Well here it is, the front cover to my new book that comes out around April next year. I have found a link to it already online, click here. This has been the single biggest project I have ever undertaken in my life and I have basically buried myself away for the last five months to work on it. Apart from the odd photography trip overseas and of course keeping up with my magazine and consultancy work, this book project has had a hold of me for nearly half of this year. It is amazing to see a thing like this come to life as your words and photos are made into virtual pages. Technology allowed me to photograph various last minute things we needed for the book when I was out in Canada, and then upload the required photos direct from my laptop when still on location. In fact I do not believe that such a visual book like this would have been possible without digital photography and high speed internet. I am hugely proud of the finished book and I am really looking forward to seeing it in print next year.
Here is what Amazon says about my new book : "This title covers everything you ever wanted to know about fishing: from tackle, baits, lures, species and techniques, to where to fish. Whether you're a newcomer to fishing, or an experienced angler brushing up your skills, this is your perfect companion to every aspect of the sport. Pick up essential techniques on how to cast, play and land your catch whether you're course fishing for trout, or landing marlin on the open sea. Get yourself properly equipped following expert advice on rods, reels, lines, baits, lures, as well as clothing and accessories. Plus, discover the best places to go fishing with a superb directory of marine and freshwater species covering where you can find them across the world. This is an exciting addition to "Eyewitness Companions"; the visual reference series covering favourite hobbies and pastimes from whisky and opera to horse riding."
Anyway, now I can get on with packing for my Seychelles trip. On Wednesday I fly to Paris and then connect straight down to Mahe, arriving on Thursday morning. Then on Friday we fly out to the middle of nowhere, to pick up the boat that will be our home for a week around the mighty Cosmoledo atoll. This trip could not be better timed for me - as I sign off the book, I can then head straight off to paradise to photograph the most awesome fishing on this earth. I am dreaming of those huge blue skies that work so well with wide angle photography, and of course, the incredible fish that the guys catch down there. Photographing with the FlyCastaway guides and their clients is just out of this world.
There will be no updates to this blog until I get back, for we are essentially fishing and photographing off the edge of the world. Internet access does not happen where we are heading !! I will start posting some photos and stories from the trip from 16th December. In the meantime, take a good look around my website at the masses of photos and photo essays.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Proper storm

As I am doing some work here, it is raging outside with the first proper storm of the autumn (or is it now winter ?). These conditions are always impressive to witness, so above is a photo from the north coast of Cornwall, taken over the last New Year. If these aren't cod conditions, then I don't know what is !! We used to bang loads of codling out when it was like this, mainly from Newquay headland and the Camel estuary. I never had anything very big, but it was great fun. If you are out fishing, play it safe.
Best of luck today to the Plymouth anglers fishing in Clive's annual Christmas flounder competition, hope you've got the waterproofs packed. I am going to go and shoot some flounder fishing when I am back from the Seychelles - it is always really pretty when you get clear, icy conditions. These fish are a complete cult thing down here in the south west.