Monday, 31 March 2008

A proper popper

  • With the bass season nearly upon us, I wanted to talk about what I believe is one of the best poppers in the business. For those of you who don't know, a popper is a lure that is purposefully designed to be fished on the surface - as you retrieve it, the lure will literally "spit" water (or "pop") in a way that really turns predatory fish on.

  • There are various good poppers that can work well for our bass fishing here in the UK, including the Storm Chug Bug, the Yo-Zuri Mag Popper, the Daiwa Saltiga Popper and the Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper. You can get these lures here. No doubt there are a stack more that catch bass as well.....

  • But there is one popper that you will rarely hear about over here in the UK, but in my mind it is the best of the lot - check out the Halco poppers here. These awesome lures come from Australia, and it was a friend of mine who first put me onto them. James kindly brought me one back from Oz when he was over there fishing, and from that point on, Halco Roosta Poppers have always had a place in my tackle box, both for bass fishing and for fishing overseas.

  • Some poppers you fish with will very occasonally turn over in flight and the treble hooks will tangle up, meaning the lure does not fish properly until you untangle it. Sometimes they tangle up when they hit the water it's just the nature of this kind of lure. But I can safely say that I have never had a Halco lure tangle up on me, meaning that every single cast you make sees your popper working properly.

  • The amount of water that these poppers chuck out is incredible. There are a load of tips for fishing them properly, click here to see them. With the great surface fishing they seem to have all over Australia, I take their advice on how to fish these lures very seriously.

  • Above is a photo my brother Julian holding a nice barracuda I caught out in the Bahamas on a Halco Roosta popper, the original one in fact that James first brought back for me. Note the somewhat chewed popper in the fish's jaws. I swam out to a reef to nail that fish, and then when I had played it out I swam back to shore, with the rod in my teeth and trailing the fish behind me, to ask my brother to hold the fish for a photograph. But when a big shark swam underneath me as I made my way back to shore, I did have second thoughts. Check out a load more photos here.

  • These Halco poppers cast like bullets, in fact I have never come across a popper that casts so well. Lures like the Storm Chug Bug might catch bass, but nobody could ever say it goes out there that well. Use the 105 size Halco Roosta Popper and you will be able to cover a load more ground very efficiently.

  • But the problem is that I don't know of anywhere in the UK that imports these lures, so you will need to check out various Australian tackle shops online, or contact Halco direct and ask them. It is really worth tracking these poppers down.

  • The larger 135 size is a killer for fishing overseas, for species such as jacks, GTs and big golden dorado. The White Redhead 135 worked really well for me out in Argentina the other day, until that is a couple of really big fish decided to smash me up and steal my beloved lures from me. Look carefully through these photos here and you might spot the lure in action.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Windy weekend

  • Is it just me or we having an awful lot of windy days this year ? Don't get me wrong, a bit of breeze can be great for some kinds of fishing, but you really have to feel for our professional charter fishing fleets who are very badly affected by strong winds. A good friend of mine is about the nicest charter skipper you could ever hope to meet, plus he catches a stack of good fish into the bargain, and I know he's tearing his hair out when his boat is tied up. You owe it to yourself to come fishing with Malcolm Jones who operates his boat Sea Angler II out my home port of Plymouth. Contact Malcolm here. He always goes out his way to give his clients the best day's fishing possible.

  • And guess what ? The forecast for the weekend down here is for very strong winds, plenty of rain and a little bit of sunshine - about par for the course for the start of spring !!

  • Above is a photo of one of my favourite places on earth, the stunning Isles of Scilly. I shot this on Bryher, one of the off islands. You can almost smell the pollack and mullet in that bay. If money was no object, I would buy a house over there and spend at least five months of every year living in paradise. Did I mention that the fishing is pretty good as well ?

  • Check out Aardvark McLeod's fantastic new website that has just been launched. Click here to have a look around. You might notice a stack of my photos all over the site as well.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Fishing with braid

  • There has been a fair bit of talk I have seen recently about using braided mainlines for fishing with. Over the years I have heard some serious garbage talked about the pros and cons of using braid, but there is no doubt that it is the best way to fish lures for species such as bass. I am totally sold on the benefits and all my spinning reels are loaded up with braid.

  • But the thing you really want to do to ensure trouble free fishing is to take a close look at the photo above - note that I have deliberately underfilled my reel, for this really cuts down any chances of getting a dreaded wind knot. Do not be tempted to fill your spinning reel to the brim to try and get a few extra yards distance - yes, of course I have done this, and then paid the price with a beauty wind knot first cast. Underfill for proper performance. Let my previous distress save you from any yourself !!

  • My favoured breaking strain for bass fishing is 30lb, preferably in high-vis yellow. I like seeing my lines and I fish a short clear leader to the actual lure. I know that I'll never land a 30lb bass (here's to dreaming...), but 30lb braid casts great, sits just fine on the reel, and enables me to wrench stuck lures out of most snags. I can also horse hooked fish near rocks. You can't go far wrong with 30lb Sufix Performance braid or Power Pro. Both are excellent lines. It was my mate Graham Hill who really put me onto fishing with 30lb braid. You can see him in a bunch of photos here. This guy catches serious bass !!

  • I presume you are aware of the news about the somewhat thorny issue of a UK sea angling license - the government has abandoned any current plans to introduce one, see here for the full story. I have deliberately remained quiet about these issues for my feelings are strong and would no doubt cause some kind of reaction which I do not seek.

  • Should we have to pay to fish our sea waters ? No, of course we should not.

  • But will we have any fish left if we don't pay the right people to fight for the future protection of our already very depleted fish stocks ? Like most sea anglers, I refuse to believe that the introduction of a government run license (or stealth tax in my book) is the way to do this.

  • If I felt that my money was going to the right people though.............that is another matter altogether. Things can be done properly - look at the success story of the US striped bass fishery for a shining example of stock regeneration and a booming recreational fishing industry directly linked to having plenty of decent fish to catch. Imagine what kind of industry we would have here in the UK around our own bass fishing if we had lots more big fish to go after ?

  • Anyway, politics over for the day. Below is a photo of one of my all time favourite species, the ballan wrasse. The first fish I ever caught off the shore was a wrasse, just below Trevose Head in north Cornwall, and ever since I have had a serious soft spot for these hard fighting fish. Like most shore anglers I went all out for them with heavy gear for a while, but actually all you need is a powerful spinning rod and reel, and some decent bait. Fishing for them is a blast.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Front cover

  • I just got the new Get Hooked 2008 guide through the post, with my shot of a grayling on the cover. This is a fairly tight crop of a photo I shot with Nick Hart, and it shows just how much can be done with a clean digital file to make it work for a particular client. The Get Hooked guide is an invaluable way to find out about all kinds of fishing, fisheries, tackle shops etc. throughout the south west, and they have a good website here.

  • What a weird weekend of weather we seemed to have all over the UK this Easter - down here in the south west we had virtually everything over a three day period, but that did stop my wife and I from wrapping the kids up warm and going to the beach. What on earth would be the point of living down here if we did not take every chance possible to get down to the stunning beaches we have all around here ? Plus the moors of course. My sheepdog Jess just loves chasing sea gulls on the beach.

  • Have a look at the new issue of Sea Angler magazine - there is a really good looking feature of mine that I shot on wrasse fishing, a kind of fishing that I still get a huge kick out of. Sitting on quiet rock edges and banging a few of these hard scrapping fish out will always put a smile on the face, especially when the odd one comes along and does you like a kipper !! Look in Sea Angler at pages 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 for the feature. Martin and Kevin, I owe you one for taking me out fishing with you. Thanks guys.

  • Well done to Neil Mackellow for becoming the new Sea Consultant at Hardy & Greys Ltd. - I very much look forward to working closely with Neil. I know that this guy will take the company where they need to go in the sea fishing world, and I am really pleased to be a part of it all. Check the link here for the full details.

  • It was a sad day in extreme metal when Max left Sepultura all those years ago - I remember when they blasted onto the scene with their classic "Beneath the Remains" album, and I will never forget when Sepultura first toured that album and I saw them rip the famous Marquee Club up with their rabid intensity. So it is great news that the two Cavelera brothers have finally got back together and released an album full of their trademark sounds - check out "Inflikted" by the "Cavalera Conspiracy", and listen to a track or two here. You seriously need this stuff to get your week off to a flying start.

  • I did photograph Sepultura a few years ago when they played down at Exeter, but in truth they are a shadow of their former selves. You can see a stack of photos here. Go and listen to their classic Beneath the Remains, Arise, Chaos AD and Roots to see how awesome they once were.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Easter weather

  • After spending Easter last year mainly on the beach in some of the warmest weather of the year, this blast of strong, cold winds and icy rain is a bit of a shock. I would imagine that the hordes of people heading to the westcountry this weekend are coming armed with fleeces and hats rather than shorts and suncream. Above is a photo of some rough seas on the wild and rugged coast of North Cornwall, a place I have loved all my life.

  • If any of you have seen Simms catalogues and adverts over the last few years, I am sure you will have been struck by the very distinctive style of photography that was used. I certainly was and a lot of it looks simply fantastic. Check out a load of very cool images by the photographer who did the Simms work, see some collections of his here and here. He is called Tibor (great name) Nemeth. Some fishing really lends itself to a black and white or a desaturated, moody look, something that I have never really played around with. But this outstanding photography certainly inspires one to go out and try......

  • I have finally sorted out exact times and flights for this Montana fly fishing photography trip that Nick Hart and I are going on in June, and both of us are ridiculously overexcited about heading out to the American west. We are off in mid June for a week, flying out of London into Denver, then onto Bozeman - easy journey, we will be there in a day. I simply can not wait to get my first glimpse of Montana. All this has been arranged through the fly fishing travel specialists Aardvark McLeod. Bring it on.

  • Have a good Easter break, don't freeze the proverbials off outside.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Great spinning/fixed spool reel

  • There are so many different reels to use for mullet fishing, and I would guess that most anglers are using fairly small models for the light mainlines that we use. Whilst I reckon that Shimano make the best spinning (fixed spool) reels there are, this little Okuma VS30 (photo above) that I have been using for my mullet fishing for a fair while now is a delight to fish with. It came with a couple of spools, but I use mainly 10-20lb braid on mine for mulleting and it works a treat.

  • A friend of mine over in Florida also swears by the larger Okuma VS models for a lot of his heavy fishing, for species such as tarpon, and having used one over there, they do work very well. It is amazing what you can do with spinning reels these days.

  • I am actually looking around for some spinning reels at the moment, for various parts of my fishing, and while I know that these Okuma reels will do all that is asked of them, I have to admit that my heart really wants to invest in a few of the most awesome reels in the world - the simply mind-blowing Shimano Stella. If money was no object, I would get the 4000, 5000, 6000 and 8000 size models right now................dream on !! These reels are machines and are a serious pleasure to use. But perhaps I had better get real and start looking through the Shimano catalogue at some slightly cheaper reels.

  • Check out the stunning new Greys 2008 Game catalogue - there are plenty of my photographs in there, including a very cool shot of one of their reels inside the front cover that I shot last year on the Exe, with Nick Hart. Thanks Nick for the use of your hand !!

  • Below is a photo from mullet fishing the other day - at times we could see fish surfacing not ten yards out from here. I lay down on the ground here and literally rested the camera on the pebbles, using my Canon 16-35mm f2.8L lens to try and accentuate that moody sky, with the sunlight off to the left illuminating the foreshore and Larks fishing away.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Fish to tip you over the edge....

  • We had great fun yesterday, but as is typical with early season mullet fishing, they are either starving hungry and nail anything, or they do the "mullet thing" and proceed to play with your head all day long. Larks and I saw plenty of fish moving around, and at times we had some nice mullet gently nibbling our ledgered and surface fished bread baits, but the only fish actually caught was a small one - by Larks of course (photo above). I'll use the "taking photos" excuse for getting skunked !!

  • The first spot we fished was freezing cold, with a brisk east wind running off our left shoulders, but the moment there was a lull in the breeze, we could see a few mullet nudging bits of surface bread. Nothing beats visual fishing, and mullet are our major chance to do this in UK sea fishing - just seeing fish always gets the pulse going.

  • The second spot we moved to was much more sheltered, and the sun even came out for a bit. The water was crystal clear and I am sure the fish could see Larks and I a mile away, but we had a few nice bites. Mullet fishing is unlike anything else, but I love it. Few fish in our seas put up such a scrap, and the fact that we can fish with what is essentially coarse fishing tackle makes them a real blast to target.

  • So all in all, a tough day, but I got a few nice photos. Larks is the best mullet angler I have ever had the pleasure of fishing with, indeed he has so much knowledge in his head that he has forgotten more than I will ever know. He is a particularly gifted angler and can catch virtually anything he puts his mind to. Take the current British shore caught conger eel record, a fish he deliberately went after, and eventually nailed.

  • Check out a great new blog, over at Aardvark McLeod, click here to have a look. I reckon this well develop into an invaluable way to keep up to date with what is going on with fly fishing all over the world, and I can wholeheartedly recommend speaking to Pete or Charlotte about your next fly fishing trip.

  • And on the music front, I have a couple of awesome new releases to tell you about from the extreme metal world - one of my all time favourite thrash metal bands have fairly recently got back together and their new CD is awesome. Check out "Killing Season" by Death Angel, you can listen to some tracks here. One of their old albums, "Act III", has always been close to the top of my list of thrash metal greats. Their comeback CD "The Art of Dying" was very good as well, but the new one is a whole leap better. I am pretty sure that Death Angel were one of the first ever bands that I ever saw live, when they were supporting Motorhead a long time ago at the Hammersmith Odeon - am I getting older or does everything seem like a long time ago now ?

  • Check out the new CD from Meshuggah, the masters of off-time, head-spin metal - these guys are technical wizards, and the new album "Obzen" is one that gets in your head and grows over time. Give it multiple spins and it will start to open up and reveal itself. Check out some tracks here.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Well done Wales

  • All credit to Wales for winning the Grand Slam in such style yesterday evening..........between clenched teeth I have to admit that they more than deserved it. I bet there were a record number of sore heads over the border this morning !! The Wales v France game was a proper game of rugby, and even on TV the atmosphere seemed to be electric - what must it have been like to have actually been there ?

  • At least we put up a proper performance against Ireland at Twickenham, especially after the disgrace that was the Scotland match the weekend before - did England even turn up to that ? I still can't work out what went on there, but in time I will erase the painful memory from my head. My middle brother Julian was at the Ireland match yesterday and said it was awesome.

  • Looks like what they have been saying for ages now is possibly true - this Danny Cipriani guy had a great game at 10, but counting out Johnny in the future would be foolish. World class players do not simply become has-beens over night. We all remember that great day in 2003 I am sure.

  • Some nice bull huss are being caught around here at the moment, including good numbers of fish over 10lbs, but why on earth do so many anglers have to kill them simply to weigh them in for clubs, medals and trophies etc ? Surely with decent scales and cheap digital cameras the days of killing fish simply to weigh in are over now ? Sadly not..................don't get me wrong, taking the odd fish to eat is just fine, but taking prime fish to get your name up on a board is doing nothing remotely positive for the future of our sport. Anybody can justify taking a fish to eat, but on on earth can any of us justify killing a fish to make us look like great anglers ? If there is one species that we can have an effect on as shore anglers, it is the bull huss - take too many big fish out and I really believe that you are adversely affecting the very marks you fish.

  • Anyway, the forecast is for brighter weather and colder winds tomorrow, and I am off for a day's photographing and fishing for mullet, one of the UK's great saltwater species. Few fish fight so hard on light gear - this is going to be a great way to spend a Monday.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Fishing lures

  • OK, so the above is hardly the greatest fishing photo ever taken, but I wanted to try and show you an example of how simple fishing can be, and how much lure fishing around the globe shares such a similar approach. Please note the lures above - a Storm Thunderstick (left), a Daiwa Saltiga Popper (middle) and a Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper. If you ignore the fact that the lures have had their front treble hooks replaced with much stronger 5/0 ones, what you see here are some of the exact lures that worked really well for the monster golden dorado out in Argentina (see a load of photos here), and these same lures will catch plenty of bass for you as well.

  • Think about what in my mind is THE fastest growing branch of UK sea fishing - light tackle lure and bait fishing for bass. All these lures are proven bass catchers. Predators are often remarkably similar the world over, and plenty of them will hit the same lures in the same ways as each other, albeit the size of fish may vary greatly.

  • So yes, I grant you, it is very hard to resist buying every single kind of lure going when you see all those shiny new ones winking at you in your local tackle shop, but how many do you really need ? (easy for me to say, I am an avid collector just like the next man)

  • Personally, I would not go lure fishing for bass around the kinds of marks I fish without three kinds of lures, and even then I do recognise that I have a lot to learn about fishing soft plastics for bass (more news to come on this through the year, I have some seriously cool products to try here) - I always make sure that I have a few poppers and "walk the dog" lures (for surface fishing) and a variety of shallow diving lures that are going to work at no more than about a metre or preferably less below the surface. Nothing yet has persuaded me to think otherwise about most lure caught bass coming from the upper levels of the water when we are shore fishing.

  • And I made a classic mistake when I went over to fish for and photograph these monster golden dorado - I left a lot of lures at home because I thought they would be too small, when in fact most of the lures that really did well were just like the ones I use at home. Thanks to the guys on the trip for coming with such well-stocked lures boxes and for allowing me to trash some of them.

  • Some of the lures that worked well for the dorado and also work well for our bass were the Storm Chug Bug, the Yo-Zuri Surface Cruiser, the Daiwa Saltiga Popper, the Storm Thunderstick, the Yo-Zuri Hydro Popper, and of course, my all time favourite surface lure, the fantastically successful Halco Roosta Popper. You can by a lot of very successful UK bass lures by clicking here. Do not forget to buy some of the lethal Maria Chase BW lures in holographic silver - this thing smashes bass hard !!

  • And forgetting fishing for a second - if you have any serious interest in photography, you owe it to yourself to buy what I believe is the best book on the subject that has been released for a while now. "The Moment it Clicks" by the world-famous photographer Joe McNally is a fascinating and very informal look at how he set up some of his best shots, for he is a true lighting genius. I am in complete awe of a lot of the stuff he has done. I know that you can get the book by clicking here. I took it with me on the way down to Argentina and I could hardly put it down - it is that good.

  • And for a bit of culture on this rather dank Friday, below is a shot of some tango dancing that I came across on a street in Beunos Aires. This dancing is just incredible and I only wish I had not had to rush off to the airport so quickly. Another good excuse for going back. A few more tango dancing shots are at the end of this web gallery here.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Jumping fish

  • I thought it would be cool to show a rapid-fire sequence of one of these mad golden dorado jumping clean out of the water. They tend to jump big time when hooked, and a lot of the time they also manage to throw your lure back at you with a certain degree of "better luck next time". This is seriously tough stuff to photograph, indeed you end up with loads of duff frames, but working with really competent guides makes it far easier. I used my Canon 70-200 f4L IS lens to take these photos, and worked on tracking the yellow braid in the water and trying to watch for the angle changing suddenly as the fish went to jump. Shutter speeds had to be at least 1/1000 plus to stand any chance of freezing the movement, and I dialled in +1/3 exposure compensation to allow for the darker water behind - isn't digital great ? Instant feedback is just so useful.

  • Remember that there are a load more photos from my golden dorado trip here, so take a bit of time to check out some of the world's most intense freshwater fishing. There are only two operators in the UK and Europe who can get you in to fish here, either the Latin American Fishing Company, or Aardvark McLeod - I can highly recommend both.

  • My mate Graham Hill over in south east Ireland has emailed me to tell me that he had just taken his first two lure caught bass of the year, on 29th Feb - that is seriously early. The successful lure was once again the lethal sub surface Maria Chase BW in holographic silver, and you can get them here. I can not talk highly enough of these lures, but make sure to wind them fast to get them moving properly, and jerk that rod tip frequently to impart extra movement. I can't wait for bass fishing to kick in properly, but in the meantime, there are a load of photos here to help keep you going.

  • Gerhard from the South Africa based FlyCastaway has emailed me to tell me that the ultra-remote Seychelles atoll Providence is fishing its proverbial socks off, and the other day they landed a dogtooth tuna, on the fly, with a tail fork of 180cms - I dread to think how big that is, and they also lost a black marlin. Another marlin estimated at over 800lbs then moved into the spread and trashed the teasers. The remote Seychelles is utterly off the scale in fishing terms - there are plenty of photos all over my website, mainly on these pages here and here. If you want the best, contact International Fly Fishing Specialists Aardvark McLeod about trips out there.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Argentina fishing - web gallery up

  • I have put together a web gallery of some of the photos from my Argentina trip - to have a look, click here and then scroll through. There is also a link to this web gallery on the Links section of this main page. I have put a few shots in there of some tango dancers who were performing on a busy shopping street in Buenos Aires, and I only wish I had had more time to photograph this fantastic dancing. If anybody has ever seen me "dance" (a rare occurrence I grant you), then you will know just how far removed my own abilities are from the tango. Stampeding elephant might better describe my dancing at various family weddings, and as for my dad...............

  • These fish have got to me so badly that they are literally swimming around my head !! I had a long chat with Nick from The Latin American Fishing Company this morning, and there is plenty of seriously exciting stuff that they are involved with in South America, so get in touch and start exploring this fascinating continent. "I will be back"..........

  • You can see why short wire biting traces are so essential for golden dorado - take a look at those teeth above and you will also realise just what damage they do to your lovely, shiny new lures and lovingly tied flies. My beloved Halco Roosta poppers were firstly scarred by successive fish, and then unceremoniously stolen from me by a couple of very big, angry fish.

  • My parents kindly brought me back the most stunning coffee table fly fishing book from Santiago, called "Fly Fishing in Chilean Patagonia", by Gonzalo Cortes and Nicolas Piwonka. I am not sure where you can get it in the UK, but the ISBN number is 956-8077-19-7 and the publishers website is here. It is really worth tracking down. This is a truly breathtaking book on some of the world's best and most beautiful trout fishing, and I am going to have to go there sometime soon. Isn't it great that the sport of fishing can take one to the most stunning and wild places on earth ?

  • And talking of wild, what about these storms we have just had ? I was watching the news last night and they showed some footage of Devon and Cornwall being pounded by massive waves and strong winds. As ever, nature sometimes likes to show us what it is capable of and it is deeply impressive.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Lovely weather to come home to !!

  • It is blowing a proper monster outside !! I am really glad I got back into Heathrow last night and not today - always fantastic to come back to some good old British weather. I thought my car was going to get blown off the motorway this morning. Del rang me up from the Isles of Scilly to tell me that they have had gusts to 90mph so far, so I guess he won't be out fishing for a while.

  • Below is another photograph from my Argentina trip - this is my 43lb golden dorado that I caught on a Daiwa Saltiga popper (get them here, they also work well for our UK bass), using the awesome Greys Missionary 6 40-100g spinning rod. This monster fish hit the popper at extreme range, virtually the moment the lure hit the water in fact, and it was all I could do to try and stop the dorado smashing me up on the rocks. The rod though really did the trick for me and I managed to pull the fish away from danger. Our guide Diego Centurion kindly cradled this venerable old female dorado for me before we gently released it. What a fish, something that will live with me forever.
  • Check out the current edition of Sea Angler magazine, there is a very cool feature of mine in there about the fishing on the ultra-remote Astove atoll out in the Indian Ocean, look at pages 60, 61, 62, 63 and 65. You have to see this place to believe it - Pete McLeod of Aardvark McLeod was out there last week and has told me more tales about broken rods, trashed lines and smashed egos !! I am presuming the Pete was there purely for "work research" purposes, and not because he is a saltwater fly fishing junkie - I am going to have to wash my mouth out with soap for ever suggesting such a thing. Whatever the reasons, you need to speak to him about a trip out there. Contact Aardvark McLeod here, and while you at it, ask them about doing this insane golden dorado fishing as well. Both are outrageously good fishing trips. Check out some more Seychelles photos here.

  • Also have a look at the current edition of Trout Fisherman magazine - there is a feature I shot with Nick Hart a while back, about fishing on the stunning Whistlandpound reservoir near South Molton in Devon. I love these kinds of places, and the fishing is often excellent. Nick has such a wide variety of waters around him, so get in touch and go fishing with one of the top UK fly fishing instructors.

  • Also in the current Trout Fisherman is a feature of mine on the remote Providence atoll, many hundreds of miles away from the Seychelles. Check out pages 122, 123, 124, 125 and 126 for some truly off the scale and breakthrough saltwater fly fishing for bumphead parrotfish and monster GTs with the FlyCastaway guys. Aardvark McLeod organises trips out there to fish with these guys, and I can not recommend them enough. See a load more photos here. You might get the impression here that I seriously love the remote Seychelles - if there is any better saltwater fly fishing on this earth, then I have yet to see it.

  • Anyway, back home now, and time to start clearing a mountain of work. I will put some more Argentina stuff up here in due course, and I will also create a web gallery of the best shots. What a place.

  • I forgot to mention the disgrace that was England v Scotland - I watched it in my hotel room in Buenos Aires and came very close to hurling the TV out of the window with the sheer frustration of it all. What on earth is going on with English rugby ? It was a pathetic performance by England and I am completely gutted. I am not looking forward to the Ireland match this weekend one bit.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

More dorado mayhem

  • Above is Andy Thillainayagam with a stunning 39lb golden dorado from La Zona - we were fishing close to the Salto Grande dam in the morning and Andy got nailed literally five yards out from the boat. This huge fish was sitting right behind a rock and obviously could not resist taking the Yo-Zuri surface lure that Andy was fishing with. Andy got the fishing bug two years ago and is doing his best to make up for lost time. He told me that he walked onto the Latin American Fishing Company stand at the CLA Game Fair and fell for it in a big way. I have a feeling that fishing in South America does that to many people, me included.

  • Dorado love to hang around structure, so Andy really had to work hard on trying to control this fish around plenty of rocks. Just look at those golden flanks catching the morning sunlight. Look at the huge head on this immense predator. These mighty fish are fast taking hold of me and I am already looking at various return trips out here to Argentina. What a fabulous country, and there is just so much fishing to explore throughout South America that I am going to do my best to try and see, fish and photograph......

  • The dorado fishing at La Zona takes place around the huge Salto Grande dam on the Uruguay river, for this place holds huge stocks of monster fish. Sometimes you will be fishing surface lures and flies over very shallow water, and at other times you might be blind casting and stripping into deeper water. However the conditions dictate that you do it, nothing can prepare you for the hit from a golden dorado - savage does not do it enough justice. Mind-blowing is getting closer, indeed these fish hit somewhat like their long-lost cousins over in Africa, the tiger fish (click here to see photos of them).

  • The damage that these dorado do to your lures and flies is incredible - cast a shiny new lure out, get hit a couple of times, and then take a look at it. The Yo-Zuri Surface Cruiser was doing real damage to the fish, and this brand new lure below was first cast out in the morning, and I then photographed it at lunch time. It has been spectacularly hammered by a number of angry fish. It is vital to replace the treble hooks on your lures, for the ones that tend to come already on them are simply not strong enough, indeed I smashed a few split rings up as well, so take some spares of them. 5/0 Owner trebles do the job well, and use a section of 50lb Tyger wire for the essential biting trace - dorado have serious teeth. Flies for this fishing demand the best hooks you can lay your hands on.

  • I fly back to the UK tonight, going Buenos Aires-Sao Paulo-Paris-London, so it is going to be a bit of a long one. Next time I will come via a far more direct route !! Very much looking forward to watching England (hopefully) beating Scotland in a little while before packing up and heading off to the airport. Argentina has been an incredible place to see for the first time and it will not be long until I am back out here. Aardvark McLeod is offering a range of South America fishing, so get in touch and experience some of this magical stuff for yourself. My wife told me that I would fall for South America, and she was right.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Falling for South America fishing

  • We are now back in Buenos Aires after perhaps the most incredible four days' freshwater fishing that I have ever experienced. Golden dorado are just such special fish, and their levels of aggression are simply staggering. Above is one of the guides, Diego Centurion, with a typical La Zona golden dorado, around 30lbs !! We had some far bigger fish as well, photos to come in due course. I took this fish on my absolute favourite surface popper, a Halco lure from Australia - I need to get some more though, for some really big fish managed to smash me to pieces and break the lures off.

  • I also saw golden dorado to 18lbs taken on the fly, but in truth the conditions were hard for fly fishing this week - great for lures, but hard for flies. The guys were using and abusing the Hardy Zane fly rods and reels to great effect, and the feedback from the guides who cast the rods a bit was seriously positive. La Zone is the top place in the world to nail huge golden dorado on the fly, so get yourself there as soon as you can - book a trip with the excellent Aardvark McLeod fly fishing travel company by clicking here.

  • Most of the dorado jump the moment they are hooked, and I mean really jump - the "smaller" fish especially are very acrobatic throughout the fight, while the monsters tend to jump less and instead head for structure. Hooks really need to be driven home hard, and even then you are going to lose a fair few fish as they throw them back with a degree of disdain. You can see my beloved red and white Halco popper in the jaws of this jumping fish above. Bear in mind that La Zona has thrown up golden dorado to 55lb on fly tackle, and 65lb on lure tackle - that is seriously mighty fresh water fishing.

  • I brought along a Greys Missionary 6 spinning rod, the 6 piece 40-100g model, and I have to say that it performed incredibly well through some serious abuse that the fish and I dished out on it. Being able to pack a spinning rod in my main bag and not having to carry an annoying rod tube around the world is bliss, and I can see this family of rods heading out with me on many trips to come. I landed dorado to 43lbs on this rod without any trouble, using 50lb Sufix Performance Braid and various surface and sub-surface lures as conditions dictated.

  • Check out the March 2008 edition of the Hardy & Greys online magazine, Fin and Fly - there are some nice photos of mine from the trip I did last year to Canada to fish for salmon. Click here to see the article.

  • There will be plenty more to come from this trip, but to sign off tonight, below is a photo of some early evening fishing for these quite magical fish. Deeply impressive fish, seriously great place and a first class set-up, indeed this has to be one of the world's great freshwater fishing destinations. Get yourself there before everybody else does - trips can be booked here.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Fishing madness

  • This place is utterly insane - the fishing for these awesome golden dorado is off the scale it s so good. Already I have seen fish to nearly 20lbs on the fly and over 35lbs on surface lures, plus various good fish lost to rocks. And it has only been our first day´s fishing !! They jump big time, as you can see above. They also spend a lot of time smashing into bait all over the place. It is mayhem and the place is out of this world.
  • Below is Gordon Richmond of The Latin American Fishing Company with a nice 35lb golden dorado taken on a big popper. More to come........

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Arrived in Argentina

  • You know that when your plane sits on the tarmac at Heathrow for an extra hour and a half before taking off, a tight connection the other end just became a problem. A twelve hour flight to Sao Paulo, missed the connecting flight and then had to wait four hours for another one. No great hassle though, turned up at Buenos Aires airport to be met by representatives working for the Latin America Fishing Company, who then whisked me to a hotel in the centre of town. Time for a bit of kip, it's been a long journey.

  • We are here in Buenos Aires until about midday tomorrow, and then we grab another flight up to the Uruguay river to chase these monster golden dorado at La Zona, a tightly restricted area where only certain numbers of anglers are allowed to fish at any one time. To say I am looking forward to photographing these stunning fish would be an understatement. And I might even try and catch one myself, in between taking photos of course.....

  • My parents have actually just been on holiday in Patagonia, in fact they flew back in to the UK on the same day as I flew out. They are not fishermen themselves, but they said that Patagonia looked simply incredible, and they had spoken to loads of people about the fantastic fishing..........guess where I am going to try and rig up a trip to ??!! Too many places, too little time. They kindly gave me a stunning looking book on fishing in Patagonia, and when I am back in the UK and have a bit of time to look through it properly, I will put the details up here.

  • Now I am just itching to break the camera bag open, chuck on a few lenses and get working - with a little bit of fishing of course. Why on earth would I work in fishing if I did not get the chance to dabble occasionally ?