Thursday, 31 July 2008

Recent Irish bass trip photos now online

  • I have created a simple online gallery of selected photos from my bass trip over to Ireland a couple of weeks ago - click here or access it over on the right hand side of the main page, along with the Montana, Argentina and other bass photo galleries. We had a fantastic few days in south east Ireland with three lads who came over from Jersey and I am still feeding off the memories at the moment - especially with this rubbish weather we have got at the moment !! What a place.

  • I have been reading a bit of rubbish recently about the handling of the bass we catch. Fishing is what it is. A well hooked fish that has been played hard and therefore comes in "green" can be worked for my cameras with no harm done if they are properly looked after - keep them close to the water or a rock pool, don't keep them out for any length of time, and of course do not return them until they are kicking hard. My whole working life revolves around trying to make fishing look good, and I am not about to harm fish to do so. There are too many "experts" out there who have no idea what I do or how I go about doing it.

  • I play fish hard so that I can get them in "green" and return them properly - I do not believe that any good is done to a fish by messing around and playing it too gently. Make that rod bend properly and horse the fish in. A "green" fish is a healthy fish.

  • So to that end I bought a really useful couple of tools over in the US recently, specifically for my bass fishing. You can see in the photo above that a lip-grabbing device is being to safely hold the fish in the water for unhooking. We all know how spiky bass are, and it is no good trying to wrestle with them and then drop them when they get you in the hand. This device is called a Berkley TEC Pistol Trigger Grip (see here), and I believe that they are available in the UK. If you can't get hold of them, ring up Pure Fishing (0845 0500091) and ask where you can get one. This little tool sits in a neat holster on a belt around your waist, and I never go bassing without it now - no more getting spiked, no more dropping bass, simply "grab" the bottom lip with the Pistol Trigger Grip and get the hooks out. Safer for you, safer for the fish.

  • I also got hold of a decent pair of pliers for getting hooks out and for crushing the barbs on all the treble hooks on my lures - and no, I have not lost any bass because of it, but they are so much easier to unhook. The pliers I got were the Berkley TEC 6 inch Power Pliers (see here), and again, I believe you can get them in the UK. They also cut braid and mono very easily. No lure angler should head out without some kind of unhooking aid.

  • Note the lethal lure that has just been taken out of the fish's mouth - the Tackle House Feed Shallow, check here for them. Plenty of anglers I know are raving about this shallow diving killer. Patrick has also emailed me from Ireland to say that the 6 inch Slug-Go lures are working really well for him on the bass - he tells me that on a few times the fish have refused the hard lures, but have then grabbed the Slug-Go immediately. I gather that he is really liking the Arkansas Shiner and the Bubblegum Pink colours. Check here for where you can get hold of these lures. More to add to my collection......

  • Here is Graham about to return around 9lbs of bass from the other day. Note as always that he is wearing a decent pair of breathable chest waders - to me these are the first thing that any bass angler should put on his shopping list. Plus a good pair of walking legs as well !! The more you walk for this kind of bassing, the more you catch. Now if only the wind would die here I could actually get out of my office and go and smash a few more bass myself. My ever expanding lure collection keeps grinning at me in the corner......

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Awesome new polarised lenses.....

  • I have been using Maui Jim polarised sunglasses for a few years now and I reckon that they are the best ones we can get our hands on. You can't pick them up dirt cheap like you can with lesser brands, but as with so much in fishing, you get exactly what you pay for. I have a few different pairs that I have used and abused all over the world - take it from me, if you are serious about your eye-wear, get hold of these glasses and a whole different world will open up to you. I only wish that they could make all my my fish a bit bigger !!! I can see them better, but why don't Maui Jim make them larger ?

  • I do not work for Maui Jim and they do not pay me to use their products - life is too short and fishing is too small for this kind of nonsense to go on, but I am totally behind products that do their job well. I value a decent pair of polarised sunglasses as much as I do a good rod, reel or pair of breathable chest waders. And I have got my hands on a really interesting new pair of Maui Jim glasses that have a brand new lens colour.......

  • The glasses that you can see above are the ones I have just got hold of - I tend to use the HCL Bronze lenses for most of my fishing, whether in the UK or abroad, but the lenses above are designed to work especially well in lower light situations. Rather useful considering how rubbish the weather now is here !! Called HT lenses, they look like they are going to do a really good job for me - they really make the greens especially "jump" at you when the sky is overcast, giving everything a real boost. It goes without saying that these new lenses are outstanding at cutting through the glare and allowing you to see into the water. I'll keep using them and will report back here at a later date.

  • I know that you can get a good range of Maui Jim glasses at Hart Flyshop, see here for how to get hold of them. I am seeing more and more anglers wearing Maui Jim sunglasses, so it seems as though this brand is really catching on here in the UK.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Fantastic Irish bass

Photo courtesy of Matthew Thomas
  • This kind of thing really makes my day here in the office - Matthew Thomas emailed me to tell me all about the huge bass you can see above (thanks for letting me use the photo Matthew). Weighing 11lbs 4oz, he caught and returned this magnificent fish around Waterville over on the Kerry coastline in Ireland. To catch and then return a fish like this really deserves huge respect from us all.

  • But what has made me so especially pleased is that Matthew told me he had read some of the Sea Angler articles that I have done with his fishing guide over in Ireland, the extremely talented Kevin Brain. After reading those articles, Matthew booked a day with Kevin over in Waterville and this bass of a lifetime was the result. This proves two things to me - that fishing articles do work in putting anglers in touch with good fishing, and that a guide is as invaluable as a decent fishing rod. There are not many guides in our UK and Irish sea fishing worlds, so we need to use them as much as possible and help ensure their future. Well done to Matthew and to Kevin.

  • Check here for a feature on what Kevin Brain does over in Ireland, and then contact him here. We filmed a TV programme over in Kerry a couple of years ago, and we would not have got anywhere without the expert help and guidance from Kevin. If you are heading that way, make sure to get in touch with him and I assure you that you will catch a truck load more fish and learn a staggering amount from him. Better still, make a proper trip out of it and fish yourself to a standstill !! Bass, mullet, wrasse, rays, codling, pollack, huss, sea trout and salmon, you name it, Kerry has the lot.

  • Once again this shows that Ireland offers the best shore fishing for bass that I know of anywhere, and Kevin catches some awesome fish on bait, lures and fly. Words can not describe how pretty the Kerry coastline is, indeed when I first saw it my jaw hit the floor and remained there until I was on the ferry back home. I must get myself back over there soon..............

  • My mate Graham Hill also landed a big bass the other day from that magical south east corner of Ireland - weighing over 10lbs, he also returned the fish successfully. I know he lost his Tackle House Feed Shallow lure to a real crocodile of a fish earlier in the session, so he went and put on one of his old favourites, the jointed Storm Thunderstick. These Tackle House lures are really starting to get noticed by keen bass anglers, and so they should - they slay big time. You can get them here. Well done Graham, I will be back over as soon as I can. Bass fishing is an addiction, as Matthew Thomas tells me !! Give in, it ain't worth trying to fight it.............

  • What on earth is going on with bass fishing ? Granted, it has always been hugely popular, but there is an explosion in interest going on, as I have continually alluded to in this blog. Why is this happening ? Is it because so many anglers are fed up with staring at rod tips and are looking for a more "involved" way of fishing ? Is it because there is more and more press on going bass fishing ? Is it because the bass is the one species we have that crosses the fishing divides ? I have never met a fisherman who did not want to try and catch a bass. Whatever the reasons, it is making me think hard about what to do in the future, so watch this space and if I come up with any decent ideas you will be the first to know. Perhaps I should start looking into guided/led trips over to various locations in Ireland, or perhaps even think about bass fishing clinics ? Believe me, I am learning all the time, but I am very conscious that there are a load of other people out there who are hungry for information.

  • How can I go this long without telling you about another great metal release ? I first got into the Danish band Raunchy around the time of their "Confusion Bay" CD, and you really need to check out their new album, called "Wasteland Discotheque". Check out a few tracks here. I love this kind of insanely catchy extreme metal that gets deep into your head and beats your brain to a submissive pulp !! Give me more.

Monday, 28 July 2008

The countryside is alive and kicking

  • What an incredible three days at the CLA Game Fair up at Blenheim Palace - the sheer numbers of people wandering around was staggering, indeed I heard rumours of close to 100,000 on Saturday. To see this number of people at a countryside show really does make you feel good about the future, for however hard our successive governments try to stamp all over the rural way of life, it is still very much alive, and kicking very hard indeed.

  • Nick Hart and I had a blast doing our demonstrations each day, even when the sound went down on the first one and we had no choice but to shout ourselves hoarse just to be heard by the grandstand !! The response from people was fantastic, and my thanks of course to the hundreds of audience members who sat through the half hour demos, and a special thanks to our volunteers who came up and worked with us.

  • I spent most of my time in and around the Fisherman's Village, and it was great to meet so many different people who kindly came up to me and said they enjoyed the TV programmes of mine - firstly it staggers me that people are still prepared to sit through them (my thanks), and secondly, the fact that half hour shows of me wittering on in a high state of excitement does not drive people completely demented has to be some kind of bonus.

  • What really made my three days was the number of kids and female viewers who came up to me - anybody who knows me knows how embarrassed I get at being "recognised" by the people who watch the shows, but on the other hand I am so honoured that people enjoy what we do. The fact that so many female anglers and kids told me they loved the programmes left me brimming with pride that our little shows can give off such a good vibe to such different audiences.

  • I did get a chance to see some other parts of the Game Fair, and as always is was utter class - so many things to see and buy, and such a good feeling about the whole show. Great weather (seriously cooking on Saturday), loads to do, but not enough time. I am already looking forward to next year.

  • For people like me who work in the sport fishing industry, the Game Fair is also a good chance to see lots of different people and talk shop. A lot of fun is had when the crowds clear out in the early evening and the people working there can wind down a bit. There were some sore heads on the Saturday and Sunday mornings................

  • The Bass Lures guys were doing a roaring trade with their demonstration tank and their Slug-Go and Lucky Craft lures - well done for coming along to what too many people wrongly perceive as a being game fishing only thing. We all went out for supper on Saturday night (thanks guys, I owe you), and they were in a slight state of shock at how well it had all been going. I am so glad a company like this had the guts to come along and prove that something really different could work so well at the Game Fair. I was unsure how they would do, but their success at the show has made me sit up and take even more notice of this explosion in bass fishing interest currently going on.

  • You would not believe the number of people who wanted to talk about bass fishing, from the sea, fly and coarse fishing worlds, in equal numbers it seemed - there is an increasingly loud revolution going on, and the companies at the forefront of modern bass fishing in the UK really deserve a great degree of respect. I did a forum on Saturday morning with John Bailey and John Wilson, on the subject of UK saltwater fly fishing, and of course the main topic was the bass - where, how, why etc., and we had a packed audience. It seems that everybody wants to be a part of it.

  • My friends at Aardvark McLeod and The Latin American Fishing Company had stands next to each other, and they were all saying how well it was going, with fantastic interest from all kinds of punters in fishing around the world. Selling this kind of overseas fishing takes great dedication and passion, all done with a great degree of approachability, and these two companies have exactly what it takes. If you want access to the best fishing this world has to offer, come and talk to these two companies - I work with people I like and trust, and who offer the kind of attitude I go about my work with.

  • The Hardy Greys stand was smothered with interested punters seemingly every minute of every day, and the retailer stands were reporting a roaring trade going on. So where was the credit crunch this weekend ? We had a fantastic barbecue at the Hardy stand on the Friday night (huge thanks and credit to Steve and Lucy, you both deserve medals !!), and the guys were all buzzing at the amount of interest in their huge range of fishing gear.

  • Anyway, I got back home to Plymouth yesterday, and now it is eyes down in my office to get a load of photos processed and fishing features done for various magazines. I am really pleased to be here for a while now and spend some time with my family - I might even sneak out for some plugging later this week as well !!

  • A couple of friends, Rob Yorke and Mark Bryce, have been nailing some good rays recently off the shore, including blondes to over 16lbs, small eyeds to nearly 12lbs, and some spotteds to over 6lbs - nice fishing guys, but then they seriously know their stuff. Great to hear that the fishing is switching on so well around here.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Off to the Game Fair

  • I am about to pack up my gear and head off to the CLA Game Fair up at Blenheim Palace this weekend - I always look forward to this event and I really like catching up with a whole bunch of different people.

  • If you are coming along, please come on down to the Fisherman's Village to see Nick Hart and I doing our demonstrations. This is the area around which I will be based for most of the three days, so come and say hi if you see me looking lost. The times for our demonstrations are as follows :

Friday - 12.15

Saturday - 13.00

Sunday - 10.45

  • If internet connections allow me to, I will try to keep the blog updated over the weekend, but otherwise I am looking forward to spending a proper week at home next week, and perhaps heading out for a bit of bass fishing along my local south Devon coastline. I actually sneaked out for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon, all keyed up with a stack load of confidence from Ireland and Wales - and of course I came down to earth with a bump and got skunked big time. Just when you think you are getting one over on the fish, what do they go and do ? Teach you a proper lesson............

  • But before I go, make sure to check out my friend Graham Hill's other talent besides smashing silly numbers of bass - what a voice !! I shall say no more, simply click here and gasp in amazement at such a vast, hidden talent only now coming in for some overdue recognition (sorry mate !!). Run for cover.....................

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Thank you Paul

  • I spent yesterday morning with Paul and his mate Mark up in north Wales, plugging for bass - but the fishing was completely secondary to the real reason we were there. Back in February, a young angler called Alan Wright was tragically taken by the sea while out enjoying the sport we all love (see the original post here), and I was asked if a day's fishing with me could be auctioned to try and raise some money for the family left behind. See here for the original details.

  • Paul's generosity in bidding for this time with me blew me away, and we managed to get together yesterday to spend a few hours fishing. Paul's mate Mark took us out to an awesome looking bass spot somewhere in north Wales, and the fact that we landed three bass means nothing really when you think about the pain that Alan's family are still going through now, and the extreme kindness of Paul to bid so much money that I hope will help them out in some small way. You are a gentleman sir, and I am honoured to have fished with you and Mark. The photo above is of Paul casting a bass plug out - it makes my day to meet somebody who is so passionate about their fishing.

  • Above is Paul on the right, with Mark on the left. Thanks guys for your time, and thanks Paul for your generosity. Any time you are down my way, please make sure you get in touch and I can show you a bit of my coastline.

  • I then drove for six hours to get back home to my family - what a stunning place north and mid Wales is, and to be perfectly honest, I feel somewhat ignorant that these couple of days were my first ever in this fantastic part of the world. It was fantastic to see my family again, but tempered with that joy is the sad fact that Alan's family will never see him walk through their front door again. Fishing is the best sport in the world, but spending time around the unpredictability of nature can bring about the odd tragedy. Please play it safe.

  • On Monday, I spent the day up on Anglesey with the guys behind the new company Bass Lures (just how pretty is Anglesey ?) - Nick and Bob are responsible for bringing in the awesome soft plastic Slug-Go lures into the UK, and they are also now the UK agents for some of the finest fishing lures ever made, Lucky Craft. Who in bass fishing has not used or heard of the Sammy, the GunFish or the Flash Minnow ? The amount of bass these things have caught and continue to catch is scary.....

  • Check out the Bass Lures website here. You can see Nick and Bob at the CLA Game Fair this weekend, where they will have an enormous tank for demonstrating their various lures and specialist techniques. Above is a rigged Slug-Go lure - there is no way I can describe how awesome these lures look when they are fished, and for the kinds of bass marks we all fish over, they are perfect. On Monday we spent some time out fishing, and I saw bass caught on the Slug-Go - they go mad for it !! A really big fish was also sadly lost on a Lucky Craft GunFish - this lure is lethal, and it was incredible to watch as bass would come at it. It is the noise of a surfacing bass that gets you every time.

  • The top lure you can see above is the Lucky Craft GunFish, and the bottom one is of course the Sammy - both slay bass big time. The GunFish in particular is a favourite surface lure of many bass anglers, for it remains very stable even when there is a fair bit of chop to the water. Both lures cast extremely well and I always carry them in my lure box when I am out fishing.

  • You can get these lures online here, direct from Bass Lures, or alternatively look at places like Veals Mail Order and Mr. Fish over in Jersey. Be very wary of any cheap imitations of these lures that you might find out there, for they do not work like the originals, and they are constructed very poorly indeed. It is so worth paying the proper price for some of the most successful lures ever made..............and you should see some of the other lures these guys are playing around with, they look lethal. I tell you, this lure thing is a bad addiction !!

  • I will be using some of the Lucky Craft and Slug-Go lures during my demonstrations at the CLA Game Fair this weekend - I hope to see some of you there, the weather forecast looks good at the moment and it is a blast of an event.
  • I hear from Graham that the Jersey lads caught a bunch more bass on the Monday, at the same place we all fished together on the Sunday morning. Once again the fish were out sunbathing, and they tell me that there were also some seriously huge mullet swimming around, estimated to be around the 14lb mark !!!! The problem is that I have bass on the brain over in south east Ireland, but one day soon I am going to take my mullet gear and have a proper go for the masses of fish we keep seeing all the time. What a place.

  • Thank you again Paul - what a gent.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Sunbathing Irish bass.........

  • This morning was one of those sessions that you want to commit to memory and then recall at will to get you through the harder fishing times - it could not have been more perfect. Everywhere we looked we could see bass milling around on the surface, as if they were sunbathing, and close in to the shore were a load of big mullet. Trevor reckoned he saw mullet approaching 10lbs !! (why do serious mullet anglers keep ignoring Ireland and the millions of mullet ?)

  • The sea was flat calm, and all you could hear was us bunch of monkeys gibbering away in a complete state of over-excitement at the mass of bass that kept showing themselves on the surface - I have never seen anything like it before. The sea was like a millpond, but the bass were no pushover at all. We could see loads of them, but they were going to need catching......

  • The morning actually started off very cold for me - I tried to get around a rocky point, and then realised that if I went any further I was going to get cut off for a few hours, so I turned back to come at the mark a different way. Big mistake !! One wrong step and I was under, and the only thing that kept me afloat long enough to grab a rock was my waterproof Lowerpro camera bag that acts like a life jacket. Nice one Henry. It has to happen to me once a trip. I fished and photographed for the next few hours with a load of nice cold water to keep me company inside my chest waders. But it was worth it......

  • Trevor was first in with this stunning fish you can see above, taken right in tight to the shore. These bass are in incredible condition at the moment.

  • This is the lure that has been doing the damage over the last couple of days - I don't know how it happened, but as if my magic one appeared in my lure box this morning, and also and in Graham's !! This is the Tackle House Feed Shallow - it is perfect for the kind of ground we have been plugging over, because it covers plenty of terrain at a very shallow depth, and the bass love them to bits. You can get them here. I am loving learning all about a bunch of new lures, and it is even better when a fish or two throw themselves at you - I managed a nice one of about 6lbs at range this morning, in between taking a stack of photos in the awesome light. The bass hit my lure right on the start of the retrieve and really went hard. I think I might have yelped with the excitement of it all.

  • Here is Trevor with another fine fish taken around high water - this guy fishes seriously well and it is a pleasure to watch. The more ground you cover means the more fish you are going to cover, so all that extra leg-busting effort is always worth it. The more you put in, the more you get out, it is that kind of fishing.

  • Graham was going to come to the party sooner or later this morning (after the "singing" I heard about from late last night, enough said !!), and he did it in style with this stunner you can see being landed above, and then held carefully below. I gave him 8.5lbs for the fish, but in truth I reckon it was nearer the 9lb mark. There was never a question of killing a fish like this simply to know exactly what it weighed, that is not what we are about, and it went back strongly after the obligatory photo call. Graham really is a staggeringly good bass angler, and more often than not he is out on this incredible coastline all on his own because there are so few anglers fishing it. Mad, totally mad !! I have to move over there......
  • Part of me is gutted to be leaving Ireland, but the other part of me is also very excited to be heading over to north Wales for a couple of days. It is typical that the weather I am leaving behind is perfect for bassing, and I have a feeling that Graham and the Jersey lads are going to smash the fish big time over the next couple of days. But such a big part of my job is meeting new people and seeing new places, and I love it.

  • How civilised is this ? At the moment I am on the Stena Line ferry from Dun Laoghaire over to Holyhead, watching the end of the Open golf on the box, with free wireless internet on my laptop. A chance to update the blog, catch up on emails, and have a decent cup of coffee. Isn't technology great ?

  • It is also a chance for me to reflect on the last few days I have had in Ireland, and to begin editing the photos down and preparing various features for magazines. It continues to amaze me how relatively few sea fishermen travel over to Ireland to explore the coastline. It could not be easier to get here, the place is crawling with fish of all kinds, and I still have not heard of any better shore fishing for bass in Europe - west coast, east coast, south coast, take your pick, but the south east corner is something very special indeed. Graham and I are looking at some bass tides in September for me to come back over for a few days, and then we will try to sort out some cod tides for the winter - did you know that there is some fantastic cod fishing from the shore as well ? I love my bassing around home, but in all honesty it simply can not compare to what I keep seeing in Ireland. This is not a complaint, it is simply a fact.

  • Anyway, off to Wales and then back home late Tuesday - I hope to see some of you at the CLA Game Fair next weekend, when my demonstrations with Nick Hart will revolve a lot around fishing different kinds of lures for species like bass. Am I obsessed ? What do you think.......?

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Jersey boys done good

  • Below is Trevor with one of the many bass he had today - the boy done good !! He fished his socks off, moving around all the time over some seriously tricky ground, making a real effort to keep putting his lure into "new" water time and time again. Trevor also got done by a bass he reckons was heavily into double figures - he has been using the same lure for all his bass so far, and it is a new one to me. Guess I had better get shopping !! The lure in question is a stunning looking shallow diving minnow type, silver in colour, called the Tackle House Feed Shallow, see here.

  • The weather turned out to be stunning today, with ideal sea conditions and fantastic water clarity - we were fishing a huge stretch of awesome looking ground that was lethal underfoot, but more than worth every single treacherous step on the mass of weed, boulders and deep gullies (you would have to go a long way to finding better looking bassing ground, stuff to dream about). Graham took one wrong step and went in over his head - of course we were deeply concerned and nobody laughed at all !! I meant to enquire how he was, but the first question out of my mouth was along the lines of "is my walkie-talkie ok ?" Stunning levels of sympathy..........

  • Below are a few photos from today - note a lot of red rods and red Tenryu t-shirts. These rods are off the scale they are so good for our bassing. I need to go and get my gear together now, ready for a dawn start tomorrow morning - guess where we are going back to ? Then I leave the guys tomorrow afternoon to get the ferry over to North Wales for a couple of days. I am so happy that this deserted corner of Ireland is giving up a few of its secrets to the Jersey boys - it is fishing well, but I have also seen it fish a whole lot better. Is it the best shore fishing area for bass there is ?

More Irish bass last night

  • Last night was not as good as we thought it might be, but what do we compare good to ? We still landed a bunch of bass on bait and lures, but for some reason the fish were not switched on properly.............where we were fishing is a place that you seriously need to "read" the water, so is part of it down to the fact that you simply can't see the subtleties to the water at night ? Being able to accurately cast into the right areas is vital. It was amazing to see so many sandeels jumping out of the way in the headlamp as you waded out - what a place to come fishing. So alive. Get yourself over to Ireland as soon as you can.

  • Anyway, we still had a blast, and by most bassing standards it was a pretty good few hours. I am in a serious rush to get my gear together once more to head back out, so below are a few photos from last night to give you an idea. Conditions are looking pretty good on earth do you sleep properly when the fishing is this exciting ?

Friday, 18 July 2008

Does bass fishing get any better ?

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 200mm), ISO 400, f8, 1/800th

  • I have a spare couple of hours before we head back out fishing - time for a quick post to keep you updated on the insane bassing out here. This morning was firing big time, I reckon around 20 bass were landed, mainly on lures, both surface and sub-surface. The Jersey guys I reckon have got a proper feel now for how good this corner of Ireland can be for the shore fishing. Conditions look perfect, so we are heading back out there tonight to see if we can nail a monster. Fish to just over 6lbs were landed this morning, everything went back safely. I got few photos, but the light was pretty naff to be honest, and I could not do much more than keep tight. Give me some big blue skies and I can work on making this place look as good as I know it can - but at least the fishing is going off big time. I need to move over here to live !!

  • Above are two of the Jersey guys - Mick and Bob, wading out and casting lures to the fish. What the photo does not show is the ripping tide that will knock you over if you are not careful - and don't the fish go in that tide !! I had better get the gear together again and head back out. What a place. If we had not been out there fishing today, there would have been nobody else there............

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 185mm), f8, 1/320th

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 120mm), ISO 400, f8, 1/640th

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200 f4L IS lens (at 90mm), ISO 400, f8, 1/320th

The best bass fishing I know of......

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 200mm), ISO 400, f14, 1/160th
  • Within three casts of starting plugging yesterday morning, a bass of about 3lbs smashed into my lure lure like a steam train, and a few minutes later a crocodile of a fish tried to hit Pat's lure and missed - that was a proper bass, just the sound of it as it tried to kill Pat's surface lure was scary !! We thought it was going to go insane, but for some reason we did not see another bass landed yesterday morning. Why ? If we knew it all we would be doing something else, and that is why I love fishing.

  • The surface lure that did the damage for me was the Zorus Patchinko, a deadly walk the dog/popper hybrid that casts like an arrow and allows you to cover so much water. See here for full details of the lure. I have to also say that these red Tenryu rods are just proving again and again how perfect they are for this lure fishing - what a bass rod, and what a joy to use. The degree of ease with which I can work lures the whole way in gives me such an edge to my fishing. Check out the Red Devils here.

Canon 1D MK111, 24-105mm f4L IS lens (at 55mm), ISO 400, f4, 1/6oth, flash

  • Graham had a small bass on a Maria Chase BW on another mark, but again, for some reason, the bass were not really on - is it because it is staying unseasonably cold ? Whatever the reason, the conditions yesterday looked so good we were all raving like loons, but that's fishing for you.

  • But then, as is the thing with bassing in Ireland, it just jumped into gear last night - Graham had to head back to meet the Jersey lads who were flying in, so I went out with Pat and Cian to give the bass one more go for the day, and we hit gold big time.

  • Pat and Cian were fishing surface and shallow diving lures as we went into darkness, and I was fishing with crab baits - once again, I am loving using braid for the bait fishing, it is so good for this method. Above you can see Cian kindly holding my first bass of the night, a nice bass over 5lbs that slammed into my crab in very shallow water and really scrapped hard.

Canon 1D MK111, 24-105mm f4L IS lens (at 70mm), ISO 400, f4, 1/60th, flash

  • It was mayhem last night, and we did not fish for very long - I had a bite or a bass on every cast, and the biggest for me was this stunner above, around 7lbs, and in prime condition. Pat and Cian were also nailing fish on the lures, at night, so they were over the moon. I kept hearing excited shouts through the darkness which meant more fish - Ireland gets me every time. The water was alive with sandeels and the whole place just breathed fish - if it was England there would have been other anglers out, but as is normal out here, we saw nobody else at all. Paradise on earth, believe me. How can it get any better ?

Canon 1D MK111, 24-105mm f4L IS lens (at 45mm), ISO 400, f4, 1/60th, flash

  • Pat hit this nice 5lb plus bass on a Maria Chase BW in holographic silver, fishing right into the turbulent water, and it went bananas in the tide. What a fish to take on a lure at night. We wanted to see if it would work on this mark, and we proved it beyond any doubt.

  • What last night does show us is that this particular location is alive with fish and food, so where on earth do you think we are going this morning ? I am about to go and meet Graham and the Jersey lads, and hopefully the fish will be on as strong as they were last night. Words do not do justice to how good this bass fishing is out here when it turns on, but the brief session last night was about as good as any fishing is ever going to get anywhere on earth, and I love it to bits. Standing thigh deep in water in the dark last night was such a great feeling, and that hit from a bass on braid when it nails the crab is insanely exciting. Roll on another day........

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Irish bass fishing - awesome as always

Canon 1D MK111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 400, f6.3, 1/400th, polarising filter
  • We were fishing by 5.30am this morning here in south east Ireland, and you can see the kind of stunning light and conditions we had in the photo above. I managed a nice fish of about 2.5lbs that smashed into my lure I swear not five yards out. The bass came in and swerved on my lure, and somehow I managed to dip the rod tip to give the fish a little bit more time, and I then saw it nail the lure right in front of me. I so love the bassing out here, and up until now I still have not found anywhere better - each and every time I come here reinforces this belief. When I get back home it is time to have a chat with my wife, along the lines of "I think we should look at moving over to Ireland"...........!!

  • The successful lure was a Duo Tide Minnow, and I know you can get them here. These things cast like bullets and work really nicely through the water - they are not cheap, but these Tide Minnow lures are fast becoming a "do not go out without one" kind of bass weapon for me, very much like the holographic silver Maria Chase BW. The Tide Minnow dives a little deeper than the Maria Chase and rolls from side to side on the retrieve, so they give a decent range of options between them.
Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 85mm), ISO 200, f9, 1/200th
  • The great thing about this area is that there are so many different marks within close proximity of each other. After the early morning plugging session we headed out to a beach location for some bait fishing, but Graham's brother Alan did manage to get a couple of bass swirl on his surface lure while we were setting up. I hit a nice bass of about 5lbs on a crab bait on my first cast - the water looked so good and the tide was just about perfect. I have started to use 30lb braid on my Van Staal spinning reel for this bait fishing, teamed with the Greys BZe 3-50z light shore rod, and I am really liking the directness of the braid for this "static" fishing, as well as for the plugging. My fish hit me so hard on the braid that it went and hooked itself before I could even strike - seeing that fish moving through the water was fantastic, and of course we put it back.

  • Graham was next up with a bass that was nudging 7lbs, as you can see above. It could not have been in any better condition, and it went back strongly. What a scrap in the racing tide, and it was all we could do to stop grinning like a pair of monkeys. Loads of fish were moving around, and gannets and terns were working the bait shoals - this place is alive and it really gets me going to be out fishing and photographing it.

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 200mm), ISO 200, f8, 1/160th

  • I could photograph these fish only for the rest of my life and be happy - and the same for the fishing. Bass are such a blast to be around and they get me every single time. A king among fish, and I feel so lucky to come over here when possible and get in amongst this incredible fishing. In reality today has been a bit slow by Irish standards, but I'll take "slow" any day of the week.

  • Graham had another bass on bait, as did Alan, and we all had a number of dropped bites - not sure why really, but that's fishing. Tomorrow we are heading to a place that I have never fished before, but I know of some big fish from there in the last month or so - when I have time I will post reports here, so keep checking back to see how we do. This is how bassing should be.......

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f4L IS lens (at 155mm), ISO 200, f8, 1/320th

  • The safest way to hold a bass and not get spiked !! It doesn't get much better than this. We are also trying something a little off the wall late tomorrow if the weather lets us.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Back from Norway, off to Ireland - plus some website updates

Canon 1D MK11, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 250, f9, 1/640th, polarising filter
  • I got back home from Norway yesterday afternoon in time to see my two girls before they went to bed, and now I am just about to head off to catch the Fishguard-Rosslare ferry at 6.30pm this evening. Things aren't usually as bananas as this, but working in fishing is never what it seems !! It is getting harder and harder to leave my family behind for these trips away, but at least when I am at home, I am working from home and get to see them plenty. A week after the CLA Game Fair I am going to take a proper week off and spend the entire time with my family, and I can't wait.

  • So, from photographing salmon a couple of days ago to photographing bass fishing - it is going to be a blast to get back to Ireland and fish/photograph with Graham Hill, plus Patrick and a couple of guys coming over from Jersey for a few days. If the weather lets us, we should see some nice fish. The photo above is standing atop a mark that Graham and I will no doubt be fishing sometime tomorrow - how on earth am I going to be able so sleep when I am this excited ?

  • I spoke to Nick Hart on the way back from Heathrow yesterday, and he told me that Neil who guides with him had just landed a 14lb fresh salmon from the Exe - perfect water conditions for them, but poor for us in Norway. It has to be sod's law !!

  • There have been a whole load of new photo essays put up on my website, see this page here to get an overview, and then click on them to have a look. Here are some further details :

Fly fishing for giant coalfish in Norway - click here.

Fly fishing for golden dorado in Argentina - click here.

Steelhead fishing in Canada - click here.

Lure fishing for golden dorado - click here.

Sight fishing for Atlantic salmon in Canada - click here.

  • Anyway, I had better get on and pack my car up now. As much as time allows me to, I will do my best to keep this blog updated with news of our bassing exploits over in Ireland. I then spend a couple of days in north Wales on the way home, so it is going to be a very cool trip indeed. Hope to see you at the CLA Game Fair at the end of the month.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

What a place.......

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens (at125mm), ISO 400, f8, 1/100th

  • This is an incredible place out here - the Namsen is one of the mighty European salmon rivers, and each year some monster salmon are taken during the season. We have been unlucky fishing wise and have come right in the middle of some unseasonal low water conditions, but above you can see the size of fish possible from this stunning river. When the water is up a bit more, fishermen are averaging over nine salmon plus per rod per day on the good beats, and that is some fishing. Lots of big fish are landed every week. I guess I am going to have to come back.....

  • Is it not somewhat ironic that conditions back home in the west country have been good for the salmon, with a silly amount of rain, yet over here in big salmon country, we are hoping for just any rain at all ? I love the fact that fishing is so much bigger than all of us mere mortals who try to tame it - as it gives to us so generously at times, does it not at other times try to break our will with the sheer levels of frustration we can be presented with ? How is that for profound on a Sunday morning ?

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f2.8: IS lens (at 125mm), ISO 400, f5.6, 1/500th

  • In the end, I am here to do a job for Hardy & Greys Ltd., regardless of how the actual fishing conditions are - the salmon might be off the boil, but the weather conditions and light levels have been just about perfect for nailing a whack load of double-hander fishing and casting shots. Fishermen out here use a two-handed rod as naturally as we might use a single-hander. It is such a graceful way of fly fishing and I am really enjoying being around it again. Above is the Hardy & Greys Marketing Manager John Wolstenholme in the middle of a cast - the fact that he is a South African has been by the by. I never mentioned the cricket at all yesterday !! ( I am bad). Come on England.

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens (at 140mm), ISO 400, f8, 1/320th

  • As well as shots of fishing and casting, of course we need a bit of tight stuff of the tackle being used. Fly fishing gear often looks so good when photographed in the most natural way possible, and all I had to do here was to ask Ian Gordon to just keep his hand still for a few seconds as I lined the shot up. It is very deliberate here to focus on the reel and have the rest of the rod gradually de-focusing to the front of the shot.

Canon 1D M111, 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens (at 95mm), ISO 400, f5.6, 1/400th

  • We have been working with an outstanding guide called Thomas Jonasson, who is originally from Sweden. He fell in love with the Namsen as he fished it many times every year, and one day swore to move to Norway and work as a guide. I asked him if he would fish a bit, and as is often the way with the guide, he has the most laid back and easy casting style that repeats itself time and time again. Thomas casts an incredible line, and he makes it looks just so easy. I really like the way this railway bridge has helped to frame some of these casting shots. This river is a dream to be spending time around, so I can only imagine what it is like when the fishing is going off big time.

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens (at 150mm), ISO 400, f6.3, 1/1000th

  • I could happily photograph Ian Gordon Spey casting all day long - he is on another level entirely when he is putting lines out. Ian is raving about the river out here, but he knows more than us about the need for a bit more water moving through. It is no different in Scotland - when conditions are right, salmon fishing has been really good Ian tells me, but when the rivers are low, fishermen are going to struggle anywhere. Ian is going to be at the CLA Game Fair, so make sure to grab hold of him and ask about Spey casting.

  • It is my last day here today, and we are moving closer to the coast to try a different river, and from the sounds of it, we have a good chance of seeing some fish. A couple of small salmon were actually landed yesterday, and I met a Dutch fisherman who had been fishing for trout and then got torn to pieces by a good salmon that hit his fly - always the way !!

  • When I get back home tomorrow, I need to unpack and then re-pack with all my Ireland stuff, ready to drive over there on Tuesday afternoon. I sincerely hope that the weather is going to behave a little bit - I can't wait to get into some decent bass fishing. And then it is on to the Game Fair - I hope to see some of you there.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Stunning double-handed casting

Canon 1D MK111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 400, f5, 1/400, polarising filter
  • I had an easy journey out here to the Namsen river in Norway - a couple of short flights and then a fairly long drive to where are staying. This place is stunning, although the river level is very low - somewhat different to the UK !! Today has been a beautiful day and it was a time to shoot a lot of casting photos. The main guy I am working with is Ian Gordon from Scotland, who is working closely with Hardy Greys on their salmon and double-handed gear - you would not believe how awesome this guy is with a two-handed fly rod. It is pure magic to watch Ian cast, and nailing it on camera is a blast. There is very little Ian does not know about Atlantic salmon fishing and using double-handed rods, but he is just so modest about it all. The local guys here who have watched him cast today were somewhat blown away. There is simply no thrashing of the air and water as there is with my own fly casting - Ian puts immense power in, make no mistake, but it is all used at the right time and in the right way.

  • There are some monster salmon in the Namsen, indeed we saw plenty of fish of all sizes moving around and jumping today, but the light was very bright and only one smallish one was actually landed. But we are just about to head out again to take advantage of the lower light levels - bearing in mind that it is never going to get properly dark at this time of year where we are. I am very glad that my hotel room has got black-out blinds, otherwise my time clock would be all over the place. The chances of a few fish this evening are very good we are told..........

1D MK111, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 200, f16, 1/30th, polarising filter, Gitzo Traveller tripod

  • Above is a stunning little church that overlooks the mighty Namsen river, something that I just had to photograph against this massive blue sky and fluffy white clouds. There is just so much fishing out here in Norway, something that we in the UK really should cotton on to more - we come across and do a bit of "bash big cod" fishing, and there is nowhere like it for that, but there is so much more.......

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens (at 70mm), ISO 400, f8, 1/640th

  • I was walking back to the top of the best to pick up my camera bag when I saw Martin Kelly fishing the head of a stunning looking pool you can see above. The secret here was to underexpose the shot to keep the contrast on the angler and the water, thus keeping the de-focused trees I have used to frame the shots nice and dark.

Canon 1D MK111, 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens (at 70mm), ISO 400, f5, 1/500th, Gitzo Traveller tripod

  • We pulled away from the fishing just after lunch to go and nail some proper casting shots further down river where it was more open, and the light remained perfect. Ian had been casting all morning with this 16' Hardy Swift rod, and when required, was putting out huge lines and covering lots of water. The trained eye will know how good an example of a Snake Roll this is.

  • Anyway, I had better clear my memory cards and get back out there - what a place to be working. I love my job !! And how well is the cricket going ? Come on England, we can do it.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Some of my favourite bass fishing photos

Canon 1D MK11, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 200, f8. 1/125th, polarising filter
  • I thought it might be a bit of fun to create a web gallery of some of my favourite bass fishing photographs that I have shot over the last few years - mainly over in Ireland, but a few from the south west as well. Bass are without doubt one of the fish I most enjoy being around, from both a photographic and a sporting angle, and I have built up a vast library of bass related material. Check here for the bass fishing photo gallery. There is also a link to it on the homepage of this blog.

  • I shot the photo above on the west coast of Ireland, on the stunning and wild Clare coastline - this is local angler Bill Ryan touch ledgering for bass on a remote beach as storm clouds gather. Check here for a photo essay on my trip over there a while back.

  • I have just found out that a couple of "new" fishing programmes of mine were premiered on Discovery RealTime Extra last night - these two half hour programmes, called "Bass Fishing with Henry Gilbey" were cut from the footage of a bass DVD we shot a while back, and I have not seen them yet. But we had a complete blast filming the DVD (my producer/director Shaun is about as good as it gets), and the fishing was insane, so I would imagine that the programmes have turned out ok ..............and you know Discovery, I have a sneaking suspicion that the shows might just get repeated a few times more !!

  • There are a whack load more bassing photos on my website, click here to have a look at them. I am looking at all kinds of things at the moment to give me a dollop of inspiration, for the weather is still completely pants here - how much wind and heavy rain are we going to get ? You've guessed it, I'm fed up with it !! I have worn full waterproofs to walk my dog Jess more in the last few weeks than I did almost the entire winter, and that can't be right. As for going plugging...............

  • But of course there are some guys who are thriving in this wet weather - check out Nick Hart's blog for a report on some fantastic local salmon fishing they are having at the moment. After reading this, it seems a bit strange to be heading over to Norway tomorrow to photograph the same fish !! But it should be a good few days, they have been getting some really big salmon over there this season, so we shall see what happens. I will keep the blog updated as much connections allow me.

  • There is a nice feature of mine in the new Sea Angler (pages 80, 81, 82 and 83), on the steenbras and kob fishing in Namibia (Africa) - I shot these a while ago, but I can never forget the outstanding fishing I have been lucky enough to experience out there. A bunch more photos can be found here as well. Out of this world.

  • Dark, sullen skies outside call for a bit of extreme metal, and this is especially relevant to me, as Norway is of course the spiritual home of black metal - you all knew that didn't you ??!! But this particular band hails from the US, and their latest album is so immense that I can't really put it into words - "Assasins - Black Meddle Part 1" by Nachtmystium is a huge release, and you should be adding this to your collection as soon as possible. Check out a few tracks here. The kind of CD that takes multiple listens to fully open up to you, this is a true "grower" of an album. So good it brings tears of emotion to my eyes - just the kind of thing to have blasting at full volume in my car when I leave for Heathrow at 4.30am tomorrow morning. Ah, the joys of the M5 and M4 motorways........

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

My new fishing book in Germany

  • I have just heard from the German branch of my book publishers Dorling Kindersley (DK) that my new fishing book has been translated into German and will be on sale there soon - with the new style cover that you can see above. I really like their choice of main cover photo, it is a shot I took out in British Columbia (Canada) last autumn, of the legendary steelhead fishing. Come to think of it, the weather we had out there was very much like our current British summer !! You can see a load of photos from the trip here.

  • If you had no idea that I have even got a new fishing book out, then please check here for all the details, and then click here and get yourself a copy. I still can't really believe I did this book, it was a scary amount of work to cram into the last six months of 2007, but we did it in the end.

  • I am starting to get my gear together for my Norway trip, leaving Heathrow on Thursday morning - flying to Oslo and then connecting up to Trondheim from there. All I want is perfect light and a load of big Norwegian salmon - not too much to ask is it ? I seriously can not wait to photograph this fishing, and I will keep this blog updated as much as internet connections allow me to.

  • I am also getting my gear together for my bass trip over to Ireland, and then north Wales on the way back - I have just under a day when I touch down at Heathrow on Monday to drive back to Plymouth, see my family, transfer and back up all the Norway salmon photos, do as many emails and phone calls as possible, clear the memory cards and portable hard drives, and then drive across to south east Ireland. Tight, but it should all be ok. When you work for yourself and on your own in the fishing world, you need to be able to move fast and remain flexible. Modern technology and communications have helped me no end in my work.

  • I'll take my lure and light bait fishing gear, plus all kinds of clothes, from t-shirts to wet weather gear - you never know what you'll get over in Ireland, but we have nailed bass whatever the weather so I am not unduly bothered. I would never even think of going bass fishing without my chest waders and wading boots, and on this trip I'll take my Hardy EWS breathable waders and wading boots, plus a pair of Greys GRX breathable waders as back up. If a mobile style of bass fishing is your thing, you seriously owe it to yourself to get some proper chest waders and wading boots - they will revolutionise your fishing.

  • I had a long chat yesterday with Nick Hart, discussing our fishing demonstrations that we will be doing at the CLA Game Fair at the end of this month (full details here). I reckon we have got these ones nailed down tight, and they should be a blast to do, and to come and see of course - hope you can make it, please give us a little clap at the end in case nobody else does !! I really like doing these demonstrations and the feedback has always been very good in the past. It is going to be a fantastic three days at Blenheim.

  • It seems as though the bass are around in fairly good numbers at the moment, but the weather is preventing a lot of us from getting at them. A friend of mine managed a decent plugging session before these big winds came in, and he had some nice bass to about 4lbs, plus he was smashed by a really good fish that crash dived on him and did him in the rocks. There are some nice fish coming from Jersey, but again when the weather gives way a bit, and the same over in Ireland. There seem to be a decent number of smallish bass on baits around South Devon at the moment (with the odd good one thrown in), but the sea is going to have to calm down for the lures to work again. There is so much colour to the water at the moment that it looks more like the Bristol Channel in close.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Big shore caught conger eel landed

  • I got a text message from one of Plymouth's best shore anglers this morning, telling me that he had finally gone and done it - last night Rob Yorke landed a 43lb conger eel from the River Tamar, and I know how much this fish means to him. Well done Rob, you deserve this fish, I know how hard you have been chasing a 40lb plus eel. They are a hard fish to come by at that size off the shore.

  • Conger eels are one of the most powerful fish we can catch off the shore in the UK, and the 40lb mark is a true milestone to get past. Immensely powerful fish that require serious dedication, personally I have never got past 40lb off the shore, and I have spent far too many hours of my life trying. I know how hard it is to land a fish of this size, having lost one over 50lbs on the gaff when I was at university, so my respect for what Rob has done is huge - the monster I lost some years ago gave me nightmares for months afterwards. I also lost a huge eel when we were filming I think it was for my first TV series, but that is another story..............

  • Below is Rob Yorke with a nice mullet he caught from the tiny Channel Island of Sark a couple of years ago when we were across there in winter. You will have to go a long way to find a nicer guy or more accomplished angler than Rob, so I could not be more pleased for him - it is one thing to set yourself goals in fishing, but to achieve them is another thing entirely. He has had more good fish off the shore than a lot of us put together, and I know how hard he works at it.

  • I have been asked a lot over the years about the people in fishing that I really admire, and I always answer the same - I have no time for "fishing celebrities or experts", or people like that (the word "expert" is one that I have a particular dislike for in fact). But I do have the utmost respect for fishermen who really know their fishing - the fish, the water, the tides, the feeding patterns and times, weather influences, reading the water, etc. The kinds of things that take years of dedication to accumulate - watercraft, one of the most important and often overlooked things in fishing. These are the kind of anglers that I strive to learn from.
Canon 1D MK11, 24-70 f2.8L lens (at 45mm), ISO 320, f4.5, 1/200
  • The River Tamar is big fish country - hard to fish unless you know the tides and conditions, and tough because you are going to blank more often than you catch when chasing good fish. But nowhere in the UK has thrown up more big eels over the years, including Martin Larkin's current shore record of just over 68lbs. We all know there are far bigger fish down there, but getting them out is another matter entirely - fish that can swim as fast backwards as they can forwards are somewhat expert at exploiting weaknesses in your gear, and also at getting back into some kind of sanctuary. I hate to think of the number of times these things have smashed me to pieces, with a certain degree of disdain as well !!

  • The most famous big fish marks in the Tamar are Devil's Point and Mutton Cove - both spots chuck up big conger eels, plus lots of decent thornback rays and some nice cod in winter, plus anything and everything at times. You have to fish these places to realise just how deep and tidal the water is.

  • Rob said he fished for only two hours last night, with Mark Bryce, and the successful bait was mullet, a known big eel bait. He said he hit the fish and literally held it as hard as he could, to stop it diving back down and breaking him up. It must have been some sight to see that thing coming up in the headlights. Mark helped Rob get the eel out of the water. Well done guys - that is a serious fish.

  • While those two were out fishing, I was watching one of the most exciting Wimbledon finals I can remember - while I really wanted Federer to get the six titles in a row, I have to say that Nadal deserved his victory. What a match, I could hardly watch for the whole fifth set it was so tense. It must have been amazing to actually have been there and watched it live. It has to have been some of the best men's tennis ever played - you would not find me facing one of those serves, I would be going down fast with a convenient calf injury to get out of the way of those howitzers.

  • Is that more rain I can see out of my window ? Surely not...............thoughts of emigrating are becoming all the more frequent.