Sunday, 30 November 2008

Bitterly cold, but the bass are still feeding

  • It was just Graham and I fishing this morning, and we decided it was worth a go on the crab baits - we took lure rods as well, but with a biting northerly wind and increased colour to the water, both of us felt this morning was the time to put baits down for the fish. On my first cast I had a good bite, but the fish dropped it. A little later, Graham connected with a decent fish on a rod he won in a match the other day - a Greys GRX-S bass rod. Above you can see him beaching the bass. Check out those huge skies that are a serious joy for me to use in my photos - not bad for the last day of November !!

  • Here is the result - a cracking bass weighing 8lb 8oz, glinting perfectly in the early morning sunshine. The weather continues to be stunning, and although there was not such a hard frost this morning, a far fresher northerly certainly kept the temperature right down - note the hat and gloves again. The fishing was slower today by Ireland's standards, but how often do you see an 8lb plus bass coming in ? Still pretty awesome fishing to me.

  • We did try the soft plastics today, but apart from a couple of bumps we hooked nothing on them. Not completely sure why I have to admit, but there were far less fish moving around this morning. Perhaps the cold has finally got to them a bit.....or perhaps not.

  • Above is a nice bass of 5lb that I managed to nail on a small crab bait - a typical knock-back slack, then tap, tap, thump right over kind of bass bite that was essentially unmissable (he says !!), and it gave a good scrap in the tide.

  • Here you can see the sort of peeler crab baits we were using this morning - a simple 4/0 pennel rig fished off a Varivas 3-way swivel (the lead is connected via a split-ring I put on the 3-way swivel), a short 35lb fluorocarbon hooklength,and a 4oz plain lead that can roll around in the tide and find its own resting place. Still the best all round shore fishing hooks I can find are the Varivas Big Mouth Extra pattern - get them here. All nice and easy stuff, and the bass like it just fine.

  • Graham and I are heading back out for a few hours' cod fishing over the high water this evening, and then we have made a plan to get out on the rocks tomorrow for some more lure fishing. It might be a bit of a gamble, but we are both itching to fish a certain mark on the back tide that has produced plenty of fish in the past. We shall see....

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Fantastic bass session on soft plastics

  • This morning was one of the coldest mornings I have ever fished (yes, I know your hearts are bleeding for me), but as soon as the sun came up and the tide turned, the bass came on the feed in a proper way. But those couple of hours before sun up were bitter - a biting north wind, a frost so heavy that the sand was frozen, and as many clothes on as I could wear and still fish effectively. Above is Graham kindly holding a 7lb bass of mine that I nailed on a MegaBass Xlayer soft plastic lure. Where we are fishing is working really well on these soft plastics.
  • Note that Graham is wearing a hat and gloves to fish in, tendrils of mist are coming off the water, and the hills behind are covered in a hard frost. Smashing good bass in the depths of winter is not bad at all, but to be perfectly honest, not much surprises me about the bass fishing over here in Ireland any more - it is that good. When it is firing, it is off the scale. I know how good it is, and I learn a huge amount more every single day I am here fishing with these guys. I am head over in heels in love with Ireland and its fishing - as you can probably guess from this blog.......
  • Above is Patrick bringing another nice bass in to the shore. Look at those huge blue skies !! This is the end of November and I have rarely seen weather this good at any time of year. It might be very cold, but who cares when the bass are feeding so hard.
  • Another perfect Irish bass, once again taken on a MegaBass XLayer soft plastic lure - these things work so well, and the guys over here that I fish with regularly are really getting into the ins and outs of fishing for bass with soft plastics. They have their time and place, and I have masses to learn, but they have given us the chance to smash fish when most of the open coast at the moment is flat calm, gin clear and hardly conducive to conventional lure fishing.
  • Here is Tom Hollyhock with another cracking Irish bass, to go with the two stunners he had yesterday, including that monster 11lb fish. This one above weighed 9lb 8oz, and you can guess the successful lure by now I am sure. We worked out that Tom has had three bass for a total of about 27lbs - that is some average size of fish, and I think the guy is completely blown away by what he has seen over the last couple of days. Tom flies back to Germany tomorrow, no doubt planning a return trip already.
  • This is the size and colour of MegaBass Xlayer that Tom had his 9lb 8oz bass on this morning, rigged to fish behind a jig head. They might look like a lump of fancy plastic, but there must be something about them that the bass can not resist. Anyway, I need to get ready for another go tomorrow. Awesome.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Ireland still firing for huge bass.....

  • There were a lot of bass moving around when we got to our fishing spot before first light this morning, and Tom above nailed this 11lb bass on his second cast ever in Ireland !! Well done sir, that is some fishing. You can see the joy a fish like this brings us, just check out Graham and Tom celebrating in the photo above. A fantastic bass in outstanding condition, it was hooked within twenty yards of the shoreline on a soft plastic lure. A MegaBass XLayer to be precise, fished on a jig. Second cast of the morning !!
  • Above is Tom with the same 11lb bass prior to a safe release of the fish - I watched it swim out into the main current in my headlamp. What a sight. There were some seriously big fish swirling around early this morning, but they were no pushover at all. All credit to Tom for fishing so well. I had a couple of crocodiles chase my lure with a big bow wave and then turn away at the last moment. Heart stopping stuff.
  • There was a hard frost this morning, and barely a cloud in the sky all day as you can see above. What a stunning day for the end of November. Graham, Patrick and I weighed in with a few small bass, but today was Tom's day without a doubt. I love coming to Ireland more and more. What a place. Guess how many other anglers we saw today ? Yes, you are right - none !! I reckon we walked close to 10 miles today on the hunt for bass, and we are up early again tomorrow morning to see if we can nail a few more.
  • Above is the product of Tom's third cast in Ireland - another cracking bass, again taken on a MegaBass XLayer soft plastic lure. They can be hard to track down, but you can get them from here. You can see one of the lures rigged on a jig in the photo below. The guys out here are really switching on to using soft plastic lures for their bass fishing, and they are a blast to use in the right places. I have a huge amount to learn about using soft plastics for bass fishing.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

On the ferry to Ireland

  • We have just left Fishguard on the Stena Line ferry over to Rosslare - due to arrive over in Ireland about 6pm tonight, and then I will get myself to the hotel and meet Graham to make a plan for tomorrow. I am just a little bit excited to be heading back over !!

  • It was an awesome gig last night at the ULU in London - Satyricon were immense, as I thought they might be, and the sound was generally outstanding. I have wanted to see these guys for ages now, and it was a blast. Norwegian black metal pouring off the stage in a wave of technical brilliance is as good as a gig is going to get, and they played a really strong selection of tracks. I am a bit gutted to be missing a gig on 1st December up in London - Cradle of Filth, Gorgoroth and Septic Flesh all on the same bill. I bet that is going to be immense !!

  • I had a good couple of meetings up in London yesterday, so we shall see what comes of them. I learnt a lot about various ways to take some of my work related ideas forward to the next level, and I met some good people into the bargain. I now have to go away and develop a few ideas further......

  • I got a text message from Graham yesterday to say that it has been fishing well, and that the weather forecast was looking pretty good for what we want to try and do. I had to try and keep my work face on all day, while inside I was in a complete state of over excitement about going fishing and photographing in Ireland. I just about managed to keep my sensible head on through my meetings, but now I am in full fishing work mode, itching to get to Rosslare. Reports and photos to come in due course.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Off to Ireland, via London

  • I have not seen photographs yet of the monster Irish bass from Saturday, but I have spoken about it with Graham again - what a fish. Part of me wishes that it had at least been weighed and then released, so we could know exactly how huge this bass really was, but it does not really matter. It was a huge fish, and no doubt there are some larger ones there......

  • I am heading over to Ireland on the Thursday morning Stena Line ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, and if I can get hold of a photo of this huge fish when I am over there (people and computers/cameras eh ??!!) then I will post it up here as soon as I do. But before I can get myself over to one of my favourite places on earth (Ireland), I have to head up to London this evening for a couple of meetings there on Wednesday, and then I can get all emotional when I go to see the Satyricon gig with a friend of mine. Work, metal, off to Ireland for more work (that I love) - sounds good to me. This is our winter time and I'll take whatever weather we get over there, and I heave heard from Graham that there are also a few cod showing, as well as the bass. I don't reckon on getting much sleep over there on this trip, but who really cares ? Coffee, early morning extreme metal in the car and fishing photography can keep me going for days on end.
  • Have a look at part 2 of my new modern bass fishing series in the latest issue of Sea Angler magazine - above is a photo from the feature on pages 50, 51, 52 and 53, all about where to go looking for bass. While it is impossible to cover everything you want to in just one feature, the issue of what I always call "watercraft" is in my mind the most vital part of any sort of fishing. Far too many of us spend far too much time worrying about rods, reels, and weird rigs, when in fact we should be spending far more time thinking about our quarry. This is partly why bass fishing drives me so much - I am forced to go back to the drawing board somewhat and learn new skills all over again.

  • And as for last Saturday's rugby against the South Africans - gutted, truly gutted. As you can imagine, I had some "interesting" emails from some friends down there early on Monday morning, gloating over the record defeat, and generally asking what the hell happened. You tell me !! It has been hard to be an English rugby supporter since the glory of Sydney in November 2003 (the best day of my life), but we soldier on. One knock back after the other, but still we soldier on. The best man is in charge of the team, I truly believe that, but it looks like a team of scared kids on the pitch, almost frozen with indecision and a lack of free thought, endlessly recycling slow ball that moves laterally across the pitch with very little incision or depth. And we used to have a pack of forwards that were feared throughout world rugby, but not anymore. Come on England, let's get back to a squad of leaders like we had in 2003, and let's please start winning again. Make us proud, and save me from any more abuse from the South Africans I know. I need to be able to turn up there with my head held high.

  • I am not sure when I will be posting here next, but most likely it will be when I am over in Ireland, so check back here for various trip reports - hopefully with a few photos of some decent fish and stunning light. We shall see !! This is my last trip away before Christmas, so it is going to be a great one whatever happens. Any trip to Ireland is just about perfect for me anyway. Bring it on.....

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Is this the largest bass ever caught ?

  • I got a phone call from my mate Graham Hill last night, and I knew something was up straight away from the excited tone of his voice. A friend of his had been out bass fishing yesterday, from the same location where Graham caught his monster from last weekend (see here for the report), and this guy has gone and caught a truly, seriously, monster bass, the kind of fish that virtually every single one of us are never going to see in our lifetime...........

  • Graham's mate Brian caught a bass that had a length of 93cm, and that is the only measurement I know of so far, but even that length potentially puts the fish close to (or even over) the 20lb mark. What is most impressive to me is the fact that this magnificent fish was released unharmed, so the angler in question is never going to know what kinds of records he might have broken. You have my utmost respect. The fish was also shore caught remember, and was taken while lure fishing - a staggering achievement, and I am just so pleased that the guy took it upon himself to let the fish swim away again. That bit blows me away. I know I would do the same thing myself, and I am not about to damn anybody for wanting to take a potential record fish and have it officially weighed and identified for the record books, but it really is an admirable thing to do to catch a fish like that and make sure it swims away again afterwards. He knows what he has achieved.

  • These are the only details I know so far, but I will put up more here as and when I hear more about it. Graham tells me that he has seen some photos of the massive fish (he was not out fishing himself), and that it was a seriously fat and good conditioned bass. Just how big was it ? Graham and Pat have both been saying to me for ages now that they believe there are record size bass swimming around the south east Irish coastline, and with all that I have seen and heard, I have never doubted them for a second. A fish this size simply proves once again how productive this stretch of coast really is - ok, not always are the conditions going to be correct for awesome fishing (nowhere on earth fishes well all the time), but if you hit it right then I know of no other place like it.

  • It is worth reading about bass lengths and weights here and here. Whatever this monster bass from yesterday actually weighed, it is a hell of a thing to have done. A lure caught, shore caught bass of this size is something else, and the particular place they are catching these fish from has potential for some even better fishing, and potentially all through the year as well if they get the conditions. The mind boggles.

  • As for the rugby yesterday, I am in complete shock - more thoughts to come when I have come to terms with the result. Gutted is an understatement.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Outstanding black metal photo book

The cover of Peter Beste's book - "True Norwegian Black Metal"
  • I have just got hold of the most awesome photo book called "True Norwegian Black Metal" that really should be part of any metal freaks' collection. Anybody with any interest in black metal will I am sure be aware of the US photographer Peter Beste - there is nobody I know of who has done what he has done. He has got right to the heart of this fascinating sub-culture and come out with a collection of incredible photos, many of which you will have seen in various music magazines etc. Check out Peter Beste's website right here, and check out some of his incredible black metal photos here. This guy has got proper talent and I am really pleased to have got hold of a copy of his new book. I know you can get it on Amazon., because that's where I got mine.

  • The great thing about black metal (music aside) is that it is a highly visual, theatrical form of music that really lends itself to being properly photographed. Whatever your feelings are about what went on some years ago now, black metal has morphed into a thriving musical genre that covers the globe. Norway though is always referred to as the spiritual home of black metal, and they happen to have some awesome fishing as well. I have just heard of another monster halibut in fact, around the 400lb mark - that is some fish. See how easily I can slip between my two favourite subjects ? I am really glad that a decent photographer has dedicated proper time to covering the visual side of extreme metal.

  • The photographer Peter Beste has also made a documentary on black metal, and more specifically the mighty Gorgoroth and their main guy Gaahl (listening to them as I type this, inspirational stuff !!), and you can go to his MySpace page right here and watch it. Scroll down the page, it is on the left hand side. Isn't the internet great for things like this ?

  • I am getting very excited about heading over to Ireland later next week. I have got a couple of meetings in London next Wednesday, followed by the Satyricon gig that evening. Rock on !! Then on Thursday morning I will drive to Fishguard to catch the Stena Line ferry over to Rosslare, ready I hope for four days of intense fishing and photography for some cod and bass. All I can do is hope that the weather allows us to do as much as possible, but I'll take whatever comes along, especially at this time of year. It is meant to be getting properly cold down here over the weekend, so we shall see what happens.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Some big Isles of Scilly mullet

  • My mate Del rang me up from the Isles of Scilly this morning to give me an update on his recent mullet fishing exploits - and the old boy's been been doing pretty good !! Mullet to 7lbs last week, and a nice fish of just over 6lbs this morning, before the winds swung around on him and killed it for a while. That is some outstanding fishing, yet so few anglers have any idea that the Isles of Scilly produces some awesome mullet when the conditions are right. It is coming up now for their best time of year on the mullet and I am hoping to get over if time and weather allow, sometime over the next couple of months.

  • Below you can see Del bringing a nice mullet to the net from a filming trip we did over there some time ago now - there are few places I have been on this earth that are as pretty and unspoilt as the Isles of Scilly. Del and his mate have got all the mullet fishing you could hope for to themselves. How about the outrageous shore fishing for pollack as well ? One of my all time favourite species off the shore, and one of my favourite places ever. You can't go there and not fall in love with the place. If you are lucky enough, it will be Del and his taxi that picks you up from the airport - he runs Island Taxis. Del is always really helpful towards visiting fishermen, especially if the bribe involves good quality mullet hooks.
  • Not that we get excited when we are out fishing or anything. Below you can see Del frantically making hand signals to me about some rather large mullet he was seeing - fishermen never exaggerate !! I remember filming this particular episode in fact, and we saw some cracking mullet swimming around, but the crew kept spooking them because they needed to be around us all the time. I had to ask them to hang back and let Del and I do our stuff, and as far as I can remember, we got a mullet or two for the camera. I might have got somewhat overexcited as well - mullet tend to do that to me. Proper fish.

  • One of these days the phone is going to go with Del telling me about a double figure mullet he has just caught - it is going to happen. An old friend of his had one of just under 10lbs a few winters ago, and Del has had a proper double in his net before, only for the net to break and the fish get away (you need a bigger and newer net). I remember that particular phone call being more of a counselling session than anything else !! He is seeing some huge fish at the moment, often just out of range, but the fish will make a mistake soon enough. Del told me his mate got smashed to pieces by a seriously proper fish last week on those big tides.

  • Seems to me that a lot of fishing is really beginning to pick up at the moment, especially on the bass and mullet front - the extreme amount of rain we had in August has to have had a far greater effect than we tended to think. My mate Andy had a couple of nice bass on Sunday morning on the Cornish coastline, including a fish just under 5lbs and a tidy one that came off, all on lures. I would have been out with him normally, but I had my in-laws staying with us for the weekend and I wanted to be around. They are very cool people. But I knew that Andy would catch bass - the tides and conditions were about as spot on as I can remember all year.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Monster Irish bass

  • A huge well done to my mate Graham Hill over in south east Ireland - he landed a bass of just over 14lbs on Sunday morning on a lure. That is some fish !! This without doubt proves a couple of things that I have been banging on about for some time now - that Ireland offers some of the finest shore fishing for bass that there is, and that Graham is one of the most accomplished anglers that I have had the pleasure to fish with and work around. I know how hard he works at his fishing and how much thought he pits into it, and the rewards keep on coming. I am over the moon for the man.

  • We spoke on Saturday evening and he told me of his plans to head out early the next morning because the tides and conditions were just about perfect, so I was half expecting some kind of message the next morning. Graham has six bass on lures, with the best going over the 14lb mark (you can see a photo and further details here). I have never even seen a bass that big, but the guys over there believe there are far bigger fish around, and I know that Graham has had a couple even larger himself. Whilst it was a great text message to read, in all honesty the news did not surprise me that much - he's an awesome angler and he is fishing an awesome bit of coastline. I am over there later next week and I can't wait. I am hoping to get the chance to photograph a bit of cod and bass fishing, plus whatever the weather and conditions throw at us.

  • The successful lure for this monster bass was I believe the very same white/silver Tide Minnow Surf that I was talking about the other day, see here. Sometimes you just get a feeling about certain lures, and I guess that Graham felt the same way !! You can get these bass slayers right here. All the Duo Tide Minnow lures seem to cast and fish fantastically well.

  • Below is Graham with a roughly 9lb bass that he nailed back in July when I was over photographing with him and a bunch of Jersey bass freaks. See the photos from that trip right here. We had an epic few days and I know the guys came away somewhat blown away by the quality of the fishing. Honestly, thoughts of moving over there for good are occupying my thoughts a lot these days.
  • But not as much as Iggle Piggle's tune !! Still having problems removing this one from my head - I did not have the heart to break my youngest daughter's Iggle Piggle teddy when they were out on Friday morning, but I did have a glint in my eye when I went downstairs to make a cup of coffee and saw it staring maliciously at me. "I could rip you to pieces in a frenzied rage" were my initial thoughts, but then I managed to reign myself in and think about my girls. I am a mature father of two now, and I am not about to rip an innocent teddy to shreds - perhaps just a little smack in the chops though ? Iggle Piggle is the Devil in disguise.

  • And as for the England v Australia match on Saturday afternoon, the less said the better I reckon. I accept that I will be receiving numerous abusive emails from my South African friends this week, ahead of next Saturday's game, but I can take that ok. What I can't take is the fact that the Aussie scrum pushed us off the ball. We are a young side though and I trust Martin Johnson to get them on the right road given a bit of time.....

Friday, 14 November 2008

Have I struck a chord ?

  • While this might primarily be a fishing and extreme metal blog, it seems that my brief comments yesterday on the songs from children's TV programmes getting inside your head and not letting go might have struck a chord - so the problem is bigger than I thought ?

  • I'll tell you how bad it is with me at the moment - I went out for a walk with my sheepdog Jess at 6.45am this morning, with "Iggle Piggle" still playing on continuous mode around my skull. The sounds of another day coming to life ? Hell no, I've got this inane drivel going on in my head."Come on Henry, get a grip", I say to myself, surely I can stop this nonsense.

  • It's just about then that this sadistic little voice in my head begins to rattle through the various children's TV programmes that my wife and I let our two young girls watch. "No, be gone Satan, leave me alone", I plead with my head, but no way, where's the fun in that ? So as Iggle Piggle exits my skull, I am then joined almost immediately by an arguably even worse song, the theme tune to "Balamory". Try taking your dog for a walk with that bouncing around inside your head and you will understand my frustrations.........

  • I even had a rational discussion about it with my wife over breakfast, while our youngest girl tried to empty her Weetabix over her head of course. I have a theory that these theme tunes to the various programmes have been scientifically written and designed to get inside an adult's skull and slowly but surely drive them mad. Kids love them and remember them, and the fact that they can so easily sing along to them makes the problem even worse. When I mentioned my new Balamory problems over the breakfast table, both my girls started singing it. Help !!

  • What was wrong with the awesome cartoons that we had during our childhoods, or do I just sound like I am getting old ? I bought a Tom & Jerry DVD for my eldest girl a while back and she loved it, and there is no annoying theme tune to drive you mad. Couldn't kids' programmes go back to being like this ?

  • Anybody out there have to actually watch Balamory ? If there is one thing I can't stand it is all this PC garbage that we are polluted with day in, day out, and if there is a more PC show than Balamory then I haven't seen it yet. My girls love it, and I sometimes sit there with them and watch it (I tell you, I lead a seriously glamorous life here in Plymouth). While they laugh and giggle, I sit there and imagine giving a few of the dreadful smiling clones a proper smack. I haven't got a racist bone in my body, but that is a hell of a "selection" of different people to be living in a Scottish town. The theme tune was written by the Devil - they say that black metal is Satanic, but they obviously ain't heard Balamory yet.

  • LazyTown anybody ? While I cheer for Robby Rotten and secretly wish to beat that bouncing doughnut Sportacus with a big stick, my girls sing the theme tune and dance to that wretched bint Stephanie's hyperactive routines. My eldest has even got a Lazy Town duvet cover. What was wrong with watching a cat and a mouse beat the living hell out of each other ?

  • And what on earth is going on in the programme "In the Night Garden" ? If the producers of that one have not been smoking scary quantities of "special tobacco" then I'm a Dutchman. My youngest girl loves it, but it gives me nightmares. I still have not figured out what on earth is going on, and I am 36 next year. Iggle Piggle has already just about fried my brain, and I can feel a bit of Upsy Daisy and the Tumblyboos coming on sometime soon......please, no !!

  • Big Cook, Little Cook - I can't even talk about this one without wanting to cry. Do all producers of children's programmes do drugs ? Honestly, a grown man flying about on a stick while they cook up utter filth and then poison some poor unfortunate wretch with it. It's sick. It should be banned.

  • All this pain from the mere half hour of TV that we allow our girls after their tea ? You better believe it. If you have kids, I have no doubt you can see feel my pain - I would lay down my life for my girls, but right at this moment I am seriously considering taking the BBC to court for messing with my head. Perhaps we should start a campaign to have children's TV brought back to the good old days of violent cartoons, rubbish theme tunes and gloriously un-PC subject matters.

  • Back to fishing and metal next week I promise. Well done England last weekend on the rugby front - by no means perfect, but on the way I believe. I can't wait for the Australia game tomorrow and I feel pretty good about it. I am just off downstairs now to jump up and down on my youngster's Iggle Piggle teddy while they are all out for the morning.....

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Plenty of fish, but no cod

  • Should have been there the night before !! Both Simon Jackson and I reckoned there would be a fair sea running at Chesil after the winds we have had recently, but in actual fact it was virtually flat calm and incredibly bright with the moon out. A stunning night and great fun to catch a load of fish, but really we were after cod - and they resolutely were not playing ball at all. I reckon the previous night would have seen far better conditions, for recent reports have been of some cracking fishing up there.

  • Whacking out baits off the beach is a little bit different to the bass fishing that I have been concentrating on, but it was a blast to get the Penn 525 Mag reels out, clip on some pulley rigs and make up some delightful looking squid, lug and crab baits. Apart from light tackle bassing on the Irish beaches, the majority of my shore fishing is off the rocks, and I tend to feel a bit "lost" on a huge beach like Chesil where I can't read the water and make head or tail of what is going on beneath the surface. But I was lucky to be fishing with Simon who knows the beach well, so I was in safe hands. Rest assured that he comprehensively outfished me on the dogfish and whiting side of things, but I was concentrating more on putting out big baits and hoping for a nice cod. That's my excuse anyway.

  • Above is one of the generally small and somewhat anemic whiting we had last night, but at least they kept the rod tips bouncing away. Dogfish I can always do without, but we all know that they have saved many a potentially blank session. What surprised me last night was the number of anglers all along the beach - great to see and I hope this carries on right through the winter. Cod have an almost mythical allure to us UK shore anglers, and I dread to think of the countless thousands of hours I have chasing them in years gone by. Worth every single minute though.

  • Any of you with young kids out there will know all about a problem I have right at this very moment - and it is driving me completely mad. My wife and I let our two young girls have no more than half an hour of children's television a day, right after their tea and just before we take them upstairs to give them a bath. Most of the stuff they watch seems to be complete drivel to me (Lazy Town anyone ?), but they seem to love it, and we make sure they watch programmes with at least a little "merit".

  • But what is this problem ? The f£%$&%$ songs that are played during the programmes, when they get in your head and refuse to leave you alone. Not very extreme metal or rough and tumble I know, but at the moment I simply can not get this "Iggle Piggle" song from the programme In the Night Garden out of my head !!!! My youngest daughter was given an Iggle Piggle teddy for her birthday on Monday and it keeps playing the tune. Totally inane, completely stupid, designed for kids, and last night on the beach I had this wretched song going off in my head all the time. I even had it bouncing around my skull when I was taking Jess for a walk early this morning. What do I do ? Help me.....

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

New issue of Catch magazine

  • A new online fly fishing magazine was launched a couple of months ago, see here for all the details. Called "Catch" magazine, it is full of the most outrageously sexy fly fishing photography and short films, and I even managed to have a load of my stuff in the premier issue. Not bad for a little old UK fishing photographer !!

  • Anyway, the next issue is out, and you owe it to yourself to have a good look through it, especially if like me you live in the UK where we are heading into (grey) winter. Blue skies, good looking fish, locations to dream of, and some very cool short films as well. Check here for issue number 2. I had the "Greatest Hits" slot in the first issue, and I am really glad to see that one of the all time great fishing photographers quite rightly has those pages this time (I was merely warming the seat up) - to anybody with any interest in good looking fly fishing, I am sure the name R. Valentine Atkinson needs no introduction at all. The man is pure class and I had the privilege of meeting him in Denver a couple of years ago. Yes, you guessed it, we talked photography and fishing !! Check out Val's website right here, and look in the new Catch magazine from page 8 onwards for some truly breathtaking photos of the world of fishing. He is what I call a proper photographer.

  • Catch magazine is full of material that will inspire you, and if the New Zealand photos from page 90 onwards do not have you staring slack-jawed in pure wonder then you have no soul. I have to get down there someday, but I have always been a bit worried that I might love it so much that I never come home........

  • Anyway, with my talk of grey UK winters, I can't see a cloud in the sky today here in Plymouth - what a stunning morning. Later on I am heading off up to Chesil Beach to shoot a bunch of photos. If some cod turn up then that would be great, but we will take whatever comes along. As anybody who reads this blog will know, I have been doing mainly bass fishing this year, so perhaps tonight I might actually swing a lead (safely and without any attempt at a pendulum cast) in anger. Could be interesting......

  • My mates over in south east Ireland I know are getting highly overexcited about this decent weather and the building tides - I think they rather fancy some serious time on the bass over the next few days. Best of luck guys, and I will post info here as and when I hear it. It is this time of year when a proper crocodile of a fish can turn up, whether on bait or lure. Seriously, every single day I am wrestling with a desire to sell up over here and move over to Ireland - all I have to do is to persuade my wife that we should do it, and that "no, of course not, I wouldn't go fishing all the time" ??!! She knows me too well.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Tournament casting

  • A couple of friends of mine have just got into a bit of tournament casting, and I think they surprised themselves when they went to their first casting tournament in Cornwall on Sunday. They are both seriously talented anglers who catch more fish than a lot of us put together, and they can both put baits where they need to most of the time - but with a lot of anglers, there is always the question of "how far is my lead actually going ?" (and on the flip side, a lot of anglers wildly exaggerate how far they are casting. 200 yards with bait ? Dream on !!! Most guys have no idea how far 200 yards actually is.)

  • I used to do a fair bit of tournament casting when I was at university down here in Plymouth (those were the days - as much time as I wanted), and I was taught how to pendulum cast by a really kind local angler called Kelvin Bedford. Never once did he clutter up our minds with endless technical rubbish, rather he helped me and a couple of mates to simply develop our casting to the point where we were doing pretty well. My mate Chris could chuck a lead an awesome distance.

  • I did ok at a few casting tournaments (and I had huge fun doing so), but I had always promised myself that if I ever went casting instead of fishing, then the casting would be knocked on the head immediately. I caught myself one day heading off to practise casting when the weather and tides were perfect for fishing, and that was the last time for me. To this day I have never done a pendulum cast when I am out fishing, and I still believe there is no need for it at all on the beach or the rocks.

  • Yes, learning to pendulum cast properly was a very good thing to do, but a full pendulum cast belongs on the tournament field only. It creates huge power if done properly, but it is impossible to hold on to a full blooded tournament pendulum cast when you are in a proper fishing situation. I have still yet to meet an angler who can execute what I would call a "really good pendulum cast" when out fishing. Instead I have had to duck far too many times as people give it a go and do nothing but endanger themselves and us guys around them. Leads and baits flying around all over the place is downright dangerous, and far too many anglers simply are not compressing their rods at all (look at the photo above - that is Julian Shambrook bending a rod properly). No compression ? No distance.................

  • But, and this is a big but - learning to pendulum cast taught me one vital thing : how to bend a beachcasting rod properly. I learnt what it took to compress these things, and from that knowledge, I then developed my own kind of out and out "fishing cast" for those times when a bit of distance is required. It delivers huge power if needs be, but it is always under control and I am never swinging a big lead and bait around my head and causing danger to guys around me. It works just fine, it gets me out there if needs be, and I can repeat it again and again.

  • And as we all know, more often than not we end up casting right over the fish !! Casting is a blast, and if whacking leads over grass is your thing, then that is fantastic. Me ? I've done it and I did fine, but personally I am more interested in learning all I can about the fish.

  • Anyway, I need to tell you about another great extreme metal release - they keep on coming this year. 2008 is going to go down as a great metal year (that keeps denting my wallet far too often). And Norway has to be the most productive metal country on this earth. Satyricon have been around for ages, and they keep on putting out quality albums that offer a great mix of cold, harsh, but ever so catchy and memorable black metal (or whatever you want to call it), and their latest CD "The Age of Nero" is no exception. Pounding drums (Frost is awesome), a unique guitar sound, great production, and a bunch of songs destined to pummel my ear drums for many happy hours. This is a monster. My youngest daughter was 2 yesterday, and she loves it - how much more of a recommendation do you need ?

Saturday, 8 November 2008

A front cover

  • This is my cover photo on the current edition of Trout Fisherman that is in the shops right now. Check out the feature inside on pages 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11, shot with Nick Hart earlier this year at Burton Springs Fishery up on the north Somerset coast. Very close in fact to a few spots I used to fish a lot for rays and cod. It's Nick that you can see on the cover - one of those fantastic big blue sky winter days when everything is perfect for photography.

  • I have had a few front covers with Trout Fisherman this year - see here, here, and here. It's always a kick to get one, and I like to see what the various designers choose to use. A lot of people have no idea that photography is such a huge part of my work in fishing, and it seems to be growing and growing.

  • The main thing going on today is obviously the fact that a brand new England rugby team under Martin Johnson (we are definitely not worthy) is playing the first of a series of autumn internationals. Is this the new dawn of English rugby that we have all been waiting for ? I am seriously hopeful................considering that Martin Johnson was our greatest ever skipper, I have high hopes for what he can do with the team. I get the sense that the respect for the man is so great that the players dare not turn up without their A games. We need England to be great again. Bring it on big time.

  • I had a text message from a friend over in south east Ireland last night to say that he had caught a 4lb codling on his first "cod cast" of the winter, and that the signs are good. It seems to be a little known fact over here that a lot of the southern Irish coastline chucks up some great cod fishing in winter, from the beaches and the numerous estuaries. I am due to be heading over at the end of this month to photograph some of it, and if the weather plays ball, I am sure we will find time for a bit of bass fishing as well !! How could we not ?

Friday, 7 November 2008

Tough job, but we nailed it....

  • Yesterday was a tough job overall, but Nick Hart and I got it done, and we made it look as good as the light and the conditions allowed. We were photographing another feature for Trout Fisherman magazine, at Temple trout fishery on Bodmin moor over in Cornwall. Very close to the awesome Colliford lake in fact. The light was for the most part very grey and low, and for some reason the fishing was really tough. Nick though can catch fish when it matters, and yesterday he did really well.
  • Above you can see Nick releasing a nice rainbow trout from the top lake. I suppose some days the fish just like playing tough !! Bodmin moor is a wild place, but when the skies are low and there is simply no depth or contrast to the view it can be tough to make what you are shooting really "jump out". But then that is what I am paid to do, and I thrive on a challenge. My attempt at a bit of a different "gear shot - fly, rod, reel" is below. Yes, Nick is deliberately out of focus in case you were wondering.

  • It felt almost too mild yesterday, hardly like a UK November day in fact, and that is coming from me, an angler who very much likes the heat and sunshine. I see that they are forecasting some wind and rain coming in for the weekend, and I reckon we need it to put some "life" back into the sea and get fish moving around again. Two weeks of east and north east winds does not do us any favours down south on the fishing front, especially at this time of year.

  • You can see the red buzzer in the fish's mouth - Nick ended up fishing this fly virtually static beneath an indicator. Yes, some fly fishermen might well choke in their glasses of medicinal gin at the very mention of the word "indicator", but who cares ? Use what works and catch fish. Nick is a very forward thinking fly fisherman who simply refuses to ignore new methods and techniques that might give him more of an edge, and I respect him hugely for that. If you did not know, Nick Hart also runs an awesome online fishing shop selling gear that he actually uses and recommends himself. Nothing beats personal recommendations, so check the Hart Flyshop out right here. You know it makes sense. Check out Nick's blog here as well.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Fantastic fly fishing

  • I spent yesterday up at Blakewell trout fishery, near to Barnstaple in north Devon, photographing with Nick Hart for Trout Fisherman magazine. It is a stunning place - really well-kept and full of great conditioned rainbow trout. As per usual, Nick did his part seriously well and nailed a few nice fish for my cameras. The light was up and down (mainly overcast), but we got a good looking feature out of it. Above you can see my attempt to make the landing of a fish look somewhat different - has it worked ? I reckon so, but we shall see what appears in the feature.....

  • When the skies are grey, it somewhat cuts down your creative options, but I hate being dictated to by the weather and I am always on the lookout for some different angles to spice the day up a bit. I asked Nick to push this rainbow trout above right into my 16-35mm lens, and then I focused on the fish's eye and used a large aperture (f4) to blow the rest of the photo deliberately out of focus. Note that I am standing above him to make this shot jump out a bit. The other fishermen on the bank must have wondered what on earth we were up to !!

  • Blakewell is a great place to fish and photograph, and I really like the way that the whole set-up is so well maintained and cared for. Above you can see Nick Hart pushing out a long line across the top part of the lake. There were some real bruisers moving around and chasing Nick's flies, but the monsters were resolutely refusing to be caught. Nick got some nice fish though, plenty enough to make a really strong article for Trout Fisherman.

  • Below is Nick landing another hard scrapping rainbow trout - at this time of the year the fish are fighting fit, and yesterday the conditions were for fishing. Nick and I are out again tomorrow to photograph another stillwater feature. Gotta keep at it....
  • I have just got hold of another great extreme metal release that you need to add to your collection if this is your kind of thing (check out the cover below). The UK band Cradle of Filth have always made good albums, but some have been better than others - I still rate their classic "Cruelty and the Beast" as one of their very best, but this new one called "Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder" is awesome, and it is really growing on me. Gloriously over the top as usual (come on, it's Cradle of Filth we are talking about, what would you expect ?), and with masses of proper metal riffs that get in your head big time. Listen to a few tracks here. Rest assured that this CD will be blasting out at proper volume early tomorrow morning as I drive to this trout fishery that Nick and I are going to be working at.

  • And on the subject of metal, I posed the question the other day (see here) - is the new Enslaved album "Vertebrae" the greatest metal release of the year so far ? Well I can answer my own question with a very firm YES. This is a truly outstanding album that goes way beyond the confines of the term "extreme metal". I have listened to this immense CD I don't know how many times, and every single listen it grows on me more and more. Every single person with any interest in proper music should get "Vertebrae". We are not worthy.......

Monday, 3 November 2008

Is it just me ?

  • Is it just me, or are more bass anglers struggling at the moment around the south Devon and Cornwall coastlines ? Granted, north east winds are hardly the finest direction for inspiring confidence when chasing bass, but still, I'm finding it pretty tough at the moment....

  • To be fair to myself, I should have turned around and gone home the moment I saw the conditions on Saturday morning - maybe that overload of extreme metal last Thursday night has done something to my head, but I was sure that there would be a bit more colour and life to the sea. But no. About as flat and crystal clear as possible !! I gave it a few hours, but I saw nothing even move for my lures. Mildly frustrating to say the least...................

  • Especially when my mate Graham Hill rings me from Ireland on Sunday to tell me that he had taken three bass on lures that morning, with the biggest nudging 8lbs !!!! "Well done", I said nice and calmly, or something like that anyway. Seriously, I am wrestling with this urge to up sticks and move over to south east Ireland. I am in love with the country that much. It does not fish all the time, but nowhere does, but when it's on, it's insane. See here for starters. I get to fish and photograph all around the world as part of my job, but I would put Irish bassing right up there when it is firing.
  • Anyway, above is some proof that there are a few bass around south Devon - Bob Musk is playing what was a small fish, but a bass nonetheless, taken on live sandeel from a local estuary.
  • I am sure plenty of you can guess what estuary this photograph was taken in. It is a stunning place with a distinct lack of people and some very nice bass from time to time. Even with grey skies the place looks impressive, especially as the leaves turn over to their autumn colours.

  • I am out tomorrow photographing some fly fishing with Nick Hart, so that should be a blast. We are off to a winter stillwater to shoot a feature for Trout Fisherman magazine, and then we are out on Thursday as well. Some people look down a bit at these kinds of fisheries, but I never understand why. OK, so they are not big, wild waters, but they are often very individual places that keep plenty of fly guys fishing right through the winter for some quality fish. My job is to make them look as good as possible, whatever the weather.