Thursday, 11 June 2009

This blog has now moved to my new website

  • From now on, my blog will be running on my new website that you can find here - all the old posts and photos are all there as well, so I look forward to seeing you on the new one. Onwards and upwards.......
  • If it helps, the new blog can be found here.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

A few thoughts about the French bass trip.....

  • Graham and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the French bass guys who went so far out of their way to help us over on the stunning island of Belle Ile. Yannick from Ultimate Fishing and his good friend Bruno are incredibly talented bass fishermen and I am sure we have made some friends for life - it was a blast to fish, photograph and spend time with them in a little bit of bass heaven over in France. I got some very cool photos, and when time allows I will get some more up here - one of the afternoons we fished was just about as good as it gets for photographing fishing I reckon.
  • OK, so the weather was not great when we there, indeed the amount of rain was staggering, but I will be back there someday soon. Thinking about autumn either this year or next year, depending on time and commitments. When the fishing is good the reports are of some quite spectacular bass fishing, with plenty of big fish coming to a variety of different methods and locations - quiet bays, treacherous cliffs, rolling surf, you name it, Belle Ile I reckon offers everything that a bass angler could possibly want. The general shore fishing itself can be fantastic.
  • One of the aspects of the trip that I enjoyed the most was seeing the French guys fishing, and the way in which they are incorporating these ultra-modern, light tackle methods into it all. Of course you can nail bass on a good old fashioned spinner for the rest of your days, but these newer hard and soft lures enable you to fish over so much more ground in so many different and effective ways. I know I am guilty of asking a lot of questions, but the thing is that I simply want to learn more about fishing - and not just because I work as a fishing journalist. This sport fascinates me, and I simply can not stand sitting still and not advancing myself. I will begin posting plenty of bits and pieces I learnt out there when I have a little more time........
  • It was just so easy to get to Belle Ile, so I would implore any of you thinking of heading out there to get on to Brittany Ferries and take yourself over there with your car stashed full of fishing gear. But the problem is that there is a small but very full tackle shop on Belle Ile that just happens to be jammed full of awesome bass fishing gear - as I said a few weeks back, I am weak man when it comes to this kind of fishing tackle. The wallet's on lock down for a bit now !!
  • Graham and I were looking through a load of French fishing magazines and it was amazing to see the number of times that photos of anglers using red Tenryu rods were appearing all over the place. The more I use these rods, the more I want to get more of them !! Once you have used a rod that has been very specifically designed to do certain jobs by anglers who really know their stuff then there is no turning back. I know that I talk these rods up a lot, but in my view they are that good that they deserve it - there are loads of other really good rods for bass fishing out there, often at far better prices, but the red ones are off the scale in my book. And in case you were wondering, no, I do not work for Tenryu. I say it as I see it. Talk to these red rod junkies here if the idea of getting one floats your boat. Bruno was using a brand new red Tenryu rod for some of his soft plastic bass fishing and it was one of the most awesome bits of kit I have ever picked up. Help !!
  • My new website is very close to going live - when this happens, this blog is going to move there, but of course I will let you know right here what is going on etc. It should be fairly seamless to go from one to the other, so when it's up and running I hope to see you there, and of course I would welcome all thoughts and comments. Not long now.

Monday, 8 June 2009

I thought I had learnt loads at Nantes.....

  • We have had some pretty "interesting" weather out here on Belle Ile - rain like I have rarely seen it this morning, and seriously rough seas yesterday. When I have processed the photos I will put some up here when I get back home - talk about "extreme fishing" !!!
  • The fishing has been up and down, but we have spent a lot of time looking around, trying different marks, and learning a whole load about how to target bass. We have caught plenty of bass, but no real size so far. The bass show at Nantes in February blew my mind, but on this trip Graham and I have got to see exactly how these switched on French bass anglers are actually fishing with all the different hard and soft lures - the why, where and how so to speak. Honestly, this fishing is a different world - nothing turns me on in fishing as much as learning more and more, and this modern bass fishing that the guys out here are involved in is fascinating. And I thought I knew a tiny bit about how to rig and fish a MegaBass XLayer for example - I ain't got a clue !!!!
  • Belle Ile is a kind of bass fishing heaven - the fishing might have been up and down for us so far (there is always this evening...), but the fish they catch out there when it is firing is insane. One of the French lads was telling me about a particular lure he uses (and yes, before you ask, I have bought one !!) that took three 10lb plus bass in consecutive casts off a rock mark out here. When it's on, it's on big time. The potential here is scary, and not only for bass - the "general" shore fishing is off the scale - I have heard of 9lb plus wrasse, 45lb plus conger eels, huge sole, loads of bream, etc. I will be back out here as soon as possible.
  • The French anglers have been incredibly kind to us, indeed they are some of the most talented fishermen I have come across in a long time. The levels to which they have taken lure fishing for bass to are extraordinary, and even Graham has admitted that his mind has been completely blown to pieces by some of the stuff they are using. Over time I will try to post bits and pieces about the kinds of things we have learnt out here. Credit where credit is due - these guys are the real deal. Back to the UK tomorrow, off to try and smash a few more fish. One of the guys we are fishing with was torn to pieces this morning by a proper bass.....

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Like leading a horse to water......

  • A seriously easy journey to get to Belle Ile, and sharing a cabin on the ferry with Graham was pretty good as well - it's amazing what a sleeping pill and ear plugs can do !! The weather was roasting when we arrived, so we were taken out on a boat for a few hours by Yannick Cordier (the boss of Ultimate Fishing) and a friend of his. I nailed my first ever French bass (only small) on a new lure I got hold of the other day, a Maria Fake Baits. (strange name) Seems to work nicely, a bit deeper than the Maria Chase BW. We also caught a load of big garfish on lures. But this was only a little warm up....
  • Excuse the order of the photos because they are not sequential. First thing Friday morning we were on the rocks with Yannick, and there was a little bit of life to the sea which there had not been when we arrived. I give Graham huge credit, for within ten minutes he was calling me on the radio (we carry them for helping with photography) to say he was into a bass. Like leading a horse to water - Yannick had brought us to a big stretch of coastline and said fire away, and Graham had looked around, sniffed out a decent bit of ground, and nailed the fish. I think he had eight bass on the trot, nothing above about 3lbs, but all very feisty and in great condition. The lure was non other than the Tackle House Feed Shallow in a white colour. Yannick nailed a few bass on one of his favourite bass lures, a Duo Tide Minnow Slim (the 125mm size I think, need to check), but even he was pretty blown away by Mr. Hill smashing all those fish on the Feed Shallow. I charged around taking photos and fished when I could, so it's no shock to hear I caught no bass yesterday morning - but I got some cool shots. Needs must.....
  • We searched hard for some more bass yesterday, but the weather went completely still and lifeless on us. Just when you want a bit of wind and life and it all dies a death !! One very cool thing we have done was to get a guided tour around Ultimate Fishing with Yannick himself, and if you are at all interested in high-end Japanese lures and all those awesome red rods, then you will understand when I refer to that hour as close to being in heaven !!! Neither Graham or I have seen that many lures or red rods in one place, indeed we talked about bashing Yannick over the head and running off with the whole lot of them !! Honestly, the both of us walked around with our jaws on the floor. You should have seen the rows and rows of hard and soft lures, and the boxes and boxes of MegaBass XLayer soft plastic lures.
  • One thing that both Graham and noticed was the incredible number of Zenith Z-Claw lures that were on the shelves, plus thousands of Duo Tide Minnows. Both ranges are huge sellers for Ultimate Fishing, and obviously Mick in Jersey does loads of this gear right here. Yannick told us that the Z-Claw is about his biggest selling surface lure in France, indeed I saw him nail one yesterday afternoon (see the top photo). This lure looks stunning when it is worked slowly and very deliberately, and it creates a stunning wake effect that obviously turns the bass on big time. Another lure on the shopping list !!
  • Above is Graham putting the gears on another French bass. This island is stunning, seriously, I am going to bring my family out here for a holiday one of these days. It's like a little piece of pristine France - unspoilt, a stunning coastline, and miles and miles of bass fishing everywhere you look. We need the weather to behave a bit more for us, but Belle Ile is a little slice of heaven. Easy to get to, really friendly people, fantastic food, just plain awesome. Even in this brief time I can see how good this place can be for bass fishing, and they also have stacks of shore fishing for species like big sole, congers, wrasse, turbot, pollack, bream etc. Too much to do, too little time....
  • Above is the Ultimate boss man Yannick clambering down the rocks to get to a bass he nailed on one of his Duo Tide Minnow lures. It's interesting to see the way he works the lures, and once more I am learning a hell of a lot about these modern styles of lure fishing. But I think Yannick was really surprised to see Graham smashing the bass by cranking the Feed Shallow lure. I suppose we all learn off each other. As I said, like leading a horse to water......
  • We all went out before first light this morning, and the three of us nailed a bunch more bass - again, nothing big, but good fish on various lures. At the moment the rain is lashing down and we are waiting for the tide before we head back out again. Guess what was in Yannick's lure box this morning ? Graham and I spied a brand spanking new Feed Shallow in there, but I guess the boss can take his own lures off the shelves !! It's not a hugely popular lure in France, but obviously a bunch of us lot in the UK really like it for "our" bass fishing. Anyway, better get back to it. More reports when I get a chance.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Vive la France !!

  • Just packing the last of my gear and clearing bits and pieces of work before heading over to France tonight - I reckon the crossing is going to be fantastic. Graham and I are going to be on the newest Brittany Ferries boat, the "Armorique", and if all goes according to plan we arrive in Roscoff around 8am tomorrow morning, French time.
  • Graham tells me that his spoken French is virtually non-existent, so I guess it's up to me to make ourselves understood. I would never dream of stitching him up though, the thought had never crossed my mind !! Steak ? Yeah, right, dream on. He ain't going to have a clue that he is ordering !!
  • I will update this blog as much as I can with our bass fishing exploits on Belle Ile, hopefully with a few fish in awesome locations. It's going to be a blast. Back to packing...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

It's great when a brand new lure works.....

  • OK, so the little bass that jumped onto my new lure last night was hardly going to set the world alight, but I do love it when a brand new lure comes out of the box and works straight away - on about my fifth cast in fact. I have heard increasing amounts about these newish Sebile lures for a while now, and I have taken fish overseas on their big poppers, but I have been itching to try out their more "bassy" looking lures over here. Yesterday evening was my chance to sneak a few casts in before heading off to France tomorrow night.
  • Just so you know, I have nothing to do with Sebile - I say it how I see it, but from the first chuck with this new lure I was transfixed. The action on it is outrageous. So what is this lure that you can see above and down the bottom ? To be very precise, it is the Sebile Koolie Minnow SL 118mm Suspending - it kind of looks ok in it's box, but take it out and fish with it and I reckon your jaw will hit the floor. Seriously, it's got an awesome action, and it also dives nice and shallow. It is a classic kind of medium to fast running shallow diving minnow, but it rolls and darts around to the max - you can feel the thing working really hard right through the rod. I haven't got another lure that works like it - not that an extreme action is the be all and end all, indeed I like the "subtler" lures a lot of the time. But this Sebile Koolie Minnow SL has got something. Andy took one look at my rod tip on the retrieve and asked what the hell the lure was............and there was me trying to keep it a little secret !! Shame on me.
  • The only place I know that you can get hold of these Sebile lures here in the UK at the moment is Veals Mail Order, contact them here. It is now on their website, click here to see. Make sure you ask for the SL model if you want the shallowest version of it - that's the one I have got here. I am going to give it a damned good thrashing out in France, so check back here for more reports. I am really excited about this lure, and what I really like is that it is not very expensive as far as premium bass lures go. You've guessed it - I could talk myself into anything when it comes to bass fishing.
  • This new Tenryu Super Mix 240 I am using is growing on me every single time I cast and fish with it - honestly, I know they are hardly cheap, but I can see where the money goes in these rods. Very different to out and out ultra-fast action plugging rods like the Red Dragon Express and the Rod Bar 270, but the Super Mix 240 is fast worming its way into my affections.
  • The were huge numbers of sandeels in the water last night, and the mullet were topping and surfing all over the place. Andy got hit by a bass that let go of his lure, but we reckon we might have cleaned up if we had been using live eel either on a rolling lead or under a bubble float. Perhaps we should have fished the soft plastics a bit harder. The water felt alive all the time we were there, and the light just got better and better. I am sure the photo above will tell lots of you where we were fishing, for it's hardly any great secret. The kind of evening when just being out on the water is about all you could ever need.
  • You can take a look at the Sebile range of lures right here (it's an online PDF catalogue, allow it some time to load). I can see a fair few things in there that I reckon might murder for our bass fishing, and I have just seen the new Veals Mail Order catalogue with a few of these Sebile lures in there. My wallet is going to be put behind locked !! Off to France tomorrow evening, and I can't wait.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Bass fishing in France - bring it on !!

  • On Wednesday evening I am going to drive ten minutes down to Milbay Docks here in Plymouth and then jump aboard the overnight Brittany Ferries car ferry over to Roscoff, arriving in France on Thursday morning at around 8am. Along for the ride will be my mate Graham Hill, and the both of us are completely overexcited about going bass fishing in France - obviously this is a work trip for me and I will nail as many photos as I can for magazine features etc. but then again, I will also do a little bit of fishing as well !!
  • Our final destination is the small island of Belle Ile that lies just off the coast of Brittany - we will drive down to Quiberon and catch a quick ferry over to Belle Ile around Thursday lunchtime if all goes according to plan. Graham and I will be fishing and photographing with some of the Ultimate Fishing guys that I met at the bass show in Nantes, so it should be a very cool few days indeed. The chance to smash bass in new waters to the both of us is a dream come true, so I can see myself having to pop some sleeping pills on the overnight ferry to Roscoff as I will be far too excited to sleep otherwise. And perhaps Graham snores like a baboon !!
  • The Ultimate Fishing lot are the guys that design and test all these awesome red Tenryu rods, plus they import and design all manner of lures for all kinds of fish - and especially for bass. Mick over in Jersey sells loads of their gear right here. I will do all I can over in France to keep the blog updated, hopefully with some decent bass. I have got various new bits and pieces of gear to try over there............
  • If things go according to plan, I am also going to try and nail some proper photos of smashing big wrasse from the shore on soft plastics - I have seen a few photos of this being done on Belle Ile and the fish looked insane !! Imagine big blue skies, stunning fish, red rods and a swirling blue ocean. I told you I was overexcited about this trip.
  • I know Graham is also not sleeping properly because of this bass trip coming up, so I guess the pair of us are going to be in a right state of adrenaline fuelled bass fever by the time we actually step foot on Belle Ile. Take a look at the island on Google Earth and you will get an idea of how cool the place looks for bass fishing. Whatever happens with the fish and the fishing, you can't beat fishing new places, and I have plans to do a fair bit over in France and perhaps Spain over the next few years........
  • And how about the incredible weather we had over the weekend ? About as good as it can get down here I reckon - granted, perhaps not perfect for lure fishing, but I have to say that spending time on the beach with my girls is about as much fun as I could ever hope to have. We had a blast, and I am really pleased to be developing some proper panda eyes this year. Another great weekend, and long may this weather last. How come we managed to book the one rainy day last week to take the kids fishing ?

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Appearing on Tight Lines (Sky Sports) tomorrow

  • I'm heading off to the outskirts of sunny London tomorrow to appear on the popular Tight Lines TV programme that has been running on Sky Sports for years now. It's always a blast doing this show, and I really appreciate the guys for asking me to come back again - they have had me on there a number of times now, indeed I remember the days when Bruno Brooks was presenting it. I would guess that their viewing figures drop somewhat when I start rabbiting on !!
  • Keith Arthur has been the principal presenter for some time now, and believe me when I tell you the guy is a walking fishing encyclopedia. Honestly, I have to try and find ways of covering up my lack of knowledge on far too many angling subjects - the guy knows loads, and Keith and the team up at Sky Sports are always more than friendly.
  • The Tight Lines show goes out at 6.30pm tomorrow (Friday 29th May) on Sky Sports 2, and then it is being repeated at various times - see here for full details. I know that Keith has been out boat fishing for pollack recently and I believe they are showing some footage of it on the show. There will be absolutely no inferring from me that extreme shore fishing for big pollack (see here) is a much greater challenge than hauling them in off the boat.........??
  • Yesterday was one of the best days I have had for ages - I took my girls up to see Nick Hart and his brood, and we spent most of the day trout fishing at his stunning Exe Valley Fishery. I am so proud to be able to say that my two girls both caught their first fish on a rod and line, and my wife even managed to catch one as well. And she thought a yelp of "strike" from me meant that all she needed to do was to gently wind into the fish !!! But they all did fantastically well. My two girls both asked at breakfast this morning when they could go fishing again......
  • OK, so it never stopped monsooning it down for the whole time we all up there, but I was amazed that the kids got so into the whole thing that nobody really noticed. We had them dressed up in waterproofs and the fact that the trout were feeding big time really kept the little ones really buzzed up and excited (nice one Nick and Freddy !!). We were float fishing with bread for the trout - ok, so fly fishing might be the way, but I caught my first ever fish on a float when I was seven (a wild brown trout), and the main thing I wanted was for my girls to at least catch a few fish and have something visual to see when they got a bite. The first few times and at least I want them to be able to catch a few fish and see what is is like.
  • I think that Nick and I might have nailed a few as well - "just seeing what the rod is like" or some excuse like that. Rain or no rain, it was about as much fun as I can imagine having, and whatever happens in the future, at least my two girls have caught some fish and seen a couple being quickly dispatched and then cooked up for lunch. I want them to keep learning more and more about what goes into the food that appears on their plates as I believe it is very important. Huge thanks to Nick and his lot for having us up for the day. Next time we will do it when the sun is shining - Exe Valley Fishery beware !!
  • Let the blood need to check out the latest album from the Norwegian thrash metal band Blood Tsunami, called "Grand Feast for Vultures". How does this wonderful country keep on producing such an insane amount of world class metal ? From the very first riff on the CD it is apparent that this is proper, pure and awesome thrash metal, almost like the good old days !! Listen to a few tracks here and then add this one to your collection. Sleeveless t-shirts, denim jackets, long hair, stage diving, those were the days.............

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The new red rod has been christened.......

  • OK, so it might only have been a mackerel that hit my lure, but for a couple of seconds I thought it might have been a (very) small bass. Whatever the case, first light on Saturday morning was about as stunning as is possible - Andy and I were at the top of the cliffs just before 4.30am and there were rivers of mist pouring down the valleys, over the cliffs, and down to the sea. Completely breathtaking. Conditions looked about as good as you could get them, and I was that excited to get down to the mark that I slipped on the wet grass and ripped my waders on some loose rocks as we made our way down !! Andy thought I was going to slip over the edge of the cliff, but believe me when I say my main priority was to protect my brand new red rod. Not a scratch on it, phew !! AquaSure to the rescue for the waders.....
  • About my fifth cast and I hooked up with the mackerel - you don't know how badly I wanted it to be a little bass !! To be perfectly honest, the light was that impressive that a part of me wanted to put down the rod and just take photos all the time. I want to catch bass, but I also want to photograph good looking fishing. Everything about the conditions were perfect for photography and fishing, and you don't get that all the time. I realised that I had put a rip in my waders as I crouched down in the water to take the photo you can see above - that electric feeling as you line up the shot and then a general feeling of cold starts seeping around your lower half. Always a shock, but I've done it enough times to almost make it worth starting my own wader factory. The Greys G-Series are fantastic waders, but nothing is going to withstand somebody like me slipping over onto some sharp rocks. I ain't exactly petite !!
  • Andy caught a small pollack and a wrasse on his lures, plus he had a fish follow and then turn away - he could not say for sure that it was a bass because he didn't get a good enough look, but the behaviour of the fish suggests it probably was. I expected to see a few bass coming to our lures, but they weren't playing ball and I am not quite sure why. Perhaps it's just a case of the fish being slower to establish themselves along the stretch of coastline that we are fishing. Gotta keep at it though. It was the kind of morning when just being out there on the rocks as a new day started was reward enough. Got back home and went for a picnic to the beach with my wife, two girls and Jess. A perfect day. Then we went over to north Cornwall on Sunday to see some cousins of mine and we spent the whole day on the beach over there (picnic again) - not a cloud in the sky and properly warm. Nothing beats England when the sun is shining. What an awesome weekend.
  • A few early thoughts on the new red rod I bought, the Tenryu Super Mix 240 - we are generally not used to lure fishing with shorter rods over here, and I so nearly went for the Super Mix 270 because I am almost conditioned to think "longer is better" all the time. But I took on board all the advice that the French bass guys gave me at the Nantes show and went for the 240, roughly 8' long version. And I am so glad I did. What an awesome bit of kit.....
  • I reckon the Red Dragon Express that I have been using for over a year is a sort of ultimate, out and out shore fishing, hard lure bass weapon - very fast action, "crank lures hard and abuse fish" kind of thing. Of course you can use soft plastics with it, and you'll smash fish no problem, but it is more of a modern style plugging rod. A staggering fishing rod.
  • Then take the Tenryu Rod Bar 270 and 240 - now we are looking at bass rods that are more comfortable using both hard and soft plastic lures. Hugely powerful, very fast actions, but just that degree more give and feel in the tip section. I would guess that the Rod Bar 270 (roughly 9' long) is the most popular model among UK bass anglers who have switched on to these kinds of rods. I would happily fish with both these rods all of the time. I don't own them, but I have used them both. But remember, I am an angler, and I am weak willed when it comes to fishing tackle......
  • And then we come to my new weapon, the Super Mix 240 - a proper, purpose-designed crossover bass rod. This thing is like a wand to use, and I mean that in a hugely positive way. Very light, massively responsive, stacks of power from the mid section down through the butt, and a tip that does what you ask it do to. Increasing numbers of bass freaks I know are using this rod for all their boat fishing, but take it from me when I say it is simply awesome to use off the shore. We may traditionally be used to longer rods, (we're getting there though) but this thing chucks hard plastic lures like bullets - they fly out. It loves soft plastics big time, and I can really feel a whole load more with the extra sensitivity in the rod. I knew how well the rod was designed to give the extra degree of feel you need to really work soft plastics properly, and I am over the moon that it does exactly what I thought it would. Lots more playing required though......
  • But the new rod almost amazes me most when casting and fishing the more "conventional" hard plastic bass lures that a lot of us use the majority of the time. I really like the hard, fast action of the Red Dragon Express, but the Super Mix 240 just has something very different about it that is really starting to grow on me already. Like I said, it's like fishing with a wand. More info in due course......need to get out and fish with it some more, but I can already visualise the spots where this rod is going to slay over in Ireland. Emigration ? Who said that ?

Friday, 22 May 2009

New bass fishing guide in Ireland

  • I am really pleased to be able to say that a good friend of mine over in south east Ireland is going to be offering his services as a professional bass fishing guide. Patrick Gallagher is one of the biggest bass and lure junkies I have ever had the pleasure to meet and fish with, indeed he has got it so bad he reckoned that the best way was to do what people like me do - to give it a go at working in fishing. Check out Patrick's blog right here - you'll find his email address there. Alternatively, use the good old fashioned telephone and give him a bell on 00353 877 403445 (from outside Ireland), or 087 740 3445 from within Ireland. Be warned though, the guy's enthusiasm and knowledge is completely infectious !! He is based in Waterford, and this is one of the best places to be for accessing the many miles of prime bass fishing there is over in Ireland.
  • Take it from me, Patrick is the real deal - he knows that bass-rich coastline seriously well, indeed he has got various spots up his sleeve that I have no idea about. He is a lure fishing fanatic, with a close eye on modern developments, and I know he will also be offering selected items of fishing tackle for sale (rods, lures etc.) that he uses himself. I keep getting emails from Patrick talking about lures that I had no idea about, and I tend to pride myself on being pretty up to date - he's got it bad, and I know he will put his lucky clients over stacks of good fish. He also sends me photos of bass marks that I just sit here and drool over like a loon. We are a strange bunch, but we love it !!
  • I have put a bunch of photos together of some stuff that I have shot over in Ireland, and most of the stuff you see there involves Patrick. See here for the gallery. He is great fun to fish with, and he is one of the blokes who first really got me interested in the modern ways of using soft plastics for bass fishing, indeed Graham and I watched Patrick one afternoon last year nail three 5lb bass in three chucks, all on a 4'' MegaBass XLayer fished on a small jig head. I seem to remember our jaws hitting the floor !!
  • Here's Patrick with another prime Irish bass that fell to a soft plastic. If you are thinking of heading over to south east Ireland and have no idea about where to go fishing, then do yourself the biggest favour possible and get hold of Patrick to guide you for some of the best fishing on earth. I know how hard he works at his own fishing, and you can bet your life he'll go the extra miles to ensure that his clients have the best time possible. I can't think of a better way to get introduced to this quite magical part of the world. The best thing that any travelling angler can do is to hire a guide.
  • Make sure to keep up to date with Patrick's bass blog - this is fast becoming a fantastically useful resource, and I know that when their current bass close season is over, (ends 15th June) you are going to see a bunch of outstanding fish up there. There's a bunch on there at the moment. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Patrick is as weak-willed as me and is going to give in a succumb to another new red rod - the Tenryu Super Mix 240 of course. You don't know how seriously I am looking forward to getting over to Ireland again. Patience, patience......

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Are all fishermen as weak-willed as me ?

  • Ever since the bass show in Nantes earlier this year (see here), I have been trying to resist purchasing a new red rod - the Tenryu Super Mix 240. Hell, I pride myself on being decisive and very strong-willed, but when it comes to fishing gear then I guess I am as weak as the next (fisher)man....

  • Yes, you've guessed it, I gave in. I capitulated. I broke down and made the call. Whatever way you want to look at, weakness prevailed and I purchased the new red rod. Nearly three months resisting the urge to get this bass weapon, in fact I reckon I have done pretty well to hold out for so long - isn't it amazing how us anglers can justify a new purchase in so many different ways ?

  • I could almost hear Mick giggling on the other end of the phone, in fact I have a sneaking suspicion that ever since he had seen my eyes glaze over at the Nantes bass show he had been holding a Super Mix 240 back for me in a secret corner of his shop, knowing full-well that it was only a matter of time until he got a call like this (I got the new red rod right here) :

  • "Mick, you know that red rod ? Well. I've been thinking, and I reckon I need one. OK, I've got the Red Dragon Express and we all know it's the ultimate hard plastic plugging rod, but I think I need to add a degree of finesse to my fishing." (OK, cue the laughter on the other end of the phone. Henry, finesse ? Told you I could justify it to myself.) "How about I dust off my wallet and get a Super Mix 240 ? What's that, you've got a few in stock ? That's amazing, how did you know ?" (Cue more giggling from the other end). Never take a fellow bass freak for granted, it's lethal.

  • I will post my findings on the new weapon up here in due course. It is what I remember it being when I was shown it at the bass show - purposefully designed to be a true crossover rod that copes properly with soft plastics, hard lures, and some light vertical jigging. It's mine now !! I may be weak when it comes to fishing gear, but I've got a new red rod to add to my collection of one. What a stunning bit of kit.

Monday, 18 May 2009

At least our weather is original.....

  • ......because that's about all I can say at the moment about the wind and rain we are getting. Just when you get a glimpse of warm weather, big blue skies and a summer to look forward to, this current garbage comes in and gives us all a proverbial slap in the face !! Never, ever take UK weather for granted - but then we all know that don't we ? The only thing keeping me sane is all that talk the Met Office has talked of a decent summer.

  • Out come the shorts a few weeks ago, the white(ish) legs get exposed to the first tantalisingly warm afternoons, the world seems great. OK, so the bass haven't exactly been queuing up to jump on my lures, but things are looking good for the year ahead. And then what the hell went and happened over the weekend ? And is still going on today ? At around 5am on Sunday morning it felt like the roof was going to blow off the house and the rain was never going to stop.

  • I was home alone over the weekend, and I had all kinds of plans to do a bit of work and spend a few hours fishing - guess what went right out of the window ? Yes, you've guessed it, the rods never came out. More cod conditions than anything else. Now come on weather, time to grow up and give us a bit of hope again. To think that last weekend I wore suncream for two days when we were on the Isles of Scilly.

  • But I did hear of a big, 25lb plus pike that came to a mate of the pike-mad Danny Parkins (see his own monster pike here) on Friday I believe - and on a surface lure !! Imagine seeing that crocodile coming at you. Awesome fishing, well done guys. Danny texted me to say he lost a couple of really big pike yesterday, and had a jack unceremoniously torn from his hooks by a somewhat larger fish. Predators eh ? Lure fishing gets the heart going big time.

  • My Irish friends are at the start of their month-long bass close season - it runs from 15th May - 15th June. At least the rubbish weather means they don't have to think what could have been. I do think the close season is a great move, but I would imagine that when tides and conditions are good, it must be tough to not be able to go.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Ten years ago today......

  • .....I got married. Not bad eh ? Best thing I ever did, and my wife is an awesome girl who for some strange reason seems to want to stick around. I think that a part of her still thinks I am a bit mad (fishing, metal, rugby, cricket, golf etc.), but luckily the majority of her thinks I am kind of ok.

  • OK, so I joke a bit, but in all seriousness, I could not do what I do without her support. She has even given me two perfect daughters (most of the time they are great, kids eh ?) who have turned my life upside down and made me realise what things are really important, and what are not. We have been together nearly seventeen years now. That is nearly half my life, and I could not be more over the moon about it. I knew I would marry her the moment we got together, and luckily she said yes when I asked her to. Phew !!

  • I suppose a fair few people see what I do in fishing, but I simply could not do what I do without the full support of my wife in everything that goes on. She knows how I feel, and for seventeen years I have been doing my very best to get her to appreciate and then love proper music - extreme metal of course. Seventeen years of trying to get her to see the finer points of true Norwegian black metal for example, or the subtle differences say between death metal from Sweden and the USA. Has she given in and come over to the darkside ? Has she hell !! You gotta give her some credit for holding out that long. But I am persistent.....

  • Here are a couple of photos of the coastline out on St. Mary's in the Isles of Scilly - where my wife and I went for a few days last weekend, and I of course managed to fit in a bit of fishing with my mate Del. I spoke to him yesterday and the poor bloke is suffering from a spot of man-flu (us blokes always get it worse than women), but he perked up a bit when he was discussing those howling east winds that they had been having were driving loads of weed into his favourite mullet bay. Rotting weed, plenty of maggots, big mullet. Fishing heaven.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Catalogue front cover

  • I was really pleased to find out that I have got the cover of the new bass fishing catalogue from Veals Mail Order - I believe it is going to be coming out with the next issue of Sea Angler that is out in a month's time, so make sure to check it out. I have always had a lot of time for the people at Veals Mail Order and I really respect the way that they have identified a growing market in bass fishing and are doing their absolute best to offer a stack of different products at various price points.
  • Lures, lures, and more lures !! Are we all mad ? It's Veals who do those killer Maria Chase bass lures and the awesome Varivas braid that I use all the time. There are some really good tackle shops and mail order/internet companies out there now who are really getting into what I would term "modern bass fishing", and it gives punters like you and me a far wider choice of bits and pieces to buy.
  • There are far too many spinning reels out there to choose from, but I still reckon anybody is going to have to a long way to find better models than the Shimano ones. I noticed that my mate Del still has a couple of the classic 5000 model Baitrunners on his mullet rods over in the Isles of Scilly - loads of guys I know use these reels all the time, indeed I have a couple here as well that I would never part with. An angler and his gear eh ?

  • My wife and I got back from the Isles of Scilly early Monday evening - they cancelled the boat due to strong winds (didn't seem as bad as the winds we had on the journey over), so they flew us back to Cornwall on the Skybus. My wife was mightily relieved as she did not want to go through another rough as rats boat crossing !! Jess was not so amused as she had to sit in a dog-box for the short flight, but we got back in one piece and headed off to pick up the girls. It's a hell of a view of Land's End when you fly in. Stunning.

  • I have been to the Isles of Scilly a number of times now, and every time I get back I start thinking about going back as soon as possible. Life kind of gets in the way sometimes, but the islands really are that special. From a fishing point of view, I don't think shore fishing gets much more dramatic. Just those brief few hours deep spinning for pollack did it for me, and I love the fact that Del has managed to create a thriving taxi business on his home island and gets to enjoy some of the most unspoilt fishing there is.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Does fishing get much better than this ?

  • Del and I got out yesterday afternoon for a crack at the local pollack population, and I knew it might just go ok when I caught one on my first cast !! Honestly, it has got to be one of the best places there is to come pollack fishing from the shore. We fished the last few hours of the flood tide and nailed fish after fish, with loads around 4 to 5lbs, and a few bigger fish from time to time.

  • The sea conditions were right on the edge for where we wanted to fish, but we had to go for it - we went to a mark we filmed at once a few years ago, in fact Del reckons not one person has either been out there or fished it since we were last there. How's that for fishing pressure ?

  • Here's Del with a nice pollack I landed, around 6lbs I reckon, and it hit me within say fifteen turns of the reel handle from the lead hitting the bottom. We were deep spinning with 4oz leads, running ledgers and a variety of soft plastic worms and small shads. Proper deep water - regular spinning rods don't cut it for where we were fishing. At one point we are catching a pollack every single cast. I love this kind of fishing just as much as I ever did, indeed I can't see how it is possible for fishing to get more exciting than this.

  • This was the best fish of the session - Del nailed this one, and it weighed 7lb 10oz, which in anybody's book is a fantastic shore pollack. They have had double figure fish from this particular spot, and then bear in mind how regularly it is actually fished. How big could they be down there ? I still reckon the Isles of Scilly offer some of the best and most unspoilt shore fishing there is, and every time I come here I am just amazed that so few locals sport fish, and also that so relatively few shore anglers make the trek out here from the mainland. Come on the ferry and you can bring all the fishing gear you could possibly need, and I know Del is always up for pointing people in the right direction to go and smash a few fish. It's been far too long since I have been out here myself.

  • Perfect fishing in my mind - Del hooked up into another crash diving pollack as we begin to lose the light. Things worked out perfectly yesterday. My wife and I went over to Tresco in the morning and the weather was stunning. We went for a bit of a walk and then she went to have a look at the gardens and I went for a proper yomp with Jess around the north point of the island. What a beautiful place, but then the whole Isles of Scilly is off the scale pretty anyway. A great pub lunch sitting outside in the sunshine with my wife, jump on a boat back to St. Mary's, grab a bit of fishing gear and my cameras, and then off down to the rocks with Del. If a Sunday can get any better than that then I would be amazed. Back home this afternoon and I can't wait to see the girls. What an awesome few days. What a place.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Paradise on earth

  • We had a hell of a rough crossing from Penzance on the Scillonian yesterday - I dosed my wife up on Stugeron and she just about got through it, but when we were off Land's End I thought they might turn the boat back it was that lumpy. Talk about rocking and rolling. There were some seriously grim looking people at the end of the trip, just dying to get off the boat and onto the quay at St. Mary's. I rather enjoyed it all - a bit of adventure !! I met a really nice angler from Cornwall called Jim who was telling me all about some very cool gilthead bream fishing he does. We should be getting together for a session or two in the near future.
  • The photos here are just a couple of happy-snaps that I took on my wife's little compact camera when we went out for a long walk yesterday afternoon. It was still howling, but if you tucked out it then it was just fantastic with that sun out. The Isles of Scilly are as completely breathtaking as I remember them being. It's very cool to be staying with Del and his girlfriend here on St. Mary's. OK, so we've talked about fishing just a little bit. How could we not ?

  • My wife and I went over to one of the off islands today, St. Martin's, with our dog Jess of course - this is dog heaven over here. We walked right the way around the island and it was just off the scale beautiful. What a place. Had a fantastic lunch outside at the hotel bistro. Hardly anybody around, and I was remembering certain parts of it from when we have been over filming in the past. As an angler, walking around these islands gets you going so badly. Every single rocky point, calm bay, white sandy beach and tidal rip just screams fish. If it all goes to plan then Del and I are intending to get out tomorrow for a shore pollack session. I seriously can not wait. What a place. So much fishing, so few anglers......

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Isles of Scilly here we come.....

  • My wife and I are taking the 9am ferry tomorrow morning from Penzance over to the Isles of Scilly - of course our sheepdog Jess is coming with us, it is dog walking heaven over there. My folks are having the girls for the long weekend, so all in all you could say I can't wait to get back over to one of my favourite places on earth. The perfect place to spend a tenth wedding anniversary. I love my kids more than life itself, but a few days away never hurt anybody !!

  • I took the photo above a few years ago now, over on the tiny island of Bryher - every single island over there simply screams fish wherever you look. Wrasse, pollack, mullet, conger, huss, you name it, the Isles of Scilly has some of the best all around shore fishing I have come across. And the boat fishing is outstanding as well - lots of sharks. I love Ireland with a passion, and the pollack fishing over there can be great, but you'll have to go a long way to better the Isles of Scilly and their own shore pollacking in those deep tidal waters.
  • I am not really going over for the fishing, indeed I will try to get back out specifically for that sometime later in the year, but these long days we are getting now should give Del and I a chance to spend a few hours wetting a line together again. I hope the weather and light behaves, because the islands are such cool places to photograph fishing. The forecast looks a little "interesting" at the moment, but I don't hold much faith in any of these long range predictions. I bet we get snow now !!
  • Here are a few more screen grabs of my new website that is under construction. Above and below is how the new Photo Essays pages are looking. They are meant to be very easy to get around - lively and colourful to look at and read, with stacks and stacks of info on where and how to go fishing for loads of different species all over the place. Lots there on bass of course, and plenty more to come in time.

  • As you can imagine, I tend to get a fair few emails asking about fishing gear - rods, reels, lures, clothing (yeah, right, I am some kind of fashion guru ??!!), lines, you name it, and I have spent some time getting together lots of this kind of information for the new website. There is going to be a whole section devoted to fishing tackle that I am hoping will prove really useful to people, and again, it will be continuously updated. I will only ever feature fishing gear that I use or have used myself and therefore I know it does what it says. Above is a screen grab of a small part of the fishing lures page.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

I would love to say we nailed the bass......

  • ......but we didn't !! Andy and I managed to get out over the high water and back yesterday afternoon, and I reckon the conditions looked spot on. OK, so a bigger tide would have been nicer for where we were fishing (Andy's mark, somewhere new to me), but the water clarity and general sea conditions were ideal. Just enough "life" to the water, loads of very inviting looking ground for the bass to hunt over, but sadly the fish forgot to turn up !! We both blanked in quite spectacular style. I sincerely hope you lot had a bank holiday weekend filled with a few more fish.

  • Back to the drawing board on this one. What a stunning looking mark to fish though, I fancy this place to throw up some nice bass this year. That is if I haven't gone and emigrated over to Ireland. Enjoy the close season lads !! Will be thinking of you.......

  • Not even a hit or a follow, and we tried different lures, different retrieves, you name it, but not a sniff. I would like to be out fishing a lot more than I am currently, but it is just not possible at the moment. I am going to be in the Isles of Scilly this coming weekend, principally to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, but if the weather behaves then of course I will get out and do a bit of fishing and photography with Del. Can't wait to get back over there. Still one of the most special places on earth, and it's only just off our coastline.

  • How do you choose a lure from this lot ? They all look so nice !! Andy has got it as bad as the next man, and we laughed about the fact that it is very tough to make a phone call to somebody like Mick at his tackle shop here and not come away with a bruised bank account. I am trying to hard to exercise some decent self-control at the moment and resist buying the Tenryu Super Mix 240, a fishing rod that I really, really want. The Red Dragon Express that I have is still the ultimate (hard lure) plugging rod I reckon (ok, the Rod Bar 270 comes a very close second), but I could do with a little more "feel" for using soft plastics. Give me a while and I reckon I could talk myself into one......

  • I spent a few hours on Saturday up at Nick Hart's Open Day, and it was fantastic. Lots of people there, loads of anglers fly fishing on the lakes, and some monster trout being caught, including one of over 17lbs that morning. Plus another over 14lbs. Those are some fish. It is great to see so many people out and about doing something connected with fishing, especially in the current climate. Roll on the summer.

  • Still, who really gives a damn about blanking for bass when you can click here and watch the new video to the immense "Guardians of Asgard" song off Amon Amarth's latest album - the monstrously mighty Twilight of the Thunder God (see my original review here). As I have said before, who says music doesn't influence you ? And then you could weep tears of metal emotion to the video of arguably my favourite ever Amon Amarth song, "Cry of the Blackbirds", see here for the video. I should have been a Viking - time to grow the hair again, get on a horse (gonna need a strong one to carry me), grab my sword and dream of what could have been. Back to work........!!

Friday, 1 May 2009

New issue of the outstanding Catch mag online now

  • A new issue of the awesome online magazine "Catch" has been published today, and I implore you to take some proper time to have a decent look through the pages - loads of great photography and also some very cool video clips. It doesn't matter what kind of fishing you do - Catch magazine is a prime example of how good fishing can look when it is done well, and full credit to the guys who put this online magazine together every couple of months. Have a look at Catch right here.

  • For some strange reason the guys keep on asking me to submit a few photos, and I am really please and honoured to have a couple of mine in there this time around. Check out the photo above that has been bled back to allow some text to be put there. Is my inclusion because they feel better for having at least one token Brit within the virtual pages ??!!
  • The other photo of mine that is in there is of a tigerfish that was caught on the fly down in Zambia, with the outstanding guys from FlyCastaway (contact them here). Few fish look as cool as a tigerfish when it is bathed in this kind of perfect light, but then again, light is what it's all about anyway. I have rarely seen light as perfect as that you see at dawn or dusk in some parts of Africa - it all happens fast, but sometimes you just sit there with your mouth open at such colours and tones.

  • I am going to go and check out Nick Hart's Open Day tomorrow, and it is taking place at Exe Valley Fishery. Check here for details. This should be a blast, a chance to talk about fishing with all kinds of people, and also to see what is new and exciting in the world of fly fishing. There is so much from fly fishing that we can and do bring over into the saltwater world, like waders, wading jackets, wading boots etc..

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Working on my new website

  • This rubbish weather has come at a perfect time for me, because it's eyes down this end at the moment while I try to do all the work that is required on my new website. The "old" one is still live and current, but hopefully it won't be too long until this new one is up and running on the same address - A very good friend of mine has designed it, and a person he works with is doing all the coding and creating the CMS system so that I can run it all myself. But of course it's up to me to get all the content together.
  • I have put a few screen grabs up here of various parts of the new site. Projects like this take a load of work, always more than you think in fact, but for somebody like me who makes a living from photographing and writing about fishing, it is vital to have a strong web presence that showcases one's work as best as possible.
  • Rest assured that there are plenty of bass photos and also bass related articles/photo essays up on the new site, plus lots of info on rods, reels, lures etc. Whilst the website is primarily a "look at my work in the world of fishing" kind of thing, I also want to make it useful for people to check out the kind of fishing gear we use for our fishing, and the stuff that I actually use and recommend. Life's far too short and principles are far too important for somebody like me to go around recommending fishing gear that I know nothing about.

  • We have done a lot of work on this new site to make sure it is not in the least bit "gimmicky", and by that I mean a lack of flash based stuff that does nothing but slow the whole thing down and detract from the photos etc. Each to their own of course when it comes to how websites look, but personally I am really into the "cleanest" and most "efficient" style possible, where the eye is led to the strength of the visuals (my photos) and not to some flashy bit of stuff going on in the background.

  • In time this blog will also become a fully integrated part of the new website, but there will of course be plenty of warning before anything suddenly changes over. There is plenty still to do to get the site to a state where it can go live, so I had better get back to the grindstone and keep doing what I do.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

I am the featured photographer on

  • One of the largest and most respected fly fishing websites there is went and asked little old me to supply a couple of photos a while back for a new section they have launched called "Fly Fishing Photography", and this week they have kindly put me on their homepage as their "Featured Photographer". You can see the page above, and to say this is a bit of a thrill is a mild understatement. There are some frankly outstanding fishing photographers featured on the US based Midcurrent, and to be in their (exalted) company on the site makes my week.

  • I am near to completely sure that not one of the photographers up there on the Midcurrent site has ever seen the fishing programmes I have made over the years, and perhaps it's better that it remains this way. Proud though I am of what we have done, I am not sure the off the wall moments in a few of the shows would appeal to an international audience !!
  • If you have any kind of interest in fly fishing anywhere on earth, have a good look around Midcurrent, for these is loads to read and look at. It is a huge resource, with a daily fly fishing news section right here. Also have a look at the Fly Fishing Art pages here.

  • And if you are interested in how diverse and awesome looking the world of international fishing is, make sure to check out the work of the various photographers on the Midcurrent site by going through to their respective websites from this page here. There is some seriously impressive work from some hugely talented people to look at.

  • I do accept that some of the photography up there might not be relevant to an angler say from the UK, but from a personal point of view, I am hugely interested in seeing fishing based photography from all over the world. I might never go to a lot of these places, but surely it can only be a good thing to open up the mind and learn about other places, other people, and other kinds of fishing. I have met plenty of people overseas who have taken a look at my bass fishing photography for example and then said "wow, that looks like some outstanding fishing". They might not do it, but they are interested in learning more about how we catch them etc. How can fishing keep going forward without the constant passing on and down of information ?

Monday, 27 April 2009

Bring on the mackerel

  • No more than a bait fish to many anglers, the humble mackerel is so much more. I can't wait for them to turn up in proper numbers around here so that I can take my daughters out fishing off the shore for them. They may or may not like going fishing in the end, but at least I can give my girls a chance to find out for themselves. They love eating fish, so I reckon if I can get them to catch a few that we can cook up together, at least they can experience the whole thing and then see if they like it.
  • I am off to the Isles of Scilly in a couple of weeks, mainly to spend a few days with my wife over our 10th wedding anniversary (where does time go ?), but also to have a bit of time fishing with my mate Del over on St. Mary's. If the weather allows us to, we have some decent tides for a bit of mullet and pollack fishing, and I can't wait to get back over there. One of the most special places on earth, with some mighty fine fishing when things come together.

  • I was thinking a bit the other night about my own fishing, and I came to the conclusion that I need to get back into my mullet fishing in a proper way. Light, mobile fishing is what really gets me going these days, and I used to be really heavily into mullet fishing a few years ago when I had a whole lot more time. There are few better fish to go for around our coastline, so I am going to make a concentrated effort to have a few trips out.

  • Mullet can do your head in a major way (and I can lose my temper at them occasionally), but when they do take and explode off on that first run, it is something really special. I accept that the majority of our shore fishing in the UK is based around long, heavy shore rods, but most anglers from the saltwater world can not believe the thrill at sight fishing for mullet on what is essentially freshwater fishing gear.
  • And on the metal front, another classic death metal band from my past has reformed and released a pretty damned good comeback album. Pestilence were always at the forefront of the extreme metal world, but they seemed to fade away after their last album. But they are back now, and their brand new album "Devouring Frenzy" is heavy as hell and drives into the middle of your skull like a drill. Check out some new tracks right here. That voice (roar !!) is still as instantly recognisable as it always was. Monday morning is always a good time for some decent extreme metal. We had a big family wedding over the weekend up near Birmingham, and Pestilence's metal precision is certainly making me feel a whole lot better this morning.