Monday, 30 March 2009

Monday morning metal madness

  • Monday morning is always a bit of a shock, so I tend to turn to a bit of extreme metal to get me through it. In reality I should have gone and tried for a bass or two around first light this morning, the conditions are really good for another crack at it, but work calls. More's the pity.

  • I am hearing more and more reports from all over the place of bass just about starting to turn up on the lures, and Kevin Brain tells me that he is still smashing big numbers of bass over on the west coast of Ireland. I bet he's still got the place virtually to himself.

  • At times like this I think back to my Plymouth university days - if there was ever a question back then of going fishing or going to lectures (three hours of marine law anyone ??!!), you can guess which way won every time. How times have changed. Regression is an option that crosses my mind from time to time, I can tell you. Drop out, fade away, go fishing.
  • Check out the new album by a band called Absu - the CD is called Absu as well, so there's no chance of getting this one wrong. Feels like a really good dose of fast paced death/thrash metal to me, perfect for the start of another working week. Heavy as hell, and really catchy in places. Listen to a few tracks here. Rest assured that it is playing here at my desk while I am typing this blog post. Nice........

  • The new look Trout Fisherman magazine that I told you about the other day (see here) is now out in the shops, and I reckon it looks really good. If any kind of fly fishing floats your boat, pick this issue up. Just to make me feel good, above is my cover shot (again) - I had a close look at this on the shelves and I reckon it fairly "jumps" at you, and that surely is the point of a cover. "Buy me, I look really interesting" kind of thing.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

It's all about the light.....

  • When you need to go and photograph long distance fly casting like Nick Hart and I did yesterday, it doesn't half help to have some decent light for it. We lucked out big time. The forecast was for a bright start to the day, but that it would rapidly cloud over and possibly rain. Guess how correct this forecast was ? Hint - look at the big blue skies in the photos here. I am sure that forecasts are actually getting worse, or is that possible ?
  • All that light bouncing around lets me do so much with the photos, and with Nick bending the hell out of these fly rods, it's brilliant to be able to put him against the sky and let rip on the motordrive at ten frames per second. You need this kind of camera speed when a proper caster like Nick is double-hauling and ripping the rod and line through at near-warp speed.

  • We were shooting this casting feature for Trout Fisherman magazine up at the stunning Clatworthy reservoir - it looked spectacular yesterday, and there were plenty of people out trout fishing. There can be no more perfect escape from all this economic doom and gloom than going fishing. Too many people are all doom and gloom when it comes to fishing - by no means is anything easy at the moment, but a positive outlook goes a hell of a long way for starters.

  • Anybody who saw the two of us doing our stuff at Clatworthy must have thought we were mad - there's Nick going through cast after cast, with me either kneeling down in the water in front or to the side of him and stuffing a wide-angle lens in his face, or otherwise I'm perched somewhat precariously on top of a small step ladder out in the water, trying for a different angle on the pictures. I know that Nick would never collapse laughing if I had fallen off the ladder into the lovely cold water !! And then the one time I turn around to have a pee without checking, a couple of walkers come right down the path in front of me. What can you do but say "Afternoon, lovely day isn't it ?", and hope you haven't ruined their walk !! Nice thought.

  • We basically walked the whole way around the reservoir yesterday - me with my camera gear, Gitzo tripod and stepladder, and Nick with all the tackle needed to shoot a casting feature. What I hate though is that there all these signs up saying "No dogs", when yesterday would have been such a great day out for my sheepdog Jess. What harm can there possibly be when a well behaved dog wanders around the reservoir with her owner ? The world's going mad......

Monday, 23 March 2009

How hard can you fight bass ?

  • I really like seeing how different anglers around the world play or fight "their" fish when they hook them - whatever they are using. Bait, fly or lure, it makes no difference to me - fishing is just fishing. But ever since I began to travel for my work and thus saw how different anglers would behave with their hooked fish, I have come to the conclusion that we tend to play our fish here in the UK somewhat on the "light side".

  • Granted, we do not really have lots of big powerful fish that are going to make us learn early on how to fight fish really hard, but on the other hand, I reckon lots of us could push our fishing gear a hell of a lot harder on some of the fish we hook (and sometimes lose). It is the nature of fishing though - we are not going to land everything we ever hook, but a lot of time I see anglers over here who simply do not know how far they can push their gear on a fish. This is in no way a criticism, merely an observation. Why do I want to fight my fish so hard ? Firstly because I do not want them doing me on a snag, and secondly, because I believe that a "green" fish can be released far more easily. A tired fish that has fought for ages take a lot of reviving, whereas a still very lively ("green") fish that has come in (relatively) quickly tends to swim off far stronger. And how about doing all you can to keep those hooks in ? Remember that I am always crushing the barbs on the treble hooks on my lures.

  • Check out how much a rod can bend for starters - look at the casting shot above, of my mate Graham whacking out a lure on a very powerful and fast action Tenryu Red Dragon Express. These are strong rods, but they will bend, indeed they are meant to !! How about putting a whole load of that bend (or pressure) onto a hooked fish ?
  • Now look at the photo above - this is an angler using a powerful carp rod on a bass that I reckon went around 12lbs. Nothing was wrong, he landed the (awesome) fish, but I would bet Mick thought he was really piling the pressure on the fish. The bass went back fine, but all I wanted to illustrate here was that a whole load more grief could have been given to the fish as it ran in the tide. The rod will bend a load more, and it will also easily cushion the light line against the lunges of the bass. OK, so it would be wise to slacken off a tightish drag when the fish gets in close, but rest assured that rods bend a whole lot more than we think they do. There were no snags we knew of that the bass could have run into, but what if there had been ?

  • Note how Pat is putting a lot of pressure on a nice bass that he hooked fairly close in - the rod (a Tenryu Rod Bar 270) is bending nicely, but Pat knows exactly what he is doing and is what I call going with the fish slightly as it tries to run. He is allowing the rod to come down from high up and provide extra cushioning to the hook hold. But the rod is still bent hard into the fish.

  • I am lucky enough to know and fish with some awesome anglers from all over the world. Some of the south west, Irish and Channel Island anglers I am lucky enough to call my friends for the most part do not know how much I respect what they do in fishing. A lot of these guys have caught more awesome fish than I am ever going to catch in a million years.

  • I still believe though that in general, the people who fight their fish the hardest are the South Africans (and I include Namibia in this). Yes, this has to be because they have lots of far larger fish than we are ever going to see over here, and they either learn to fight them hard or lose them all. I remember being completely stunned the first time I saw a good local angler fighting a big shark off the Skeleton Coast beaches. I could not believe how hard a fish could be played, and it was like a light bulb going off in my head. There was me thinking I was giving my shark a bucket load of hell, and I wasn't even close. The shark must have thought he had mere toothache when he picked up my bait !! But I began to learn........

  • I want to enjoy the playing of my fish, but ultimately I want to get them in. I remember filming a cod fishing programme up on the Bristol Channel a few days after a Namibia trip, and the first few unfortunate codling I hooked were water skiing almost the moment I struck into them !! Not ideal, but I want to get my fish up and away from snags. Losing fish when you are filming is not good news. Losing fish winds us all up, and it's always the true monsters that get away is it not ?

  • Check out the photo above - that is a South African friend of mine called John Crabb giving a pretty big catfish a load of stick on a very light spinning rod. Was he ever going to lose the fish because he was playing it too hard ? No. You should have seen this guy fighting a big ragged tooth shark off the beach at Kosi Bay - my jaw hit the floor !! John has had no choice but to learn how far he can push his gear on fish.

  • But all things being equal, I reckon we do pretty well over here. I would never say that one set of anglers are better than the others. This is not the case at all. Some guys have to really learn how to play fish on their drags because their fish run hard, whereas some have to develop techniques to drag fish out of horribly rough ground etc. It just depends on where you fish and what you are fishing for. Sometimes you have to protect a very light leader being used on shy fish (mullet anyone ?) But there is no doubt that a lot of us over here could push our tackle a lot harder and get more fish in.

  • The photo above is what I would call "horsing a fish" !! Not a very technical term I know, but it works for me. "Giving it the gears" is another expression. This is a fly fisherman pushing a powerful 12 weight fly rod to the max on a rampaging giant trevally (GT) that has nailed his fly. Play a fish like this too light and you would be there all day. "Our" bass are mighty fine fish that occupy a lot my time (and dreams), but we need a sense of perspective on them. It is often where you are fishing that provides more of a challenge in the fight than the actual power or weight of the fish - put a 6lb bass on a light spinning rod over clean ground with no tide and you'll love every second of it. Now put the same fish in amongst rough as hell terrain or in a rampaging tide, and you'll love it a whole lot more. Has the fish suddenly gained weight ? No, of course not, but the fish will naturally try to use the conditions to do you. That's fishing. We love it so much because it is never the same.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

OK, so I gave in...........

  • I felt almost no confidence, but I simply could not resist getting out on the coastline yesterday late afternoon and early evening to chuck a few lures. The expectation of actually catching a bass was about zero, but this stunning weather has got to me. Me, my red rod, a few lures (ok, quite a few lures), and my sheepdog Jess. It felt a little like summer until the sun dropped further in the sky, but I have been promising myself not to head out lure fishing for bass until at least April. Are we not eternal optimists though ? And yes, I was right, I saw not a sniff of a fish.

  • To be perfectly honest, it was not really a proper fishing session as such - I wanted to get a few photos of the coastline as the sun dropped low, and I also wanted to have a really good walk/scramble around to check out where I reckon the fish might be hanging around when they are in. My feelings are that where I was fishing is going to be a back tide mark, with acres of rocks and weed shallowing out nicely as the tide clears. Yesterday was deliberately timed to be over the low water period so that I could see the lie of the land properly.

  • The light yesterday evening did not end up as impressive as I thought it might, but I took a few photos I was fairly happy with. Just sitting there with my camera on a tripod and watching the sun dip over south Devon kind of does it for me really. Nobody else was around, and more's the pity that no bass were around either !! To be fair, the water was about as clear as possible and bigger tides are going to help. But as I said, how can you resist going plugging when the weather is so good ?

  • In years gone by I would now be chasing bull huss in a big way around south Devon, with regular trips thrown in to the shallow reefs up in the Bristol Channel (Hinkley, Lilstock etc.) for the thornback ray and spring codling, but I tend not to spend much time these days with beachasters in tripods. It's awesome fishing, and it always will be, but I am restless person by nature and I live for different experiences. And I simply do not have as much time as I used to.

  • My feeling is that it won't be long until we connect with a few bass around here. Reports of bass turning up in various places are increasingly frequent - and I don't include Ireland here, that place is a (bountiful) freak of nature. Jealous, me ? I have a feeling that certain methods might work in very specific places around here (cryptic eh ?), and much as these east winds are blowing in lovely blue skies and relatively warm day time temperatures, I am going to feel a whole bit more confident when we get a nice set of spring tides and more onshore conditions to inject a bit of "life" to the sea. We shall see.....

  • I would imagine that a few of you watched that mightily impressive Yellowstone programme on BBC2 on Sunday night ? I made myself wait until it was on in HD last night, and I have to admit to sitting there open mouthed in complete astonishment at such awesome programme making. Some of the shots in there were breathtaking. What a place, what a brutal winter. If you missed it, watch it here on the BBC iPlayer. Nick Hart and I spent a day in Yellowstone last summer when we were out doing a job in Montana, and just that brief glimpse of the place left a lasting impression on me. The mighty Yellowstone river was still blown out with snow melt in late June when we were there. It continues to stagger me at how impressive this world can look. Too much to see, too little time.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

How about this weather ?

  • There is nothing like the first proper taste of spring here in the UK - big blue skies and (relative) warmth is about as good as it gets, and I for one am loving it. Granted, I would rather not be working when the sun is out, but that is not the point. Living in Devon when the weather is like this is a privilege.

  • The photo above is actually from one of those extremely rare days last summer when we actually did see the sun !! Other countries I know think we are all a little mad to be so obsessed with the weather, and we are, and we make no apologies for it. The moment the sun comes out and we all go a little bit loopy. Kind of like werewolves in reverse.

  • Make sure to check out my latest article in my modern bass fishing series in the new issue of Sea Angler - look at pages 48, 49, 50 and 51. The opening DPS photo is exactly the one that I hoped they might use. The article itself is all about fishing for bass with surface lures, and as I said yesterday, the magazine is looking awesome. If there is a more exciting way to fish than with topwater lures or flies, then I have yet to come across it. Anybody who doesn't shake with adrenaline when a fish swirls on a surface lure is not really alive.

  • I left my office behind yesterday afternoon to go and check a few potential bass marks out. I have walked and explored most of the south Devon coastline before, but for some reason this particular little area had escaped me. And it looked great.........I was looking out for likely looking bass spots, but really I spent most of the time looking for treasure with my eldest daughter. My sheepdog Jess was happy chasing sea gulls, and my daughter and I trawled the beach and rocks looking for shells with holes in them and those smooth bits of worn down green glass you find. That is the treasure, and we came back with masses. The things we do as parents !! It won't be long though until I am down there chucking a few lures for the bass. It was properly warm when we tucked out of the east breeze as well. Stunning.

  • I love living in Devon, indeed there is nowhere in the UK that I would rather live. The south west peninsular is a great part of the world, and for the keen fisherman there is a wealth of fishing on offer. I will talk up the merits of Devon until the cows come home, and I have a serious soft spot for Plymouth. It's a great place to live and work, and my family and I have a fantastic life here.

  • But then you go and hear about the recent bass fishing they have been having over in Ireland recently, and in truth, the better quality of shore fishing overall, and you do begin to wonder. Less people, wide open spaces, countless spots that are simply never fished, lots of big bass, I could go on. The grass is not always greener, we all know that, and Devon is my home, but I will admit to dreaming. I am fairly restless by nature. You never know..........

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Brand new look Trout Fisherman - out soon

  • It fascinates me to see such a well known and well established fishing magazine like Trout Fisherman being completely overhauled and then relaunched. On March 26th you will be able to see the results of the new look Trout Fisherman magazine when it hits the shops, and here is a sneak preview. I know I work for them, but I have to say that I am hugely impressed by what has been going on, as you can see here. Magazines have to overhauled from time to time, and it takes a lot of hard work and vision to ring these changes. Sea Angler had the same thing a little while ago (see here), and the magazine looks better and better to me every month.

  • What makes me even happier is that the powers that be have chosen one of my photos to go on the cover of the relaunch issue. Nice one !! OK, so I might be a bit biased towards their choice, but I really like what has been done with the photo of Nick Hart you can see on the forthcoming cover above. What a strong way to launch this brand new fly casting series we have been shooting recently - with words from Nick of course.

  • The whole style of the magazine looks that bit "cleaner" to me, and personally I believe that is a good thing. So much information has to be crammed into these kinds of publications, and the trick is to make sure this info is put across in a way that can appeal to fishermen of very different skill levels. Plus you want a big dollop of inspiration in there. I reckon they have done this here, and the proof will be on the shelves at the end of this month.

  • Those Irish bass keep on coming. Keven Brain emailed me from Kerry to tell me of more bass up to 8lbs over the weekend, all returned. I would hazard a guess that he has the spots all to himself as well.

  • And from south east Ireland, I hear that my mates Graham, Pat and Cian had a ball over the weekend, with numerous bass coming to lures and baits - the biggest going a cracking 10lbs (on a soft plastic lure), to the efforts of Mr. Hill himself. Check out the full report on Graham's blog here. That is some fishing, and again it proves two points to me - there is no better shore fishing for bass that I know of than over in Ireland, and that they can have awesome fishing all year round for them if the conditions play ball. I can't wait to start "discovering" a bit of the French bass fishing, but it is going to have to go a long way to match the fishing I know of in Ireland. Outstanding stuff indeed. The urge to emigrate has never been stronger !!

  • How about the rugby on Sunday ? A day to warm the heart. The first half of England v France had me jumping up and down in delight, and I can't help but feel that those forty odd minutes had been coming for a while now. We just had to let go and play rugby if that makes any sense. It had to happen sometime, and perhaps it was just good timing that it happened against the French at Twickenham, and in perfect spring weather as well. The second half could never live up to the first, but what a fantastic game. I reckon England were almost so shocked at what they had achieved in the first half that they went back into their shells somewhat. Still, we won properly, and the big test now is to see how we perform against Scotland on Saturday. If we play well and win properly, I reckon we are allowed to hope again. Perhaps even dream again. But we shall see............

  • While my website is undergoing a rebuild, I have come across a great way of putting up really good looking web-based galleries of my photos, and I have put a few up recently. Check out a load of black and white photos here for starters. For more, check out the links on the right hand side page of this blog, under the "My Photos - various galleries" heading. There is plenty of bass stuff up there if that floats your boat.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Lots of west coast Irish bass

Photo courtesy of Kevin Brain
  • What perfect timing !! There I was writing yesterday about the value I attach to fishing with decent guides, and then shore fishing guide Kevin Brain emails me from Waterville on the west coast of Ireland to tell me it's almost not fair the numbers of bass he has been catching. Nice one. Above you can see Kevin with a cracking 9.5lb bass he took recently, and this morning I found photos in my inbox of some nice ones he has yesterday to around 7lbs. I told you, the guy can catch bass - Kevin is a great shore fishing guide, and you can book him right here.
  • Above is a photo I took of Kevin on one of his favourite bass marks a few years ago - the moody tones of black and white really work well I reckon for this very classical type of "standing in the surf and touch ledgering" kind of bass fishing. There can be little argument that one of the spiritual homes of bass fishing is the rugged west coast of Ireland. A place like Kerry is very accessible to anglers who are prepared to make a bit of an effort and want a real adventure.

  • Going back to a point I made yesterday - I get plenty of emails asking when and where to go for some decent bass fishing, but lots of anglers still think that it's a late spring/summer/autumn thing only. Most people do not realise that the wild west coast of Ireland often fishes best when the conditions come right during winter - they can have awesome fishing nearly all year out there, but when the tourists have long gone is often when the bassing really fires. Just look at the top photo for proof !!

  • I am extremely honoured to have a few of my photos featured on one of the web's most highly regarded fly fishing sites - Midcurrent is an awesome resource for anybody with any interest in fly fishing (or fishing full stop), and it makes me really proud to see my work up there with some truly outstanding photographers. See here for the photo page. Scroll down the page and you will see little old me, the token Brit !! If you have any interest in how good fishing can look, take a little time to check these photographers out - there are plenty of links to their respective websites. Fishing done well is truly inspirational.

  • If you want to see some (non-fishing) outstanding nature and wildlife photos, then check this link here, and scroll through the winning images. The world is a stunning place when it is photographed well. This kind of photography blows me away.

  • Bearing in mind that I am setting up my first bass fishing trip over to France for later on this year, it is with great trepidation that I await Sunday's Six Nations clash between our two great countries. I love France and I hugely respect the French, but I can't take losing to them in the rugby. Form says we should be beaten, but me being the eternal optimist, here's hoping that England turns France over and wins a glorious match. Imagine, a proper England win !! And then at least I can hold my head up high when I cruise on down to Brittany and wax lyrical about the "good old days" of English rugby - 2003 still brings tears to my eyes..........

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Bass and shore fishing guides

  • A great way to learn more about fishing is of course to pay for the services of a guide. In UK saltwater fishing we have plenty of professional charter skippers, but there are not very many shore guides that I am aware of. While it is perfectly normal in say fly fishing to hire a guide (or a ghillie) and work with their knowledge to better your fishing, our UK sea fishing culture is not really ingrained with using the services of a guide.

  • My post from the other day about lure fishing confusion got me thinking about this, as did an email from Tim Griffin alerting me to a bass guide I had never heard of (thank you). Yes, of course we all like to go out and do things ourselves, and I know that the idea of actually paying somebody to take you out shore fishing is anathema to many anglers, but I know of few more shortcuts to success than working with a decent guide. I have worked with loads of different guides and operations all over the world, but what about in the UK and Ireland ?

  • And also bear in mind that there are loads of professional bass fishing guides over in France, where their bass fishing "culture" tends to revolve around fast open boats and wildly exciting waters. As I learn more about this, so will you. Isn't it strange how working with guides and the attitudes surrounding it is so different from country to country, and also between the various fishing disciplines ?

  • The guide I can most wholeheartedly recommend for bass and also general shore fishing over in north Cornwall is of course Ed Schliffke (aka "Ed the Bass"). Ed used to take me and my brother out shore fishing some years ago now when we were down on family holidays near Padstow, and he is still one of the best there is. I will never forget those trips, and I lay some of the blame for my fishing addiction firmly at his door !! Ed knows his bass fishing big time. You can contact him here. Take on board what he advises you go for and you will have an awesome time. Take the kids out as well and spend time on one of the most beautiful coastlines there is.

  • I have worked a couple of times with an excellent bass and shore fishing guide over on the outrageously stunning Ring of Kerry in south west Ireland (in Waterville to be precise). Kevin Brain has a bad bass fishing addiction, and he puts lots of clients into plenty of fish. He emailed me the other day to say they have been having a spectacular winter on the bass. Why on earth do more bass freaks not spend more time over there in winter ? They also have a B&B where you can stay. Contact Kevin here and see a feature on him right here.

  • Bill Ryan works further up the coast from Kevin, on the equally pretty, wild, and rugged Clare coastline. He's one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet, and I very much look forward to working with Bill again. See a feature on Bill here, and contact him here. There is a huge amount of good fishing around here.

  • Tim Griffin told me of a professional bass fishing guide on the west coast of Wales, see here for all the details. I have not fished with these guys, but the operation they run comes highly recommended. I am also in contact with another angler setting up as a bass guide in Wales, so as and when I have more info, I will post it here.

  • There is of course my mate Nick Hart who is one of the best fly fishing guides and instructors I have ever worked with, anywhere. Nick also guides a fair bit of bass fishing on the fly, so do make sure to contact him here if you are coming to the westcountry. If you are from the saltwater or coarse fishing worlds, why not have a go at fly fishing ? It's a blast.

  • This is by no means the definitive list of bass and shore fishing guides, but I hope it helps for the moment. As I come across and fish/photograph with more, I will get the details up here and in the various fishing magazines I work for. Think about the time and money that can be spent on going to different places for fishing, and then work in the costs of a decent guide - suddenly it all makes sense when you are into fish that you might never have caught on your own. Local knowledge is key.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Confusion over fishing with lures

  • Judging by the number of emails and feedback I get, plus the questions often asked on this lure fishing forum here, it strikes me that there is (and most likely always be) a certain amount of confusion surrounding the subject of fishing with lures. The more you get into this way of fishing, the more you find there is to learn.......

  • By no means would I ever come close to claiming that I am some kind of "lure fishing guru" - far from it in fact. I know what I know, but I have got so much more to learn. I get to see all kinds of fish caught in all kinds of ways all over the world, and a lot of this information naturally finds its way into my own fishing. The key to understanding more on how to fish with lures is having an open mind and wanting to learn. We've all met fishermen who for some reason think they know it all, and I always leave these people to stew in their own dreamworld. I like spending time around people who have open minds.
  • So where on earth do we go to find out more about fishing with lures, and especially using lures for "our" bass ? Good internet forums are great places to ask around and share information, and you could do a lot worse than have a look at WorldSeaFishing right here. Granted, on every forum I would imagine that there are going to be a few "keyboard warriors" lurking around, but the forums on WSF are generally full of lots of anglers willing to help out and share information.

  • Read as much as you can. In a shameless plug for the features I write and photograph for Sea Angler magazine, I am of course going to say that this magazine should be high on your list. All biased words apart, I am in the middle of a "modern bass fishing" series for the magazine, and you can see a big feature of mine on shallow-diving lures in the current issue on pages 120, 121, 122, 123 and 124. There are a few "experts" who like to knock the various fishing magazines, but I simply ignore this sniping. Magazines have to aim at all skill levels, and I reckon the new look Sea Angler is doing a really good job at the moment. It has always amazed me though that so many of these "experts" who claim never to read the magazines often want to ask specific questions about certain locations, photos, fish etc !! "But I thought you didn't read the fishing press ?"

  • Read fishing books. Just because a particular book might have been published a few years ago does not suddenly put the information within it out of date. Sure, modern lure fishing techniques are constantly evolving, but still the most important thing in fishing is knowing where and when to find the fish. All the shiny new lures in the shops are never going to change that.
  • I have been searching my brain to think of a particular online fishing resource that actually shows you how to fish with different lures, but I can't really think of one - people often ask me what on earth it means to do things like "walk the dog" or "fish with a popper" etc. Again, I am hardly the most knowledgeable person there is on this, but I am learning more and more all the time. But all the photos and the words in the world are still never going to fully explain the different techniques, so does anybody out there know of any online locations where people can see decent video footage of fishing with different lures ? Please get hold of me through my website here and I can post links to them, or put them in the Comments section on this blog.

  • Nothing though is ever going to beat actually getting out there and doing it yourself. Most of it is really very simple indeed, and by getting out there you can play around with the lures and also get to meet other fishermen. I still say that there is no finer sport to be into than fishing, for the majority of anglers I meet are only too happy to share information and also help others along.

  • I am starting to speak to the Jersey tourism guys and also some friends over in Jersey about the idea of putting together some very informal kinds of "bass fishing meets". We are not sure of the exact logistics or format yet, or even if it is going to happen, but some of us are really keen on getting anglers over to fish and learn together in one of the most magical places I know of. It would be nothing to do with "experts or brain-overloading", rather a chance to get together and pool what we know and see what comes out of it. There are some guys over there who know a hell of a lot about all this. The Channel Islands are just fantastic. Do these ideas have proper merit ? Any more information will be posted here.......

Monday, 9 March 2009

Fishing for real men

  • Although I am somewhat loathe to have to admit it, I have become something of a "warm weather" specialist over the last few years. Any kind of fishing that involves t-shirts and suncream over floatation suits gets my vote every time. To think that some years ago now I used to moan about summer and jump for joy when winter was on the way and the cod started showing up off our shores (distant dreams down here ?). How life changes.

  • But this ice fishing that I keep hearing about up in Norway has really got me interested - my mate Cato has emailed me again to tell me about some staggeringly big cod some guys have caught recently. Check out these frankly insane photos right here (scroll down the link). You will see pictures of cod to roughly 45lbs taken from under the ice - mad, completely mad. Look at the shots of the guys fighting these fish through the ice. Now this is fishing for real men. Not warm weather wimps like me !! Just the thought of possibly heading over there next winter to photograph this sends me rushing to the nearest radiator for a reassuring blast of warm air. But I have got to see this stuff. I guess the old floatation suits I have here are going to have to come out of retirement.

  • Cato also had a 6lb char from his local river up in Norway the other day. Great country, awesome music. Cato drums for one of the finest metal bands on this earth, Enslaved - if you have been following this blog, you will know how much I rate their latest album. see here. Enslaved are off on a big US tour soon (see here), along with another fantastic band, the mighty Opeth. I would hazard a guess that Cato will be stopping off along the way to smash a few nice fish !! As I keep saying, how can you get better than a mix of metal and fishing ?
  • And to prove that I can take a bit of cold weather fishing - my last trip out to Ireland late last year (see a stack of bass photos here) saw us having to wrap up against some properly icy conditions. Bitter north winds in our faces, frozen roads and beaches, but the bass were on big time. Real men like me wore no more than a pair of shorts and a t-shirt (my nose is growing....), while the other lads had to wear virtually every single bit of fishing clothing they possessed. No gloves, hat, fleece Buff or thermal tights for me !! Yeah, right.....

  • Roll on the English summer. I went out walking a stretch of coastline yesterday morning with a mate from Cornwall, and like an idiot I thought it would be fine to leave my wet waterproof jacket in the back of the car. Nice one Henry. Those big blue skies soon gave way to driving, icy rain and a gale on our backs - you know when the backs of your jeans are soaking wet but the front is completely dry ? That will teach me not to heed the weather forecast. Saw some nice looking plugging water though.....

Friday, 6 March 2009

Fishing on islands

  • I have always had a thing for fishing on islands - I am not sure why this is the case, but I guess the idea of being slightly cut off and even further away from what we might call "civilisation" appeals to me. I will never forget spending a day over on Dursey island on the west coast of Ireland for a TV show we made a while back. I don't remember any particularly big fish, but I do always remember the sense of adventure at getting that ropey cable car over there and then walking until we found somewhere that looked worth fishing. If you want to fish this part of the world, I would seriously recommend reading this photo essay here on my website, and then contacting the people whose details I have put in there.

  • How about the insane cod and coalfish fishing we filmed off the coast of Norway on the tiny island of Rost ? See what I mean ? A long way from lots of people and the fishing was off the scale it was so good. Check out a load of photos here if you don't believe me.

  • The photo you can see above was shot early one morning last year on the Minquiers, a huge reef system that lies a few miles off the coast of Jersey. I have been in love with the different Channel Islands for years now, and there are plenty of smaller islands around them that can be accessed and fished if you know what you are doing or go with experienced people (if you have seen me trying to navigate a boat, you will know why I choose the latter option !!). I have dreamed of going to the Minquiers for ages, and it was a huge thrill to spend a night out there. Check out how good that water looks for bass fishing - it was tough when we were out there, but anybody with half a brain is going to get excited about tide, reefs, islands, rips and eddies when it comes to bass fishing.

  • Above is Jersey bass-freak Trevor Sangan fishing a popper off the back of the little island we stayed on at the Minquiers. What a perfect morning. There is also the famous Ecrehous reef system that lies off Jersey, plus numerous others. The bass guys over there have got access to such a vast area of fishable waters. I know that they guys here are always happy to help out with local advice, and they stock the rods, reels and lures that smash the bass big time.

  • It just so happens that this exploratory French bass fishing/photography trip of mine that I am in the process of planning will most likely be based around an island or two. Perhaps the fact that islands get me going to much is partly down to the fact that you have to cross water to get to them, and that crossing of water always gives me that slightly increased sense of adventure. I don't care if it involves a boat, a ferry, a plane, a kayak or even a bit of a swim (preferably not), that crossing from the mainland over to an island always increases the heart rate. Fishing is an exciting thing to do in my book.

  • I can't talk about islands without mentioning one of the most stunning places on earth - the Isles of Scilly. OK, so they don't have bass fishing, but they have insane shore fishing for species like mullet (monsters), pollack, huss, wrasse, conger etc. Accessing the different islands out there is like entering a new world every day. It's been too long......

  • And on a different note, I watched a programme last night about the English 2003 Rugby World Cup campaign - mainly to remind myself of how great we once were, and to try and rid myself of all this heartache at being an English rugby supporter at the moment. The emotion of those days came flooding back and I think my wife caught me wiping the odd tear from the corner of my eyes - "got a bit of dust in there". She thinks I'm mad, but those were the days were they not ? We were world beaters once, with a team full of awesome rugby players who could do what it took under the severest of pressure. Can we ever be like that again ?

Thursday, 5 March 2009

New issue of Catch mag now online

  • There is a brand new issue of the online magazine Catch out now - see here. It does not matter what kind of fishing you do, whether it's saltwater, fly or coarse, because I presume that most fishermen like to check out awesome looking fishing. Catch magazine continues to blow me away with the quality of the work in there, and this issue they have gone mad and dropped a photo of mine in there - have a look in the Light Series for my shot.

  • The first photo in that First Light section is simply outstanding, and it was shot by the famous US fly fishing photographer Val Atkinson. Check out more of his work here. OK, so some of us may never go to some of the places featured in Catch magazine, but that is not the point. This online magazine in my mind is a simple celebration of all that is good about fishing - the fact that if photographed well, fishing can look so inviting and impressive. The better we make fishing look to everybody, the better our chances are for keeping this great sport going. That is how I see things anyway.

  • I am a fairly useless fly fisherman myself, but to photograph fly fishing is just plain awesome. Many of the world's most beautiful and remote areas are regularly accessed by pioneering fly fishermen, and it this spirit of adventure that I find such an appealing part of fishing. Sure, we tend to all love our "home" fishing the best (give me a bass any day of the week), but just the sniff of a chance to experience different species, cultures, techniques and people is what drives a large part of my work. I know that lots of anglers are never going to venture overseas to fish, but surely there is no harm in dreaming ?

  • And my favourite place on earth ? It has to be Ireland. I fell for Africa ages ago, indeed a part of me would love to live and work in South Africa, but Ireland just feels that extra bit special to me. It did the first time I ever went. Every time I go over there I can hardly sleep for the excitement. OK, so Ireland has some outstanding bass fishing, but what most sea anglers do not realise is that there are so many miles of basically unexplored and unfished coastline over there. The more effort you put into a place like Ireland, the more you will get out. In these credit crunch times, and even with the Euro being so bad for us, you can still do Ireland very cheaply. And of course there is some fantastic fly and coarse fishing over there as well.

  • I like my shore-based fishing to be as far away from the crowds as possible, and it still amazes me how few people I see shore fishing in Ireland. The guys who know their fishing tend to fish out of the way places, much like around here, but there is so much easily accessible water over there that can chuck up such good fishing. I defy anybody's jaw not to hit the floor when you are fishing areas like the Beara peninsular, the Ring of Kerry and the Clare coastline. What about heading west from Cork ? And what about the virtually deserted coast of the south east ? Ireland is simply stunning. There is so much more I want to see out there - wild islands offshore on the west coast where I hear rumours of mind-blowing pollack fishing. Acres of water stuffed full or rays and huss. Huge mullet swimming around with nobody to fish for them.......

  • See what I mean about dreaming ? Fishing is about dreaming, and something like Catch magazine simply stokes the fires further. One of these days I am going to do what I have dreamt about for years now, and that is to jump in a camper van and take myself off to remote parts of Ireland I have never been to and simply roam and fish until I drop. To dream is good.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Winter blue sky front cover

  • I was really pleased to get the cover of the latest issue of Trout Fisherman magazine, as you can see above. Check out my photos on pages 14, 18, 19, 20, 21 , 22 and 23 - Nick Hart wrote all the words. The blue skies on the cover were like what we had down here over the weekend, but they are forecasting a decent storm coming in later today. We shall see....

  • I am sorting out an exploratory bass fishing trip down to Brittany in north west France - there is a particular area that really interests me, and some of the people I met at the Salon de Peches show the other weekend down at Nantes are helping me out with tides, contacts and dates. I can not tell you how much I am looking forward to the chance of photographing and fishing for bass in France, it is such an awesome country, and I hope that this trip might be the start of another love affair - like I have for Ireland and the fishing over there.

  • I told you yesterday about the bass that were caught by my friends over in Ireland over the weekend - check out the photos on Graham Hill's new bass blog. Keep an eye on this one. Over time I fully expect his blog to become a place that I am going to have to avoid looking at too much in case I do what I keep thinking about - dropping out, moving over there to live, and just fishing my socks off until the day I die !! Not very realistic I know, but hard not to think about doing.........

  • I have just been sent a PDF of a photo essay of mine that is in the awesome Norwegian fishing magazine Alt om Fiske - I really like getting my work in this publication. Granted, I don't understand a word of it, but it looks fantastic !! The salmon photos of mine were shot out on the Gaspe peninsular over on the east coast of Canada - pure sight fishing for Atlantic salmon in the clearest rivers I have ever seen. What a lot of fly anglers don't know is that most of this east coast Canadian salmon fishing is really cost effective, and it takes hardly any time to get over there. Flights are usually dirt cheap as well. Talk to Pete or Charlotte at Aardvark McLeod about going there.

  • I also received a copy of the German fishing magazine Blinker yesterday, and in there is a big feature of mine on the frankly scary-awesome lure and fly fishing for giant golden dorado in Argentina. I am especially pleased with the big double-page spread photo of mine that they used, of a jumping dorado with a popper in its mouth. Heading to this particular location that is in the feature is not cheap, but they are virtually fully booked up because it is THE best place on earth to chase the biggest golden dorado. These magnificent fish are still one of the most impressive freshwater species I have ever come across, and I really want to do a lot more with them. Again, if this kind of fishing floats your boat, talk to Aardvark McLeod. I would never do this kind of thing if it was not an important part of my work, and I never thought for one second that when I started out working in fishing that I would get to see things like this. But as I always say, it ain't ever close to what it seems.........

Monday, 2 March 2009

A perfect day - very nearly ruined.....

  • Yesterday was just about the best day I could have had without going fishing - my girls and I went over to north Cornwall to see some friends, and with the stunning weather, we all had a picnic down on the Camel estuary and basically had a blast building sandcastles, collecting shells and walking out on the sand at low tide. Out of the wind and it was really warm, and my sheepdog Jess was happy to chase sea gulls until we had to head home to Plymouth. What an awesome way to spend a Sunday.

  • But the rugby on Saturday afternoon came close to completely ruining my weekend - I know the mature me should rise with ease above such an outright disappointment, but to do this took real strength of will. To say that England were awful (once again) is something I hate having to admit, but surely the time has come now to start dropping players who can not stop giving away daft penalties. I would hate to be Danny Care when Martin Johnson gives him hell - and the idiot deserves it, what an insane way to get yellow-carded. "Professional fouls" I can understand when you have no choice but to try and prevent a score, but the penalties we kept on giving away were mad. The only reason the game was so close was because Ronan O'Gara momentarily forgot how to kick at goal. How much longer can I keep on watching the England rugby team do so badly ?
  • I heard from a friend over in Ireland that they had a couple of bass at the weekend, including a fish nudging the 5lb mark. These fish came on crab baits, proving once again that if you go to the right areas, bass are a real possibility all year round. I fully expect reports of good lure caught bass fairly soon from over there. They also had a huge flounder and some small sea trout.

  • I generally have a fisheye lens in my camera bag, but it rarely gets used. It's the kind of lens to bring out only on the odd occasion, like the shot you can see above - sometimes a shot simply "jumps" at you, and I took this one a few years ago with my friend Graham Hill. Yet again he was smashing decent fish on lures, and with the generally pretty poor light we had that particular day, I was keen on trying something else photography wise to try and emphasise the majestic lines of these fish. The head of a bass always makes a strong impression on me, and getting in really tight with a fisheye allows me to make something of that feature. Personally I really like the shot, but I do have reservations about using fisheye lenses too much......