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.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Article 47 update

  • Check out the latest Article 47 updates and a short video clip of UKIP leader Nigel Farage arguing the case for UK sea anglers right here. I am not a political animal by nature, but I can vouch for the fact that Nigel is a passionate fisherman, the same as you and I - we have spent a few days over the years out at sea, indeed the whole Farage family are fishing nuts. See my original post and thoughts on Article 47 here. Burying your head in the sand and hoping that this kind of thing goes away ain't going to do any good at all........
  • Some more black and white shots - not sure it makes much sense when the weather is as stunning as it currently is, but what the heck. Live dangerously eh ? The photo above is one of my all time favourite photos that I have ever shot of a bass, but even in colour it does not make complete sense until you see it blown up to full size. I have done a black and white conversion above, but I am not completely sure it works. I have always reckoned that a portrait-style crop of this photo (see below) would work really well as a front cover of a magazine, but so far it has not been used in this way. Perhaps the fact that it is an eye and not an immediately obvious "look at me, I'm a fish" kind of photo has been the reason why. Frustrating, but that's the way it goes in the fishing world from time to time.

  • A lot of bass fishing lends itself naturally to being photographed - especially in wide open places with big, imposing skies. Give me a complete lack of other people around and I am an even happier person. They are a very visually appealing fish to be around, especially when we are using lure and light bottom fishing tactics, rather than the more traditional "stick two heavy rods in a tripod and watch for a bite" fishing. All is good stuff, but I know what I would rather photograph out of choice. Not a hard guess !!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Some more fishing in black and white

  • I have been messing around again with converting some of my photos over to black and white, and here are a few of the latest results. It does seem that the steelhead fishing over in BC (Canada) really lends itself to black and white, due mainly to the incredibly moody conditions, staggering backdrops, and long double-handed fly rods. It was monsooning it down in the photo you can see above, but the swirling mist and clouds with a vast mountain surround really made the place light up through the viewfinder. I believe that the black and white conversion has emphasised the moodiness of the photo - comments most welcome.
  • Just a brief glimpse of sun was enough to light up the snow-covered peaks behind the angler (Pete McLeod of Aardvark McLeod) as he really goes into the power stroke of another smooth Spey cast. I have gone for a very deliberate contrasty conversion to highlight the fisherman, the cast, and the mountains behind.
  • Still one of the most impressive places on this earth that I have ever had the good fortune to photograph, British Columbia is on a scale that I don't think I ever really got my head around during my brief visit. The type of area that stuns you into a kind of submission the first time you go, it really is that special, and one of those places that I so badly want to go back to and see it again. Steelhead fishing is a cult thing, and I completely understand why so many anglers give themselves over to it. Still the only place I have ever photographed that arguably looked a whole lot better the worse the weather was. And we got the lot when we were over there !!

  • One of our own UK rainbow trout, and a shot that I always reckoned would look good in black and white - from the moment I framed it up in fact. I just like the way the highlights on the body of the trout allow me to really bring the shadows down and still make for a photo with a degree of simple impact.

  • You can see a load more of my black and white photos right here, with some new ones loaded up. I am having a new website built at the moment, so there will be more news on that as and when it is done. The stuff I have seen so far looks very cool indeed....

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Sea Angler cover and lure fishing bag

  • Here's my cover photo on the current issue of Sea Angler magazine that I was talking about the other day (see here) - I like what they have done with my photograph, and this cover is a tight crop of a shot I took of a decent bass over in Ireland. Anybody with any interest in photography will most likely recognise that a fisheye lens has been used to get in really tight on the fish and emphasise that predator head with a very slight degree of natural distortion that comes from using this sort of lens in a situation like this.

  • The exact lens was the Canon 15mm f2.8 fisheye, but to be perfectly honest, the reason for using a lens like this makes more sense when you look at the original photo that the Sea Angler designers cropped from to make the front cover. See my original shot of the bass below. The photo being cropped so tightly for a front cover shows how clean and flexible high resolution digital files are these days from professional SLR cameras. The current issue of Sea Angler is going to take some beating I reckon, but they have some good people working for them who keep on finding really good looking UK sea fishing material.

  • I am always trying to keep an eye out for products that I reckon will work well for our fishing, and I came across a really good looking waterproof rucksack the other day that should make for an excellent kind of mobile lure fishing bag for bass fishing. Snowbee make this waterproof rucksack, and these guys will need no introduction if you are from the fly fishing world. They also do a load of sea fishing gear as well that you should check out.
  • Here's a photograph of the bag I am on about, and you can see a bunch of details right here. I believe I am right in saying that this bit of kit retails for around £50, and for a purpose built waterproof rucksack, I reckon this is really good value for money. A lot of us bass fishermen for a start want to make sure that our stuff stays dry, whatever the weather, and wherever we are fishing, and the idea of a lightweight rucksack that you can walk with all day long really appeals to me. The simplest things in fishing are often the most useful. I would guess that a load of UK saltwater anglers would fine a bag like this to be of use, whatever you fish for.

  • There seems to be a lot more "crossover" of products these days between the different fishing disciplines. I know we tend to split our fishing up into game, sea and coarse in the UK, but in my mind that is somewhat counter-productive, and I tend to believe we are all just fishermen, however we choose to catch our fish. Word of mouth and the power of the internet I believe is making it far easier for fishermen to see lots of different kinds of products and cherry-pick the ones that they want to use for their own fishing, regardless of what the original purpose for the product was.

  • Take breathable chest waders for starters - I see more and more guys in the sea fishing world wearing these things, but of course they were originally designed for the game fishing market. But we find them useful, so we use them. How about wearing short wading jackets from the game world instead of those somewhat (generally) heavier and bulkier specialist sea fishing waterproof tops ? Being able to roll a lightweight wading jacket up and stuff it in my bag is so useful to me, and again, I see more and more mobile sea anglers doing this.

  • Times are a changing, and I would guess that the tackle companies and retail outlets who can retain the flexibility to adapt to change swiftly and efficiently will be the ones who come out on top. Making the same old stuff and marketing it in the same old way in my mind does not cut the mustard any more. You want an example ? Why are so many switched-on, internet-savvy bass anglers increasingly buying rods, reels and lures with heavy Japanese and French influences that are not designed in the UK ?

Monday, 20 April 2009

Plaice showing from the boats

  • Plaice are not a fish I have spent much time chasing over the years, but I fully understand their appeal and I would love to catch more of them. There's something about these flatfish that really get lots of anglers going. Although they had north east winds up on the famous Skerries banks off Dartmouth over the weekend, Malcolm Jones of the charter boat Sea Angler II tells me that the fishing was still pretty good. A fair few nice plaice were taken during the huge annual plaice festival they have up there every year. Check here for getting hold of one of the south west's best charter skippers. I can not recommend Malcolm highly enough.

  • I spoke to Malcolm this morning as he was steaming back to Plymouth and he said it was about as beautiful as possible out at sea. How good was the weather yesterday ? I am not sure what the actual temperature was, but to me if felt like the warmest day of the year so far down here - so sunny and warm in fact that I even got my shorts on for the first time in the UK in 2009. Now that is an event !!
  • Nobody can mistake the distinctive orange spots on a plaice - I have heard so many stories of when shore fishing for them over on the tiny Channel Island of Alderney was frankly awesome. We are talking about serious numbers of big, 5lb plus plaice coming to shore anglers, but as is usual on planet earth, the stocks were commercially hammered and what was once a world class shore fishery for them is now a shadow of its former glories. There is still some very good fishing over there at various times of the year, but imagine what it once was....................kind of like too many places on earth (sadly). Speak to these guys here for local info, guiding, tackle, bait and charter boats.

  • I also spoke to a friend of mine over in south east Ireland this morning - Cian told me that north east winds and an incredibly small tide did them no favours at all on the bass fishing front this weekend, but persistence paid off and he managed to land a solid 5lb fish on a Duo Tide Minnow lure. See here for getting some of these awesome lures. Cian said he had at least five decent follows from bass, but that they then turned away at the last moment. Why ?

  • The Wolves are howling - if you are into any kind of extreme metal music, do yourself the biggest favour possible this week and get hold of the new album by the US black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room. These guys get in your head in a big way, and their new CD called "Black Cascade" is a proper masterpiece. Listen here for some short samples of what this band is about. They play long, textured songs that won't leave you alone, and I reckon that's just about perfect. Kind of like a faster Drudkh if you get my drift. Monumental metal for the true connoisseur. Get the CD here.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Big soft plastics article out now

  • Check out the latest issue of Sea Angler magazine for a big feature of mine on catching proper bass on soft plastic lures - look on pages 4, 5, 6, 7 and, 8 for my words and photos. All credit due to the guys at Sea Angler for making the stuff look so good, and for giving over so much space to this continual explosion of interest in a more "modern" style of bass fishing that so many of us as addicted to.

  • It is my photo of the head of a bass that is on the front cover of the latest Sea Angler, and when I get hold of a copy of it I will post it up here. As always, I never get a say in the choice of covers, but I really like this one - ok, so perhaps I am a bit biased 'cos it's my photo on there !!
  • There's a couple of photos here from that epic day in south east Ireland late last year, when Tom Hollyhock put on a MegaBass XLayer soft plastic lure, mounted on a small jig head, and then proceeded to blow his mind with the quality of the bass he nailed. Those few days of fishing and photography play on my mind a lot when I can't get out fishing or the weather is rubbish. Check out a load of photos from that particular trip right here. If I see many more days like that then I will be a lucky man..............

  • I got back from my meetings at Hardy Greys up in Alnwick late yesterday morning. We got plenty done, but it's always good to get out of an office environment and back to what I do day to day. I have the utmost respect for anybody who works within the sport fishing industry, and I suppose so much of what makes it so interesting is that there are so many different niches where people can fit into and make a go of it. And there is so much more to do.

  • I am going to do my utmost to start getting out bass fishing a proper amount now - work and weather allowing. There are some tiny tides this weekend, but I reckon the conditions look ok for various parts of the south west, and I keep hearing of more and more bass being taken on lures and baits. A lot of people want to know just how "big" bass fishing is in the UK, for various different reasons, but I can't see any way of measuring what is a kind of cult way of fishing that in my mind seems to be getting more and more popular all the time. So many people want to know about catching bass these days, on lures especially, and I reckon there are some exciting times ahead. If we have a decent season on the bass then I will be extremely interested to see where all this stuff goes.............

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Off up to Alnwick for a meeting

  • I trust you all had a good weekend - I was out all day today shooting some photos with Nick Hart, and then first thing tomorrow I have to fly up to Newcastle airport for a meeting with Hardy Greys at their base in Alnwick. Meetings aren't really my thing (would rather be out bass fishing), but they have to happen from time to time.

  • I am hearing reports of more and more guys catching a few bass - see the comment from Steve on my post from the end of last week. I love seeing comments like that and I am really grateful that people take the time to do so. When work calms down for me, there are some bass out there with my name on. Your time is up.

  • I met a couple of really nice anglers down on the Isle of Wight on Saturday morning - I was walking the dogs out across the beach at Bembridge and I got speaking to the two local lads who had just been out bass fishing (was it Nick and Ben ?, sorry, I am terrible with names). These two have really got into their lure fishing recently (and they read this blog, thanks guys), so it was great to stop and talk all things bass fishing for a while, and even better to hear that they had caught one on a lure that very morning. I also saw a couple of guys who were fly fishing for the bass, but I don't know how they got on. I was taking a couple of days off with my family, but next time I am down in the Isle of Wight my rods are coming with me. There are some tidy mullet around there as well which need catching.

  • Things will get back to normal on the blog later in the week, but for now I had better go and pack my stuff up for the 7am flight out of Plymouth (international airport !!) tomorrow morning. First class of course - or perhaps not.....

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Have a good Easter weekend

  • I hope all of you have a fantastic, long Easter weekend - may the fish bite big time !! Perhaps this bit of weather we have got down here at the moment might kick start the bass fishing off properly, especially with the larger tides.........

  • Talking of bass (not that I have a problem or anything), a friend of mine over in south east Ireland emailed me the other day to give me a report of some more good fish they have nailed recently. Patrick and Cian had a number of fish, with one he estimated around 9 to 10lbs. That's another awesome bass for these guys. Honestly, I don't know how much longer I can take NOT living over there.
  • I have put a bunch of photos up here from a Trout Fisherman shoot I did the other day with Nick Hart - the weather remained nearly perfect all day (perfect for me and my photos, perhaps not so perfect for the actual fishing), but the fish did not really switch on right until the end. When we are shooting a fishing feature, if no fish are caught then it's a day we can't use, so this puts a lot of pressure on Nick. But he can live with it !! Not that I ever remind him of the stakes during a shoot or anything like that. Nice one.

  • I am spending the long weekend with my family, no fishing for me this time. Please catch a few for me and have a complete blast doing so. I have a feeling that this year might just be a decent one, there seem to be plenty of reports of pockets of good fish around. The launce are turning up on the reefs down here off Plymouth, and the pollack are feeding hard. This is such a fantastic way to go boat fishing - light gear, shallower water, fresh, scrappy fish, a perfect day out. Get hold of one of Plymouth's best charter skippers right here - Malcolm always works his socks off to give his clients a great day out and I can not recommend him highly enough.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Live sandeels - is there a better bass bait ?

  • I would be fascinated to know exactly what the overall most successful bass bait of all time is - I am sure this kind of thing can never be proven one way or the other, but live sandeel has to to figure right up there. Going out with the guys from Premier Baits on Friday was a real eye opener as to how a professional outfit goes about getting sandeels from the sea to the customer in an enticingly wriggly state. As you can see in the photo above, the day started off with a some really thick fog, but this quickly broke to give a stunning morning.
  • There is no other way to harvest sandeels for bait than good old fashioned back breaking work. There's me tripping up all over the boat as I try and nail the shots, doing all I can not to get in the way, and the guys kept on smiling at yet another "hold it there for a second" or "hang on, can I get in here" from me, the photographer. It's St. Ives you can see in the background.
  • If you want to get hold of some of the finest live sandeels you are ever going to see, you need to get yourself down to Hayle in Cornwall and see the guys from Premier Baits. Call Dave Dunstan on 01209 217062 or 07770 688207, or call Saul Astrinsky on 01736 796234 or 07779 316756 - they will also go out of their way to help you with advice on setting up proper tanks at home to store large quantities of live eels. They are getting some very good sandeels at the moment, and weather allowing, you will be able to buy eels off them until at least mid-October. Bass beware !!

  • I remember when I used to have a tank here at home for keeping prawns in, and I was always convinced that my wife used to "acquire" a number of them and then eat them without me knowing !! She has never admitted to the crime, but I reckon she is guilty as hell. Any time I mention how much I used to love and cherish my prawns, she goes bright red and changes the subject. What a killer thornback ray bait........

  • Above is a sight that any keen fisherman would dream about - a stack of live sandeels just out of the water. You would not believe the work and effort it takes to keep these things in perfect condition from the sea to their (huge) tanks through to the customer. I had a fantastic time with them, and I am going to try and go out bass fishing with them next to do a follow up piece on the guys nailing bass on their own product.

Friday, 3 April 2009

FieldSports front cover

  • I just received a copy of the latest issue of the fantastic FieldSports magazine, and I was really pleased to see that they have used a photo of mine on the cover - this strange looking fish is a milkfish, one of the fastest things I have ever seen on the saltwater flats. There is a feature of mine in the magazine about fly fishing the ultra-remote Seychelles atolls of these milkies as they are known. I always wanted somebody to pick up on this particular shot to use as a cover, and I applaud FieldSports' bold decision to use it. But then I might be a little biased......!!

  • Fishing like this ain't even close to cheap, but I have yet to see any better saltwater fly fishing anywhere. I go on these trips because they are work for me - this might not sound quite right I know, but it's what I do. These atolls are freaky good for fishing, and if you can do this kind of thing, you need to speak to the fly fishing travel company Aardvark McLeod. These guys represent the awesome South African based FlyCastway company here in the UK, and I can not speak highly enough of their operation. You can see some photos here.

  • I have just got back from photographing a job around St. Ives down in Cornwall - early this morning I boarded a boat at Hayle and headed out with three guys to photograph them netting sandeels. They caught masses and when I have sorted out the photos I will get some up here on this blog. The north coast of Cornwall was stunning early this morning, and we were only a few hundred years off the beach at St. Ives. What a great bunch of guys to work with.

  • Photographing this kind of fast moving action requires that you get in amongst it and shoot the hell out of it, knowing that the moving boat and constantly shifting light will kill a percentage of the photos for you. But if you are prepared to work around the guys as they go about their work then you can come away with some really cool stuff. This is not a job for anybody who likes to spend ages planning their shots or doesn't like getting their cameras and lenses wet - get right in there is the key. Full details of this bait operation next week - are there many better things to use for bass than a live sandeel ?

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Saw some bass, but couldn't catch them (plus a truly monster pike)

  • I went out for a few hours over the high water yesterday morning, to have another look around and see if I could find some bass. I had timed it to fish the last of the flood tide, and the moment the tide turned I waded out onto a sandbank to fish with soft plastics in amongst the tumbling water and deeper channels. As I waded out I saw perhaps ten to fifteen bass laid up on the sand, right next to the main channel, but the moment they saw me moving towards them they quite rightly spooked !! They weren't big fish, but at least they were bass. I also saw a lone sandeel swimming around - bizarre.

  • To see fish always raises the heartbeat, and pretty quickly I got hit hard once on the soft plastic lure you can see above, but the fish did not connect - a MegaBass XLayer fished on an 18g Storm jig head (see here for the lures). But then nothing else happened. Typical !! I fished a few hours of the drop and then had to head back home. What a stunning morning when those clouds cleared, and pretty as it was, it had to have been too bright for the fish to switch on properly. That's my excuse anyway. Just me, Jess my sheepdog and a few seagulls - perfect peace, but rest assured that true Norwegian black metal in the shape of Gorgoroth was blasting out in my car on the way back. Peace when fishing, metal when not. Life is a series of opposites.
  • I also messed around with this lure above, and in the water it looks incredible - it's a 6.5 inch Hart Gummy Leech on a 22g articulated Storm jig head that I picked up in France. Why on earth can you not get hold of these particular articulated jig heads in the UK ? (a big hint to Shimano !!) I have a feeling that this lure set up might do some proper damage later in the season, and I reckon night time is going to work well where I was fishing......
Photo courtesy Danny Parkins
31lb 14oz pike - 01.04.09
  • But my brief efforts yesterday were certainly put into context when Danny Parkins rang me up and told me all about this huge pike he caught yesterday on the Exeter canal. Take a look at the size of that thing !! 31lb 14oz of killing machine, and Danny took this beast on a lure. I have met few guys who know their predator fishing as much as this guy, in fact he is an all round fishing junkie with a serious lure problem. Danny reckons this huge pike is a new Exeter canal record, so what can I say but seriously well done, that is a hell of a fish to catch on a lure and I take my hat off to the guy. I have been hectic with work too much over the winter, and I feel daft for not having got into this pike fishing properly - I have to make time for this, it's world class fishing. Nice one Danny.

  • Please take a look at Nick Hart's blog here - I could not agree more with him about this Robson Green bloke talking rubbish on the (primetime) box about the fact that nine out of ten fish that are caught and released then go and die. This proves to me once again that the whole celebrity culture is something to be avoided at all costs. Another nail in the "image of fishing" coffin, this time banged home by a bloke who is meant to be a keen angler. I am not about to post what I really feel here, it ain't printable.