Posted 08:11, 29 November 2013
- You can’t help but have this vision that over time you will serenely choose the lures to take, pack your gear up without having to sit on your bag and squash it down to close it, head on up to (sodding) Gatwick, touch down in Morocco, get a good night’s sleep and then hammer a load of monster bass from the off. If only life were like that !! I’m beating my head about stuff like what lures to take, the best rods for the job, and whether to tie some leaders on before we actually get to see the ground. One of my computers is refusing to open a vital bit of software that I need to use to get some images out to a client and yesterday morning my website went down. We’ve had some work done here at home and when they came to turn on the boiler it didn’t work and they are still trying to mend it. You know that expression when it rains it pours ?
- But this is all just part of life and we deal with it. How though do we deal with the excitement levels of heading down to a country that firstly I have never been to, and secondly has come on to my radar as a destination where they sometimes catch some huge bass from the shore. Can I use the word “huge” for a bass when you compare it to something like a tarpon ? OK, perhaps not on those terms, but the lads who are taking us out fishing in Morocco have landed bass (yes, “our” bass) to 25lbs this year, from the shore. Just think about that for a minute. When did you last see a double figure bass landed from the shore in the UK or Ireland ? Sure, it happens, but now think about when you might have seen say a 15lb bass landed. I have never seen a bass this big, yet where we are going there is the chance of landing or at least hooking a 20lb plus bass.
- So how on earth do you stand a chance at managing the expectation levels when there is the potential for fish like this ? Well you do and you don’t I suppose. I remember going to Namibia for the first time. I had seen a couple of photographs of guys with sharks they had landed from the beach and it seriously got to me. I was that really fidgety person on the flight to Namibia, the kind of passenger you dread sitting next to in steerage on a long flight. I was so buzzed with adrenaline that I slept not a wink the entire flight, in fact by the time I was actually standing on the Skeleton Coast with a shark rod in my hand I was a nervous wreck. And when that first shark did hit me I can remember almost passing out I was so excited. I had almost completely blown that first trip out of all proportion in my mind, but luckily the experiences were so ridiculously awesome that they lived up to my expectations and more.
- OK, so I have done a big number of trips between then and now, and to be honest nearly all of them are and have to be work related. Some have been wildly exotic and out of the way and some are more “regular”. I think that I have learnt to better manage my expectations and go with the attitude that yes, of course I want to see (and photograph) some awesome fishing, but that I need to have a realistic head on my shoulders and take what we get. You also need to take your chances and push as hard as you can to try and get the results that the destination has the potential to provide. If the weather kills you then that’s life. If the big fish don’t show then that’s life as well. The trick is to make sure you are working/fishing with the right people on the ground and then to give them your hard work on the fishing (or photography) front so that you can come away whatever the results knowing that you gave it all you could. You don’t want to be getting home and thinking I wish I had got up early that one morning or I could have walked that bit further on so and so day. You snooze you lose !!
- But of course you can’t help but get excited about a fishing (photography) trip away. I have been lucky enough to work in locations that the majority of people are simply never going to see, yet I woke up at 3.30am every single morning for a week once before heading over to Ireland on a trip because my brain was ticking so much. Hell, I was up at 4.30am this morning trying to work out what I can and can’t take to Morocco. Plus of course there is the chance of seeing or catching a bass from the shore that is unlike anything I have ever experienced. What are the chances of a 20lb plus bass coming to our group next week ? Well that’s just it. There’s a chance. Fish that size have been caught this year so it can happen again. What about next week ? Who knows ? I am lucky in that I’ve caught enough properly “big” fish to sustain me in memories for the rest of my life, but it matters not a jot when from Monday we will be bashing lures out with just that slim chance we may hook a bass unlike any bass we have ever seen before.
- Why go all the way to Morocco ? You know why by now. I love fishing and photographing locations that are new to me, and I also love meeting and working with different people who share this common passion that is fishing. I reckon I am pretty good these days at managing my expectations, and to be honest a lot of the work trips I do I am travelling somewhere on my own – so on that front I just hope that the lads coming with me from the UK at least get a taste of the bass fishing that Morocco is known for, and we can ask for no more than that. Sure, a heap of big bass and awesome light for me would be ideal thank you very much, but all I really hope for is to come away with a decent glimpse of what can go on down there – and anything else would be a bonus really.
- Do any of you check out the GoPro website from time to time ? Holy cow there is some awesome stuff on there sometimes and yes, it really makes my brain tick with what a couple of people and a bunch of GoPro cameras/mounts/housings etc. might be able to do say with a bit of good looking bass fishing. I keep thinking about trying to do something and then I back off in my head because for the life of me I can’t yet work out how to at least cover my time. I have zero experience of wielding a film camera but give me a bit of time and I reckon I am going to have no choice but to give it a bit of a go and see what I can come up with. I defy you not to watch the short film above and not find it incredibly emotional in places.
- And then check out the short film above. Insane. But look at what can be done on what I reckon is a minimal budget. I know I don’t really do “traditional” sea fishing these days, but I love it and I love that it’s what defines us almost as UK sea anglers – but there is no getting away from the fact that a static form of fishing is not very easy to make look very impressive when you’re filming. I know we struggled back in the day to make it look dynamic I suppose, and with this GoPro sort of internet based stuff it’s all about dynamism, excitement, adrenaline and an element of risk I suppose. It’s breaking my head what could be done with some kinds of lure fishing on the filming front and although I have little desire to get myself back on the TV, I can’t help but want to find a way of doing something “cool” with fishing. I want fishing to look good because I reckon it’s good for the future of our sport. Watch this space I suppose.
- I have no idea about internet access while we are in Morocco next week, but if we get any then I will do my best to put a bit of stuff up here, and if we can’t get online then I will tell you how we get on when I get back. Have a good weekend all of you and I now need to start packing up and cutting down my lures !! Do I really need as many as are sitting in the pile on my office floor ?
Posted 06:20, 27 November 2013
- Even if you aren’t a cricket fan, the chances are you’ve read about or seen news footage recently concerning the England no.3 batsmen Jonathan Trott flying home after the first Ashes test with a “stress-related illness”. A similar thing happened to the hugely talented opening batsmen Marcus Trescothick a few years back, and it came out over time that he had been battling depression and felt it necessary to retire (far too early for somebody so talented and comparatively young) from international cricket. You watch sport yet you don’t really give much thought to the lives that these sportsmen lead away from the sporting arena. Surely a professional sportsman doesn’t get depression, because what is there to get depressed about ? You’re living a dream, getting paid to play sport – but it isn’t like that. Depression isn’t “simply” being depressed. As most people know, depression is a mental illness that can strike anybody and it sure as hell doesn’t discriminate in who it affects.
- I don’t suffer from depression and I hope I never do. Like many of you I am sure, I get down from time to time, and as much as I might sometimes say “I’m feeling depressed or down”, in reality this is nothing to do with actually suffering from depression, anxiety/panic attacks or some form of mental illness. I find it desperately sad that a professional sportsman has had to leave an Ashes tour, which for an England cricketer is the highlight of a career, and yet again it sadly proves that this cruel illness known as depression can hit anybody at any time. We discriminate because we are human beings, yet mental illness knows no boundaries. Rich or poor, high profile or “regular” person, it matters not.
- I have heard some people say over the years that they don’t see what the fuss is about when somebody has depression, and they should just snap out of it and get on with life. Mental health issues seem to be beset with ignorance. As I said, I have never had depression, but I have been around it, I know people who have had it or are going through it, and sadly I know a few people who have committed suicide because of their mental illness – and that is what it is. It’s an illness that sufferers can’t simply give themselves a shake and get out of it, yet there still seems to be various stigmas to depression and other associated mental illnesses. You can’t help but feel for a person like Jonathan Trott who has obviously been trying to deal with an illness of the brain while also trying to perform as a professional sportsman and all the pressure that comes with it – one can only hope that he gets to spend some proper time with his family and get the right treatment. I hope he comes back to international cricket, but sport obviously pales into insignificance in a situation like this.
- You know my aversion to the whole celebrity culture, but I take my hat off big time to somebody like Stephen Fry who has been so open about his own depression. I can’t imagine what it is like to have depression, but I would think that it is a very hard thing to try and articulate what is going on in your head when your life must seem so insurmountable, and sadly a percentage of sufferers seem to see no way out and commit suicide. I don’t know how to rationalise the act of taking your own life, but the way I see it from knowing a few people who have done this is to believe that they would never have committed suicide if they had been mentally well enough to realise what there is to live for and the family they are leaving behind. Depression is a cruel and desperately unfair illness and I must surmise that being in the depths of it can at times cause a person to act as if they were not themself. Your heart has to bleed for the people left behind who must continue to ask questions to which there doesn’t seem to be answers. The brain is a fragile thing yet we seem to understand so comparatively little about it.
- It’s a bit like fish stocks if you bear with me here – out of sight, out of mind. You can see a leg wound and the bandage used to heal it, but you can’t see a mentally damaged brain and plasters or painkillers don’t work. It’s easy to shy away from such a tricky subject and not discuss it with somebody you might know who is going through their own personal hell, but I would implore any of you reading this to reach out to anybody you might be aware of who is suffering from some kind of mental illness and simply talk to them. You can’t magically make them better by doing so, but nobody suffering with depression should have to feel ashamed of what afflicts them because non-sufferers hide away from it.
- I have lived in close proximity to a relatively short period of mental illness, and at times I wanted to scream at the sky and ask why this perfectly “normal” person was dealt this hand seemingly out of the blue, and yes, I admit, sometimes I couldn’t help but feel that they should just get a handle on it and drag themselves back to “normality” – which is in fact partly frustration on my part at not being able to understand that the sufferer is going through. Thankfully this person is fine now, but it didn’t half ram home to me how vital it is not to brush these things under the carpet and pretend they don’t exist. You get hurt, you get it sorted, so what’s the difference with getting a damaged brain mended ? Depression is categorically not a sign of weakness because it doesn’t discriminate in who it affects and when. I cannot help but admire Jonathan Trott for being able to play the hothouse, pressure cooker Ashes cricket he already has done in his career whilst obviously managing some kind of mental illness. Please come back Trotty, England needs you – but only if you feel up to it………………….
Posted 06:24, 25 November 2013
- It’s short notice, but one of the lads on this Morocco bass fishing trip has just had to pull out for various reasons, and this means that there is one place available if any of you would like to come along. We leave this Sunday, 1st December, and return to the UK on Saturday 7th December – as I said, it’s short notice, but I am thinking that somewhere out there is an angler who can drop what they are doing and come along for what is potentially some very serious bass fishing…………..
- Have a read of this blog post here and then if you reckon you can make it, email me here and we can get things sorted out. The lad who has had to drop out has bought his flights, so you can either buy them off him and he will pay for the name change, or you can get them sorted yourself – I am here all week and I will pass on the details of the Gatwick flights the rest of us are booked on. The price for the trip is 750 Euros excluding your flights, and this includes the lot - we are getting a very good deal on this.
- The guys we are fishing with down in Morocco have landed bass to just over 25lbs this year (11.5kg), and yes, you read that right !! I don’t want to give any realistic expectations for this trip, but it does seem that there are good numbers of double figure bass taken from the somewhat warmer shoreline than ours is at the moment. I am told that the average temperatures are around 22C at the moment and taking into account what I had to wear yesterday morning to keep warm, I’ll take that thank you very much.
- Anyway, I imagine that most of you simply can’t do a short notice trip like this, but if one of you fancies a crack at this and get away for the week, please get in touch and we will get it sorted. No extra kit required outside of what we would use for our bass fishing, just that their fish can get somewhat larger.