Posted 08:10, 23 April 2014
- Tomorrow morning I am going to undertake a fairly long journey over to Kerry in south west Ireland - it’s around 4.5 hours driving from where I live here in south east Cornwall to the StenaLine ferry at Fishguard, then 3.5 hours on the ferry over to Rosslare, and finally around 5 to 6 hours more driving to get down to where I will be based in Kerry. If all goes to plan I hope to arrive before midnight. I will be on my own in the car so it’s going to be a case of some decent music to keep me going, plus of course a silly amount of excitement at heading back to Ireland………….
- This Ireland trip is a bit of a different one for me though, in that it’s my first time officially working as a “guide”, albeit I am working alongside one of Ireland’s finest fishing guides - John Quinlan of Thatch Cottage Fishing Lodge. I have been looking forward to this for a while now, and I must hope that the four clients we have for this first joint venture manage to come away from spending time around me with their sanity intact!! The guys arrive on Saturday with fishing starting on Sunday.
- OK, so I’ve heard lots of stuff since announcing on here that I was going to try my hand at a bit of guiding - plenty of good/kind stuff, and of course the usual dose of negativity that has to come with something new like this. I accept all the arguments for and against what I am attempting to do with John, and quite frankly I don’t give a stuff what anybody thinks if that helps. Guiding, coaching, teaching, call it what you will, but what I do know is that I can’t wait to work with John on helping clients catch fish and perhaps become better (different?) anglers along the way.
- And of course I can’t wait to get back to Kerry. I have fished, filmed and photographed in south and north Kerry on a few occasions now, but nothing can prepare you for being surrounded by such outrageous scenery. I am literally counting down the hours to getting there. I love saltwater fishing so much because the environment in which we do it can be so inspiring, and I defy any human being not to be profoundly moved by doing such a simple, life-affirming thing as fishing amongst such majesty as can be found in a place such as Kerry. Come rain or shine I love that feeling of being on the edge of the world, and Kerry gives me that.
- What I won’t be doing though is fishing, or at least not for the four days of guiding. If you read my blog then you know my thoughts on this - a guide ain’t guiding if they are fishing. Sure, an angler can take people fishing for money and fish away, but I firmly believe that it is then no more than that - taking people fishing - which isn’t guiding. Granted, the four days coming up is hardly going to make me the world’s most qualified fishing guide, but I stand by my principles here, and I can’t tell you how excited I am by the thought of watching (and helping) other people hook and land fish - which to be honest I do a lot of anyway when I am photographing (watching that is). This is going to be a different adventure though and I will report back with my thoughts about it all after it’s done and dusted.
- I know a lot of people in fishing, and for the most part this industry is a pretty friendly, easy going thing. For fear of embarrassing John Quinlan, you would have to go a long way to meet a nicer guy, and I have to say that I am rather proud to have the opportunity of working with him on this venture. We are very different characters and I am somewhat the apprentice here if you like - John knows his local fishing to a level which I can’t help but respect the hell out of, and I must trust that what I bring to the table helps to strengthen the product if that makes sense. I have little interest in standing still for the rest of my life and I want to give this a go and see where it might lead.
- Above is my photo on the cover of the current issue of Sea Angler. I have zero interest in getting involved in any way with the the online furore that “erupted” over a few inaccuracies that appeared in Alan Yates’ feature on LRF fishing, but as per usual I am really pleased to get a photograph that I shot on the front of the UK’s biggest saltwater fishing magazine. Yes, I suppose I do feel proud and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I would guess that most anglers who buy the magazine have no idea that it’s my photo on the cover, and it matters not one bit, but at age 41 I still kinda expect that phone call day that says “Henry, we’ve found out that you’ve never had a day’s training in photography”…………
- Anyway, the next time you hear from me I’ll be in Kerry. I have no idea how easy or difficult it might be to keep this blog updated around the guiding, but I will give it a go. How can I possibly sleep properly with this level of excitement?
Posted 06:30, 21 April 2014
- I was having chat with somebody who I really respect the other day, and at one point in the conversation this guy said that he thought my blog could sometimes be me “sitting on the fence” with regards to what I say and talk about. I think I take the point and I am always open to constructive criticism, but I did go away and think about it and in a roundabout way it kinda came full circle with regards to my whole ethos about fishing…………
- Ask any member of my family and they will tell you that I am known for having very strong opinions, indeed get me and my two brothers around the dinner table and we will put the world to rights pretty smartish. It took my then girlfriend (now wife) a little while to get used to Gilbey family meal times, what with all the debate and opinions flying around, and if there is one thing I have little time for it’s people who can’t make their minds up and just get on with things. Of course I am a bloke and I tend to think that my opinions are correct (don’t you love that word compromise?)…………but not when it comes to fishing.
- I happen to believe that much of fishing has little to do with hard facts, and as such I will never understand anglers who persist in ramming their way of doing stuff down other people’s throats - and especially when it’s done from behind the safety of a keyboard. For the life of me I fail to understand anglers arguing back and forth about fishing. Discussion is good. Opinions are good. Give and take is good, but why do some people want to argue about things that simply can’t be definites in the first place? It isn’t me sitting on the fence, it’s how I see fishing, and it’s me being very aware that from time to time fishing is going to give you a kicking to remind you how little you do actually know.
- I suppose I just don’t feel very comfortable writing in a way that could come across as “I’m right and you’re wrong”, because that goes against what I believe fishing to be.This blog is my blog and I do what I want with it because I love doing it. I retain the option to write what I feel like writing about - and at the end of the day you kind readers retain the option to simply not read any of the stuff anyway! I have no interest in spending my own time writing about fishing gear that I don’t derive at least some enjoyment from using for example, hence my tackle reviews are mostly positive - because I have x amount of time and I am not about to squander it reviewing the stuff I don’t like. There are enough rumours and bits of misinformation flying around forums, FB etc. without me getting involved.
- And of course some anglers are simply better anglers than others. It’s the way it is and I happen to respect the hell out of good anglers who then take the time to help other anglers out. I have always believed that almost anybody could become a decent angler with a certain amount of hard work and thought, but as with any sport, I also believe that some people are simply naturals - they are born with certain skill sets that might or might not come out depending on what path they follow. I can’t ignore some of these anglers I come across who just seem to “see” fishing with different (more natural?) eyes.
- I do try hard to retain a sense of awareness with what I do, in that via my work I have seen or caught some pretty amazing fish in some pretty amazing places - and a lot of anglers will never see stuff like this in their lifetimes, let alone catch whatever species of fish that can’t help but put what we have in the UK into some sort of perspective. But just because I might have caught some fish that pound for pound might leave say a bass in the starting blocks, does that then give me the right to tell you how to do things? By all means call it sitting on the fence, but personally I like to try and use those experiences I am lucky enough to go through to stand back slightly and be aware perhaps of a slightly different sense of scale.
- And as such I don’t feel like trying to ram what I think I might know down your throats. Sure, I love to proffer some of the stuff that churns through my brain here on this blog, and yes, of course there are times when the perfectly normal human being in me feels like going off on one. But what would be the point? If there is one thing I have learnt is that you’re never going to win in an online situation because a keyboard is an easy mask to hide behind, and to be honest it all comes back to what I believe fishing is all about - fun, enjoyment, lifestyle and obsession, but all very much underpinned by my underlying ethos if you like that fishing is always bigger and better than us. Hope you all had a good Easter weekend.
Posted 05:23, 18 April 2014
- You know as well as I do that weather forecasts a week or so ahead are a stab in the dark at best, but do you still find yourself almost stalking them with the intensity of a lion stalking an impala? You keep telling yourself that a week ahead is impossible to predict, hell it seems that a day ahead is too much for all those supercomputers and synoptic chart boffins at times, yet we still do it.
- I tend to keep an eye on XCWeather, and I remain convinced that most of the free online weather forecasting services are getting their data from the same sources and that all they really do is to display it in different ways. I happen to think that XCWeather is pretty easy to understand, and yes, I keep telling myself to ignore anything more than a couple of days out.
- But we are anglers are we not? We are the ultimate optimists, we love to make plans, and we love to try and put a bunch of factors into a melting pot and come out with a solution that ends up with a load of fish on the end of our lines. So it’s Easter weekend coming up and for some it’s a chance to get out and do a bit. There is a spot I really want to start getting to grips with around here, but I am convinced that it needs some proper fizz on it to get things going. I have this feeling that at sometime this year this place is going to produce some big bass, and I want to be there when it fires.
- So a few days ago I am looking at XCWeather and I notice things starting to pick up nicely Sunday evening and into Monday - exactly what I am after, except you and I know this long range weather forecasting is a pile of poo at best. I can’t help it though. I’m already starting to plan, to think, to imagine how conditions might be with the forecasted winds etc. I keep telling myself to give it up, but if it was that easy to control our excitement levels then we would be doing something else like bowls. And of course the forecast for Sunday into Monday changes day by day and all those best laid plans most likely fly out of the window just like that lure that never catches.
- We want to make plans but to be successful we must remain as flexible as possible, and of course this is easier for some. I love these trips away that I do, but if you stop and think about them they are a little unrealistic in that you have no choice but to hope and hope and hope that on those dates you have chosen to go away that the conditions at least play a bit of ball for you. But here I live very close to the sea and I can for the most part remain pretty flexible - yet that initial long range forecast still tickles at my head.
- Might it be right? Could it kick up on Sunday night and into Monday along the lines of the forecast from a few days ago? As we get closer and closer to the tide that I like the look if, might the weather forecast revert back to that best guess about a week out that I started to get so excited about? Stalking the weather forecast is at best an exercise that does little more than mess with your head though. I keep telling myself this but I still do it. The local BBC forecast is still teasing me with potentially decent bass fishing conditions on Monday………
- I am off to Ireland next Thursday and yes, I will be stalking the weather forecast - whilst accepting completely that I can do no more than take what we get when we are out there. Have a good Easter and may the fish crawl up your lines whatever the weather decides to do!!