Posted 08:59, 1 August 2014
- On Monday morning I will leave my house here in south east Cornwall and make the long trek over to Kerry in south west Ireland - as per last time I did this journey earlier this year (photos here), if all goes to plan I should get there around 11pm after a fair few hours on the road and ferry. Sure, driving for many hours on your own is hardly the most exciting thing in the world, but I always take the attitude that if you want to get somewhere, just get on with the travelling side of things and don’t bother moaning - if you don’t like it, don’t do it.
- I will be doing a couple of four day trips with John Quinlan, as in John of course is the guy who knows his local waters backwards, and together I suppose we are offering a kind of joint package where the (lucky?) clients get the two of us working with them - plus of course I will work on photographing the guys on their fishing trip so that they come away with some proper memories of such a special part of the world. Am I looking forward to getting back to Kerry? What do you think? The only possible downside for me heading over there is another couple of weeks away from my family, but work is work and we tend to get on with things and try to even stuff out over time.
- I would imagine that if you asked any professional fishing guide anywhere on earth whether they can ever be the finished article, the answer would surely be no way, it’s always a big learning curve the same as actually going fishing. As for me as a “guide”, well of course I don’t have loads of experience, but working with a pro like John of course helps me to simply be myself and I hope aid in some way with giving our clients the sort of experience they signed up for. Of course I choose to ignore a few petty-minded, jealous individuals who can’t help but have a pop at what I am trying to do. Criticising from the comfort of a keyboard is far too easy to do these days, and I simply choose to get out there and do stuff that helps me keep working in fishing.
- As per usual, I will do my best to keep you updated with how we are getting on over in Kerry. We will be doing long hours but I will find some time to get photos and thoughts up here from time to time. John and I also need to sit down and start working on dates for 2015 with regards to more of these John Quinlan and Henry Gilbey Kerry bass fishing trips - in due course we will make these dates available and I hope we might see some of you in south west Ireland sometime next year. What a country.
- There was no blog post on Wednesday because I was 20 odd miles off the coast of Plymouth on a photo job for Sea Angler magazine. I haven’t photographed Uk shark fishing for a while now, and it was great to catch up with one of the finest charter skippers around, Malcolm Jones of the boat Sea Angler II. The day was about some of the guys from Shakespeare UK putting their Ugly Stik boat rods through their paces, and of course there were smiles all round when (thoroughly nice bloke) Mike Thrussell hooked and then landed a blue shark that on the tape measure came in at around the 85lb mark. I love seeing blue sharks in the water and for me there’s nothing better than getting what I need as quickly as possible and then seeing that magnificent creature swim away strongly after the release.
- Anyway, you all have a good weekend. Next time you hear from me I will be on the majestic south west coast of my favourite country on earth, and whilst guiding is not about the guides fishing, like last time it will be all I can do not to jump into the clients’ arms for sheer joy when they hook a bass (or pollack, wrasse, mullet, salmon, sea trout etc.).
Posted 07:54, 28 July 2014
- What exactly is fishing for you? I bet most of you can remember the first fish you ever caught, but what kind of angler are you there days? Do you chase “big” fish almost exclusively, are you hugely into competitive fishing, or is the simple act of just being out there on a waterway with fishing rod in hand (or on stand/pod etc.) what it’s all about?
- Maybe I’m lucky because via work I have managed to see and sometimes catch fish which many years ago were no more than a distant dream to an angler like me, but unlike say my uni days when the size of the fish meant almost everything, these days I have to say that for me the visual side of fishing these days arguably means far more to me than simply “big” fish - and especially considering that as much as we might love our fishing here in the UK and Ireland, we are not exactly overburdened with properly big fish when compared to some parts of the world.
- I used to obsess, and I mean seriously obsess about wreck fishing from charter boats. Hell, I nearly flunked my first year at uni because I did one of those Guernsey trips and completely forgot about an exam I had. I think that over time my love for shore fishing took over from this kind of fishing, and those long steams to and from wrecks eventually killed that particular obsession - but I also know deep down that as my love of photographing fishing became more and more ingrained in me, the visual side of something like long-distance wreck fishing was not floating my boat. I can’t help it and in no way am I saying that one kind of fishing is better than the other, it’s just me and how I am wired I suppose.
- Perhaps if I was not so obsessed with photographing fishing then I might still be spending a lot of time watching rod tips for bites, but I can’t help but think this falling for lure fishing was a natural progression as regards my interest levels and my need to be turned on visually. Although I am a terrible fly fisherman, I can’t help but love being around this kind of fishing with cameras in hand. OK, so a small stock-pond on a windswept moor with no background and atrocious light hardly does it for me, but more often than not the kinds of fly fishing I have been lucky to spend time around take place in some pretty cool locations which of course work for me and cameras, and it’s the continual movement of angler and rod that gives one so many options.
- And I see such parallels with lure fishing. Not only do increasing numbers of fly anglers find their way into chucking lures, but for me as a fishing photographer it’s the lure fishing side of saltwater fishing that gives me those options for my photography. Sure, a guy casting a big beachcaster in light like you see above is about as good as it gets for me, but that evening on Chesil literally every single thing came together to shoot good stuff. From the visual side of things, it’s the simple fact that a lure or indeed a fly angler tends to be moving around and of course casting a lot - and there’s no getting away from how lots of casting and moving combined with multiple backdrops gives me the photographer so many options to fill my memory cards with images that turn me on. Yes, I need to sell photographs to help make a living, but it’s always been way more than that for me, indeed if I was a half-decent business man I am sure I’d be making a far better living from this stuff!! Nope, I need to do it. I can’t help but indulge my passion for the visual side of fishing and I suppose hope that enough clients like my stuff and enable me to keep indulging my two obsessions - fishing and photography of course.
- It’s essentially one and the same to me. I never go out fishing without at least one DSLR, lens and a couple of filters, just as (obviously!!) I never go fishing without a rod and reel. It would do me in to miss the capture of a serious fish with my camera(s), but more so I think it would finish me off if I missed an awesome looking location bathed with awesome light. I am often asked to fish away on these big overseas trips I do, but on my shoulder sits this little demon who would never let me forgive myself if I missed something with my cameras. None of this is remotely my fault - it’s the way I am made, and as much as I used to love my boat fishing and of course still love those opportunities I get to do it, for the most part I simply need more of an interaction between angler (doing things like casting) and location, plus of course I love the walking and scrambling around.
- I am not so enamoured with myself to ever believe that for one second the giant world of fishing would miss my “contributions” to it, but holy cow would I miss my lifelong obsession with trying to make this great sport of ours look as downright impressive and as appealing as I try to. Look around you and love the simple interactions between anglers, locations and light, because sometimes these innocuous combinations can take your breath away. And then a big fish jumps on the end of someone’s line and it’s all you can do to avoid complete heart failure!!
Posted 07:33, 25 July 2014
- Nowhere is perfect and I have never believed that back in the good old days it was simply the case that you turn up on the coastline and haul in 10lb plus bass one after the other - but when I come back from somewhere like the US, it’s not the size of some of their fish that makes me jealous, because the simple fact is that we don’t have properly big fish to fish for in shallow waters, and it matters not because I love our fish and I love our fishing. No, what always makes me reflect is how it’s possible to have that many anglers and yet still have stacks of decent fish to catch.
- As I said, nowhere or nothing is perfect, but I would love to know just how good our bass fishing was in the good old days - whenever they actually were. Mankind has always harvested the oceans for food, but when did our “needs” really begin to affect fish populations? I remember reading that fascinating little book simply called “Cod” that spoke of dropping baskets down to haul in the cod off Newfoundland - there were that many fish it was believed you could almost walk on them - but even back then some people were questioning whether it was right to harvest that many fish.
- OK, so I go bass fishing over in Ireland a lot, and even though for the most part we tend to catch more and bigger bass over there, one can not pretend that it’s all perfect. I read reports of some Irish anglers really struggling with their bass fishing, and I wonder what is either going on or what might happen in the future. I can’t help but admire the apparent protection that Irish bass get when compared to here in the UK, but does anybody really know what happens to both stocks of fish when they aren’t close in to our coastlines?
- And I can’t help but note with interest that some bass anglers had a tough year last year, and are having a tough one right now - I am not by any means burying my head in the sand here, but it must be interesting to remember that last summer was a cracker weather wise, and this one seems to be turning out the same way. Before last summer I think we had six dreadful summers in a row, as in dreadful for going to the beach but somewhat better for bass fishing from the shore. By no means am I trying to explain away everything with the conditions, but on the other hand I do also believe that we are a long way from understanding what really goes on with fish and their movements in relation to the weather. I have always believed that with fishing we as anglers are affected by cycles of weather and fish patterns that are way beyond our understanding, but let’s not try and pretend that European sea bass are exactly thriving anywhere.
- If you bass fish in the UK then at I am sure you get some pretty spectacular fishing sometimes, but surely you also wonder how good our fishing could actually be if some proper protection was actually afforded to “our” fish? As proud as I am to be a UK saltwater angler, I also accept completely that as a bunch of people there are few better at sticking their collective heads in the sand and hoping that the bad stuff just goes away and that things miraculously get better without any human help. Thankfully there will always be a small percentage who refuse to bury their heads and strive to affect change for the better, but on the whole we are what we are and I wonder what a US angler thinks when he or she comes to fish our shores and sees such rampant raping of our inshore waters especially going on seemingly at will.
- The state of Florida I believe has a population of around 20 million people, and a while back I was told that there were nine million registered anglers in Florida - now even if this is way off and you cut the figure lets’ say in half, whichever way you look at it, it’s a hell of a lot of people going fresh and saltwater fishing. Now I am sure that there are various issues with certain species of fish over there, but on the whole I am always amazed when I go to the US at the levels of buzz surrounding the sport fishing industry. It simply staggers me that you can have that many anglers and still have what seems to be plenty of fish to fish for. How on earth is this possible with so many people doing it? And I accept completely that a fish like the tarpon is for the most part migratory, but let’s look at snook and how the cold weather a few years back hit that population so hard. I understand that severe measures were taken very quickly to restrict fishing for them in order to aid their recovery, and what I am told now is that there are plenty of them to fish for once more - and taking snook to eat is tightly controlled via slot sizes and numbers that you can kill.
- Well I don’t know the answers to my own questions, but again I come back to a simple difference between them and us - over there, you have to buy a license to go fishing in the sea, and we don’t. Please don’t anybody bang on at me with that age old, argument that to fish in the sea has always been free and we won’t ever pay for our fishing etc., because quite frankly it pains me to hear UK saltwater anglers moan like a bunch of old women that our fishing is going downhill, but at least it’s free and we don’t have to pay to do it!! Do I want to pay to saltwater fish here in the UK? No, not really. But would I like to have more and bigger fish to fish for? Yes please. How might I stand even a remote change of getting more and bigger fish to fish for? Well waving a magic wand ain’t going to do very much.
- And yes, I know it’s not as simple as having to buy a saltwater license, but surely it’s a vicious circle? Fishing, hunting and shooting are just so big in the US that it’s a massive political concern all on its own - plenty of fish to catch or animals to hunt means more people doing it because they are catching lots of fish and successfully hunting animals. More people paying more money for licenses means more money available to protect and restore. More people fishing, hunting and shooting means that politics can not ignore these groups of people and ride roughshod over any ethical arguments that you or I might have. Call me cynical, but do ethics play a part in any of this? I wish they did, but they don’t - but let’s bury our heads anyway and hope they might.
- Imagine the governor of Florida losing the vote of every angler in the state - I hate that politics determines the fate of species on this planet that were going about their business long before we ever started ruining things for them, but it’s they way we seem to “evolve”. I love living here in the UK, and I love the fishing we have. Sure, I wish it was better and I wonder how good it once was, but what really breaks my heart is knowing how relatively simple it could be to make things better, yet the collective will to simply do the right thing and look after “our” waters seems to be lost in a mire of European politics that must cater to whatever stakeholders are worth the most money and votes.