Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Almost silly numbers of fish........

I'm standing on a rock and at times it's a wrasse a cast. Literally. I keep telling myself it's February. When you photograph fishing for a living the actual numbers of fish doesn't mean that much because you are never going to take photos of them all, but yesterday Del and I lost count of how many wrasse we landed between us. We're talking silly numbers of fish. Not for one second am I am trying to boast of our angling skills, rather I wanted to highlight how special the Isles of Scilly are, how lethal this soft plastic fishing for wrasse can be, and also that it's February. Winter time. Hell, parts of the UK were hit by a load of snow. But we're fishing with little rods, little reels, not a real crab or a real worm in site, and we are smashing wrasse after wrasse after wrasse. This to me is what fishing is all about - fun. Pleasure. Enjoyment. Catching fish and loving it for the sheer joy of messing around.

I got the helicopter from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly on Friday afternoon, and it was about as flat calm and stunning as you like. I liken the approach to the Scillies much as I do to the Channel Islands - your heart starts to race at all that ground to fish, all that water, and all that structure. I love this place and I am very lucky to have such a good mate living on St. Mary's who is so into his fishing. What gets me every single time I come here is the lack of anglers - believe it or not, Del is the only shore angler on St. Mary's, and he has a mate he fishes with sometimes who lives over on Bryher. That's it. Yes, it's mad. All this water, all these fish, and there are but two shore anglers on the islands.

Anyway, we wake up on Saturday morning to rain, a freshening breeze and complete grey cloud cover. We jump on one of the boats over to St. Martin's and yomp on over to a cove that Del has in mind which is completely sheltered and flat calm. Looks like wrasse city to me before we have even clambered down there. First chuck I think and Del's into fish..........

As regards my photography, it's time to scramble around with a big golfing umbrella stuffed down the front of my waders (yes, I look like a lightshade or a tit, obviously) and shoot what I can. I did not drop below 800 ISO all day, and at times I was up at 1000 ISO and above to get usable shutter speeds. You won't see it on these photos at the small sizes here, but when you see them at original size you can see the rain streaking down. It essentially lamped it down all day. The fish don't care though, and it's nothing if not a challenge for me to get my shots. And fish a bit of course. It would be rude not to in a place like the Isles of Scilly.

I can't put a number on how many wrasse were landed, but it was well north of fifty. Neither of us have ever seen so many small, smallish and medium sized wrasse though. The biggest one landed was around 3.5lbs I suppose, but in the end it was just a blast. The one thing that you can do when the fish are so on like this is to experiment with different lures and colours. When we first got there I deliberately put a lure on which was totally different in colour to what Del had on and had caught from the off. Not a sniff for me. Change to a green lure and fish straight away. We had a period later in the day over the top of the tide when you could not stop catching wrasse, and I deliberately went back to the colours of lures that had not worked for me earlier in the session - and then proceeded to smash wrasse on them !! Go figure. Earlier in the tide the wrasse were definitely more picky with colour, but over high water they were grabbing any colour lure I put out there.

Yesterday we were forced to tuck away out of the weather, but today we should be able to fish the spots that Del has been doing so well on recently. OK, we did pretty good yesterday, and I have never, ever associated February with such numbers of smallish fish, but then the Isles of Scilly are that bit different, and the wrasse just love these plastics. I know Del was disappointed not to have got a tidy fish out yesterday, but I couldn't care less. We caught a bunch and I am getting the chance to fish with a good friend in a place as special as the Isles of Scilly. What more could I want ?