Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Caught a few bass last night

We had six bass over the high water yesterday evening, and although none were of any great size and the light was pants, it was fantastic fun. Freelining live sandeels into a swirling current and then getting hit hard is such a "pure" form of fishing. My first drop back and I had to put the rod down to do something on the boat - I was sure I saw a tiny hit almost straight away, but of course thought "no way, not so fast, surely ?", and then a few seconds later the rod tip slammed down and stayed down. Not a big fish, but a blast in the racing current. The bass were in great condition, and things at this location bode well for the rest of the year.............

I tried a few lures, but there were a lot of leaves coming down and plenty of weed about, and all I ended up doing was snagging this up. Yesterday was designed for live sandeel fishing, but I would like to try some soft plastics right over the slack water period when it would be possible to search out the area a bit better.

There are various items of fishing tackle that my eyes have really been opened to this year, and one of them has to be Varivas braid - it is off the scale it is so good. The Varivas Avani Sea Bass Max Power PE braid is unlike anything else I have ever used (you can get it here), indeed it is so limp and easily usable that it hardly even feels like a braid if that makes any sense. Freelining live sandeels with this stuff is just so effective - I tied it to a swivel with a decent knot, and then tied a few feet of 22lb Varivas fluorocarbon on for the trace, to a 3/0 Varivas Big Mouth Extra hook (see here). Seems to be a pattern developing here - Varivas do some awesome fishing tackle. No, I am not sponsored by them, but I choose to use the best stuff I can find. High-end Japanese braid is where it's at for me.

I thought it would be a bit of fun to show this sequence of photos below that ended up in one of my favourite photographs that I have nailed so far this year. Below you can see Graham Hill running down the rocks to lend Pat Gallagher a hand landing a bass he has hooked on a plug. This all happened a few weeks ago over in south east Ireland, on the first morning when the fishing was simply epic (see here for the original post). All looks calm and relatively serene, but I am lined up with the camera because out of shot and the sea is looking seriously lively - I really fancy the chances of some very dramatic "classic bass fishing" shots.......................

OK, so Graham's run down to help Pat out with his fish, but look above and you can see him suddenly having to turn to brace himself against the wave that has just smashed against the rock on which they are standing. Pat is just starting to hunch down, but he has got a bass on the end of his line and is not about to give it up !! I have changed over from shooting a landscape format to portrait (upright) because I can see what is coming out of the corner of one eye, and I want to try and frame the full impact of the wave.

Now both guys have had no choice but to turn against the wave and adopt a fully braced position so that nothing bad happens. Pat now has to simply hope that his bass is well enough hooked to get through this. They know what they are doing.

The final photo in the sequence turned out better than I could have ever hoped for. Obviously you can not plan this kind of shot, for it very much depends on the conditions unfolding, where the anglers choose to stand, and of course, if you the photographer have your eye seriously on the ball and are watching every single thing that is going on. I really feel I have nailed one stand out photo that says virtually every single thing that I want to say about bass fishing in one shot - drama, excitement, risk, reward, movement, passion, insanity, escapism, you name it, this is what it's all about.

Note that both guys are wearing what we all reckon to be one of the very best waterproof "wading" jackets out there, the Greys GRXi model. Check it out here. Although this wading jacket was of course designed for the fly fishing market, it is just about perfect for mobile bass fishing, especially when you have a load of cold sea water breaking over your head. It surely goes without saying that breathable chest waders are a must.

Bear in mind that the three portrait photos are taken out of a sequence of perhaps twelve, all shot at nearly ten frames per second on one of my Canon 1D MK111 cameras. It all happened that fast, and because I had seen what was coming, I was lined up and ready to shoot - correct f-stop and shutter speed and corresponding ISO, to make sure I stopped the water stone dead and did not blow the highlights in the white of the crashing wave against the black rocks behind. Motor drive on, focus on Graham, and make sure to hold it there.

An increasing amount of people email me and ask how to get into things like photographing fishing, but there is very little advice I can give, for in the end we all find our own ways into this business, and I am totally self-taught at all this. But there is one thing that is absolutely vital - you have to know when not to fish. If you want to fish all the time, don't try to work in fishing. It is never what it seems.......

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