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?