Epic cod fishing

Canon 1D MKIII, 70-200 f4L IS lens (at 78mm), ISO 400, f8, 1/500, polarising filter

What a fantastic day's cod fishing out of Poole yesterday - clear blue skies, stacks of incredibly good conditioned cod, and a seriously cool bunch of guys on board. I was very kindly invited to come along by Tom Bettle, and it was a blast. He sells these fantastic Jenneau boats for a living, and together with his mate Chris Mazey, they co-own this stunning 23' version called Quest II - what a boat to fish on. There are three of the guys into cod at the same time in the shot above, with a nice fish coming to the net. It was some of the best cod fishing I have ever been lucky enough to see here in the UK. These guys seriously know their local boat fishing, indeed it was one of the finest private boats I have ever fished on. Why on earth have I not fished out of Poole before ?

Canon 1D MkIII, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 250, f10, 1/100, polarising filter

Now this guy can seriously fish - Adam Franklin is a member of his local Poole Bay Small Boat Angling Club, see their website here. Here he is with a typical cod from yesterday - we did not see any monster fish, but this early summer fishing they have is not about that (although Adam had one of 23lbs last summer on the same grounds). Plenty of the fish went back to fight another day, and we all took a few fillets home to eat (ok, so I don't eat fish, but my wife and two young daughters love it - I also get to claim rather heroically that I caught them all myself !!). I did actually manage a couple of fish myself in between photographing, and it was huge fun. I saw cod to nearly 10lbs being caught, and every single fish was just in about the best condition you could hope to see.

Canon 1D MKIII, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 320, f10, 1/200, polarising filter

Above is Tom Bettle with one of his many cod - in between skippering the boat with Chris, Tom managed to nail stacks of fish on his 6-12lb class Penn outfit and 16lb braid mainline. The style of "hopper" fishing these guys do with the range of plastic lures simply would not work properly without the direct nature of the braid. Look at those big blue skies as well. Photographing on boats is tricky, because you have so few angles to work with, so blue skies and loads of fish really makes for a great combination. The fact that the anglers were all extremely talented also makes my life that whole lot easier. I think I rather let the side down with my couple of drops down (sorry guys !!), but somehow a couple of desperate fish managed to impale themselves on my lures............

Canon 1D MKIII, 16-35 f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 250, f10, 1/160, polarising filter

You are stuffed without a good wide-angle lens when photographing on a boat, and you have to accept a certain failure rate on the photos with the boat moving around all the time. This creates havoc with focusing, so on a job like this I tend to take a lot more than I need to, just to play it safe - above is co-owner Chris Mazey with a cod of nearly 10lbs. I love these fish, especially when the sun is out. These particular twin-tailed lures really nailed the cod hard yesterday. I tend to look for a mix of a higher than normal shutter speed and whatever corresponding aperture I can get, bearing in mind that a boat is moving and shaking - slower shutter speeds on a rocking boat just give blurry photos that are no good to me at all.

Canon 1D MKIII, 16-35mm f2.8L lens (at 16mm), ISO 250, f8, 1/300, polarising filter, fill flash

This is Adam's dad, Graham Franklin. He quietly smashed loads of cod on every single drift, including this cracker. I am so pleased to have nailed a proper UK cod fishing feature, something I have not done for a while, and during summer makes it especially pleasing. I am so grateful to Tom for contacting me and asking me to come out for the day - now I am looking forward to getting back to Poole later this summer for some of the awesome bass fishing they have on their local grounds. A bass of over 18lbs was weighed in to their club last year - what a fish. Thanks for having me along guys, I had such a great day.

What about the rugby this morning ? For the first fifteen minutes we were taking it to the All Blacks big time, but then they woke up and nailed us hard. We did show some guts, plus some very good forward play at times, but I think we have some work to do in the backs. Charlie Hodgson misses a shocker of a tackle to concede a try and I felt it was right to take him off soon afterwards. I am going to be in the US for the next match, but I hope England can really take the game to New Zealand for the full eighty minutes next weekend.

I am just about packed up for this Montana trip that I leave for tomorrow. I do really enjoy heading over to the US, and the more I learn about this vast country, the more I am seeing just how much world class fishing they have. I have wanted to see Montana for ages now, so I guess this is my chance. The next time I post on this blog, I will be over the pond and on a somewhat different time to back home. I am just hoping that the weather shows the place off as much as possible.................