Front cover and some Irish bass thoughts
Above is a current cover photo of mine on the front of the US magazine Destination Fish - this strange looking fish is a bumphead parrotfish that was caught by South African fly angler Rob Lewis out on Providence atoll in the ultra-remote Seychelles. I believe that I might have been the first fishing photographer to document these creatures being successfully targeted and captured on the fly, on the flats, and I have got a bunch of awesome photos. I really like their choice of my photograph for the cover (well I would, wouldn't I ??!!), and I imagine that it certainly "jumps" at you from the newstands. There is only one guiding company on this earth that I trust to put you onto this kind of world class saltwater fly fishing, and that is FlyCastaway. Fishing like this does not come cheap, but if you can do it, talk to Pete or Charlotte at Aardvark McLeod. Check out a bunch of my Seychelles photos here, here and here.
I have naturally been thinking a lot about my recent trip over to Ireland - was there anything more we could have done to nail a few more bass when the weather went really still, clear and settled ? Usually I would have fancied our chances big time on the baits, but the weeks leading up to my most recent trip had seen insane amounts of rain, and a lot of the bait marks were far too coloured up to produce the goods. I have just heard that in fact they are starting to fish well again as the freshwater starts to clear away. Sod's law !!
I know that Andy is just about coming to terms with his first Irish experience, and I hope to get him back over there next year. On our penultimate morning he got hit on his lure, and then immediately saw a huge bass jump behind it. This fish came at his lure a couple more times, but would not take - Andy nearly fell off his rock, and put the size at "well into double figures", and bear in mind that this guy has personally witnessed fish to 13lbs plus being landed over in Cornwall, so he knows his bass. Much like Graham back in July, Andy proceeded to talk fluent Swahili for about an hour after he saw that huge bass......
I manged to get a bass over the 6lb mark on this penultimate morning, but as Pat grabbed the lip of the fish, it turned and shed the hooks. It hit me right next to a rock and really put on the gas, but these red Tenryu rods have serious power in reserve for when you need to play them hard. So we did not get the photos, but at least the fish went back just fine, that is always the most important thing to me. I de-barb all my treble hooks on my bass lures as I believe it is far better for the fish, and unhooking is just so much easier and more efficient. The less time spent trying to remove hooks, the better the fish recovers. I do not believe that I have lost any fish due to doing this - the bass that got away would have got away with or without barbs, and I would hope that the majority of bass anglers crush the barbs on their trebles.
That morning also saw a rather excited Pat doing his best not to fall off another rock with excitement - with all this nearly falling off the rocks, you probably think they are all overdoing the Guinness, but in fact Pat saw a bass he reckons was nudging 14lbs swim right beneath him in the crystal clear water. The fact that the fish was not interested in his lure was mildly frustrating to say the least.
Whichever way you look at it, this recent Irish trip was still a huge success - we saw plenty of decent fish, and for the most part the light was excellent and I managed to get a load of photos that I am really happy with. The photograph with Pat and Graham being hit by a big wave is in fact one of my favourite I have shot this year (see this post here). I could see that Pat had a fish on, and I knew that Graham would get right in there to help his mate land it. Moving as fast as I could over some seriously treacherous ground, I dialled in -1 stop of exposure compensation to my Canon 1D MK111 camera/70-200 f4 L lens combination as I walked/crawled/scrambled over the seaweed covered rocks, to prevent blowing the exposure with all that white water against a dark rocky background, and the result was an awesome sequence of shots that in my mind show the kind of bass fishing on the edge that a whole load of us enjoy. Being in the right place at the right time comes from a lot of practise and a certain amount of luck, but mostly it comes from knowing when not to fish. Believe me, I want to fish all of the time, but this is my job, and I need to get the kind of photos that are going to sell for me time and time again. Nailing a photo like that is as much of a thrill to me as catching a decent fish - yes, I am in love with my job, and I am proud to say so. I am also lucky enough to work around some fantastic people, and I am forever in their debt.
I am flying out to South Africa on Thursday evening, so I had better get on with clearing some work and then getting ready for this trip. It has been far too long since I was in Africa, and I can't wait to see those vast skies and smell those unmistakable smells of the most awesome continent on earth............