After thinking about it for a long time now, I have finally taken the plunge - at the end of April I will be heading over to Kerry in south west Ireland to guide a four day spring bass fishing trip with John Quinlan of Thatch Cottage Ireland. I have known John for a long time and I respect the hell out of what he and his family do down in Kerry - he is one of the good guys in fishing and he knows his local bass fishing backwards. We have spoken a fair bit about doing something together, and this time we are actually going to do it. Crumbs.....
Kerry, Ireland - ridiculously beautiful
So what's changed? Well I'll tell you - lure fishing. Sure, I work in fishing and sitting still is not a good idea, but while I have always enjoyed trying to put fishing across via my writing, photography and those old TV programmes, it was not until lure fishing came along and became such an obsession that I ever really thought about actually taking people fishing. I love fishing, I think about it nearly all the time, and I feel that the time is right to start getting involved in a bit of guiding for bass in my favourite country in the world.
I have been asked loads of times over the years if I would take people out fishing, but I have always turned the requests down. OK, so I understand that those TV programmes I made (and which seem to refuse to go away) most likely brought about those requests, but the idea of people wanting to go fishing with Henry Gilbey for whatever reason has never sat very comfortably with me. You might call it bad business sense not to try and cash in like that on the incredibly minor TV work I did, but it's just not really my style. I am passionate about fishing though, and although I have various weaknesses as a person, I believe that one of my strengths is that I can enthuse and inform about fishing in a way that excites people - and I have no problem with the fact that there are loads of far better anglers than me out there, because guiding/teaching/coaching/informing etc. is not about being the best - there is far more to it than that.
If I can guide half as well as Nick Hart then I might be on the way
The more I fall for lure fishing, the more I realise that more people out there want to give it a go or learn more about it, and so the more I have thought about guiding/teaching/coaching - and the bass of course is the principal saltwater species that anglers want to fish for with lures. I want to work with an established guiding operation and it makes perfect sense to do it with John Quinlan - they have a fantastic setup down in Kerry and I am highly overexcited about getting involved. And as you now, I don't need much of an excuse to spend time over in Ireland as it is, and Kerry is one seriously special place.
People I have spoken to about this in the past have all said go for it, and for various reasons I feel that now is the right time to do this. When John and I bounced the ideas back and forth, I will admit my principal worry was always that we would put the trip out into the public domain and then not one single person would actually say yes please and pay the money to do it. Daft? Probably, but like I said earlier, this "profile" stuff has never sat easy with me. John said he would like to put the trip to his client base first off and I was stunned that it sold out immediately - the fact that there are four anglers out there prepared to spend four days in my company (John and their operation is a given as it's just a fantastic setup) and part with money to do so has really surprised me.
Any excuse to get back down to Kerry
Am I all of a sudden a professional fishing guide? Nope, but I know a fair amount about what goes into it, I know my strengths and weaknesses, I am passionate about lure fishing, I am desperate to inform and I hope inspire, and of course I am working alongside a professional fishing guide in a part of the world that has some pretty damn awesome bass fishing. I have spent a hell of a lot of time around professional fishing guides all around the world and I guess that this is now my chance to put a lot of what I have observed and learnt into practise. I look at people like Nick Hart and Jako Lucas of FlyCastaway and I think of their experience and knowledge and I suppose a part of me worries about being some kind of fraud because I haven't been guiding for years - but then the other part thinks hang on, I know enough and I feel very strongly about how I might help other people with their lure fishing. The proof will be in the pudding I suppose.
Jako Lukas (FlyCastaway) with yet another happy client - can I do a bit of this?
I am not on some hard sell here because I am unsure where I want to try and take this, and as I said, our first "gamble" if you like sold out straight away - John and I are in the process of setting up some more Henry/John bass fishing trips for the first two weeks of August and possibly later in October as well. Will they sell out? We shall see, but I am really excited about all this stuff, and as well as guiding in Ireland, I have thought plenty about offering (paying) anglers the chance to come to me here in south east Cornwall for one or two day "lure fishing courses" if you like. Again, I remain unsure that any sane person would actually pay to do that kind of thing with me, but on the other hand I think about lure fishing and how it is grabbing so many people, and I think about how much I love it and how I want to get it across - so I think why not?