Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

How many times can an angler fall in love ?

It has been "suggested" to me recently that perhaps I am being paid by Failte Ireland to say nice things about the country or that perhaps I should be spending more time "promoting" the fishing in Cornwall because I have now lived in Cornwall for a couple of years (whereas I lived in Devon for about 18 years) - as much as I love where I live here in south east Cornwall, I have a business to run, and from a business point of view I can get more shore fishing related photographs of often bigger bass (plus various other species of course) over in Ireland in a shorter space of time than I can around here. I very simply need material for articles etc. By doing this I went and fell in love with the country (completely unintentionally I might add), and as for Failte Ireland being so flush with cash that they want to pay some small time fishing photojournalist like me to rabbit on about how much he loves the place, well the idea's so farcical that it isn't worth talking about it. So that's that.

I have a dream, and that would be to spend a year travelling around the coastline of Ireland in a camper van and fishing along the way. I reckon it would make a pretty cool TV series in fact, but the chances of something like this being commissioned are about as likely as Metallica actually writing another album that can compare to Master of Puppets. I love the fact that so much of the coastline in Ireland is essentially deserted and unfished, and over time I am getting to see, learn about and I guess fall in love with different parts of it. As much as my most recent trip was a lot about being there for the outstanding Irish Bass Festival, it also gave me that chance to drive across the country to the north Kerry area and see if the stories really were true of the bass fishing that I had been getting reports of for a while.

I guess sometime last year I got one of those emails that you simply have to take seriously. An angler called Seamus Enright sent me an email telling me about the bass fishing they had on their doorstep around the north part of Kerry, and this email was supported by a bunch of photos of some serious fish and some very serious terrain. I am incredibly lucky that people like Seamus take the time to email me and tell me about "their" fishing, indeed I would never have gone and fallen head over heels in love with the southern and south east parts of Ireland if it had not been for one of those "take it seriously" emails that I got from Graham Hill a number of years back now. Never for one second have I tried to claim that I went out and discovered all this world class saltwater fishing, but on the flipside I must blame the various people over in Ireland that I can call my friends for my love affair/obsession with their country. I still think many local anglers don't actually realise how awesome their shore fishing can be sometimes (not always of course, but then no place on this earth produces awesome fishing all of the time), and that there is so much fishing either waiting to be discovered or otherwise it's being done but not being put out there into the public domain for various reasons. I do have to say though that you would have to go a long way to meet friendlier and less secretive anglers than the ones I am lucky to meet and spend time with in Ireland. Nobody's going to shout about all their best marks on a public forum for example, but make the effort to get to know people and you'll find them incredibly welcoming and helpful. Treat others as you would hope to be treated yourself and it's amazing what happens.

Seamus and I met up briefly at the fishing show I went to at Ballybunion earlier this year, and from that we started to make some plans to come across and spend a few days fishing/photographing with him and his mate Aidan on my July trip. The other day I left my house in Cornwall at 7.30pm in the morning and finally got to Fenit at about 11pm that evening, so taking a bit of a punt like this is no small undertaking when you look at it in sheer fuel costs alone (I drove nearly 1700 miles on this recent trip, and although I can claim some fuel costs back via articles I write for magazines, there's no way to cover the expenses completely) - but it's my job and I choose to do these things. Hell, I love doing stuff like this. Seeing and fishing/photographing new places and getting to spend time with mad-keen anglers is a huge thrill and I can't imagine life without it.

And so it starts all over again, that falling in love with another part of the world. Seamus and Aidan I hope won't mind me saying that when they started to really get into lure fishing for bass a couple of years ago they thought they might be doing something a bit wrong because they never saw any other lure anglers out and about where they were fishing !! Almost scary amounts of ground with virtually no lure anglers - yes I know that Dingle and of course magical areas like Waterville etc. have awesome bass fishing as well, but I only have x amount of time and I'm trying to experience as much as possible. We were fishing along the awesome Copper Coast on our last evening earlier this week and I got a call from Seamus to say that he had just caught and released a 79cm bass (around 10 to 11lbs I believe) from a mark they had tried out for the first time, and on a weightless soft plastic as well (one of those Wave Fishing Bamboo Sticks). The mind boggles does it not ? I need help..........and a big thanks to Seamus for contacting me in the first place.