Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

I awarded myself a Cornish Grand Slam

Last weekend the alarm went at 3am on Saturday morning, and I picked my mate Mark up at 3.30am - after a drive and a yomp we were fishing by 4.30am. Crumbs, only a couple of months ago and it was light at this time, but doesn't it get to you every year how those shorter daylight hours seem to creep up on you through July and into August, and then come September it feels like those glorious long days were in some kind of parallel universe. Sorry, I digress........

I only have to pick up a fishing rod at home and our sheepdog Storm is ready to go, and she can never quite believe her luck when she gets a proper walk so early in the morning. Wouldn't you love to be able to see through a dog's eyes, because I always wonder how on earth they can charge around so effortlessly in the pitch black. Anyway, as I said, we were fishing by 4.30am - not a breath of wind, no reason to wear waders (shorts, tights and wading boots of course), and that wonderfully smug feeling that you're out doing something good while most of the rest of the world is still fast asleep. Getting up early is a joy if you ask me. Of course as a photographer I was hoping for a glorious dawn, but the light remained resolutely naff while we were there.

Night fishing for bass is hardly my strong point, but over in Ireland especially I have done ok on the Feed Shallow and of course the IMA Komomo II, so I clipped on a white Feed Shallow (having forgotten to put a Komomo in my box) and set about seeing if I could nail a bass. As is my default I suppose, I start off my putting the lure straight out there and over some shallowish rough ground that I know is lurking. Zip though. Not a sniff. So I do what I know I should do and cast back in and along the edge of the rocks, hoping of course in the darkness that I don't go and cast my lure actually onto the rocks. Never, surely? Mmmmm.........

Pretty quickly a bass around the 2lb mark jumps on the end. Nope, it's not going to break any records, but I'm quietly pretty happy - a fish like this for me simply means it was all worthwhile getting up early and getting out on the rocks. Sure, a monster bass would have been lovely, but it's a target species and it means in some respects that we made a half-decent decision on where to go fishing and when. But try as we might and we can't hook anymore.

The first real sniff of first light and neither Mark and I can resist putting surface lures on. It most likely goes without saying that I clip on an IMA Salt Skimmer, in that cotton candy colour that has finally come back into being (praise be or whatever one needs to say), and almost straight away we are nailing a few pollack. Again, no size to these fish (but can you imagine how awesome it would be to smash say 5lb plus pollack off the top?), but it's pretty significant to me in that I expect to see this kind of first light behaviour a couple of months back at least - yet we weren't. Proof again that everything is out of kilter this year? Or nothing remotely significant and it's nature doing her thing perfectly regardless of what we expect to see? Whatever the case, it makes me giggle seeing pollack launching themselves into surface lures, and I feel far better about returning them when my barbless hooks slip out so easily and the fish swim away so strongly. A slightly better fish came off out long that might have been a bass, but I can't say for sure.

By now it's starting to get properly light and of course one hardly expects to now see a load of bass with it being so flat calm and lifeless. It was just before 6.30am and I had but one soft plastic with me that could catch wrasse - a Fiiish Black Minnow in the 12g/120mm size that of course was in my box as a bass lure. I have always heard about wrasse essentially going to sleep at night, and I often wonder just how early they "wake up" and start feeding. We were on the ebb tide and I suppose I couldn't resist a quick go to see if any wrasse felt like a bit of a chow down on my Black Minnow - skin the hookpoint away, tighten up the drag until you can't pull line off the reel and drop it down.

This wasn't my wrasse, it's just me messing around with selective colourisation.

First couple of bumps along the bottom and a wrasse jumps onto the lure. Now there is no similarity at all to a Grand Slam that one might be lucky enough to catch in warmer waters - bonefish, permit and tarpon, but there and then on that quiet rock I decided to award myself a Cornish Grand Slam - bass, pollack and wrasse, and especially as to me it was significant that these three species had been landed before 6.30am. What does this prove? Squat of course, and I am sure any number of you out there have landed those three species in a session, but it did of course allow me to regale my daughters with tales of dad's fishing prowess when I walked back through the door as they were having their breakfast. "Wow Dad, a Cornish Grand Slam? You're our hero Dad. You're amazing Dad". OK, slight exaggeration!!

I tried talking it up to them, but since there were no fish to be cooked up for their breakfast as with mackerel in the preceding weeks, to be honest they weren't that impressed. Cornish Grand Slam? Well I'm sticking to it, and especially as I managed to wrench a wrasse out around the 4lb plus mark just before we took the long and steep walk back to my car - Black Minnow trashed, but more than worth it. Holy frigging cow is this Major Craft 9' 10-30g Truzer lure rod off the scale. Review coming soon. I've got issues.

I am heading off this morning to the Sky Sports studios to go and do the Tight Lines programme with Keith Arthur and the team up there - which includes the show's producer Mick, and you couldn't hope to meet a nicer guy. I believe this week's edition of Tight Lines airs sometime this evening. I really enjoy doing Tight Lines and it's good to catch up with the team who put it together. I've got a wicked pair of panda eyes going on at the moment, but I bet the makeup that's put on us covers them up!! You all have a good weekend, and as much as I am loving this rather lovely weather, please could we have some south west winds sometime soon?

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