Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Imagine if you did actually know it all

If we as a species knew it all about fish, fish behaviour and fish movements then there would be no fish left in the sea, because if there is one thing that this Ireland trip is doing, it's reminding us how little we do actually know. What on earth do you do when there are that many fish moving around in front of you yet not for love not money can you buy a bite?

We were out the other evening on the ebb tide, and as we waded out towards the features we would be fishing over, pretty soon it became apparent that there were serious numbers of fish around. How did Steve and I know that when the light levels were so low? Because they were moving around just sub-surface all over the place. OK, many of them were mullet, but there were plenty of bass in amongst them, and I do love hearing those loud killing swirls as something unfortunate gets nailed.

Pretty quickly Steve takes a bass off the top, but with this amount of fish around, surely we should be hammering them? This particular spot is fickle, but when it fishes it's electric, and the environment and the way you do things are fascinating. For various reasons you are having to fish say in the top five inches of the water column, and even then you may snag up if you're not fishing surface lures - but then is there much in fishing that can possibly be more exciting than fish smashing into a lure fished along the top?

Steve had one of those really loud smashes from a fish that did not connect. You know the sort of surface hit that you can't fail to turn around to find where all that noise and commotion came from? Holy cow it was something else, but as impressive as it was, these fish just weren't properly on at all. So what were they doing? We were in the right place at the right time, as in we were surrounded by fish in a location and a tide state when we have smashed them before - but it wasn't happening properly - were we in the right place at the right time then? We were fishing various methods (surface, very shallow diving hard lures and weedless/weightless soft plastics like the Yamamoto Swim Senko, MegaBass DOT Crawler, Flash J Fish Arrow etc.) that were almost dictated to us by the location/features, yet something wasn't right.

But what? It did seem as if there were large numbers of fish moving through, and in such a large expanse of water that Dungarvan Bay is, they could be going anywhere as that tide clears out. Sometimes I guess that their food source hangs around for longer and this then holds the bass in place while they feed on them, but perhaps this evening that food source was on the move as well? Do you see what I am getting at here? Steve and I "computed" what we know about this area, came up with a plan based on the weather, tide, time of day etc., and when we saw so many fish moving around we came to the conclusion that yes, our "computations" were spot on. But then the fish have other ideas, and their behaviour once again proves to me how little we do actually know.

Sure, we've got loads of nice lures and lure fishing tackle, and when bass are really on it seems as if they might smash anything in sight. But then there are those times like this that bring it all home that there simply have to be a number of variables that we simply don't understand and therefore can't bring them into our working out what we believe the right where and when might be - which is why my whole fishing philosophy if you like is that there can't be that many black and white rights and wrongs. You can best guess or "compute" your knowledge into placing yourself where you believe things will come together to produce some fish, but because each and every time we fish is different, there just can't be that many hard and fast facts in fishing - quite simply because we just don't know enough about nature and her many moods.

Perhaps there was something we could have done to switch the fish on to us, but bear in mind we are having to fish in that top four or five inches. Perhaps some of the experts out there would have hammered everything in sight and Steve and I were in fact fishing like a couple of idiots and what do we know anyway? Should have done this, should have done that, should have gone there instead etc., but as tough as it to watch fish all around you that don't seem to want to feed, in some way I find this kind of thing wonderfully reassuring. I like to feel humbled by fishing because my acceptance that I know so comparatively little only drives me further onwards to try and learn more. If we knew everything then how would fishing so consume us? I reckon I could do a lifetime just in and around Dungarvan Bay itself and still be left with more questions than answers - is this the crux of fishing? The search for knowing it all, but the realisation that in reality you'll never get remotely close? And yes, in case you were wondering, this blog post is fuelled by not very much sleep at all.