Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

It breaks my head - fish or photograph, photograph or fish

Whilst it’s hardly a dilemma to rival my girls one day going out with boys, the question of whether I should stand back from fishing and take photographs or get in there and fish and thus not be able to photograph is a dilemma that regularly breaks my head. It’s not a problem on a trip like I did recently to a very remote atoll many hundreds of miles away from the Seychelles (photos here), in that I am along as the photographer and I am not there to fish and waste valuable  photography time. But when I am out and about doing my own thing say around me here at home, well to be honest I am often torn between fishing or photography, and before you say why not do both, let me assure you that I have been at this game for long enough to know that you can’t do both at the same time……

Last Friday morning was a classic example. I couldn’t head out first thing because I needed to send some work off to a client, but with LW around 10.20am I think it was and the mark I intended to fish working best the last couple of hours of the ebb, I would be fine getting down there and meeting up with Mark and Aaron by around 7.30am. It with a degree of haste that I ran/slid/scrambled down the cliff because the light was looking pretty tasty - enough softness to the sunlight, the right angle on it for where we would end up fishing, and then in fishing terms, there were some pretty good looking conditions.

So we get onto the rock we need to be on, and as much as I am itching to clip a lure on and belt it out there, I just can’t bring myself to do so when the light and conditions are combining like they are. Sure, selling fishing photos is a big part of my job, but my urge or need to shoot photos goes way beyond having to earn money - I can’t not shoot photos, and especially not when we’ve got swell rolling in, waves crashing around, the guys are fishing in good positions, the light is lovely, the sky is big and blue, and I am also testing a rather awesome Nikon D4s camera body that Nikon UK kindly sent me down to have a play with. I want to fish, make no mistake, but I also know that if I picked up my lure rod right about now that I would never forgive myself for not firing away on the camera and missing potential good shots.

Do I actually need these photos of the guys fishing? Well I have a huge library of images that I can and do draw on when required, but that’s not the point, and of course libraries need to keep growing. No, I need to take photographs just as I need to go fishing, indeed they are so inextricably linked for me that I can’t really separate them. I am moving around, changing lenses, shooting different pix etc., and it occurs to me that these shots are starting to look pretty good (and please, that is not meant to be remotely arrogant, sorry if it comes across like that) - and now I am starting to think that wouldn’t it be great if one of the lads went and caught a bass to go with the “fishing action” shots as I call them. I love how awesome fishing can look, and as much as grip and grin shots are rarely the most artistic of shots, the simple fact is that angler plus fish means a lot in magazine terms for example.

By this time my head is starting to hurt. I know full well that I could carry on shooting away, indeed one side of brain is telling me not to pick up my rod and carry on with photographing Mark and Aaron - but the other side of my head is looking at those conditions, looking at how the two lads are attacking them, and thinking that it’s getting very hard to hold back and not have a few chucks. What do I do? Do I put down my camera and pick up my rod, or do I keep snapping away? Good cop, bad cop if you like. Brain pain.

Damn it, I can’t resist. The lads aren’t getting a sniff on the hard lures, and I really fancy a few bumps through all that swell and a little line of current with a Black Minnow. On goes a 120mm body in that stunning Khaki Glitter colour which has been glued to a 20g Shore Head that is actually designed to go with the 140mm Black Minnow - it works just fine though on the 120mm body, and with all that turbulence out there I reckon I needed that bit of extra weight to the jig head. As I walk to a certain bit of rock, I can feel my camera getting lonely in my rucksack, but I am determined to ignore its pleading for at least a little while.

Sometimes things just go your way. First cast and I feel the lure hit the sandy bottom. A few bumps in towards me and a bass only goes and nails it. Of course I am over the moon, but I also can’t help but feel like a bit of an arse for fluking a bass on my first chuck!! Aaron kindly went down and grabbed the leader and then the fish, and I gave the bass around 6lbs - Mark then kindly cradled the fish while I of course gave into my camera’s pleading, got it out of the bag again and ripped off a bunch of grip and grins in a lovely drop of light. No more bass were caught and in no time at all the light got harsher and we lost any depth of water in front of us. Was it meant to be? A jammy git I might well have been, but I was so, so close to not actually picking up my rod on Friday morning and continuing to rip away on the Nikon.

No doubt one of the lads would have gone and caught that particular bass, but as it swam strongly away I said a little thank you to both the fish and to my head for helping me come to what I must believe were the right decisions on that particular morning. Until the next dilemma…….