I woke up early last Monday morning to the usual brown envelope stuffed full of cash sitting on the front door mat. Another week without needing to work because the UK tackle industry worked out many years ago that it was worth funding Henry Gilbey to not actually do any work and instead go fishing all year round. So that is what I did, after putting up a blog post that as per usual I found in my Inbox because somebody else writes them for me as I'm too busy having fun away from my desk all the time and I definitely don't have sleep issues. Work ? Not for me. I clipped my brand new lure rod to my rod holder (want to know what it is ? Sorry, can't tell you because it's a secret) that is clamped to my top of the range, brand new Range Rover which has excellent visibility and remarkable fuel economy, and headed out bass fishing in some pretty glorious sunshine. I was actually wearing some old, leaking waders but instead thought I would lie and tell you I was testing out some new ones just to make sure the cheques keep on coming.
First cast went about 100 yards easily, and into a headwind, and a 15lb bass hit my surface lure (can't tell you what it was in case I influence you to buy the same lure because you have no mind of your own and you can't actually think for yourself) and jumped clean out of the water like a tarpon, yet I manfully played it in on my 18' long lure rod that comes from a secret workshop in Papua New Guinea that only I know about and therefore the rest of you simply are not up on modern lure fishing, but I can't tell you the make because they don't actually pay me to do so. I then grabbed the bass, ripped out the three sets of barbed treble hooks and flung the mangled, bleeding fish in the bushes behind me - after swinging it around on my Boga-Grip for an hour or so of course (whoops, mentioned a brand there and Boga don't even pay me). Hell, it's March and nobody else is catching bass on lures around here that I am aware of, but I'm Henry Gilbey and because I had a few TV series on a wildly popular TV station that changes its name every few years to help confuse its viewers, I can catch them all the time regardless of conditions or season, and then blog about my heroic catches and talk about nothing else but me and how damn good I am. A pretty ordinary, perhaps even boring day in fact. Ten or so double figure bass and a bonus 20lb salmon to boot. Headed back home and watched myself on telly and sent the hired help out to pick my girls up from school and cook them tea.
By Tuesday I had had enough of catching big bass in the middle of March and fancied a change. Fifty wrasse over 7lbs from filthy water was an ok return for an hour's effort I suppose, but I took the pick-up truck this time as I fancied a change from the itchy but very smooth and good for my skin leather seats in the Range Rover. The gear I used ? Sorry, they don't pay me and I don't want to be influencing you. But I had a really nice, healthy lunch afterwards in McBurgerway that contained all the necessary vitamins, fruit and vegetables that a person could possibly need in one action packed day. The price was great as well, although I saw online that a cousin of a mate of a mate who apparently works in the factory of the company MD's father's godson was saying that he could find the McBurgerway meal in Sierra Leone for 50p less than here in the UK. So I booked my flights straight away to save a bit of cash. First Class of course. People like me don't turn right when they get on a plane.
By Wednesday I had had enough of bass and wrasse and I decided to have a crack at summer cod off the rocks. But it's March. Doesn't matter to me though because I can catch what I want when I want and then blog about my exploits (and obviously get paid for it) because I've been on TV and that means I'm a much better angler than you. To be honest I got bored of catching so many big cod in bright blue skies from skinny water about a mile from my house that I came back home and had a nap in front of one of my TV repeats. I started to think what I might have done to catch even more big cod on soft lures, but I can't tell you the techniques I used because you're not in my club and you don't advertise on my website or blog. Oh, and the studs in my wading boots that I felt gave me a really good grip and helped me stand up on some pretty gnarly rocks were really handy as well, but I don't want to be influencing the weaker-willed amongst you and saying what they were.
In between so much epic but actually pretty easy fishing I did manage to quickly knock out a fishing rod review on a rod that I have never actually gone out with on several occasions and used, but because my mate paid me a fat whack of cash to write about it I decided to throw a few words together anyway while I was watching myself on the box. At the end of the day these friends of mine who are importing Japanese fishing tackle are making far too much money as it is because they can so easily dictate the terms to their Japanese counterparts and then skilfully avoid customs and VAT, plus the experts popping up from behind their keyboards and deriding anybody who doesn't agree with their view of how we should all be fishing the same way with the same gear and not for one second be enjoying a journey upon this fascinating learning curve that is a fishing life. It's plain wrong to have friends in the fishing tackle industry and of course we don't fish together because we have fun and a giggle doing so. It's all one big conspiracy theory anyway and Henry is just my TV name anyway. My real name is Theophulus B. Wildebeast in case you were wondering and I think I might actually be an expert.
By Thursday to be perfectly honest I didn't fancy catching any more big fish, and especially since it was raining and blowing hard from the south east and I was bored with telling porkies about the waders I use that do nothing but leak and don't help keep me warm and dry and should in fact not rip when I slip on sharp rocks because otherwise the fly fishing company that makes them is secretly conning me and should recognise how vast UK lure fishing actually is and build waders especially for me because I would then be happy to pay £1000 per pair and not then moan because a product not actually built for what we are doing has been pressed into service anyway.
So I called my good mate the local MP up and we met for lunch in McBurgerway where we had a tasty, healthy meal at some surprisingly affordable prices. We had a jolly good chat about how there are in fact far too many big bass swimming in UK waters and that we should work on reducing the MLS to 10cms and also subsidise as much inshore gill-netting as possible and then incentivise the winter pair-trawling industry to take a few more bass to give us experts a bit more of a challenge because big bass are too easy to catch around here. We also had a jolly good laugh about how I am deliberately not promoting UK bass fishing because there are no issues with our bass stocks at all because look at how many big bass I catch for starters, and I also only use really long lure rods and lie about enjoying using anything under 20' long because nobody could possibly enjoy doing it their own way. We came up with a long term plan that I would actually not try to maximise my working time (work ? not for me 'cos I'm paid to go fishing) by going where the best fishing is because it's all a big conspiracy and in my position as a fishing photojournalist I should in fact be spending my working time promoting Cornwall because I happen to live here - all for free of course because I don't need to work.
Found the time to quickly check my emails and found this (entirely genuine by the way) : "Hi, I came across your site henry-gilbey.com while searching Google for blogs talking about photography equipment and related keywords and was wondering if you'd be open to doing a sponsored blog post. We have a site that sell photography equipment and are looking for more exposure online. Our budget for this is initially $20 for the post and we would give you the blog post (photography related & already written) as well as a picture to post. All you would have to do is post it. Here's a sample post we did on another blog: http://sherryshopping.blogspot.com/2013/02/learn-to-shoot-like-pro.html We're really just testing out different bloggers, and if you bring some good traffic, we're totally open to doing an annual banner ad! Also if you have some other blogs, please send them over and I'll take a look and we might be open to doing a post on those as well! Let me know if you'd be open to this! Regards, Vanessa." Time to retire.
On Friday morning it was still raining and blowing from the east, but on my way to the airport I managed to find a new spot where it was in fact blowing south west with lively blue skies and within five minutes I had sussed the spot out and took a double figure bass on a soft plastic shad that I didn't actually use but instead colluded with a bunch of mates to get paid a fortune for lying to you about using it. Obviously I made sure to remove the $^&*"??)*** brand of lure from the fish's mouth (they're not paying me to use the thing) and then replace it with this paddletail, all on my own, and I then contorted my body to photograph my own hand out in front of me further away than the actual reach of my arm - because I'm that good. Fifteen bass between 9-13lbs later and I had to run back to the Porche and head for the airport. Pretty boring session to be honest, but hey ho, it's a job.
Jumped on a plane and headed over to Dublin to have a quick meeting with Tourism Ireland. I told them of my worries at having to lie about how much I love Ireland, its people and its fishing, plus the fact that heading over to photograph the fishing takes me away from my family a fair bit, but they immediately tripled the already outrageous fees they were paying me to promote Ireland and I left the meeting feeling pretty good. Met up with some Irish mates on the way back to the airport who aren't actually mates because we categorically don't enjoy fishing together and having a real laugh doing so, and instead I had a jolly good snipe behind their back on a closed forum which I know they can't access, and I also told them repeatedly that they were all doing it wrong because they had not been lure fishing since before they were actually born and that my rod was longer than theirs and therefore I was the better and more skilled angler because I could cast three yards further and work a surface lure correctly and that there is categorically only a right and a wrong way to go fishing, and nothing remotely in between. Phew, but it's so tough being an expert, although that big fat cheque I was carrying from my meeting sure does sweeten the burden of knowing it all and having to tell people about it.
All in all a pretty regular week then. So many double figure bass in the middle of March that I got bored to be honest, but I'm that good I can catch them when they aren't even around, and also I can catch them on fishing rods, lures, reels, braids and lure clips that I don't actually use, while wearing clothing I don't actually wear either. After that my weekend was pretty out there to be honest. Spent time with my family, went out for lunch with some friends, woke up at 4.30am on Saturday morning with a Sea Angler feature idea bouncing around my head but remembered that I don't actually need to work, took Storm for plenty of walks and then woke this morning to once again find a nice big envelope full of cash on the front doorstep. And if you're wondering where this blog post comes from, well let's just say that I am a human being the same as you are, and whilst I know that I should sit back and take it because of what I do, sometimes I'm not going to...............