Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

"Out of body experience" fishing

When I did my first ever "big" foreign fishing trip many years ago now, to be honest it nearly went and ruined me. Shark fishing off the beach in Namibia was so awesome and incredible that my own fishing at home suddenly seemed somewhat insignificant and a load less awesome. For a while when I got back home I could not see the point of going out to chase "lesser" fish that were not going to tear hundreds of metres of line off the reel and physically hurt to get in, but then over time I obviously got back into my own fishing and learnt to be able to almost compartmentalise these experiences and treat them for what they are - stuff to love doing, but stuff that is not remotely everyday, and stuff that can't really be compared to what we do day to day in our fishing. Trying to compare different kinds of fishing does not get me anywhere.

People often ask me how on earth I can go and get so fired up by heading out bass fishing for example when I get to spend time in places like these remote Seychelles atolls that I have just got back from. But of course I can. I have been lucky enough to have spent time around some of the most awesome fishing on earth as a part of my job, but as much as it could have once completely ruined me and my home fishing, I can now almost treat these trips as some kind of "out of body experience". I have seen nothing in saltwater fishing to compare with those remote Seychelles flats, both from the fishing point of view and also the sheer "holy cow, look at all that stuff swimming around" kind of thing. But if I then went and tried to compare those near-virgin waters to our own I could get myself all tied up in knots. Our waters are what they are (yes, overfished, let's be honest here), and the remote atolls of the Seychelles are what they are (essentially untouched, and especially the ultra-remote ones like Cosmoledo, Providence, Assumption and Astove at the moment with all the piracy issues). None of us do that kind of fishing day to day, indeed it takes a frighteningly competent bunch of guys at FlyCastaway just to get paying clients into these magical Seychelles waters. It costs a bomb because of what is required to give clients a potential fishing experience of a lifetime, but those clients are still going to go home at the end of the trip and do their "usual" fishing all over again. These "out of body experiences" need to be treated as just that, and in some respects they make me appreciate the stuff I do more regularly a whole lot more. I am heading back to southern Ireland in a couple of weeks and I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to it.

Sure, in Ireland I am not going to see manta rays, whales, green turtles, sharks swimming in the shallows, shoals upon shoals of weird and wonderful fish moving around in some delightfully warm waters (check out the fly guy above casting at a big shoal of bumphead parrotfish), GTs charging in and killing flies, triggerfish tailing amongst the coral (I saw one that would have gone easily over 10lbs swim past me one morning), and of course the fact that most of these warm water fish are going to pull your arms off. But then that is not the point of somewhere like home or Ireland. The whole point is that they are different, and I have come to be able to differentiate each experience in my head and thus derive different kinds of pleasures from each and every trip or indeed fishing session. I have to be able to do this.

It would be such a terrible shame to see all this amazing stuff and then wonder what on earth the point was of picking up the rods back at home. As daft as it may sound, I have to go to some of these weird and wonderful fishing places to gather material which I can then sell, but over the years I have learnt how to get in, get the stuff I need, absorb as much of the good stuff as possible, get back home and then get back to reality. Home is reality, and somewhere like the Seychelles is not. Perhaps if our own waters were in better shape we might have what I could term awesome fishing, but then that is a tad unrealistic when you look at these near-virgin waters surrounding those remote Indian Ocean atolls. What it does show though is how good fishing can be if the waters are for the most part left alone. I can get into my head and relive all these incredible things I have been lucky enough to see at somewhere like Farquhar, and of course I have an ever-growing image library here that continually triggers all kinds of sublime memories, but most of it is not "real". Somewhere like the Seychelles is almost too good to be real, but then that is the point. "Our" fishing is of course dictated by where we live, and the out of body stuff is something that only a percentage of anglers can do from time to time. But then to me I class going over to Ireland as an out of body experience. I love it that much, and in general their shore fishing is just miles better than the UK. Like the Seychelles, I go over, take it all in and love every minute, and then get back home to reality. Reality is good, but then so are thoughts of emigrating............!!