Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Some outstanding winter fly fishing

I shot another winter fly fishing feature for Trout Fisherman magazine last week, and for the first part of the morning the corner of this particular lake up at Tavistock Trout Fishery was frozen over - note the fly line lying on top of the ice above. The only way to get this shot was for me to get into the water in my waders, move some ice aside, and make damned sure not to slip and fall in. I would say we have been having a properly cold winter down here in the south west, indeed I can't ever remember seeing this many early morning frosts. But the place was still fishing really well....

I have a lot of time for fisheries like the one up at Tavistock - plenty of fish in good condition, very reasonable rates to fish, and just a very good excuse to keep on fly fishing all year. Granted, it ain't the "wildest" fishing going, but small stillwater fly fishing serves a huge purpose here in the UK. It was great to see a few fly fisherman out and about when Russ and I were up there last week. I waded out into the (freezing) water to line this shot up you can see above - a case of deliberately underexposing by one stop to hold that nice dark background and allow the fish to be gently highlighted by the winter sun shining through the trees off to my left. It's the eye of the fish that is pin sharp, and the rest fades out gently via the use of a large aperture.

I would hope this kind of shot gets used across two pages in a magazine article - note the room for text around and laid over the back half of the fish, and the fact that the spine of a magazine would run down roughly in a line through the middle of the photo. We shall see. All these different thoughts charging around the head when you are lining up photographs. I find myself actually "captioning" photos as I shoot them a lot of the time - mentally putting captions to the photos and "placing" them in a feature or the pages of a book, in a way that works with the rest of the material I am shooting. Perhaps I just need help though ?

We had essentially done the job, but I asked Russ to position himself where you can see him above, in order for me to be grab a few more "long loop" casting photos against that backdrop - might as well keep the fly on, because I was having to wait for the light in between a few clouds that were passing across the sun. Just as I was about to ask Russ to rattle off a few casts, he goes and hooks a train of a fish that ran off across the lake. It's great when something like this happens.

The end result was this pig of a rainbow trout - you can't end a shoot on a better note. Check out the size and condition of the fish's tail. Stocked rainbows don't come much better than this. Wouldn't it be a great place to go and "test" various bass lures out ?!! I kept thinking that all day in fact - looking into the clear water and imagining "playing" around with various lures, purely for "research" purposes of course. Not sure that would go down too well with either the owners of the fishery or their clients.....

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