Hear me out here, and yes, this growing theory of mine might in part have grown via a number of early mornings and long hours spent in the glorious south west coast of Ireland outdoors. This part of the world is just something else, and the better I am getting to know it, the harder I am falling for the place. Why the powers that be in Ireland aren't promoting the hell out of coming fishing in such ridiculously special places is beyond me. Anyway, I digress............
Not fishing myself on these guiding trips was never going to be a problem as I've spent countless fishing related photo trips around the world for the most part not fishing. I love watching people catch fish, and I especially love seeing how going fishing and catching fish somewhere special can produce so much simple joy for anglers - me included of course. Taking it to the next level with this guiding stuff and actually helping anglers to catch fish is something deeply and uniquely satisfying, but increasingly over these three times four day trips that I have now worked on with John Quinlan, it is striking me how I think that I am starting to "fish" better via guiding. Has he finally cracked you might ask?
Let's say you go out fishing. You think about where to go and when, you take a close look around you before you start fishing, and then you get into it. But as much as you try to stand back and work out what might be going on, where you might actually fish your lures (or baits), how you might change things up to catch more fish or deal with certain terrains etc. - you're in the middle of it and you're doing your absolute best to fish as well as you can. Do you sometimes lose a bit of the overall picture? How often do you come away from a fishing session and then start thinking about what you might have done differently? Because you are in the middle of the actual fishing, is it possible that we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture that could get us some better fishing?
Well it's fascinating to always be the one standing back and not fishing as your clients do the actual fishing. Sure, it's not as if I am suddenly the world's most qualified fishing guide, and of course I am working with a guy who knows his local waters backwards, but increasingly I am coming to the conclusion that some of the fish that our clients have caught on these trips, well I think I might not have caught them myself. Perhaps we have been lucky so far in that to a person we've had good people come along who can all fish, but it's that guide thing of not fishing yourself while somebody else does the actual fishing that is making me stop and think here.
Being able to look at everything while you're not the person fishing with the adrenaline pumping through you is a very different way of going about this sport. There are plenty of times when you on the client's shoulder and helping out with tips, techniques, advice, lure changes, banter etc., but there are also plenty of times when you are standing back and looking intently around, and it's this distancing oneself from the actual act of doing the fishing that I find interesting. I am convinced that there have been a few times now when me standing back and thinking about exactly where a client might cast a lure has helped them catch a few fish that I am pretty sure I would not have caught if I had been fishing myself. I genuinely think that by "fishing" but not actually fishing, I am learning to be a guide and of course become a better angler - which at the end of the day is all connected.
Bass are of course one of the main reasons that anglers come to this part of Ireland, but to chase them and nothing else is a real shame. I love those areas where you feel that the land plunges into the sea and it looks as if the ocean goes on forever. I am not sure how much more fun saltwater fishing can get than standing on some seriously out of the way rocky headland with perhaps 80'+ of crystal clear water beneath your feet - and then smashing a few decent pollack, or as per my last blog post, sometimes getting smashed up by them. I absolutely love this kind of fishing, and as much as people want to come and catch bass, it's fascinating how much joy this kind of smash and grab fishing gives to visiting anglers. It's just a huge amount of fun, indeed what's not to enjoy about it?
Every single day out here is a different experience. We have had a few clients who have never been to Ireland before, and like me they are simply blown away by the whole intoxicating experience. Hell, I've been over here countless times now and I still find myself looking around and having to pinch myself that something as simple as fishing has brought about me being in a place like this. I love where I live, but I also truly love the wilder places, and I just can't do the same thing day in, day out. I can't fish the same marks in the same ways and not sometimes hanker after somewhere off the beaten track that causes the heart to race that bit faster simply because it's different. We had a late lunch yesterday afternoon overlooking the sort of view that is so special you can't quite work out where all the other people are.
To be perfectly honest I don't know where this guiding thing is going to go, as in my future in it is of course bound by whether we keep on getting paying clients who want to come along. I absolutely love doing it, I love working with the awesome Thatch Cottage Fishing Lodge setup, and of course I love coming to Ireland. John and I are going to sit down and work out some more dates for next year, plus I believe we are going to announce another four day/five nights trip for this coming October over some prime tides that could be rather interesting. It's early days for this venture and I can but hope that enough anglers want to come along. I'm out here for a few more days and then heading back home on Monday - have a good weekend and I hope to see some of you out here on one of these trips.