Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Would catching a fish have made it any better ?

It's the middle of January, good looking water is not easy to come by, and ok, if yesterday morning had resulted in double figure bass crawling their way up our line in a frenzy of wanting to be caught then yes, that would have done us rather nicely. But I live in the real world (mostly). I never even had a bite, not even a bump that I could spend the rest of the day convincing myself that it was in fact an interested bass not committing for some reason. Nothing. Nada. Squat. But for me it was an awesome morning............

But surely fishing is all about catching fish ? Are we not meant to feel like we have failed if we blank ? Obviously we go fishing to try and catch something, but do you sometimes find that the feel of the overall experience can sometimes come together in such a way that you are left wondering if catching a real fish could have actually improved it in any meaningful way ?

Surely when you go fishing you can't fail to take in the splendour of the world around you ? I grant you that an inner city canal might not exactly stir the soul, but an early morning such as we had yesterday has to be about more than simply catching fish. Saturday was a pure filth of a day, but just before 6.30am on Sunday morning I fire up my frost covered car and head out to the coast. I can see the stars and there isn't a cloud in the sky. You fish so I am going to presume that like me you love early mornings and the feeling that you are already ahead of the rest of the world because you are up and about before them.

Those tingling sensations as you stand on a rock and cast lures into a pretty good looking sea as the first tendrils of a new day show themselves against the clear sky. I love it. Of course I want to be catching fish, but surely you also enjoy the actual act of fishing itself. It gives me a huge amount of pleasure to be fishing with a rod and reel setup that feels about as good/natural/balanced as fishing tackle can get (this and this), and I am quite simply enjoying whacking different lures and out and messing around with various retrieves. You get lost in the act do you not ?

Of course my own fishing is very much mixed up with the visual side of things, indeed a large part of my obsession with lure fishing stems from the creative pleasure I get out of trying to make it look awesome via my limited skills with a stills camera. All kinds of fishing have various merits, but I find myself increasingly drawn to fishing methods that involve a lot of movement - like lure and fly fishing. Doing something all the time, which in turn feeds both my creative and active side.

The kind of photography I love is so much to do with the quality of the light, and yesterday morning I watched as dawn crept up on us. Sometimes you get a period before the sun climbs over the horizon when the light goes off, but yesterday morning was not one of those times. But when that sun comes up on a clear winter's morning, you sometimes get a brief window when the light literally bathes you. It doesn't hit you like a high, harsh, midday summer sun - it bathes you in a stunning soft tone of warmth with no harshness. No blown highlights, just good, simple warmth that to me suggests a perfect little window of time, and going fishing of course puts us out there more than most other people when these short windows might happen.

Like yesterday morning. Before that sun gets too high in the sky and you lose that glorious early morning warm tone to it, that is what I am looking out for. Watching, waiting, and fishing away. Loving it. Casting, retrieving, but ready to dump my rod down if things come together - which they do. The sun appears from behind a few clouds on the horizon and suddenly we are bathed with that delicious warm glow. Down goes the rod, into my paws almost jumps the reassuring bulk of a great big digital SLR, and without thinking my right hand works to dial in a load of minus exposure compensation. If fishing is very much about instinct, then I would also argue that photography is as well - you either see it or you don't.

It's nothing to do with money. Sure, I sell my photographs as a part of how I make my living, but as a photographer I can't not shoot when we get one of those short windows of glorious light. I can't keep fishing away and ignore how awesome the world looks and then not pick up a camera. It's the way I am wired I suppose, but those brief moments together with the sheer enjoyment of fishing makes me wonder how yesterday morning could have got any better ? A few bass perhaps, but did I really want more than I was already lucky enough to have got ?

Monday Morning Metal Madness - Come on, it doesn't get much better than an almost illegally catchy song from Amon Amarth together with a video that makes me want to rise up in my animal skin loincloth, jump astride my trusty steed (better be a strong horse), and ride around the countryside with sword in hand and generally being a bit of a viking. Fires rage, my enemies are smote asunder, I am a warrior, or at least I was until my wife calls downstairs to say the shower's free. Music speaks to us, much like fishing does.

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