Thursday, 11 June 2009

This blog has now moved to my new website

  • From now on, my blog will be running on my new website that you can find here - all the old posts and photos are all there as well, so I look forward to seeing you on the new one. Onwards and upwards.......
  • If it helps, the new blog can be found here.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

A few thoughts about the French bass trip.....

  • Graham and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the French bass guys who went so far out of their way to help us over on the stunning island of Belle Ile. Yannick from Ultimate Fishing and his good friend Bruno are incredibly talented bass fishermen and I am sure we have made some friends for life - it was a blast to fish, photograph and spend time with them in a little bit of bass heaven over in France. I got some very cool photos, and when time allows I will get some more up here - one of the afternoons we fished was just about as good as it gets for photographing fishing I reckon.
  • OK, so the weather was not great when we there, indeed the amount of rain was staggering, but I will be back there someday soon. Thinking about autumn either this year or next year, depending on time and commitments. When the fishing is good the reports are of some quite spectacular bass fishing, with plenty of big fish coming to a variety of different methods and locations - quiet bays, treacherous cliffs, rolling surf, you name it, Belle Ile I reckon offers everything that a bass angler could possibly want. The general shore fishing itself can be fantastic.
  • One of the aspects of the trip that I enjoyed the most was seeing the French guys fishing, and the way in which they are incorporating these ultra-modern, light tackle methods into it all. Of course you can nail bass on a good old fashioned spinner for the rest of your days, but these newer hard and soft lures enable you to fish over so much more ground in so many different and effective ways. I know I am guilty of asking a lot of questions, but the thing is that I simply want to learn more about fishing - and not just because I work as a fishing journalist. This sport fascinates me, and I simply can not stand sitting still and not advancing myself. I will begin posting plenty of bits and pieces I learnt out there when I have a little more time........
  • It was just so easy to get to Belle Ile, so I would implore any of you thinking of heading out there to get on to Brittany Ferries and take yourself over there with your car stashed full of fishing gear. But the problem is that there is a small but very full tackle shop on Belle Ile that just happens to be jammed full of awesome bass fishing gear - as I said a few weeks back, I am weak man when it comes to this kind of fishing tackle. The wallet's on lock down for a bit now !!
  • Graham and I were looking through a load of French fishing magazines and it was amazing to see the number of times that photos of anglers using red Tenryu rods were appearing all over the place. The more I use these rods, the more I want to get more of them !! Once you have used a rod that has been very specifically designed to do certain jobs by anglers who really know their stuff then there is no turning back. I know that I talk these rods up a lot, but in my view they are that good that they deserve it - there are loads of other really good rods for bass fishing out there, often at far better prices, but the red ones are off the scale in my book. And in case you were wondering, no, I do not work for Tenryu. I say it as I see it. Talk to these red rod junkies here if the idea of getting one floats your boat. Bruno was using a brand new red Tenryu rod for some of his soft plastic bass fishing and it was one of the most awesome bits of kit I have ever picked up. Help !!
  • My new website is very close to going live - when this happens, this blog is going to move there, but of course I will let you know right here what is going on etc. It should be fairly seamless to go from one to the other, so when it's up and running I hope to see you there, and of course I would welcome all thoughts and comments. Not long now.

Monday, 8 June 2009

I thought I had learnt loads at Nantes.....

  • We have had some pretty "interesting" weather out here on Belle Ile - rain like I have rarely seen it this morning, and seriously rough seas yesterday. When I have processed the photos I will put some up here when I get back home - talk about "extreme fishing" !!!
  • The fishing has been up and down, but we have spent a lot of time looking around, trying different marks, and learning a whole load about how to target bass. We have caught plenty of bass, but no real size so far. The bass show at Nantes in February blew my mind, but on this trip Graham and I have got to see exactly how these switched on French bass anglers are actually fishing with all the different hard and soft lures - the why, where and how so to speak. Honestly, this fishing is a different world - nothing turns me on in fishing as much as learning more and more, and this modern bass fishing that the guys out here are involved in is fascinating. And I thought I knew a tiny bit about how to rig and fish a MegaBass XLayer for example - I ain't got a clue !!!!
  • Belle Ile is a kind of bass fishing heaven - the fishing might have been up and down for us so far (there is always this evening...), but the fish they catch out there when it is firing is insane. One of the French lads was telling me about a particular lure he uses (and yes, before you ask, I have bought one !!) that took three 10lb plus bass in consecutive casts off a rock mark out here. When it's on, it's on big time. The potential here is scary, and not only for bass - the "general" shore fishing is off the scale - I have heard of 9lb plus wrasse, 45lb plus conger eels, huge sole, loads of bream, etc. I will be back out here as soon as possible.
  • The French anglers have been incredibly kind to us, indeed they are some of the most talented fishermen I have come across in a long time. The levels to which they have taken lure fishing for bass to are extraordinary, and even Graham has admitted that his mind has been completely blown to pieces by some of the stuff they are using. Over time I will try to post bits and pieces about the kinds of things we have learnt out here. Credit where credit is due - these guys are the real deal. Back to the UK tomorrow, off to try and smash a few more fish. One of the guys we are fishing with was torn to pieces this morning by a proper bass.....

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Like leading a horse to water......

  • A seriously easy journey to get to Belle Ile, and sharing a cabin on the ferry with Graham was pretty good as well - it's amazing what a sleeping pill and ear plugs can do !! The weather was roasting when we arrived, so we were taken out on a boat for a few hours by Yannick Cordier (the boss of Ultimate Fishing) and a friend of his. I nailed my first ever French bass (only small) on a new lure I got hold of the other day, a Maria Fake Baits. (strange name) Seems to work nicely, a bit deeper than the Maria Chase BW. We also caught a load of big garfish on lures. But this was only a little warm up....
  • Excuse the order of the photos because they are not sequential. First thing Friday morning we were on the rocks with Yannick, and there was a little bit of life to the sea which there had not been when we arrived. I give Graham huge credit, for within ten minutes he was calling me on the radio (we carry them for helping with photography) to say he was into a bass. Like leading a horse to water - Yannick had brought us to a big stretch of coastline and said fire away, and Graham had looked around, sniffed out a decent bit of ground, and nailed the fish. I think he had eight bass on the trot, nothing above about 3lbs, but all very feisty and in great condition. The lure was non other than the Tackle House Feed Shallow in a white colour. Yannick nailed a few bass on one of his favourite bass lures, a Duo Tide Minnow Slim (the 125mm size I think, need to check), but even he was pretty blown away by Mr. Hill smashing all those fish on the Feed Shallow. I charged around taking photos and fished when I could, so it's no shock to hear I caught no bass yesterday morning - but I got some cool shots. Needs must.....
  • We searched hard for some more bass yesterday, but the weather went completely still and lifeless on us. Just when you want a bit of wind and life and it all dies a death !! One very cool thing we have done was to get a guided tour around Ultimate Fishing with Yannick himself, and if you are at all interested in high-end Japanese lures and all those awesome red rods, then you will understand when I refer to that hour as close to being in heaven !!! Neither Graham or I have seen that many lures or red rods in one place, indeed we talked about bashing Yannick over the head and running off with the whole lot of them !! Honestly, the both of us walked around with our jaws on the floor. You should have seen the rows and rows of hard and soft lures, and the boxes and boxes of MegaBass XLayer soft plastic lures.
  • One thing that both Graham and noticed was the incredible number of Zenith Z-Claw lures that were on the shelves, plus thousands of Duo Tide Minnows. Both ranges are huge sellers for Ultimate Fishing, and obviously Mick in Jersey does loads of this gear right here. Yannick told us that the Z-Claw is about his biggest selling surface lure in France, indeed I saw him nail one yesterday afternoon (see the top photo). This lure looks stunning when it is worked slowly and very deliberately, and it creates a stunning wake effect that obviously turns the bass on big time. Another lure on the shopping list !!
  • Above is Graham putting the gears on another French bass. This island is stunning, seriously, I am going to bring my family out here for a holiday one of these days. It's like a little piece of pristine France - unspoilt, a stunning coastline, and miles and miles of bass fishing everywhere you look. We need the weather to behave a bit more for us, but Belle Ile is a little slice of heaven. Easy to get to, really friendly people, fantastic food, just plain awesome. Even in this brief time I can see how good this place can be for bass fishing, and they also have stacks of shore fishing for species like big sole, congers, wrasse, turbot, pollack, bream etc. Too much to do, too little time....
  • Above is the Ultimate boss man Yannick clambering down the rocks to get to a bass he nailed on one of his Duo Tide Minnow lures. It's interesting to see the way he works the lures, and once more I am learning a hell of a lot about these modern styles of lure fishing. But I think Yannick was really surprised to see Graham smashing the bass by cranking the Feed Shallow lure. I suppose we all learn off each other. As I said, like leading a horse to water......
  • We all went out before first light this morning, and the three of us nailed a bunch more bass - again, nothing big, but good fish on various lures. At the moment the rain is lashing down and we are waiting for the tide before we head back out again. Guess what was in Yannick's lure box this morning ? Graham and I spied a brand spanking new Feed Shallow in there, but I guess the boss can take his own lures off the shelves !! It's not a hugely popular lure in France, but obviously a bunch of us lot in the UK really like it for "our" bass fishing. Anyway, better get back to it. More reports when I get a chance.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Vive la France !!

  • Just packing the last of my gear and clearing bits and pieces of work before heading over to France tonight - I reckon the crossing is going to be fantastic. Graham and I are going to be on the newest Brittany Ferries boat, the "Armorique", and if all goes according to plan we arrive in Roscoff around 8am tomorrow morning, French time.
  • Graham tells me that his spoken French is virtually non-existent, so I guess it's up to me to make ourselves understood. I would never dream of stitching him up though, the thought had never crossed my mind !! Steak ? Yeah, right, dream on. He ain't going to have a clue that he is ordering !!
  • I will update this blog as much as I can with our bass fishing exploits on Belle Ile, hopefully with a few fish in awesome locations. It's going to be a blast. Back to packing...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

It's great when a brand new lure works.....

  • OK, so the little bass that jumped onto my new lure last night was hardly going to set the world alight, but I do love it when a brand new lure comes out of the box and works straight away - on about my fifth cast in fact. I have heard increasing amounts about these newish Sebile lures for a while now, and I have taken fish overseas on their big poppers, but I have been itching to try out their more "bassy" looking lures over here. Yesterday evening was my chance to sneak a few casts in before heading off to France tomorrow night.
  • Just so you know, I have nothing to do with Sebile - I say it how I see it, but from the first chuck with this new lure I was transfixed. The action on it is outrageous. So what is this lure that you can see above and down the bottom ? To be very precise, it is the Sebile Koolie Minnow SL 118mm Suspending - it kind of looks ok in it's box, but take it out and fish with it and I reckon your jaw will hit the floor. Seriously, it's got an awesome action, and it also dives nice and shallow. It is a classic kind of medium to fast running shallow diving minnow, but it rolls and darts around to the max - you can feel the thing working really hard right through the rod. I haven't got another lure that works like it - not that an extreme action is the be all and end all, indeed I like the "subtler" lures a lot of the time. But this Sebile Koolie Minnow SL has got something. Andy took one look at my rod tip on the retrieve and asked what the hell the lure was............and there was me trying to keep it a little secret !! Shame on me.
  • The only place I know that you can get hold of these Sebile lures here in the UK at the moment is Veals Mail Order, contact them here. It is now on their website, click here to see. Make sure you ask for the SL model if you want the shallowest version of it - that's the one I have got here. I am going to give it a damned good thrashing out in France, so check back here for more reports. I am really excited about this lure, and what I really like is that it is not very expensive as far as premium bass lures go. You've guessed it - I could talk myself into anything when it comes to bass fishing.
  • This new Tenryu Super Mix 240 I am using is growing on me every single time I cast and fish with it - honestly, I know they are hardly cheap, but I can see where the money goes in these rods. Very different to out and out ultra-fast action plugging rods like the Red Dragon Express and the Rod Bar 270, but the Super Mix 240 is fast worming its way into my affections.
  • The were huge numbers of sandeels in the water last night, and the mullet were topping and surfing all over the place. Andy got hit by a bass that let go of his lure, but we reckon we might have cleaned up if we had been using live eel either on a rolling lead or under a bubble float. Perhaps we should have fished the soft plastics a bit harder. The water felt alive all the time we were there, and the light just got better and better. I am sure the photo above will tell lots of you where we were fishing, for it's hardly any great secret. The kind of evening when just being out on the water is about all you could ever need.
  • You can take a look at the Sebile range of lures right here (it's an online PDF catalogue, allow it some time to load). I can see a fair few things in there that I reckon might murder for our bass fishing, and I have just seen the new Veals Mail Order catalogue with a few of these Sebile lures in there. My wallet is going to be put behind locked !! Off to France tomorrow evening, and I can't wait.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Bass fishing in France - bring it on !!

  • On Wednesday evening I am going to drive ten minutes down to Milbay Docks here in Plymouth and then jump aboard the overnight Brittany Ferries car ferry over to Roscoff, arriving in France on Thursday morning at around 8am. Along for the ride will be my mate Graham Hill, and the both of us are completely overexcited about going bass fishing in France - obviously this is a work trip for me and I will nail as many photos as I can for magazine features etc. but then again, I will also do a little bit of fishing as well !!
  • Our final destination is the small island of Belle Ile that lies just off the coast of Brittany - we will drive down to Quiberon and catch a quick ferry over to Belle Ile around Thursday lunchtime if all goes according to plan. Graham and I will be fishing and photographing with some of the Ultimate Fishing guys that I met at the bass show in Nantes, so it should be a very cool few days indeed. The chance to smash bass in new waters to the both of us is a dream come true, so I can see myself having to pop some sleeping pills on the overnight ferry to Roscoff as I will be far too excited to sleep otherwise. And perhaps Graham snores like a baboon !!
  • The Ultimate Fishing lot are the guys that design and test all these awesome red Tenryu rods, plus they import and design all manner of lures for all kinds of fish - and especially for bass. Mick over in Jersey sells loads of their gear right here. I will do all I can over in France to keep the blog updated, hopefully with some decent bass. I have got various new bits and pieces of gear to try over there............
  • If things go according to plan, I am also going to try and nail some proper photos of smashing big wrasse from the shore on soft plastics - I have seen a few photos of this being done on Belle Ile and the fish looked insane !! Imagine big blue skies, stunning fish, red rods and a swirling blue ocean. I told you I was overexcited about this trip.
  • I know Graham is also not sleeping properly because of this bass trip coming up, so I guess the pair of us are going to be in a right state of adrenaline fuelled bass fever by the time we actually step foot on Belle Ile. Take a look at the island on Google Earth and you will get an idea of how cool the place looks for bass fishing. Whatever happens with the fish and the fishing, you can't beat fishing new places, and I have plans to do a fair bit over in France and perhaps Spain over the next few years........
  • And how about the incredible weather we had over the weekend ? About as good as it can get down here I reckon - granted, perhaps not perfect for lure fishing, but I have to say that spending time on the beach with my girls is about as much fun as I could ever hope to have. We had a blast, and I am really pleased to be developing some proper panda eyes this year. Another great weekend, and long may this weather last. How come we managed to book the one rainy day last week to take the kids fishing ?

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Appearing on Tight Lines (Sky Sports) tomorrow

  • I'm heading off to the outskirts of sunny London tomorrow to appear on the popular Tight Lines TV programme that has been running on Sky Sports for years now. It's always a blast doing this show, and I really appreciate the guys for asking me to come back again - they have had me on there a number of times now, indeed I remember the days when Bruno Brooks was presenting it. I would guess that their viewing figures drop somewhat when I start rabbiting on !!
  • Keith Arthur has been the principal presenter for some time now, and believe me when I tell you the guy is a walking fishing encyclopedia. Honestly, I have to try and find ways of covering up my lack of knowledge on far too many angling subjects - the guy knows loads, and Keith and the team up at Sky Sports are always more than friendly.
  • The Tight Lines show goes out at 6.30pm tomorrow (Friday 29th May) on Sky Sports 2, and then it is being repeated at various times - see here for full details. I know that Keith has been out boat fishing for pollack recently and I believe they are showing some footage of it on the show. There will be absolutely no inferring from me that extreme shore fishing for big pollack (see here) is a much greater challenge than hauling them in off the boat.........??
  • Yesterday was one of the best days I have had for ages - I took my girls up to see Nick Hart and his brood, and we spent most of the day trout fishing at his stunning Exe Valley Fishery. I am so proud to be able to say that my two girls both caught their first fish on a rod and line, and my wife even managed to catch one as well. And she thought a yelp of "strike" from me meant that all she needed to do was to gently wind into the fish !!! But they all did fantastically well. My two girls both asked at breakfast this morning when they could go fishing again......
  • OK, so it never stopped monsooning it down for the whole time we all up there, but I was amazed that the kids got so into the whole thing that nobody really noticed. We had them dressed up in waterproofs and the fact that the trout were feeding big time really kept the little ones really buzzed up and excited (nice one Nick and Freddy !!). We were float fishing with bread for the trout - ok, so fly fishing might be the way, but I caught my first ever fish on a float when I was seven (a wild brown trout), and the main thing I wanted was for my girls to at least catch a few fish and have something visual to see when they got a bite. The first few times and at least I want them to be able to catch a few fish and see what is is like.
  • I think that Nick and I might have nailed a few as well - "just seeing what the rod is like" or some excuse like that. Rain or no rain, it was about as much fun as I can imagine having, and whatever happens in the future, at least my two girls have caught some fish and seen a couple being quickly dispatched and then cooked up for lunch. I want them to keep learning more and more about what goes into the food that appears on their plates as I believe it is very important. Huge thanks to Nick and his lot for having us up for the day. Next time we will do it when the sun is shining - Exe Valley Fishery beware !!
  • Let the blood need to check out the latest album from the Norwegian thrash metal band Blood Tsunami, called "Grand Feast for Vultures". How does this wonderful country keep on producing such an insane amount of world class metal ? From the very first riff on the CD it is apparent that this is proper, pure and awesome thrash metal, almost like the good old days !! Listen to a few tracks here and then add this one to your collection. Sleeveless t-shirts, denim jackets, long hair, stage diving, those were the days.............