Fishing in Ireland

Thoughts on photographs

For a blog dedicated to fishing I have noticed something strange about my musings here – there are very few photographs of fish! I guess that is partly because I do not catch that many! OK, I may be a bit harsh on myself with that last statement, but I don’t seem to catch as many as those other guys and gals you see on various social media sites. Added to that, I have a tendency to unhook my catch and quickly return it to the water and dislike ‘posed’ photographs which take time to set up and must cause the fish stress. Like every other angler, seeing pictures of huge fish and grinning anglers is part of everyday life now and social media is crammed with such images. The world is not any the poorer for me not joining in and posting endless trophy fish photos. The best you can hope for from me is a shaky shot of a roach or trout a second before it is released. Those hoisting giant sailfish, tarpon or king salmon certainly put me to shame. I am very firmly belong to the pre-‘selfie’ generation and since I usually fish alone there is nobody else there to take posed shots of yours truly balancing the rod on my neck and holding some monster salmon. And so the globe must continue to spin through space and time without my ugly mug leering over leviathan of a fish plastered everywhere.

Actually taking the photos is something I find challenging. I am not a photographer, have had not training or any depth of experience. I have a rudimentary knowledge of the basics of DSLR camera operation but often don’t take my Canon with me lest it gets soaked. Like most other anglers, my mobile phone is the tool I use when fishing and the resulting pics vary in quality depending on which phone I happen to own at the time. Like many of you I go through mobiles at a horrifying rate – they rarely last more than a few months before they get wet and are binned. I have owned plenty of fishing rods for over forty years but my mobiles rarely survive to celebrate their first birthday. So while I admire the excellent quality of the output some angler/photographers produce, I am just too lazy to learn the intricacies of photography and take the easy way out instead. Or maybe on reflection it is not pure laziness, I just have so many other interests that taking up photography seriously feels like it would take up too much time, time that I don’t have to spare. Angling, fly tying, walking, a bit of cookery, some guitar playing, eating out and travel (when allowed) all chew into my free time as it is. Anyway, for now I am a ‘point and press’ kinda guy. Admittedly I am toying with the notion of buying one of those Olympus Tough TG-6 cameras just for my angling. Waterproof and sturdy, it would be a nice addition to my gear but at €400 I am still trying to convince myself it is a worthwhile investment, and that is before I even consider trying to convince Helen such a spend is fully justified (why did the ‘mission impossible’ theme tune start playing in my head there?).

As it is, I have acquired various bits of kit over the years to assist me in taking better quality photographs. I have a couple of tripods which are useful for someone with a shaky hand like me. Although not much use when game fishing, a tripod is handy when I am coarse fishing which is a fairly sedentary sport. I also bought a wee gadget that converts the 3/8ths BSF thread on my bank sticks to the standard camera mounting thread, meaning I can fit a camera on to a bank stick and focus on the rod tip or even the float.

Every now and then I fancy getting into shooting some video content but rarely follow through. Although the technology is now so advanced that even a dummy like me can use it, the time required to edit and post videos puts me off. In the past I have edited training videos for employers, so I know what to do, I just find it a very tedious business. Maybe this coming year I might find the time and energy to sit down and edit some footage but I would not bet the house on it. An added issue for me is that I am perilously close to the data limit on my WordPress account and any video footage eats data at a horrible rate. Yes, I could opt for a more expensive plan with much increased data limits but that would be even more expense, 4 times what I pay just now. There is always my YouTube channel but I have not posted anything on that for years. Maybe I need to make more of an effort! With a little ingenuity I could set up the camera to film my fly tying but plenty of excellent tyers are doing this already so I can’t see what I would bring to the party.

In the wider context, I write this blog to try and convey the sights and feelings of angling in the west of Ireland rather than to record large bags of fish, the glory of landing a monster or even my dexterity at the vice. Now, in later life, I value every hour on the water and the catch itself is almost a by-product. Sure, like every other angler I love catching fish, I love catching big fish and I love catching lots of them. But I also love being immersed in the countryside, handling a boat, seeing the wildlife all around me. I enjoy the experience as much, if not more, than the result. A fish which escapes before reaching my net is still one to be treasured and has the added bonus of saving me the trouble of handling and unhooking the poor wee thing.

Some anglers just seem to catch more big fish than others. Skill obviously plays a large part in this but I have seen plenty of novices catch lunkers of fish while us old hands are only whipping out tiddlers. It depends a lot too on where you are fishing. Harling on the lower reaches of the Tay in Scotland will give you a better chance of a twenty pound salmon than casting a wee fly on a small spate river here in the west of Ireland. The big fish have to be there to be caught. I fear my chances of any more huge salmon are all but nil these days so there will be no photos of me in a grip’n’grin pic any time soon.

While I am on about photos I feel I have to mention the latest trend on social media which is assaulting us anglers. We badly need to address the issue of diversity in our sport. The public image of angling being the preserve of older, white males is firmly entrenched and we as a sport must make more effort to attract younger anglers from all walks of life to take up fishing. Thankfully I see more and more kids and women on the river banks and long may this trend continue. However, I am sure many of you have seen a huge growth in tweets/Instas etc featuring scantily clad young women holding up big fish in exotic locations. Look, I am a red-blooded heterosexual man and pretty girls in bikinis certainly do not offend me in any way but it seems to me this form of clickbait is out of place in our sport. Maybe I just fish in the wrong circles and you lot regularly go fishing down the canal with ‘Brittney’ the lingerie model.

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