Henry Gilbey needs no introduction. Henry brought sea angling to a new level of audience a few years back with the advent of his fishing tv series Fishing on the edge and Wild fishing. Never before had I seen a show entirely dedicated to sea angling. I sat glued as Henry pulled in fish wherever he went with a special emphasis on the UK and Ireland though he fished all over the world too. His energy is boundless as his love for life, fishing and metal music. A truly modest guy, he is a great ambassador for our sport. So I’ll crack on with the question here goes….
Me: What’s your earliest fishing memory?
HG: Catching a little wild brown trout on a loch in Scotland when I was seven years old, and then striking the thing so hard that it flew into the bracken behind me.
Me: Your probably best known for your bass fishing travels, you have traveled extensively in Ireland, what do you like about bass fishing in Ireland?
HG: I can’t explain exactly why, but your country just does it for me. I love the coastline, the people, the fishing, you name it, Ireland just floats my boat. As regards your bass fishing, generally it’s because you have got more fish, bigger fish, a perfect coastline for it, and a far lower population density than here in the UK.
Me: What was your favorite day fishing in Ireland?
HG: Impossible to answer as I have so many good memories wrapped up with fishing in Ireland, and it’s not all about catching big fish or loads of fish for me. I can think of plenty of good days and I hope there are many more to come.
Me: You are one of fishing’s most recognizable faces, is it a good thing or a bad thing being recognized out fishing?
HG: Well I seriously doubt that I am “one of fishing’s most recognisable faces”, but as for being recognised because of those TV programmes I did, well people are always very nice, and I do love talking with other anglers – but to be perfectly honest, I tend to go bright red with embarrassment when somebody recognises me. It just isn’t me, and I am happiest when I am out fishing or behind my stills camera. I never thought for one second when I started doing that TV stuff that a few people would then recognise me and it wasn’t why I did it at all. I detest it when I am referred to as an “expert” or even a “celebrity”, because I am neither.
Me: When did you know that you were going to become a full time angler and what did friends and family think?
HG: That might be the perception of what I am, but it’s miles from the truth. I am anything but a “full time angler”, in fact I am often away on photography trips and I never get to pick up a rod at all for example. I write and photograph about fishing as well as do some consultancy work, and I fish when I can – which is not enough. My family have always been right behind what I do.
Me: You have a great love of GT fishing, tell me about GTs?
HG: I have been lucky to spend a lot of time photographing fly fishing for GTs on the Indian Ocean flats, and it’s about the most awesome, insane and utterly ridiculous fishing I have seen. I have done a bit of popping for them over reefs, and it’s spectacular, but seeing them in shallow water up on the flats and charging flies, well not much beats that. A GT is all about power, speed and sheer aggression, the like of which we haven’t got anything close to in our waters.
Me: When not fishing what do you enjoy?
HG: Walking miles and miles with my sheepdog Storm, doing stuff in the garden, spending time with my family, reading, I am obsessed with (horrible) music, and dreaming about fishing. Oh, and watching English rugby and cricket, and especially when we beat Ireland at Twickenham – sorry!!
Me: What fishing milestone would you most like to achieve?
HG: Nothing that I can think of really. I have caught plenty of big fish all around the world so I don’t tend to obsess about monster fish so much these days. I have been incredibly lucky with the places I have been to for work, but I guess if there is anything then it would be to help bass become more and more popular as an angling quarry so that various powers that be have no choice but to afford them proper protection as a true sport fish. Pie in the sky? Perhaps, but why not?
Me: Worst lost fish?
HG: I have lost plenty of fish due to my mistakes, of that you can be sure!! I guess the fish that haunted me the most was when I was absolutely obsessed about catching a big conger eel from the shore. I used to fish Devil’s Point in Plymouth a lot, and you would blank far more than you ever caught, but there are some monster eels in that river. I hooked an eel one night, many years ago now, and I knew it was big but it came up almost too easily. The eel hit the surface, I passed the rod to my mate and went down to gaff it. The thing went frigging nuts, obviously from not having expended much of its energy on the way up, and it spun off the gaff, broke the line and swam back down. We put the weight of the eel at around the 50lb mark, and I was absolutely frigging gutted. OK, so these days I would never have stuck a gaff into a fish like that, but back then, wow did I want that fish, and it did me good and proper. That lost eel affected my sleep for months!!
Me: Well Henry thanks a million for talking to us
HG: No problem at all lads