Monday, September 30, 2013

Angling Photography–How to take better pictures

In the good old days of hunting and fishing bringing back trophies were the norm and done thing. This Golden era of hunting and fishing has long gone and people these days are a lot more aware of the often precarious position wildlife is in around the world. Angling has for long led the way in sustainably managing fish stocks by becoming a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. Catch and Release fishing is practiced by a vast majority of anglers around the world who go out on fishing trips looking for that trophy fish or catch of a lifetime. In today’s world where communication has become so easy and everyone has the need to stay in touch. A new breed of anglers are travelling the world where now sharing their trophies has become so much easier and all thanks to the digital camera.

Over a decade ago one had to rely on some ‘skill’ to take good photographs that captured the moment and kept it as realistic to the actual event. The film then had to be kept often for weeks before it could be processed and then the final print developed before an angler was able to share his images with friends and family. Now with the advent of digital cameras taking a good photograph of one’s catch has never been easier. Most compact point and shoot digital cameras will deliver excellent results even with the camera on auto mode. For most people, messing about with manual settings, aperture, shutter speeds, ISO, etc. has become a thing of the past. With one’s camera set on ‘auto’ all an angler has to do is concentrate on framing that special picture that may go up as the centre piece of his living room wall.

For charter operators like us catching or knowing where to catch trophy fish are just the beginning in a long list of services we need to provide to the tech savvy visiting angler. It does help greatly if one can take decent photographs!

A few pointers to taking good photographs are listed below to help future clients ‘capture’ their fish of a lifetime before they release it to swim back in to the ocean where it belongs.

1. Fill the frame with the angler and fish, avoid standing too far back which loses focus on the main subject.


2. Get in the habit of using a flash while shooting in broad daylight. You may have to manually switch the flash on to activate it. What the flash does is eliminate harsh shadows from the sun that usually is quite high up in the sky. Also many anglers wear caps in the hot sun so the lash will also help light up their faces.



The difference can be clearly seen with the images above.

3. Avoid objects growing out of the subject’s head or body ie; trees, rods, structure, or railings.


4. Hold the fish right! Make sure you’re holding the fish upright and well supported so one can actually see the shape and size of the fish.


5. Do not let the fish slant so one can see mainly belly of the fish rather than its side. Pictures like this often make the fish look smaller or quite strange and lead to an angler sitting in an awkward position. Worse still a fish can be dropped, so make sure the crew is close by to help if needed.


6. Try and keep the eye of the fish in focus. Pictures of fish often take on life if the eye of the fish is in focus.


7. Keep the fish in focus! Everyone wants to see the fish. Take a second to see your camera’s auto focus hasn't locked on to the railing of the boat or some distant object.


8. Keep an eye on the colouration of the fish. Fish are spectacular creatures and come in varied textures and colours. Make sure your photograph translates that in the truest sense.


9. Make the angler smile. Often you can get the mood on the boat across to someone sitting miles away from the event that is looking at the photograph. Try and capture the emotions, joy and fulfilment on the boat through your photographs.


10. Boats have limited space. Often there’s a lot of excitement and activity on a boat while a fish is caught. There also is a sense of urgency as the fish has to be returned to the water as soon as possible. With all these things in mind please don’t cut the poor anglers head in half!



11. Similarly with fish. Try and compose your picture with all fins and tail intact. Composing pictures with all fins etc. intact make the fish look a lot more spectacular.


12. Keep the background in mind. Choose a scenic background that conveys the feeling of being out there in the wild. Often anglers travel to way off destinations that are visually spectacular. Try and capture a feeling of being out there. This however is debatable. Many anglers are careful to choose their backgrounds as they don’t want to give away a productive location to other fishermen who might be scanning their photographs for an indicator of where the fish was caught. It really doesn’t matter but, a lot more goes in to catching trophy fish. We know that!


13. Remember a boat is a variable space and constantly moving. Once an angler has the fish in his hand ask the Captain to spin the boat around so the angler is facing the sun. Try and compose pictures with the subject lit up by the sun.


14. Avoid shadows from rods in holders, the T top, other anglers or even oneself while taking pictures of an angler with his prized catch.


15. Try and keep the horizon flat. Boats are moving most of the time and life gets a lot harder when there’s wind. Make sure you concentrate to get the horizon as flat as possible. Also keep in note that its natural for us to take photographs with the top right hand corner of the frame lower than the top left hand corner, this makes the horizon slant again. This is true for most righthanders who take photographs. The opposite is true for lefthanders.


16. Most pictures are shot horizontally. See when you can shoot a photograph vertically. This often changes the monotony of shooting horizontally all the time. Also with long fish like mackerel, wahoo and barracuda one can get some interesting angles and perspectives.


17. Avoid taking pictures of dead fish or fish covered in blood. Apart from portraying this great sport in bad light it also just makes photographs of the angler and fish an ugly sight.


18. Matching the hatch is fine while you’re out fly-fishing, but matching the catch is something else. Try not to wear the same colours as the fish you catch. They tend to look better!


19. Taking a fish back for dinner is fine, but try and finish off your photography session on the boat or by the water. Pictures in kitchens, in studios and other locations on land just look strange and for all one knows you could have just bought the fish from the market!


20. While out fishing there’s so much happening on the boat. Take more pictures of the action around you like an angler fighting a fish with his rod bent over or a multiple hookup with 2 anglers fighting their fish at the same time. Try and get creative and capture all the action up to the point where the crew lands the fish for the angler.


21. Capture photographs of people casting. It’s often a challenge to get an angler’s lure in the air as he casts.



22. Look for interesting angles to shoot from. Try shooting from deck level or from an angle that will make a person look twice at your photograph.




23. Look for interesting skies. Being on a boat gives you a sense of space and wide open expanses. Often early in the morning or late afternoons have spectacular clouds. Try and frame your photograph capturing an interesting sky as well.


24. It is all not about catching fish it’s about releasing them as well. Try and lean over the side and photograph the crew or the angler releasing fish back to the sea.


25. Angling for us all is a lot more than just catching fish. It’s the whole deal of being at an exotic place, often with friends, sharing good times and having a great time. Try and capture all that as well.




We hope this article has been helpful to you and we look forward to seeing some great photographs taken on our boats either in the Andaman Islands or in Sri Lanka the next time you are out fishing with us. We’ll get you to catch the fish and you can take the photograph of a lifetime!!

Why go fishing with a good charter operator/ guide

When you go out on that big fishing trip to that exotic location you have read so much about, drooled over the pictures and reports and imagined yourself holding that trophy fish and coming home with a memory to cherish forever…… have you considered who you will be fishing with or the company you are going to book this trip of a lifetime with?

Once you have decided on the location for your fishing trip and selected the operator who will host and guide your angling holiday a good operator and guide can give you a wealth of information on how you should prepare for the trip and the target species you want to catch. This will range from the time of the year and season to the tackle set up and lure selection. Yes you may have read about what other people have used and forums give you good advice but the ones out in the zone will know exactly what is what i.e the guides you will be fishing with and the charter operator.
So get in touch with them and establish a one on one so they know in advance your expectations, experience and capability, you will also be able to judge how responsive and prompt they are in attending to your needs and more importantly what will be possible and what not.

If you are going to go out on a holiday with a new operator do ask for some references of pervious clients, a good guide and operator will always be honest with their clients.

An important aspect of going on a fishing trip is going to be the weather conditions, today with changing weather patterns it is hard and difficult to predict the conditions accurately, guides and operators have no control of this but they can keep you informed of adverse weather conditions being expected and most often give you the chance to reschedule a trip to a later date.

A good guide will not only advise you on the tackle you need to carry with you, he/she will also help you to set up your gear, select your lures to match the bait the target fish are feeding on and ensure you are not carrying the things you will not need.

Expect a good guide to give you a briefing on what the tide and current will be doing while you fish for the day, and what species to target and when. Discuss this openly and come up with a plan that you are comfortable with.

Good guides and operators have a lot of fishing experience behind them they do this for a living and would probably have seen more fish caught than most of their clients, a good guide is going spend 8 hours a day on the boat with you for a week he/she can give you a lot of pointers and guidance on Casting Techniques and the best way to work your lures and also advise you as to which lures or colours will work the  best in given conditions.

Ask questions and observe, a good guide can make you a better angler and teach you how to read the water, to look for signs of fish and feeding and also how to position the boat both to fish the area effectively based on the structure around and to give you the best opportunity to hook, fight and land your fish of dreams.

A good fishing guide can also suggest alternatives that may result in landing that dream fish so be open and flexible if you can.

After all, the charter and guide’s income is determined by how successfully a customer can be put onto fish, after that it is up to you as the angler to do your bit as well to make sure that fish is landed, photographed and released to fight another day.

Comments are welcome to this post.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Directors note for the month of September

With the tropical fishing season getting ready to start in the south of Sri Lanka and the Andaman Islands, it has been a busy month for the team. With lots of preparation and novel ideas that we have introduced to keep us fishing more while making the option to fish with us a winning situation for our customers.

The beginning of August saw us fishing out on the East coast of Sri Lanka where we had exceptional fishing, arm wrenching action, we managed to land numerous cracking GT’s along with some great shore fishing for a variety of species, we are looking forward to the season opener in Krinda which we are sure is home to some of the biggest GT’s around. More details in this months newsletter.

The new 31 ft Centre Console “Rampageous” has arrived in Sri Lanka and will be ready to roll out as soon as she is registered, she is custom designed to fish very comfortably and has the horsepower to get to all the remote spots in a hurry. Watch out for the blog post showing first pictures.

As a special thank you to all our returning customers Team GFA has introduced our Customer Loyalty program which offers discounts, free days and lucky draws, this program is open to existing and new clients, so just click Here to sign up and introduce your fishing mates for more benefits.

Both boats Halcyon 3 and Rampage in the Andaman Islands are out for complete servicing, fresh anti-foul coatings and engine maintenance, allowing us to run and fully test the boats before the first customers arrive to start another exceptional season.

To encourage saltwater fishing and increase awareness locally for the sustainable management of game species we are also running limited fixed day departure trips for a short time so that keen anglers have the opportunity to fish some of the world’s best fisheries.

Readers of our blogs can also register and post their views and comments to our blog posts now.

Finally for our international clientele we are happy to announce that we are the proud sponsors and have our own section on the World’s premier fishing forum also we are participating on the French fishing forum

Till next month,

Tight lines

Monday, September 2, 2013

Handling GT’s for maximum survival after release



Gamefishing Asia is committed to conserving our fisheries to the maximum extent possible and Caranx Ignoblis is top on our priority list. As a top sport fish, bad boy of the reef and fear nothing fish, the Giant Trevally has it all, its is also the fish we at Gamefishing Asia are lucky enough to catch the most!!!

Over the years we have honed our techniques to handle and release the fish and are happy to share some methods which we hope will reach as many people as possible as a guide to letting tough guy (i.e Mr GT) swim away and come back later bigger, heavier and tougher.

Use the Largest Barbless Treble Hooks appropriate to the lure

Given the GT’s vice like jaw structure and how hard they hit a lure, in our opinion it does not matter if the hook has barbs or not for a good hook up, however big trebles are better in that if a fish is hooked in a fleshy area or on the body they will not rip the fish apart like smaller thinner gauge trebles, they are easier to take out of the fishes mouth even if the GT has swallowed that huge lure whole (yes they do!!), barbless hooks do not get snagged in the landing net and if you are using the lure as a grab tool to get the fish on board are not as big a danger to the deckies hands as hooks with barbs.


Most of all using barbless hooks means you are not as big a danger to others around you especially when you let off that quick cast in sight of boil of fusilier and have forgotten to open the bail arm.

Scale your tackle to terrain you are fishing

Speak to your guide and charter operator before you go on that trip of a lifetime or get information from other people who have fished the area before, go with what your guides tell you. Yes it is possible to land big GT’s on lighter equipment but there is also the chance of you being cut off in shallow terrain and leaving that big GT to die an agonising death with lure stuck in the throat, sure not all the Trevally make it to fight another day but let us make sure we have at least tried our best. Also t is our opinion that the quicker you can land a fish the easier it is to revive and set free.


Landing and bringing the fish on board

This is a slightly larger topic so we will break it up a bit into a few sections

  • Tools: Here you would need good quality thick gloves to grab the leader, lure and if necessary the GT’s tail which has sharp flukes that can rip unprotected hands, a large lading net is a valuable tool to have on board, a good quality disgorger or long nosed plier to remove the hook, have everything ready before hand.
  • If using a landing net just guide the GT into the landing net do not ever try to scoop the GT into the net this is a recipe for disaster, we like this method because once the GT is in the net it is not going anywhere, by bumping the boat into gear and facing the fish towards the bow you are also reviving it and making the release of the fish easier, the angler has time to grab a sip of water, get the cameras ready and set up, so your trophy spends the least time out of the water.
  • If you are using your hands grab the lure with one hand and the wrist of the tail with the other and then bring the fish into the boat, never lift a big GT in by the head alone you can damage it, also never use the leader to lift the fish in, a break off will leave you red faced and the angler upset over the loss of an expensive lure. If you have 2 people available it is easier to lift a big Geet onboard.


On Deck handling

GT’s expend so much energy on the fight that by the time they come on the deck they do not have too much energy left to flap around, however good practice requires that the landing area be clear of any obstructions or obstacles.

The Boat deck is a hot so if you are going to put a GT down on the deck  make sure you throw a bucket of water on the deck first, or use a wet towel as a landing mat for the fish.

If your GT has to be photographed then you need to have everything ready before hand the less time out of the water the better for the fish, your first priority is to get the hook out and get some water through the GT’s gills.

Use of hook disgorger to push the hooks out is a fast and effective way to de hook a fish, you can also get to the difficult to access places if the lure is taken in deep
The T-bar de hooker from leadertec we have found works very well



Remember you need to have the fish out of water for the least time, if your charter boat is fitted with a raw water wash-down hose it doubles as a way to pass oxygenated water though the GT’s gills.

If you do not have a raw water wash-down on the boat make sure there is a bucket but remember to turn the fish every now and again so that both sides of gills have water  passing through.

Also if struggling with a badly hooked fish where the hooks are difficult to get out stop focussing on getting the hooks out and remember to aerate the gills regularly to enhance the chance of survival.


This is the most important part, after the euphoria of taking pictures of your prize GT its just terrible if when you drop it back into the water it just comes to the surface and cant get down to safety.
Its important to try to get the fish back in the water soonest so with GT’s if you have been giving them lots of water while taking your photographs a simple head first release into the water suffices in most cases. Being like a dive the rush of water through the gills revives the fish.
GT’s caught on jig and big GT’s may need more time to be revived again holding them vertical in the landing net and motoring ahead in gear with the fish facing forwards revives them quickly in most cases and is safer than going for a swim in shark infested waters or where there is strong current to try and get


the GT revived and strong enough to swim away on its own.
Sometimes you may need to sacrifice on the pictures for the sake of getting the GT back into the water quickly one of the things to note is if the colour of the fish changes and it starts to loose colour, take time here to revive it in the water and it will tell you its ready for release when you start to see signs of movement and the colour come back to the fish.

A final request to follow the simple advice above as an angler and try to release as many of these apex predators as you can. Always.