The most memorable pictures from your fishing adventures
‘NATURE’S BEST FISHERMAN’ by Mick Rouse
Over a period of more than 25 years as a photographer at Angling Times, and its associated angling publications, I have worked with some of the best fishermen in the business. Anglers who could almost produce a fish from a puddle. Names like Bob Nudd, Alan Scotthorne and Terry Hearn spring to mind.
They fished like their life depended on it and could almost second guess what the fish was going to do next.
However just recently I have turned my attentions to a fish catcher of a different kind. One whose very life and the future of its family did depend on whether it came home with the catch or not – the majestic osprey.
A couple of weeks ago I was given the opportunity to photograph the king of the fishers and it was a completely different world to the one I had left behind some five years ago when I retired.
Unlike the static angler, easy to focus on as he catches his prey, when the osprey fishes, its does so at breakneck speed. Once it has eyed its prey, usually from a lakeside tree, it will swoop at unbelievable speeds to pluck a fish from the surface before making to the skies.
Fast shutter speeds and lightning reactions didn’t come naturally to me, so I honed my skills in the garden, photographing the odd pigeon and blackbird flying in for food.
I researched as much information as I could find about photographing fast moving birds on the wing and finally I felt prepared for the challenge.
The hide was situated at Horn Mill trout farm, close to Rutland Water and regularly visited by the resident ospreys for the abundant trout. Arriving at 4.30 in the afternoon the light was abysmal and there was a steady drizzle of rain. Not the ideal situation for fast moving subjects and equally fast shutter speeds.
I knew that I would need a minimum of 2000th of a second shutter speed and an aperture of at least f5.6 so I set my camera on an automatic ISO setting that showed a whacking 5,600 ISO. Priority had to be getting the subject sharp so I stuck with what I got.
Within 40 minutes we had the first visit, a young male, that didn’t even do us the service of sitting in the tree first so we could follow him down to the water and its catch. He simply dropped out of the sky, plunged into the water and was gone. Wow, that fast. I was hopeful that I had got it framed in the viewfinder, that is was sharp and properly exposed.
I checked the screen on my camera with bated breath. Wow! My first attempt and I had got what I came for. Not only snaps of the osprey coming in for the kill but also leaving the water with a fish. It is an immensely impressive creature.
During the evening, with the light getting progressively worse, we had another two visits from other birds, along with a red kite picking up a dead fish from the surface, and that was it.
I had watched, and photographed, a master of the art of catching fish – just as I had done for the past 25 years!
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