#620. Can fishermen have GAS too?

By Paul Perton | Opinion

Jul 20

Surrounded by friends of many decades and places past, a week of salmon fishing on the Spey has become a part of our annual calendar. Filled with food, laughter, a more than adequate supply of booze and an occasional fishy catch, there are also quiet times in most days which allow for photographic exploration and musings on all manner of things.



“I’m going into town (Grantown-on-Spey – some 12km away) this morning. Do you need anything?”


“Yes please, if you’re going to Morty’s some 12 pound line would save me a trip.”


Morty’s – Mortimer’s – in Grantown is a landmark. If fishing, shooting or various other outdoor sports are your bag, you’ll know this local emporium as a place to buy anything from a shotgun to a bright orange triple hook fishing fly. Or a midge-repellent hat, or an oiled cotton jacket. A beanie, or anything else that your wallet might feel it can accommodate. These are essentials for outdoor sports-men and -women all.


And Morty’s is there to assuage the need during these few sporting mid-summer weeks, happily pocketing the punters’ pounds from 09:00 until 17:00 daily (except Sunday).





“Damn! I’ve just found this old reel in my bag and it needs a new shooting head. I’ll just pop into Morty’s and pick one up. Do you need anything while I’m there?”


Are you getting a sense of GAS?


Us photographers know this all too well, but fishing folk have yet to discover GAS, although most are already all too well aware of the cure. Of course, in writing this, I’m now busy lifting the curtain for them. Not that it needs much; there is probably an order of magnitude more gew-gaws, tsotchkes and paraphernalia available for the would be (part time) hunter than for us lowly photographers.


The riverine forest along this stretch of the Spey is pine dominated, decades old and lit by a low sun on the mornings when the clouds part. Then the light is magnificent, rich with greens and the soft yellow of the sun; don’t shake your head at that, this is Scotland in high summer, after all.





It’s beautiful and a very satisfying meander for the most jaded of photographer. With me on my photographic forays was an X-Pro2, 90mm f2, 56mm f1.2 and the stellar 23mm f1.4.


It also gives me a lead into a project I’ve had in mind for a while. On this trip, I’m able to concentrate on the ferns lining the roads and surrounds. The Fuji’s close-in performance is revealing details and surreal bokeh that I hadn’t expected.


And I make no apologies; I doubt this will be the only gallery of these images you’ll see from me on DS.



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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Paul – to answer the question posed by the title to your article, “YES!!!!!!” Actually some of them suffer from it so badly that their marriages break up. I bumped into one of them, who’d sunk something totally outrageous (like $25,000) into fishing gear, and couldn’t understand why his wife was unimpressed!!!!!

    Ignoring the fishermen in our midst – love your photos. Sometimes it’s the simplest, commonest things around us that inspire the best in our photography – as your latest offering demonstrates. These photos aren’t something you can walk past – they invite a deeper, more meaningful examination and appreciation. Thanks for sharing them! 🙂

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    Lots of ferns but no fish?

    Probably too much time spent in Morty’s 🙂

    Having been an avid fly fisherman in my time and now a keen photographer the common lesson in both pursuits is that to “catch a fish you have to have a line in the water”.

    To me it seems a lot of time is spent discussing the merits of different camera bodies and MP rather than appreciating that it’s really the person behind the lens that makes the difference – this is paralleled by the debates on the merits of different fly lines, Scott vs Orvis and so on.

    Enjoy the trip!

    • paulperton says:

      Agree 100%. Like most fishermen at one time or another, I took a tumble into the Spey last year and struggled to get back up onto my feet against the current – several scary moments – which have left me feeling a bit leery about wading too deep. That said, our group comprises several very experienced fly fisherman and still, the salmon fishing has not been great in recent years. It would seem that the sea trout population is growing at the expense of the native salmon 🙁

  • Quentin Newark says:

    The increasing rarity of wild salmon?

    Salmon farms, and the chemicals, are to blame, and the fact that immature wild salmon have to “swim through clouds of sea lice”, a quite unnatural danger, on their way out to sea.


    Several articles about the same subject if you’re interested. The lice feed on the caged salmon, eating away at the scales and skin of the living fish, even exposing the skull: its known as the ‘death crown’.

    Chemicals are killing off vast swathes of sea life, all so we can get our omega 3.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    In the play “A Technology Student at King Arthur’s Court” around 1980 at the KTH (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm) there was a fishing scene.
    ( Swedish universities have a tradition of occasionally producing burlesque plays, called “Spex”.)

    The student, somehow landed at King Arthur’s court, has given the king a modern fishing rod with all the bells and whistles. King Arthur and Merlin are quietly fishing, Merlin with his long wand. Merlin catches one fine fish after another, but King Arthur gets no catch however he tries…

    P.S. Very nice photos!

  • Adrian says:

    I used to work with a colleague who had GAS for products of the Volkswagen Audi Group, and the cost of his passion made mine (photography) pale into insignificance.

    I really like the fern photos, and the conditions they were taken in. Without offence, the bokeh on some of those is quite “swirly” and would generally not be to my taste, but it really suits these photos / conditions.

  • NMc says:

    The change to panoramic image ratio, any coments?
    The subject seems suitable for your regular square format.
    Regards Noel

    • paulperton says:

      Noel, these images are a first few (and very tentative) steps into a project that’s been a while in realisation. I shot more a day or so after I put this post together and while I’m happier with the result(s), I’m still not sure about the backgrounds, or the crops. As Adrian has said elsewhere in the comments, the out of focus areas have an odd feel, maybe suggesting surrealism. I also felt that with a traditional crop that element wasn’t being used as well as it could have been, hence the cinematic 2.39:1 aspect ratio.

      I’ll keep at it – I’m sure there are more posts in this series on the horizon.

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