New Cover Shot: Bluewater Boats and Sportfishing Magazine

Bluewater Boats and Sportfishing Magazine is a highly acclaimed publication based in Australia that focuses exclusively on big game fishing. The magazine has garnered much praise from top anglers, readers, sport fishing professionals, and fishing enthusiasts. I feel very fortunate that editor Tim Simpson chose a photo I took for the November 2009 issue.  Here is the shot:

I took it while I was doing a travel story on fishing for sailfish in Guatemala. The fishing was incredible, and the resort that I stayed at, Casa Vieja Lodge , was top notch in every way.  These types of shots require that I put my camera in a custom underwater housing, go for a swim, and shoot up at the angler and fish. The fish was released in good shape, as evidenced by the incredible colors.

Many anglers and captains wisely strive to bring billfish to the side of the boat rapidly for a quick release, which reduces stress on the fish. If they've been played to exhaustion- something anglers should avoid-their colors fade to a dark, somber hue. Judging by the colors on this one, it must have been pretty darn healthy! When I get in the water I try not to take pictures at the expense of the fish. To that end I only get in when the fish is calm, but still healthy. If these conditions are not met, I don't do it.

Over the years I've learned that billfish should not be brought aboard for the sake of a picture. The Billfish Foundation has done a great job of educating anglers about this important fact and a visit to their website might explain the how's and why's of proper billfish release techniques. If I am not mistaken, it's illegal in some countries to bring billfish aboard for a photo, as may already be the case with other fish like tarpon in Florida. Don't quote me here though, that's not my field of expertise!

Back to the photo: I remember getting back on board, toweling off, checking this image in the viewfinder, and then almost hitting the roof because I was so happy. Getting a good photo of a billfish release is hard enough, but getting one while treading water in the ocean increases the factor of difficulty many times over. If even one drop gets on the housing's exterior surface, the shot can be ruined. Even worse, housings can leak and flood, turning a $6000 camera and lens setup and the accompanying $3500 housing into an expensive doorstop in a matter of seconds!!

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