The best memories of fishing trips and boating adventures are ones that are backed up by good photographs.

Occasionally, charter passengers would e-mail me photojournalistic masterpieces that wonderfully chronicled their adventure on my charterboat. These folks create something that gives their family and friends a meaningful history of fun times.

Two people sit on a bench at Goleta Pier watching an orange and yellow sunset.
A serene photo of two people enjoying a colorful sunset at Goleta Pier is a good end-of-the-day shot. Credit: Courtesy photo

To create photographic evidence of your own fishing adventures, break out your camera early. To get pictures with a magical quality, you must take advantage of every possible source of natural magic.

A close-up shot shows a man holding up a silvery gray bonito fish with its jaws open.
Close-up shots like this one of an expressive bonito are just right to include in your angling album.

In my opinion, the greatest natural magic is the soft colors of light during that golden time from a half-hour after first light to an hour after sunup.

The first 20 minutes after sunrise are the best because colors captured during this golden time are soft, warm and vibrant. Begin taking pics well before the fishing begins.

Catch a sunrise, and try to frame it with interesting images and shapes. Take shots of your group rigging up, tying on lures and hooks, and talking naturally to one another.

Try to get photos of people looking at a task, object or person rather than at the camera.

Many fishing trips include a stop at the bait receiver. It is not a glamorous place, however the baiting-up process is interesting and worth a few photos.

Try to shoot a picture of the bait receiver attendant and the crew passing a scoop of bait. Take a shot into the bait tank to get a visual on the swimming baits.

After leaving the bait receiver, snap a few frames around the harbor on the way out, including sea lions, harbor seals, gulls, pelicans, cormorants, loons, egrets, herons, interesting boats, buoys, lighthouses and piers.

Open water shots with the mainland or islands in the distance give viewers a perspective for how far out you went to do battle with denizens of the deep.

You may go down in family lore as an intrepid adventurer. Without the photos, you may merely be known as a tepid adventurer. Protect your hardy reputation with good photos.

Once the fishing begins, photos are of the utmost importance. I am amused at the difference between bird watchers and fisherfolk.

When a birdwatcher tells friends they saw a particular bird, their word is as good as gold. When an angler says they have caught a certain fish, there had better be photographic evidence or there will be outright guffaws and questioning looks.

Back up your stories with crisp, clear photographic evidence.

Great fishing photos are a captured image of action. Avoid what professional editors call “grin and grab” photos, wherein someone poses with a fish, looking right at the camera.

Some of the best shots are fish right on the surface; a crew member gaffing or netting a big fish; the successful angler getting excited; two people holding a fish between them and looking at each other while laughing or talking and a fish being weighed.

Take careful note about what is in the foreground and the background. Move rods and people out of the way. Make sure there are no major shadows across the fish or angler. Use a flash to fill in light where needed.

Try shooting from different positions — kneeling, standing and up high, such as on a bridge. Have the angler hold the fish out in front.

When the angler’s clothes make the fish blend in, hold the fish away from the body where the background allows good color enhancement.

At the end of the day, take photos of the boat and crew, if aboard a charterboat or open party boat. The boat and crew were very much a part of your day, and those photos will help tell the full story of your adventure.

When a really dazzling photo comes along, consider sending it in for possible publication with credit to you.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.