Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Winter Part 2

A brief history

I had a book as a child, you know, one of those generic fishing books we all had. I still have it in fact, the details on the inlay tell me it was first published in 1979........

You can tell it is old because that fish at the top is a now very rare wild carp. Anyway, this book fascinated me, in particular the section on chub.


The water was lapping at the top of my wellingtons. My brother and I were gingerly negotiating our way to 'Pear Tree Island' below Cotes bridge just outside Loughborough on the river Soar. I was very young and it was quite scary trying to get to the island. We walked very slowly under the bridge and across the weir before leaping from sand bar to sand bar to reach the fabled island.
It was a real red letter day fishing wise. We caught around thirty chub on worms we had dug up from our Dads allotment. The biggest was probably about two pounds, which to me looked huge.

Back home I opened up the book. Two pictures still stick in my mind. In one, Peter Ward is holding a glistening chub and the other a chap is pictured playing a four pound chub on the river Kennet. Wow, four pounds. That must be absolutely massive and at that time beyond my wildest dreams. I rather fear I looked at and read that section of the book more than any other in my lifetime.


A few years later I was fishing a match, again on the Soar. Pegged on the twenty acre field I fished to an overhanging tree on the far bank. When it came to weigh in a had a chub so big the scales man insisted on weighing it separately. People came from all around to look. It weighed three pounds eight ounces.

Luckily for me my fishing mentor Simon was keen on Chub and we went in pursuit of larger specimens, a four pounder the target. Our river of choice was the Wreake in Leicestershire. We spent hours and hours down there, usually fishing into darkness. We had lots of threes but never a four. Typically I did lose a very big fish at Hoby, so they were there but tantalisingly difficult to catch. Simon had a massive chip on his shoulder about the Dorset Stour and Hampshire Avon producing big fish. If only we lived down there he used to to say, it would be easy.

Flicking through the 1993 book by two-time Drennan Cup winner Martin Hooper- Specimen Angling by Design I'm amazed that his PB chub was a very modest (by today's standards) five pounds ten ounces. He almost exclusively fished those two rivers Simon was so jealous of so even then big chub were very rare beasts.

A couple of years later the Trent started throwing up big fish and the chance of a five was a very real possibility. Simon went for them while I got sidetracked by the recently stocked barbel on the Soar. One evening I fluked a big chub on caster. It was four pounds ten ounces, a massive fish for the river at the time.....

At the turn of the century I moved to Lincolnshire and fishing became no more than a distraction from work, relationships and the like. Around 2012 I started back up again in earnest. I missed my river fishing so started doing a bit of research. Natural rivers were scarce but there were a couple and one of them had some chub in. Slowly but surely I started to catch them. Four pounders were relatively common and to me it was amazing fishing. It took me until February in 2014 before I had my first five though. 5lb 4oz.......

A month later I rattled the frankly ridiculous six pound mark with this fish of 5lb 14oz......

This picture reminds me of something Martin Hooper noted in his book. Chub can be notoriously deceptive in photos size-wise. Hold them out a touch and they can look massive. I'm not interested in deceiving anyone, least of all myself but take note of this phenomenon. Here's one you could put almost any weight you wanted to, it was 5lb 8oz.......

The following season I caught fives for fun. All over the river I was catching fish that I never thought possible. This culminated in a beast of 6lb 4oz in December 2015. A fish I never thought I would better. It really was an amazing fish to me. Not only did I never think I'd better it I wasn't much bothered about doing so. It was the pinnacle as far as I was concerned. A unknown six from a tiny Lincolnshire river, long forgotten by most in their desire to hook a three pound carp every cast from a variety of muddy puddles......

January 2018

One of my emailers Jez told me about a spot on the river I had never tried before. The first visit with Martin was a bit of a disaster as I had misread the instructions and we ended up abandoning our attempts to get to the river. A week later I was back alone and this time found it quite easily. I was going to try for the roach and hedge my bets by fishing quite heavy should a chub come along. Five pound double-strength may seem like an overkill for roach but its very fine and despite years of arguments with anglers from all spheres of the sport, I'm still yet to encounter a situation where my fishing has been radically improved by scaling down.

Sure enough my first fish was a chub, just over four pounds. It totally ruined the swim and after trying a few more spots I headed up the river to one of my usual roach haunts. My first three fish were also chub before I finally got a decent roach of one pound six ounces. It was hard going though and the fact I was catching chub almost by accident sowed a seed. Another move in the car and some Blue Stilton purchased on the way saw me better placed to target some hopefully bigger fish.

A quick search in my bag revealed I'd left my reels with stronger line on at home. No matter, with my soft rod I was confident of taming decent fish with my lighter set up. It wasn't really a serious attempt at catching massive fish after all, I would have been more than happy with a few bites.

After trying a few spots I settled at the top of the stretch and sat patiently with the winter sun shining down on me. The first pull on the tip startled me, so much so that I completely missed it. I didn't make the same mistake again though. As soon as I got an indication I took the rod of the rest and gave the fish some slack. It worked a treat and I was soon attached to something substantial. The really big chub tend to be slower than the smaller ones, stay deeper and fight more right under the rod tip, hence the advantage of a soft rod. What happened next is a slight blur. I weighed it four times. Each time with the same result. I genuinely couldn't believe it. In between 6lb 11oz and 6lb 12oz, I settled on the lower weight. Utterly gobsmacked. The fish of my lifetime......

The Holy Grail

My very first blog post was about two pound roach. I'd never caught one. I have since. For the vast majority of anglers a two pound river roach is still the holy grail, the one-four-seven, the nine dart finish, the four minute mile. The chub yardsticks may have moved over the years but the humble roach has remained staunchly resolute.

Word reached me of a big roach. I knew the venue. The trouble was I could just be targeting one fish. Plus it was caught some time ago. Nevertheless I started a little campaign. It was tough going to start with. Sure, I caught plenty of roach but they were mainly around the pound mark. Fabulous fish but not quite what I was after. Our old friend Dave Owen joined me one day and we both fished hard in a variety of pegs for little reward. I even did a little video to share among friends stating we had half, maybe an hour left to try and salvage something out of the day.

In desperation I moved one last time. Typically I started catching straight away. Three fish in three casts, only small but after the day we'd had it was nice to get some bites. I distinctly remember cocking up my next cast. It was far short of where I wanted to be. Never let it be said I'm not accurate and  a stickler for detail when it comes to chasing big fish. I left it there, too lazy to reposition my tiny piece of flake. To my surprise I had a bite. It led me a merry dance and I was convinced I'd hooked a small chub...........until the blue sheen of a roach flank rolled in front of me. Simultaneously the best and worst moment in fishing. You know you've got something special and are praying it doesn't come off. 

I ran up the bank and up towards Dave with my arms held aloft, totally elated. I'd done it again. Just don't tell anyone it was a large dollop of lady luck. Two pounds exactly......

 An instantly forgettable idiot berated me on Facebook for blacking out the background. It's not something I like doing but let's be fair, word reached me. That means I'm not the only one fishing for these magnificent fish. I'm not particularly bothered about telling you but someone else might be.

To further prove just how lucky I was I've revisited the river several times and the biggest fish has been one pound ten ounces. I feel like I am learning on every visit. If only it were a little closer to home I could justify fishing the last half hour of light that seems most productive more frequently.....

Other News

With two weeks off work I travelled all over the place. Two days afloat on the Thames after perch.....

Not only did I manage not to catch anything I didn't have a single bite on either day. That was a pretty hard pill to swallow but as everyone says, that's fishing. In fact it was the start of a really tough period fishing wise. I fished hard after a variety of species at a multitude of venues with very little to show for my efforts. A few perch up to just under three pounds, the roach detailed above and a few modest pike. Scant reward for all my efforts. One highlight was this bream taken while after perch. At eight pounds it's still a great river fish in my book.....

One upside has been the company I've had along the way. Benidorm Dave, Jez, Dave and Martin. I also had a visit from Nate Green and Joe Miller. One target was a perch PB for Joe but sadly I've kind of lost touch with my usual venues and I couldn't find any big enough for him. I managed to arrange a nice chub PB for Nate though. Again, right at the end of a long day in the last chance saloon......

The following day we concentrated solely on trying to get some big perch. It was a hideous day weather wise and the fishing wasn't much better. For a brief moment Nate thought he'd cracked it just before dusk. Sadly it turned out to be a rogue pike.....

On another day, afloat with Martin I also had decent pike that did a great impression of a very large perch to start with. It absolutely smashed my lobworm in the most perchy looking spot I've ever fished. Martin found a few reasonable ones in the end......

Benidorm Dave and I had a visit to our favourite pike venue. he beat me yet again with a fine fish of 14lb 10oz. Slightly smaller than we were expecting but the river fished very hard that day......

Tackle Talk

Drennan Acolyte 10ft Feeder  RRP £179.95

Nobody ever has a bad word to say about the Acolyte range of rods. Whenever anyone talks about them superlatives abound. "Brilliant rods," say just about everyone I know. It kind of made me feel like I was missing out on something. I finally took the plunge on an ex-display model that came up for £120. So, is it brilliant?.....

I've used the rod for about a month now. It is beautifully balanced, super slim and light. It casts crisply and accurately even with a tiny 2-swan link. In almost every area it is a delight to use. It isn't perfect though, far from it, especially considering the faintly ridiculous asking price. A rod is essentially an extension of your arm and should communicate to you in use. It took me a while to work out the flaw in the rod but initially I described it to a friend as fishing short. After some thought I've worked it out. It's obviously 10ft long but when you hook a fish it doesn't feel it. Leaving aside the push-in quiver tip (which keeps coming loose) you seem to play fish with just the top section of the rod, about three feet. The butt is slightly too stiff, it has too many rings and the cork handle is too thick. I'm sure the stiffness is great for casting feeders and setting hooks but it feels ever so slightly wooden when you have a fish on. Were it £50 I would judge it far more favourably.

I'll leave you with this picture to illustrate my point. On the right is a Middy Nano-core 11ft feeder rod, the left the 10ft Acolyte. Just take a look at the thickness of that handle...........

Drennan Specialist Roving Bag     RRP £34.95

I have a few fishing bags. I use them all the time. A Korum one has lasted nearly ten years and counting, a Shimano still going after five, an Imax one I've used for a couple. The Drennan has lasted approximately two months before becoming useless. Truly terrible......

Daiwa Lure Fishing Specialist Range       From £59.95

Daiwa are bloody lucky I'm giving them a second chance here. The LRF rod they do is sublime but is far too brittle. I've broken mine twice and they aren't the only breakages I know of. Anyway, I bought the 7ft Dropshot 1-9g and the 7ft Small Plugger 3- 14g, mainly for Perching off my boat. So far, so good. As ever with Daiwa the rods are both very nicely finished. The dropshot rod in particular has a lovely feel and action. The white tip is sensitive enough without collapsing on hooking a fish. It's light and slim with a bit of power further down the blank should you need it.

The Small Plugger feels fairly robust and communicates well, even with 3g Jig heads. The only thing I would change is the overly large tip ring. The more I use it the more I like it. The fast recovery gives the impression of a stiff rod at first but it comes alive with a fish on.

Good, no nonsense tools and nicely finished and equipped. Definitely worth a look if you are in the market for upper-budget range lure rods.

Drennan Acolyte net head and 2m Super Specialist handle
From £18.95 and £37.95

I've been using this combination for a while now. As sods law dictates I've hooked the supposedly hook resistant net about a million times. To be fair it does take less time to free the hook. Other than that it has proved a deceptively versatile and robust net. The handle is light and strong with an easy locking mechanism. Not cheap but both should last long enough to make them good value.


Till Next Time.....

Friday, 29 December 2017

Fishing Diary Winter Part 1

Rod King Cole

I was a very short walk from home. At the back of a small row of shops (a hairdressers, a newsagent etc) was a small yard with two sheds. The end shed was huge, the door propped open and the hum of industrial size fridges ever present. The first shed was smaller, like a normal garden shed. Again the door was propped open. It was a summer morning.

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire"

The singing voice was familiar. It was Rod, the owner of the last shop on the row- Soar Valley Tackle. He was riddling caster maggots which he did three or four times a day. By the time he bagged them up his casters were absolutely perfect. The order book would always be full. I used to rib him about them being pre-packed when he took them from the small fridge in the shop. He'd always take offense, quite rightly so considering the amount of work he put into them.

He always sang that song. I never did understand why. Rod was a draughtsman who had been made redundant and along with a friend decided to set up a tackle shop. Luckily for me it was right at the end of my street. Rod was an avid match angler it was often a who's who of match fishing in the shop. Even on the local river Soar one hundred peg matches were common place. He knew them all and they all knew him. 

I have a room in my house which is almost a shrine to that shop. All the rods he sold, I have. Most of the reels too. I spent so many hours in that shop, both as a customer and as his assistant. He never had a bad word to say about anyone, not one person. Nobody ever said a bad word about him. He was a lovely man. He was my friend.

Roderick Arthur Hubbard

11th March 1944 - 29th November 2017


Winter bites

After a remarkable run of big fish at the start of the winter things went slightly flat for a while. Winter fishing can be very challenging. They seem to feed less frequently and increasingly I'm beginning to question the effects of air pressure/ snow melt/ road salt etc. That's not the type of angler I am though or even want to be. I go fishing regardless and play out what I'm confronted with. I even had a couple of blanks which, all things considered, were hard to take. I know where there are massive amounts of fish all over the county. Trying to catch a very small percentage of them was the stick in the spokes I reconciled. Too my discredit really early on I did catch a Perch of around three pounds while out on the boat with Benidorm Dave and I released it with barely a second look. "It's not four pounds is it." Dave stated. With the light fading rapidly back it went in my rush to get a bigger one, which never materialised. 

Pastures new

An invite from our friend Will Barnard came my way and I jumped at the chance to head down south for a couple of days. The first day was spent on a beautiful part of the river Thames after perch. Typically we both caught lots and lots of perch, sadly no big ones. Will lost a decent fish towards the end of the day, he blamed the American radio station I was listening to. A tenuous excuse. Part of the beauty of angling is that you never stop learning. Sometimes, even if you find fish, the big ones at certain times can be very difficult to catch. On other occasions they can be incredibly easy to fool. Despite trying all sorts of methods and staying till the last minute of daylight we left without our achieving our goals.

The next day I was in for a treat. A real once-in-a-lifetime experience. Will had secured us a day on an exclusive beat of the river Test. Having never caught a grayling this was to be my opportunity to rectify that sad fact. We got to the river quite early in anticipation. Our enthusiasm was soon dented when we realised we had forgotten to put the maggots in the car. "Don't worry, there's a tackle shop around the corner," Will declared.  An hour later we returned with bait.......

I'd asked Will the day before about the river. "Any Perch?" I asked. "I've never caught one from there, very few," he replied. Typically his first two fish of the day were, you guessed it, perch. Bigger than any the day before when we'd been pulling out all the stops to catch one......

The rest of the day was a blur. I did indeed catch my first grayling. In face we both had a round thirty of them. Nothing big, mostly around the pound mark. Great fishing though. The very last fish of the day fell to me and despite doing a great impression of a massive grayling it turned out to be a greedy chub. If I lived closer, I'd be there all the time. Lovely surroundings, great fishing and challenging too. My new very modest PB of 1lb 2oz. Thanks Will.

If in doubt, move

Thanks to one of my fantastic friends word reached me of a spot that had been producing a few decent perch. A venue I had never been to before. As ever the anticipation of a new stretch of water rendered my sleep very fitful and I arrived before the sun came up. Even with frost on the ground I was super confident and I made the most of the warmth of the car until I could see properly. I had the chaos twins with me and they hurried ahead, as excited about the new surroundings as their owner.

I settled in a peg I had been told about. A couple of floats were thrown out baited with big lobworms and I sat back expectantly. The amount of predator activity was incredible. Pike and hopefully perch were striking at bait fish all over the river, in all directions, as far as I could see. An amazing sight. Three hours later all I had to show for my efforts were a couple of hybrids and one small perch. I set up a lure rod and had a wander. That produced a couple of perch straight away close to where I had been fishing. It was still bloody freezing and a storm front was moving in. The wind in particular was really howling. I considered just going home but something made me move. I'd like to say it was intuition but the area I went to was a lot shallower and moving so it went against everything I thought I knew. 

First cast was a beauty. Tight to the far bank in two feet of water. The float moved along steadily before that magical moment when it dips slightly and then disappears totally. It was a perch and a good one too. I had to put the camera behind some thick vegetation to shield it from the near gale force wind.  3lb 2oz.......

I slipped it into the keepnet and coaxed the float down the far bank again. Sure enough it went under in exactly the same place. Another belter........

On the next run through hooked a pike which bit me off but not before charging all over the peg. Undeterred I carried on and sure enough the float just kept going under. I was sure I had another perch on but it was just a little too dogged towards the end which had me wondering. Sure enough a tench popped up. A bloody tench, in November, trotting worms. It was only a couple of pounds so went straight back. Next up another Pike and another hook replaced. Fishing 6lb double strength straight through on one of my no-lock float rods I can exert a massive amount of pressure if needed. Sure enough I fluked one in the scissors next cast. A bit of  a beast too.....

With the pike released further downstream I set after the perch again. I was pretty sure there were more to be had before the weather forced me off. The float travelled further than before but with the same result, a small indication and then sailing away. I hit into a good fish. A perch again, great. That is until a big paddle tail appeared. Another tench. This was crazy.

5lb 7oz
And so it continued......

5lb 14oz

6lb 4oz Male
The male Tench went absolutely nuts. One of the hardest fighting river fish I've ever caught. I also had another smaller one in among them. Five tench from a river in November, in a gale, after a frost. Quite unbelievable. The three biggest were all PB's. I've had four and maybe even five pound fish in matches before but never really targeted them. I still haven't. 

Old friends

I had a couple of emails last month. Jez and Chris share my passion for one local venue in particular. They were happy to share stories and I'm very grateful that they are so friendly. I even met Jez down there recently. It's never far from from my thoughts and there aren't many weeks I'm not walking the banks, sometimes not even fishing, just being nosy. Seems the resident Otter has developed a taste for perch.......

I've been finding stuff like this for five years now. I have to admit though this one hurt. It was in an area I had been fishing. I know the river as well as anyone and the Perch had holed up in a place I'd not known them to be before. It took me ages to find them too. Looks like Tarka beat me to one of the real big ones. I lifted it to throw back in, at least maybe a Pike could benefit from the rest I thought, the shear weight shocked me. I daren't weigh it. Would it have been four pounds alive? Well, that's a size eleven shoe. Make your own mind up.

Anyway. I had my gear with me so I had a go. Right into dark. I heard the Otter come through my peg. He didn't expect to see me sat there. Tough. I ended up with five to 2lb 12oz. All caught really tight to some cover. Hiding probably......

I'm no expert but Perch of that size will have reproduced many times. It's the Cormorants taking the small ones that I really worry about. There is a gang of twenty or more that roost by another river nearby and they cause havoc locally. I never thought I'd say this but they need managing somehow. The Otters, I can live with. More than that, I'm really proud of the fact they have recovered. How it happened is largely irrelevant.

I've been back a few times. I can't beat 2lb 12oz but they are stunning fish. Really special.....

2017 Round up

It's been a great year for me. Five years now a specimen hunter and I've had over ten PB's this year. Barbel, Tench, Bream, Grayling, Perch, Brown Trout, Thornback Ray, Gilthead Bream, Wrasse, Carp, Catfish and Salmon. In true Desert Island Discs fashion if I had to choose one it would be the Gilthead Bream. It wasn't even very big but the story behind it and the build-up made it personally satisfying. From a conversation in a tackle shop a seed was sown and we set about making the myth a reality. We couldn't park, we were wet, hungry and four hundred miles from home. One fish made it all worthwhile. Shame on every single person that feels the need to kill them. There's a fucking Tesco across the road if you're that desperate for some protein.


That tackle shop in Cornwall provided us with all the information we needed. I buy stuff online, of course I do but I also try and support my local shops and they offer unrivalled service. Big Catch Tackle in Chapel St Leonards are always very nice to me. They have everything you could possibly want. They also have a great mail order service and shop on amazon. Horncastle Angling are also great to me. Again they have a great stock. Lastly W.A.G's Angling in Skegness. Much like Rod, owners Geoff and Gary are match anglers. If you need good bait, they are your men. 

All my friends at SHUK (Specimen Hunting UK).

 Benidorm Dave, Paul Coulthurst.

 John, Steve and Xavier at Big Catch Tackle.

Last but not least....

You. Thanks for reading.


3lb 13oz river PB at the time. One of over twenty 3lb+ Perch in 2017.

Improve Your Course Fishing

Angling Times. Included 20 Roach over a pound 

3lb 10oz Wrasse

PB Barbel

First Double

PB Carp 20lb 4oz

First Cat

Best Smoothound year yet. Only two Doubles though

Not all about the big guys. First Tope.
Everybody loves Raymond
3lb 15oz River Perch PB

Till next time...............

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The Interview Series Part 5

Andy Wilson

Age, Occupation?

53. I spent twenty-five years in transport and logistics management before running my own business for nine years installing solid fuel heating systems. Twelve months ago I decided to take a sabbatical and am currently a white van man.

Earliest fishing memory? 

I always just loved water and being around it. I remember a family holiday to the Lakes when I was about five and I was catching elvers in the river that flows into Grassmere in one of those kiddies nets with a cane handle.


It was a holiday three or four years later to Muddyford in Dorset when I saw a boat come in with a Blue Shark on the back and kids using crab lines off the harbour wall that the angling spark was ignited. I nagged for about twelve months for a rod and reel and eventually became the proud owner of a boys fishing outfit from Woolworths. My first fish using it were bullheads on bits of worm from the Blackbrook near Shepshed. My first genuine proper fish was a Rudd from the Bude canal in Cornwall, again on a summer holiday.

How did you progress from then on?

I didn't know anyone that fished, I had no mentor, my father had no interest and neither did anyone else in the family. I had to teach myself everything really, learning from my mistakes as I went along. I read a lot too. The likes of Walker and of course Mr Crabtree, but it was Ivan Marks who probably had the greatest influence and I was fortunate years later when I met him a few times and even fished a few pegs away from him on one memorable occasion.


Once I reached High School I made new friends and quite a few fished, some with their fathers and we had regular trips to the local canal, lakes and best of all- the river Trent. I soon got into match fishing with the local Ashby and Measham Angling club and I had quite a successful time on the junior match scene. Good times.  

How long did the match fishing last and what drew you away from it?

I fished matches between the ages of twelve and sixteen. I think deep down turning up, drawing a swim and fishing to a whistle was never going to be my thing for long. I was too much of a free spirit. When I caught my first proper fish on the family holiday to Cornwall I'd seen a youth catch an enormous common carp, looking back it must have been all of four pounds. It made a lasting impression. Carp had always fascinated me not least due to Walker's writings, I must have read his account of his record carp capture a hundred times. So bubbling away under the surface there was always a desire to one day fish for those mythical creatures. The hot summer of 1976 was probably the turning point as the local carp spawned successfully so by 1980 I was targeting those little carp of three or four pounds. I caught loads and learnt a tremendous amount. I really enjoyed it too and it lit the fire to chase bigger ones which is where my fishing went from 1980 onwards. I became an out and out carp angler.

Carp angling is notoriously difficult in winter. I know you also played cricket during the summers and had a young family at the the time. How did you balance everything out? 

Actually back when I was starting out I don't think winter carp fishing was that difficult, my mates and I used to catch them regularly enough. This was before fishmeal baits and heavy angling pressure. The carp were very green and catchable. What I didn't like about winter carping was the lack of stalking opportunities and not seeing the fish. After carping for a few winters I got the pike bug and morphed into a summer carper, winter piker and stayed like that for years interspersed with the odd dalliance with barbel.


Regarding cricket, I'd always played from a kid and did right up until around four years ago. I loved the game and played for Leicestershire right through the junior ranks and played for an exceptional club side where I played alongside seven guys who had or went on to play test cricket, heady times. The fishing was always fitted in around everything else really and it worked well for me and still does. I love angling as much as anyone but it has never been to the exclusion of everything else. By my early twenties I had married for the first time and a daughter and son soon followed within a few years. I still angled, probably a bit less than before, usually a 'quick' overnighter or very early morning session on the weekend and was back home before I was missed.

You also kept carp didn't you? Tell us the lengths you went to.

Yes I really got into keeping Koi. It was around the time the kids came came along, I guess it was a substitute for doing less angling. It was a hobby I could do at home and still be available for the family, the kids loved it too. I ended up as the secretary of the Leicestershire Koi Society and allsorts. As for the lengths I went to, I just had the usual six foot deep, several thousand gallon heavily filtered pond, heated by its own gas boiler, nothing special, lol. 


Old carpers may remember the name Geoff Kemp. He disappeared from carp fishing and got into keeping Koi big time.One year I bought a high quality eight inch Koi from him, I actually ordered it from him while he and the fish were still in Japan. Anyway the day came to fetch it from Geoff's which required a four hour round trip. I got the little beauty home and settled it into the pond nicely. I got up the next morning and it had jumped out and was lying in the middle of the lawn, stiff as a board. A great shame.

I've only known you for a few years but can't remember you fishing for carp at all. What happened?

In the late 90's my personal life had been put through the mill, I'd got divorced which is never easy but even more so when kids are involved. I had moved to Burton-On -Trent and found myself in the wilderness for several years. It was a real low point, the kids were my priority and I was spending as much time as I could with them. My fishing was all short session stuff local to Burton, the Trent, the Dove and a few gravel pits. Looking back I was just going through the motions I suppose.


In 1999 I met Jules and we married in 2001 and now sixteen years later I couldn't be happier. I'm a very lucky man as she supports me in all I do. I got right back into my fishing however the carp fishing was losing its spark for me. I guess I'm a bit of a romantic and I loved the sense of the unknown, the pioneering, the magic that came as part and parcel of early my carping. It had become a big cult-like machine and it wasn't for me any longer. Previously quiet waters had become so busy, everyone had all the kit, everything could be bought off-the-shelf, there were no unknowns anymore. The same old fish were coming out time after time. I was tired of it. I needed my own space and to recapture the magic so about twelve years ago I diversified into other species and I've never regretted it for a single second. Nowadays I love fishing for whatever I am after on the day.

You explored carp baits in almost forensic depths didn't you? I think you may have carried that over into aspects of your fishing today. have you ever considered that you might over think things or is it just part of your nature?

Oh, without doubt I over think things massively. As you probably know from some of our forays, I've got a theory on most things and occasionally one of them works, lol. 


I loved that carp bait development era, I wasn't alone. crikey, the hours of research and pratting about in the kitchen but I relished it. Nowadays I think we all acknowledge much of it was a waste of time, carp and some other species will eat more or less anything. If a bait has a degree of attraction, the fish like the taste of it then you are in the game. Ironically my UK personal best was caught on sweetcorn. In addition to the bait thing I've always enjoyed and still do, making my own bits of gear. it just adds a bit of something to my own enjoyment. 

What is the worst idea you've ever had?

I could be a while.


Hand rolling several kilos of very expensive milk protein bait using duck eggs. I had a colleague who kept ducks and he let me have a load of eggs for nothing. So I rolled all this bait and to a boilie the whole lot floated like corks.   

Trying cod deadbait for pike. That was about twenty years ago, if I hadn't wound in I'm sure it would still be there (cue someone to say they've caught on cod).

Using a concrete block I found on the bank to get my sun lounger bedchair level right next to my rods so i could hit any twitches during the night. It was a memorable night, I was listening to Alan Wells winning the 100m at the Moscow Olympics on my transistor radio. Anyway during the early hours the concrete block gave way, the sun lounger cocked up and i slid straight into the lake in my sleeping bag. 

Having witnessed you falling off a gently sloping beach I can easily picture the last one.

You could be forgiven for thinking I am accident prone but honestly I'm not, far from it. I was an outstanding gymnast at school. I am though, very unlucky.

 Among other things you've caught Sturgeon in Canada and Bonefish in Belize. When you get the holiday brochures out now, does Jules suspect foul play?

Not for a minute. I love an adventure, always have and thankfully so does Jules, especially if she can join me. Angling in general is like that for me, I've always seen every trip as an adventure even if it is a day on the Welsh coast or a trip to a Lincolnshire drain, I'm a big kid at heart. I made five trips to Holland back in the day before France became the mecca for big carp angling. I too went to France many times including Cassien in the early days. Now it is other things much further afield that I look forward to planning. I have a few trips in the pipeline.

Favourite fish?


Favourite capture?

My first big Perch, 3lb 6oz from Blenheim. I've caught bigger since but it blew me away, made a huge impression.

Favourite capture by someone else?

The Black mirror by Jason Haywood from 'the mere'. Uncaught and unknown, true pioneering under very difficult circumstances.

Best session?

That's a tough one. In terms of specimen fish I guess this summers barbel catch of ten fish in four hours including seven doubles is pretty memorable. I also had nine double-figure bream on an overnight session last year. A big haul of three pound plus perch.


I could go on but these days catching nice fish with good mates means a lot. that said, I still prefer to fish alone and fish best when I've go the bit between my teeth.

How much money would you want, say if your mates had a whip round, to grow your mullet back?

I'd do it for nothing, I loved that mullet, it is Juli you'd have to bribe, she hates it when my hair grows past a number three. 

Pet hates?

Carp lingo and all its dreaded cliches- 'Quick' overnighter; stunning; woodcarving; pukka, etc.


And top of the tree- 'made up for you'.


Oh and 'buzzing', that really does my swede in.

Fishing will be banned the day after tomorrow, where do you go for your last session?

The middle Trent, I love it there. As mentioned I went there in my early days, learnt to trot a stick float there etc. It's a different river now to the 70's. It's clean, weedy but full of fish again and best of all it is quiet. I rarely see a soul often having to cut swims out of the undergrowth. For many people the Trent appears to start and finish with Collingham and the tidal reaches but it has so much more to offer. 


First carp by design
First 20lb carp

Press cutting, nice jacket.
A Heather brickyard Mirror
Old Leney Mirror

First 30lb carp

45lb PB
Closed season Trout
River Dove barbel, late 80's 
30lb 6oz pike going back
Early 20+ pike
Cambridgeshire zander
Blenheim Perch
Trent barbel

Double figure Bream

6lb 10oz Chub

Belize bone

200+ Sturgeon, one of several taken to 350lb