Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Interview Series Part 1

Mike Lyddon

Age, Occupation?

48, Sales Rep and account manager for Gardner Tackle.

Earliest fishing memory?

Catching my first fish, a gudgeon from the Wey navigation in around 1976. I went with my older brother, dropped off by our parents and left on our own. Good times.

What tackle did you use?

Almost certainly a blue solid glass fibre Winfield rod, some thick curly nylon and I would think a float fished worm.

Did you get the bug there and then, did it take time to incubate or did you just think it was cool because your brother was into it?

I think it more or less started there. My dad never fished and although my granddad did, he was a fly fisherman and by the time I started fishing, his eyes were getting worse so had pretty much stopped. I used to go out a lot with my brother in our youth but as we got older he went more with his mates and I with my school friends. He then got into racing cars and I carried on. He still has the odd dabble on holiday but work and family commitments take up most of his time.
I just sort of bimbled and pleasure fished through my teens, then got into match fishing. I did that for a few years, winning a couple of minor leagues before a job change to working shifts put an end to that as I was working weekends. From there I went into full-on carping, fishing headbanger waters where you could easily go a year between bites (twenty-one months being my longest blank on one water). Eventually that began to lose its appeal and I migrated to specimen hunting which would be about ten years ago now.

Fishing wasn't your only pastime though was it?

Oh no, I had a good play at a few things. My main other hobbies though were martial arts and paintballing. I did both for many years, competing at both with varying degrees of success. I taught Taekwondo for a few years and worked on a paintball site for a few years too.

Your peers constantly roast you about the Drennan Cup, how did you become involved?

I think my first weekly award was for a 4lb 1oz crucian. I've only really had two attempts at winning it outright, placing fouth in 2015 and then third the year after. It wasn't really a conscious effort of chasing the cup, I was just very fortunate to have two exceptional years where I couldn't put a foot wrong.
Both years I caught fish early enough in the season that were big enough to win weekly awards, so I thought i would push a bit harder and managed to catch a couple more big fish both seasons. The biggest problem is that I am good friends with four previous winners so am constantly compared. I've never set out and said to myself- right, this year I will target it.

.........

Obviously I would love to win it one day, but the time and dedication to be on the ball all season chasing those special fish is just too knackering. 

That a bit disingenuous, you once told me you had probably done 1000+ nights on your old bedchair? 

Not in one year though!

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I probably average 80 - 100 nights per year, but the two Drennan seasons I reckon I did 140+.

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I think that's why these days I seem to be veering more and more towards the pleasure fishing side than outright specimen hunting, I get bored more quickly now when I'm blanking and want to actually catch something. I used to be able to do 2-3 weeks in one go in a swim without a bite, that would bore me senseless now.

Tell us about your experience with Weil's disease? 

That would have been about twelve years ago now. I'm still not a hundred percent where I contracted it from as symptoms start to show anywhere between two and thirty days from infection. I suspect it was either doing a work party on a lake where I was in and out of the water most of the day and probably had cuts on my hands from doing the work or from helping my sister out in the barn on the farm she was living on. It took a while to be diagnosed as it isn't something they routinely check for. At the time I had been prescribed some new painkillers for my neck and I often react badly to painkillers so I initially thought I was just having a bad reaction. Then the flu like symptoms got worse and worse. At its worst I couldn't even stand up. I lost two and a half stone in a month as I couldn't eat or drink properly. As my body was busy trying to fight the disease it opened the door to all sorts of other stuff, so I also got glandular fever, hepatitis C and jaundice. Speaking to the doctors afterwards they said at one point they had me down as a less than fifteen percent chance of  survival.

Crikey, thankfully it is still a rare disease but are there any precautions you take now to reduce the likelihood of contracting it again?

Not really, no. Just be very vigilant with any cuts you have when fishing and make sure everything is clean and unable to be contaminated by rodents. There is no cure for it, your system either beats it or it doesn't. As far as I know, nobody has ever survived it twice so if I get it again you can have my selection of perch hooks. 

I've noticed you're always one of the first to delve into your pockets when your friends are doing something for charity. Are there any you're involved with personally?

My main one is 'Stoney and Friends', a charity set up by my good friend Allan Stone for MacMillan Cancer Support. We've been doing it for just over twenty years, running various different fishing events. To date we've raised just shy of £600,000. Even if I do say so myself, not bad for a bunch of smelly anglers.

https://www.stoneyandfriends.com

If Mr Gardner caught you in bed with his wife and left you in a bloody heap down the alley next to the dole office what products of theirs would you still use? 

Ha ha. 

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I'd honestly be happy to use all of them. I've been using their stuff for years anyway, since well before I was working in the trade and still would. I still use some of their bits I bought back in the eighties, that's quality for you.

........

Without a shadow of a doubt their hooks and line are the best on the market. Their sundry items are also the best I've used.

What are your thoughts on the luck aspect of fishing?

It plays a massive part, that said you can swing luck in your favour. Watercraft, prebaiting, time on the bank etc all play to your favour but if lady luck really is against you, you might as well go home. The problem is you never know when she's going to change her mind for or against you.

Which leads me nicely onto my next question. You had eleven consecutive blanks on Chew - bad angling or bad luck?

Bad luck. I did everything I possibly could, fished the right areas with the right baits. I saw numerous fish caught around me, even witnessing a forty-three pounder to a boat from a spot we had just drifted over. In another place at another time though luck has been on my side. My PB Pike of thirty-one pounds was so lightly hooked as I slid the net under her and released the pressure on the line the hooks fell out. 

Some quick fire questions

Favourite fish?

Perch

Favourite capture?

16lb 6oz Barbel

The one that got away?

A Perch I lost at the net my mate caught the following week at 5lb 11oz. That was the final time anyone got to fish the water.

Best ever session?

Sixty-three crucians with the vast majority being over three pounds along with a load of tench to around 7lb, some 2lb rudd and a couple of carp.

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The crucians of 4lb 4oz and 3lb 12oz I caught on New Years day was also very special. A morning so cold the net had frozen to the ground. Nate Green was with me and he had a PB that day which, although I'd never tell him, was fantastic to witness.

Do you fish for carp at all now?

I fish for them mainly in France these days. I love the social aspect of a week away with mates plus the added bonus of the chance of catching an enormadon.

Pet hate

Litter and people who don't thank you when you let them through a gap in traffic.


Gallery


First fish

4lb 9oz Perch

16lb 6oz Barbel

31lb Pike

3lb 15oz from catch of 63 crucians 


First twenty

11lb 8oz Tench

17lb 10 oz Bream

3lb 0.5oz Rudd
Happy New Year!


34lb taken on 3lb line and a size 16

Just one of Mike's 50+ French carp.

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

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Summer Part 2

A Milestone

This is my seventy-fifth blog entry which, considering they are fairly concise (some would say long-winded) and my otherwise astounding lack of dedication, is fairly remarkable. I have had it in mind stop at a hundred. No idea why but probably best to forewarn you. In other news I had a lovely email from one of you this month. Feel free to do the same.....

the.power@tesco.net

Barbel Hunt

In my formative years I caught loads of Barbel. Sometimes ten or more in one session. On one particular visit to the river Trent I remember struggling while my mate was catching one every cast. It would have been around 1990 and as I was only young he let me have a cast in his swim. Now bear in mind he'd had probably about fifteen fish at this point. I got one straight away and we were both in agreement- it was the biggest one of the day. How big? Three pounds and ten ounces. Different times.
Double-figure fish were virtually unheard of, especially off the Trent. I did briefly held the river Soar record with a fish of eight and half pounds though. At the turn of the century I moved to deepest, darkest Lincolnshire, a Barbel desert (a barren area, not the confectionary course, that has two s's).
The main aims this year were to up my PB's of Bream (done), Tench (not done) and Barbel. With this in mind and being bombarded with pictures of big Trent Barbel everyday on social media a trip to the Trent was in order. The tidal part is closest to my house, about sixty miles. Our friends Dave Owen and Martin Barnatt also joined me on that first trip.
Even though I'd never fished the tidal Trent before I had been doing a bit of snooping. I manged to get hold of some match results which with three hundred odd pegs to choose from, narrowed the choice somewhat. The first peg was a good one. After feeding a few pellets I fished the straight lead with two six mil' pellets on the hair. First fish was a Chub and then I had a couple of Barbel, around five or six pounds. Dave was struggling above me though and with the late arrival of Martin we agreed to move.
Martin was keen to give Dave the downstream peg but I wasn't convinced it was a big deal. Besides the pegs they were looking at were upstream of a peg that stuck at like a beacon on the match results.  Martin was right. I had two more Barbel and lost a couple to hook pulls while they blanked. When Dave looked at my hair rigs he called Martin over and they both had a good chuckle at my ineptitude. Apparently the line was coming off the hook the wrong way or something. Hey, I never said I was good, better to be lucky. Biggest one was this seven and half pounder.....


A week later I was back, Dave was with me again along with Andy Lewis. Dave wouldn't go anywhere near me and ushered me upstream. Fine by me, I had the latest match results and was going that way anyway. Besides I had the chaos twins with me so being out of the way would be sagacious. It was a fair old walk and after the previous weeks debacle I decided to give myself a google refresher on the knotless knot on the way. There is a right and wrong way! Who knew? Anyway. here's me and Harriet waiting for our first bite......


Despite a near gale force wind hampering presentation it wasn't long before I had a take, this time on a fourteen mil' pellet. At just over nine pounds it was a new PB. That was short-lived though as my next fish was bigger. Would it be a double though? Just. 10lb 1oz and mission accomplished...



Species Hunt

Every August the Specimen Hunting UK group have a species hunt. The format was simple, catch as many different species as possible in a month. I say 'was' because being a specimen based group we decided to have bonus point for the biggest of each species this year. Great idea in theory but almost impossible to administrate. Anyway my fishing time in August is always severely limited due to work so I needed to catch big fish straight off the bat. Withern Mill Trout fishery was my chosen venue and it didn't take long to get among their stocks of lovely Rainbows......


The Brownies were proving elusive though. On my way out I had a quick chat with the owner and she told me of a spot on the river where the big Brown Trout usually hung out. She was absolutely spot on, first cast and I had a savage take and heart-stopping fight with my new PB Brownie, 4lb 6oz.....

A few days later I spotted some big Rudd in my local drain. Well, one and it was in shoal of about fifty fish. I managed to actually manoeuvre a bait into its path and it took it straight away as I haplessly struck into thin air. A near 10oz Dace from another river was a decent effort but by this time the front runners were streaking ahead. Martin, Nate and Mike were all posting captures almost daily. 
At the end of the month, Mike had caught a remarkable thirty-two different species. Nate had caught thirty-one but tellingly, he had the bigger examples. He had large Carp, Catfish, Pike, Chub, Roach and Sturgeon but for me his best fish were a 12oz Dace and 12lb Barbel. What Nate caught that month (and to some extent Mike) was nothing short of incredible. Most anglers would be happy with those fish in a year, a decade, a lifetime. For Nate to catch them all in a month was simply astonishing......



Species Hunt 2017 winner- Mr Nate Green....


Species Hunt 2017 loser- Mr Mike Lyddon




Grafham

The start of the predator season on the Anglian reservoirs is always an exciting time. We booked some boats at Grafham Water for the opening two days which this year fell on a Friday and Saturday. The second day would see us fish for a trophy. Mrs P manged to turn an old ladies darts cup I bought for a fiver off a carboot sale into this sumptuous vision of glory........ 


The first day I was paired with my Lincolnshire homie- Martin. Going on  the previous years experience we headed straight for the dam wall. Three hours later we concluded that, annoyingly fish do move, especially given a year to do it. Mind you the algae wasn't conducive to great fishing........


Eventually we did mange to find a few fish, small Perch and Zander but it was hard work....


Martin with the best Perch of the day to our boat......



While many of our party struggled Darren Clarke managed to catch decent Perch, small Zeds and this fine looking Pike.......



James Aris located a few bigger Zander right at the end of day one......



Day two saw me paired with strawberry blonde angling supremo Will Barnard. After the sensibilities of Martin the previous day, it was somewhat of a culture shock.....


After choosing our first drift more or less at random it became clear the fish were up in the water. Every Perch we hooked had two or three others following it up. It remained like that for much of the day. We had around forty perch and a couple of Zander between us....


Will with a Zed taken ten feet down in forty feet of water.....


My best perch of the day.....


It was obviously easy for us because Will invented lure fishing (his words). Of one thing there can be no doubt about though is that his wife makes a fine sandwich. Superb. What a great day even if it was blisteringly hot and mill pond flat. Will had a large Perch completely engulfed by a enormadonic Pike right under the boat that he sadly lost. My best Perch weighed 2lb 10oz and as the competition was based on percentages of records I was in with a shout of the trophy. Andy Wilson came close with this Zander.......


Jamie Potts, who hardly ever weighs fish (he's a measurer) selfishly weighed a Perch, also 2lb 10oz. Bugger.......


I charitably elected to give him the trophy. Well done Jamie......



Hound Hunt

Most of the summer I've been desperately trying to up my Smoothound PB of 10lb 14oz. While I have had my best ever year (80+ fish) the really big fish have eluded me. One memorable session saw me kick of with a 9lb 4oz fish then a 9lb 10oz example followed by a 10lb 12oz fish. Sadly they got smaller after that. My camera was also playing up so you'll have to make do with one of nine pounders.......



Roach Hunt

The past few weeks or so has seen my workload diminish so I have managed to get out a little more. Nothing too serious, just a spot of Roach fishing with Dave. The really big ones are proving bloody hard to catch. In one session Dave and I fished a five hundred yard stretch one peg at a time in a bid to locate some better fish. 1lb 9oz was the best I could muster.....


Dave making a 1lb 7oz fish look about three pounds. Stunning photo and fish mind......




SHUK Round Up

Andy Lewis with a fine midlands Zander......


Chub supremo Martin visited a famous southern river.....


Andy Wilson stayed closer to home and bagged this belter of 6lb 10oz......


Joe Miller with a stunning 6lb 2oz PB............


Dave Owen getting a Eel holding lesson from his young son...........


Andy Wilson had a Barbel bonanza on the upper Trent.....



Leo Heathcote had his lure gear surgically removed so he could do some proper fishing....... 


Ste Newton with a chunky Trent barbel......


A nice Perch for Dave......


Nate, making the most of an unproductive Rudd session......


Lee Fletcher finally cracked the Smoothound conundrum....


Carl Arcus with a cracking canal Zander......


Photo's

Me, eating my sandwiches having just set off......


Zander action.....


Will, inventing playing a fish.....



My new t-shirt.....


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