Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Interview Series Part 4

Nate Green

Age, Occupation?

30, Pest control technician

Earliest Fishing Memory?

Fishing on the Kentish Stour, at Plucks Gutter with my dad. I was fishing a little float in the margins. I can't really recollect what I was catching but I think my first fish may have been a gudgeon.

Would your dad take you automatically after that or did you have to ask to be taken?

I'd have to ask him to be sure but he was a keen angler long before I was born so I'd imagine he'd have taken me as soon as he could get away with it. I have photos of me still in nappies out fishing with my dad.

Do you have favourite memories from the early days?

We used to walk to a spot we called the 'secret place'. It was a pool on the Stour, right at the upper end where the river itself is just a few feet across. The pool was a lot wider, deeper and slower. It was very remote, in the middle of nowhere really. We used to sit on a bridge there catching chub and gudgeon while experiencing the fabulous wildlife. It was perfect. 

......

I can't actually remember catching many fish from there but I remember playing pooh sticks and watching a pike in the water right under my nose whilst laying on my front with my head over the edge. I saw my first ever Mink there, which I'm still fond of even though they're technically not meant to be here. 

What were the first specimen fish you specifically targeted?

I think that catching big fish was a by-product of starting to catch specific species by design. My first targeted specimen was a perch on a big jig from my uncle's pond in the midlands when I was about fourteen. It was full of perch and not much else but I was sure there were some big ones. I used a big twin-tailed grub and did lap upon lap of the pond. On my fifth lap I had a take and it was a perch of 2lb 12oz, about 2lb 8oz bigger than anything we had seen in there. It was an amazing moment.

What about those tench you told me about before that you and your dad used to catch?

That was earlier when I was around eight to ten. I wouldn't have thought of them as specimens, that was everyday fishing to me at the time. I took it for granted. These days I'd pay good money for fishing like that. 

How big were they?

The tench were between three and six pounds along with a few bream up to around eight pounds. We would weigh the tench if we thought they were over five pounds. 

You Kent anglers are spoilt! Give me the details.

We would be up for porridge at three am which made me gag but it was tradition I guess. We'd arrive at the swim around an hour before first light to set up and put some bait out. Groundbait would have been a smorgasbord of various particles, usually hemp, corn and dead maggots mixed up with Expo groudbait, brown crumb and strawberry flavouring. We usually started off with starlights on our wagglers, fishing three rodlengths out in six to eight feet of water just over the marginal shelf. My dad would use what he called 'walking sweetcorn', which was two red maggots and a grain of corn. The bites usually started around the time we didn't need the starlights anymore and it was crazily good fishing. We would often have to empty the keepnet before filling it up for a second time. It was mostly tench but every fifth or sixth fish would be a bream. Oh and the odd sizeable roach or rudd.

Do you still eat porridge?

Haha, that made me giggle because I literally hate it but still force myself to eat it if I need a good breakfast before an early morning fishing session. My step father used to put salt on his! Gross.

Tell us about your angling development after that?

It all became about catching things by design, this strange philosophy that it is much better to catch a tench while tench fishing than while fishing for something else. I'd go with my dad and he would just fish whereas I'd actually try and target something. I started taking myself fishing for chub on my bike, catching hundreds from my local Stour, nothing big but a great learning curve and very enjoyable. I fell in love with perch fishing after catching my first 'two' and caught a few using all kinds of methods. When I caught that perch from my uncle's pond it was an equal PB and more importantly, it made me aware I could find big fish by design.

...........

I also did a fair amount of carp fishing but could never do anything for too long without wanting a change so it would be broken up by a days lure fishing or a day on the waggler. 

You have a degree don't you? How did you balance your passion for angling with your studies?

Yes, I have a BA in Fine Art as a sculptor and later a conceptual artist.

..........

I was never very adept at balance. Between going fishing and getting drunk I didn't leave much time for my studies at all. Luckily I was able enough to make it all work out but I could have done a lot better at university if I had applied myself more. I ended up with a 2:2.

How does a young man with a fine art degree end up working in a fishing tackle shop?

Going into art was never a career choice, I just loved it and excelled at it during school. I just followed my nose and ended up with a degree. 

...........

I did a work experience at my local tackle shop while at secondary school. That then turned into a Saturday job while I was at college. I then went to work at a cookie shop for years when I was at Uni. after that I was asked by my old manager if I would go and work as his deputy in the shop under the new ownership of Angling Direct.

You've left the tackle trade now and sadly that coincided with an end to your support from Fox International which I know you were really proud of. How do you deal, not just with that but the general highs and lows angling delivers?

I go through highs and lows like any other angler, it's very easy to convince people that all you do is catch big fish but sometimes you can go months without anything to write home about. I get really down and gloomy when things aren't going my way but I try and stay focused on what could happen. I've just has a stint of catching nothing for all my efforts, I was absolutely miserable last week but this week I had a couple of good perch and now I'm feeling great again. 

..........

The Fox thing really knocked me for six. I was promised that my resignation from the tackle trade wouldn't affect my position as a sponsored angler so it came as somewhat of a shock to be told I was being dropped. This was also just after I'd caught an eighty-seven pound Common and three fifties in a week, I couldn't understand it. It shows how fickle the tackle trade is though. I don't harbour any grudges and still vouch for Fox gear where I feel it is good. I've always believed in giving credit where credit is due and i understand that it wasn't personal. The real shame is that it will be another young impressionable angler with real talent next time, and the time after that.

I can almost guarantee nobody reading this will have caught an 87lb carp. Talk us through it.

I was actually eating some chili biltong. The take wasn't spectacular, the bobbin just pulled up tight and there was a tick....tick....tick of the drag. I lifted into it and it felt like any other fish except smoother, you don't gets nods on the rod tip with a fish like that, you get lunges. It then kited across my two other lines and just felt very positive all the way in from around a hundred and ten yards. I knew from experience it was a good fish, wallowing around, determined and forceful but not blistering at all. It was a full half an hour later that I started to think it could be a really big fish but was still only thinking of a possible Pb which was fifty-eight and a half at the time. 
Looking back I had no idea what I was actually attached to. After forty-five minutes it was ready for the net and I was ready for a hospital bed. My friend Chris netted it for me and I joked about him struggling to get it into the forty-five inch landing net thinking he'd timed it slightly wrong. I was trying to regain my energy when I thought Chris said- "It's a big girl.". I asked him if he thought it would be sixty and he said- " No Nate, it is THE big girl'. To be honest my world kind of melted. I hadn't a clue that it was that big. I took another good look at her in the net and realised she was poking out of either side by a good eighteen inches. 
I went into control mode then. I got everything sorted for the various weighing and photographing that was to come, called the lake owners and the other two anglers. I called Mike Lyddon too but he thought I was lying so he stayed in bed. Thankfully Jack came around and did the pictures. I got in the water with my waders on and had some videos and photos done. It was like the twilight zone. Eighty-seven pounds! I'm a right knob with that PB now. I tell people I have completed carp fishing. It's great fun.

Favourite Fish?

Perch

Favourite capture?

5lb 5oz Eel

Best session?

17 tench including fish of 8-11, 9-12, 9-12, 9-14 and 10-3 in 36 hours.

Favourite capture by someone else?

Peter Springate's capture of Mary and Mary's mate, the photo in my opinion is the best angling image ever. 

What would you rather have in your mouth- some porridge oats or one of Mike Lyddon's fingers? 

Haha. Porridge oats or literally anything else in the world, except for Mike's other appendages.

Pet Hates?

Liars

Gallery

A very young Nate.
The smile says it all.
Uncle's pond.
10lb 3oz tench.


5lb 5oz Eel
4lb 3oz perch PB.


87lb Common

PB barbel

11lb 11oz PB tench
23lb 8oz pike.


58lb 8oz Mirror

Till next time......

Monday, 6 November 2017

Fishing Diary Autumn 2017

Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies.

I didn't get it at first. Why the secrecy? Was I not to be trusted, didn't they like me? It's a very strange place the specimen hunting world. Stuck out here on the east coast there are a few big fish men. All very nice. In terms of sharing venues though I'd be just as enlightened by talking to one of my Labradors. Why? Why is it that now when people ask me on Facebook where I've been fishing I just fob them off? What have I become?
.......

One of the river and drain systems I have been fishing recently for big Perch could be fifty miles of water. A thousand overhanging bushes, hundreds of deep holes, bends, snags, boats and bridges. A lot of the Perch you are about to see come from an area no bigger than my lounge. If you are a ten yards either side you wont get a bite. If I told people where they were, likelihood is I'd never be able to fish for them again. Through years of research, exploration and myriad dead ends I've gradually become one of those 'in the know'. These dolly holes aren't my places though, others my have been quietly fishing them for years, generations. That, ladies and gentlemen, is 'why'.
Now I get it.

A slow dawn

It was a speculative cast. A small rubber lure lazily hit the surface and fluttered down through the water column. Before it hit bottom I felt a sharp sensation through the braided line and down the carbon in the rod. Something had grabbed the lure and I struck. My shitty Daiwa LRF rod decided to maintain it's ridiculously fragile integrity and cushioned the telltale lunges of a big Perch as it fought hard in the deep water. The first sight is both magical and horrifying. When you haven't seen a large stripey for a while they really are the biggest of all fish. My first decent Perch of the autumn, 3lb 9oz........


After that the lures produced nothing, not a tap. I broke out the worms and had about thirty more, no more big ones but a few nice two pounders. 

A few days later I went back properly equipped and had around fifty fish. Just one three pounder though in the shape of this fish of 3lb 6oz......


After that I kind of wrote it off in my mind. Sure, there were some big ones there but an awful lot of small ones too. It wasn't until I abandoned a boat trip one day that I had a spare couple of hours before dark that I decided to go back. Only having boat gear I rigged up a small loafer on my 7ft Dropdshot rod and fished a worm as deep as I could. It was a bit Heath Robinson but I was happy just to have a bait in the water. It was strangely quiet. No small fish at all. In fact for the first hour I didn't have a bite. It even crossed my mind to get the boat out and try that approach. What happened next will stay with me forever. 
The float slid under and I became attached to a large fish. That was the start of half an hour of hectic action. The first fish looked massive. I slipped it in the net, I'd got a little excited at the 3lb 6oz fish the week before so I was trying to temper my feelings with this one. When the bites dried up I took stock of what I had caught. Six Perch- 2lb 12oz, 3lb, two at 3lb 2oz, 3lb 5oz and a new PB of 3lb 15oz.....


The turnover of fish was incredible. Seven three pounders and all different fish. It gave me the impetus to go back a few days later to see if, finally, for the love of god and sweet baby Jesus, I could finally lay claim to a four pounder. Another fifty plus Perch later I had caught three more three pound fish topped by this bristling beauty of 3lb 12oz......


Again, all different fish. Quite a remarkable amount of big Perch. Ten three pound fish and countless two pounders. It slowly dawned on me that the same fish weren't there all the time. It was a spot they frequented but didn't stay at.  
The next two trips produced well over a hundred Perch. The biggest was astill impressive 2lb 14oz but I finally gave up. Between myself and my guests Benidorm Dave and Martin I reckon we've caught nearly four hundred Perch from that spot. They didn't get any really big ones but had a tremendous amount of fun. You can see now why some of us get annoyed when people claim four pound fish that clearly aren't anywhere near. Is there a a fish of that size there? My biggest is theoretically just one meal away. I tell people I'm not bothered about catching a four and I'm not. When I tire of catching three's it will be time to play golf. 

Blow job

My boat had been laying dormant in the garage all year. Too much hassle I kept telling myself. When bank fishing though I'm always wishing I could fish certain spots from different angles. To do that I would need to break out the boat.....


My concerns were soon outweighed by the flexibility it gave me. Sure, the car takes longer to load up and it's a good twenty minutes pumping it up and clipping the floor in but it is definitely worth the effort. I've been to places rarely fished, perhaps never. You'd certainly never be able to fish them from the bank. Most of all though you can cover a lot of water. It really does vastly reduce the amount of time you'd normally waste looking for fish. Perch in particular don't mind the boat over their heads, even in shallow water. 
What I have also learnt is that lures are excellent for finding pockets of fish but they soon become ineffective. Worms are a brilliant method for catching every fish in the shoal. Unfortunately that means the small ones too. That leaves livebaits and to be honest, it isn't a method I am keen on so I'll stick to the lures and worms. 

Pastures old

From both bank and boat I have been exploring new venues, keen not to retrace old steps. When our friend Andy Wilson came over for a couple of days though I needed a reliable venue, one I knew would yield a few fish. So, after a morning spent working on a little project we headed over to a local lake for the last couple of hours of daylight. Sadly Andy lost his only decent fish but I fluked one out of peg I wouldn't normally fish. Just as I had been a few weeks before Andy was shocked at the dimensions of the fish. When you don't see one for a while, they really are shocking. He says in no way does the photo do it justice. 3lb 1oz......


The day after saw us have a full day on the boat. Martin came down to see how we were getting on and took this shot.......


 Fishing wise it was strange day. I had a big fish on my second cast on a lure. As seems to be the norm the lures were then soon ignored. After that we both caught nearly every drop down on worms but only small fish. Out of the blue I then had another biggy on the worm before the small ones dominated again. We travelled a fair distance in the afternoon trying to find some bigger fish to no avail. Large stretches of water seemed completely lifeless. At last knockings Andy saw a tiny dead Roach and put it on his dropshot rig. It got snaffled straight away by a decent fish in an area we'd drifted over several times with worms. Highly unusual. Nevertheless we had a fantastic day. The boat handled the two of us no problems at all. My best fish.....3lb 5oz......


A nice brace....


Photo's

Searching for Roach

Harriet resting her head

They aren't all monsters

Sunset

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

Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Interview Series Part 3

Leo Heathcote

Age, Occupation?

41, CNC Workshop Manager.

Earliest Fishing Memory

I was seven years old. Fishing off the dam wall of an estate lake in Leicestershire on a cold autumn morning with my uncle Clive and very occasionally catching small roach. I remember being amazed at the sight of shoals of roach all jumping out of the water at once. When my uncle told me it was because of the Pike chasing them I immediately wanted to go home because I had visions of these huge, terrifying pike dragging me into the lake for supper. 

Did the mystery of fishing grab you straight away or did you take some persuading to go again?

To be honest I never really got the opportunity to go again for a few years so it became a distant memory. I was ten the next time I went and it was then I got the bug.

With uncle Clive again?

Yes, he was like a father figure to me when I was young. He took me on the Ripon canal and it was there I caught my first fish, a perch, completely on my own. When we got home that evening he went into his tackle shed and gathered a few bits together, a rod, reel and keep net etc for me to take home and use on my local canal in Loughborough.

When did you start targeting bigger fish?

After a few months on the canal catching mostly gudgeon I decided to venture onto the river and immediately started getting a bigger variety of species and a better stamp of fish. Chub in particular really caught my attention as they averaged over a pound and readily took a wide variety of baits.

........

I caught the occasional two or three pounder and it was those that got me targeting better fish really.

Did you have any other interests in your teens?

I was never into sport, girls were just plain awkward and computer games were in their infancy at the time so I pretty much spent all of my spare time fishing, certainly until I was sixteen or seventeen anyway. Then girls suddenly became interesting, as did beer.

I know you as a bit of a tackle tart, you like expensive stuff. Can you remember splashing out in the early days?

My first set of matching carp rods, some Shakespeare SKP things with a fancy Kevlar wrap were the first items of tackle I bought for sheer vanity. These were quickly followed by a pair of Shimano 4500GT Baitrunners, I remember sporting them at Nanpanton Reservoir and thinking I was super cool. I was seventeen I think.

So you went down the carp fishing route?

Yes, my close fishing mates at the time were all into it so I just naturally followed suit. It was camping for grown-ups with big fish and copious amounts of alcohol, for a young lad in his twenties it seemed like a good idea.

.......

My entire twenties were spent chasing carp, I fished many, many different places both at home and abroad but eventually I began to tire of the whole scene.

Where did you go from there? Back to the rivers?

Yes, by the time I hit my early thirties my carp fishing mojo had all but disappeared. One day a visit to Soar Valley Tackle saw me purchase a cheap set-up for barbel and I found myself headed back to the river Soar where my big-fish mentality had originally begun.

........

I had a couple of barbel on my very first trip and instantly the fishing bug returned like a breath of fresh air. I couldn't get enough of barbel after that.

I imagine a man with a young family and a time consuming hobby needs the backing of a good woman. How important have the women been in your life been regarding fishing. Firstly your mum and latterly your wife?

To be fair, in the early days my mum was great, even though she brought three kids up on her own and never had much cash she still opened up a Bennett's of Sheffield interest free account so I could get hold of the kit I craved. Sadly she passed away when I was nineteen but that proved to be the kick up the backside I needed to make me go and get a job and sort my life out. 
I met Sally, my wife when I was twenty-one and at the time I'd actually sold all my kit and given up fishing so she had no idea what she was getting involved with. A mate of mine then gave me a cheap carp set-up for my twenty second birthday and I was mad keen again much to Sally's disgust. She stuck with me though even though she hates fishing to this day.

Does she have any interests you support her in?

I pay for her weekly vodka supply if that counts?

.......

She's not going to read this is she? She's not really an alcoholic lol.


In recent years you've been a lure fishing fanatic, how did that start?

The barbel fishing led to an ever expanding interest in specimens of other species with perch in particular taking a strong hold over me. I spent an awful lot of time chasing perch on bait and I initially treated lure fishing as a searching method. My reasoning being that I could cover a lot of water and track down pockets of better fish fairly quickly which I could then target with bait. Trouble was, I started to enjoy the lure fishing in its own right. Not long after that I bumped into someone who introduced me to ultra-light jigging and dropshotting. That then became an absolute obsession for me.

You've actually walked away from a couple of sponsorship type arrangements. Without getting into the whys and wherefores what would your advice be to anyone craving the backing of tackle companies, particularly young anglers? 

I would say think very carefully as it really isn't as glamorous as people imagine. The constant pressure to produce good catches takes its toll on your fishing and in my case it really started to get me down. My confidence went through the floor, I began to fish badly and felt trapped by it all. People handle pressure differently and some get on with it, some don't. Perhaps I placed too much pressure on myself to perform. Regardless of what happened I know I'm a lot happier and far, far more relaxed now which is exactly how it should be.

You once found an old wallet containing £200 you had forgotten about in a cupboard. What did you spend it on?

Lol. It didn't have £200 in it, I swear. It was more like £20 and I probably frittered it away on more lures or something.  

Sally, if you are reading this, he told me at the time it was £200. Ed.

What organisations are you involved with?

I'm a committee member for Derby Railway Angling Club. I've been involved for about four years now. By and large it is a fairly thankless job but I love being part of the club. It gives me a real sense of putting something back into angling and to helping to manage our various waters is fascinating to me. I'm also a bailiff for Loughborough Soar Angling Society. It's a club I've been a part of pretty much since I started fishing, bailiffing their waters where I learnt my trade is the least I can do.

Favourite fish?

Zander.

Favourite Capture?

4lb 8oz Perch on the float.

Favourite capture by someone else?

In a pairs match my partner Carl Arcus caught a 66cm Zander at exactly the right time. It won the match for us.

Best ever session?

A weeks drive and survive carp fishing trip to Holland, only caught four carp all week but by god, did we have some adventures.

Pet hates?

Ignorant people.

Is Clive still around?

Yes, he is. Now retired from the Air Force, living in Melton Mowbray and no longer fishing.

Gallery

Young Leo with a Perch.
Uncle Clive and the world's biggest eleven year old.
4lb 8oz Perch

6lb 10oz Chub


14lb 8oz Barbel


4lb 2oz Perch


Uk PB Carp 31lb 4oz


9lb 5oz Tench


12lb 15oz Bream


43lb 12oz Catfish


2lb 2oz Roach

Till next time........



Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Interview Series Part 2

Martin Barnatt

Age, Occupation?

45,Technical support technician for Network Rail

Earliest fishing memory?

Fishing the tiny river Eden with my elder brother and Grandad for minnows, hoping beyond hope for a dace or chub. I'd have been about five I reckon.


Tell us about your brother and Grandad

My older brother only fishes very occasionally now although he was a major part of my formative angling years. He loves the fact he has still caught a bigger freshwater fish than me though- a 27lb 10oz carp.
My Grandad, who passed away some years ago was an incredibly enthusiastic, if somewhat limited tutor. He was our mentor and taxi in those early years. I still fish one or two of the spots he used to take us to. Undoubtedly he was the single biggest factor in starting myself and my brother down the angling road.

When your brother's interest waned what kept you going?

By then I'd already overtaken him as it were. I was taking it much more seriously, whilst he was happily dobbing around. On our regular opening day visit to a local estate lake I wanted to bag up over a hundred pounds of tench, he'd be happy with half a dozen fish.

"Overtaken" suggests a competitive nature?

I suppose so, I dabbled in a bit of match fishing at that time, maybe a little earlier. We are talking late eighties here. We also used to have an ongoing competition throughout the season- me, my brother and a mate. Points per fish (more points the rarer the fish) plus bonus points for size, all organised by my brother. So, yes there was competitiveness to my fishing.

What was your first 'specimen' fish? 

If you count double figure Pike then 10lb 8oz in September 1984. I started catching four and five pound Tench in the late eighties, reasonable fish then by our standards.

.........

Genuine specimen wise then probably a 6lb 3oz Chub from the river Welland in March 1993.

You keep concise records don't you? When did that start, to what extent and more importantly why?

The 'why' is probably down to my brother again. He kept records and also had an eidetic memory so I followed suit. It started in 1984 with that 10lb+ pike which at the time, was my first ever fish over a pound. Initially I recorded every fish over a pound. As I became more successful I imposed certain qualifying weights, which in turn, would be superseded as seemed sensible. I still keep those records and I just like having that history to browse over as and when I wish.

Being the modest chap you are this will probably pain you but give us some stats to amaze us. Chub over five pounds for example?

Two hundred and forty-nine.

.........

I though I'd reached two hundred and fifty a couple of weeks ago but a recount proved I was still one short.


........

Eleven hundred and seventy Chub over four pounds from twenty-three different UK rivers with five pounders from fourteen of those.

Holy cow! How important is confidence in your fishing?

Very. I'm pretty impatient and add to that a lack of confidence in a method or venue it can be tricky.

In recent times you have done well on venues written off by many others. Do you ignore the negatives in angling because your confidence is so fickle or do you just like working venues out for yourself?

I wouldn't say I ignore the negatives completely, there are definitely some issues to address. That said I'm a fisherman so I am going to fish. It has got to the point now where many anglers won't fish some rivers because they believe they are devoid of fish. I've simply never found that to be the case. Rivers are dynamic, they change, populations fluctuate in accordance with many variables; good spawning years and the associated survival rates; predation; abstraction and so many other factors. The only way to find out is to fish. Don't be swayed by possibly outdated, unsupported rhetoric.

You say you're a rubbish caster but out of all the anglers I know if I wanted someone to land some cheese paste on a bait-box lid from twenty-five yards it would be you. Any other talents you want to deny possessing?

You'll say it is false modesty maybe but I genuinely don't think anything I do is very difficult. I'm not a particularly technical or deep-thinking angler. For me, simplicity is the key. I'd like to think I'm pretty useful at clear water fishing in the summer. Spotting fish is probably my strong suit. I generally feel if I can see fish I've got a decent chance of catching them.That said, I have fished with a couple of other 'stalkers' (of fish that is) who are in a different league to me.

Tell us about your river Witham record Barbel.

I didn't really know they were there. I'd heard rumours but I was just looking for another local river to investigate. I found a few on my first visit, then subsequently saw a couple of really big fish. On the day I set out very single minded. I located the fish then baited the swim with hemp and pellets. I had around twenty chub and a dozen barbel feeding. I used red sweetcorn on the hook so I could watch my hook bait. I had to pull it away from several chub and smaller barbel before I got my chance. it took it as good as gold. Tremendous fight, I hoped it was over ten pounds, I was miles out.

What organisations are you involved with?

I used to be involved with the Nene and Welland rivers trust, a regional branch of the Angling Trust but I have drifted away from that recently mainly due to time constraints.
The group I have been most involved with is the Chub Study Group. I joined in 2000, became get-together organiser in 2007 and still am, I love every minute of it.

Favorite fish?

I love tench but it has to be chub

Favourite capture?

7lb river Welland chub

Favourite session?

Twelve hours, sixteen tench, three sevens, two eights, four nines and my current PB of 11lb 2oz. From a venue myself and one other discovered as a tench venue.

Favourite capture by someone else?

Witnessing my friends first double-figure tench, 11lb 5oz. We'd set out hunting down rumours and carp anglers stories on a pit with no other tench history. I was the first person he called. What a fish! I had my first double a month or so later.

The one that got away?

I remember losing a big chub on Throop once. It bothered me at the time but i think I've had bigger since.

Martin lost a perch with me once. I think he's erased it from his memory. He was inconsolable for about an hour. Ed.

Hardest fight?

Overall- Blue Shark
Pound for pound- Wrasse

Hair or no hair?

Hair, I loved my mullet back in the day.

Pet hate?

People moaning about the state of our rivers without going to find out themselves.

Gallery

A very young Martin and his brother.

Witham barbel 13lb 5oz
7lb Welland Chub

Business end of a 4lb 7oz wrasse

Stop laughing at the hair. 6lb 3oz chub.

First twenty. 23lb 10oz

Mullet of a different kind. 5lb 6oz.

5lb 13oz Eel

13lb 10oz bream

11lb 2oz tench

143lb Blue Shark, returned alive obviously.


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

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.

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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.

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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..............