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.
5lb 5oz Eel
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.
|A very young Nate.|
|The smile says it all.|
|10lb 3oz tench.|
|5lb 5oz Eel|
|4lb 3oz perch PB.|
|11lb 11oz PB tench|
|23lb 8oz pike.|
|58lb 8oz Mirror|
Till next time......