Fishing has been a part of my life from an early age. My Dad introduced me to angling and I quickly developed a passion for not only being out on the water fishing, but being outdoors. I have a fascination for catching different species of fish on lures or flies, and I’m as happy exploring the tiniest of streams as I am being out on the open ocean. I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to some spectacular destinations, both here in the UK and abroad, trying to catch as many species as possible. So far, I’ve caught 230 species.

I work for Farlows fishing, shooting and country clothing store in London, and I’m a Consultant for Fox Rage and Salmo lures. I’m also an Ambassador for the Angling Trust and have fished for England in two disciplines - the England Youth Fly Fishing Team and the Team England Lure Squad.

Through fishing I’ve met some great people and seen some amazing wildlife and scenery, and I’d like to share some of my experiences through my blog...

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

It's getting colder... but the fishing's still hot

Since I first started my blog I have tried to write it about once a month, but unfortunately, this one's fallen a bit behind as it's been a very busy period. I've fished a fair bit over the last few weeks flyfishing for trout, jigging for zander, plus lure fishing for Perch on our local river. Not only that, I've also been fishing or netting lakes whilst at College - can't be bad, can it?!

As well as all of this, I've also just completed an ADB 1st4sport Level One Coaching in Angling course - I find out how I've got on in about two months time - I'm really hoping I've passed!

As part of our College course we have had to prove that we can fish all methods. So far, we have fished the stick float, feeder fished and ledgered on a variety of venues from small, fast flowing stretches of the river Ivel and Ouse to the College's own estate lake. There are still more trips to come and whoever catches the most species at the end wins 'The Golden Maggot' trophy. So far it's going well apart from losing a nice Carp on the College's estate lake a couple of days ago, the first Carp to have been hooked from the lake in a very long time and a species, I doubt, my College group and I will get another chance to fish for.

The trout fishing has been brilliant. At the end of last month I fished Pitsford in the Tom Bilson Memorial match, which was a great turnout - congratulations to Phil Longstaff on winning the match. Since then, I've had a couple of trips to my local Rib Valley lakes, and a bit further afield, Farmoor. At all of the venues I've visited since the beginning of November, the best methods that have worked for me have been either one of two approaches - a couple of boobies on a Di7, or a floating line coupled with a long leader, fishing the Washing Line method with nymphs on the droppers, and either a dry or small booby on the point. The latter method proved to work well a few weeks ago when Steve Cullen, the editor of Total Flyfisher, organised a new 'Winter League' match which would be fished at various venues across the country during the winter months. The first of these matches was to be fished at Elinor in Northamptonshire. I'd only ever fished Elinor once back in August, and my Dad had never seen it before let alone fished it.

When we arrived, everybody put in a pound which, at the end of the match, would be the prize and given to the winner with the most amount of fish. We headed off to our starting areas and I chose to fish up the top end of the 50-acre stillwater, where I'd fished in the summer with my mate, Ashley. I started with a floating line and a 16ft leader, with a red diawl bach on the top dropper, a UV cruncher in the middle and 'The Thing' on the point. On my second cast I hooked in to a fish on the cruncher and landed my first Rainbow of the match. It was very windy and difficult fishing into the wind, but I managed to land 8 more before the match ended at 3'o'clock. From what I'd heard, people had struggled, but there were 2 others that had also caught 9 fish, so there were three winners! Gary Owen took the bottle of whisky, whilst Charlie Abrahams took half the cash prize with myself. My Dad managed to catch 5 fish, mostly on minkies. Looking forward to the next one!

Our most recent trip trout fishing was at a venue where my Dad had been meaning to visit for quite a while. It was the first time he'd fished there since 2002, and he'd told me that the fishing at Walthamstow reservoirs could be challenging but very rewarding once you hooked and landed a fish, as they fought like stink and were normally a good size too.

We started off fishing the corner of the No.5 reservoir along the causeway. It was so foggy that we could only just make out the silhouettes of 3 or 4 other anglers not far up the bank as we arrived. We both set up Di7 shooting heads. I tied on a single booby on an 8ft leader, whereas my Dad used 2 boobies on a 12ft leader. On his first cast his fly was hit so hard by a trout, that when he struck into it, it broke him off. On his second cast he hooked and landed his first fish of the day, weighing 3lb 14oz. Not long after, I landed my first Walthamstow rainbow, another good 3lb'er.

After catching 6 more fish we decided to move up to the other end of the causeway, to the water inlet joining the 4 to the 5, and there I had a cracking fish of around 6lb!

Roving along the banks of the No.5 produced another good rainbow for my Dad. Time was beginning to run out so we headed back to where we had started in the morning, my Dad changed over to a floating line with a black buzzer on the dropper and a bloodworm on the point. These were a couple of the food items we had found in fish that we had spooned that the trout were feeding on, and as the day progressed they'd moved up in the water. By the end of the day we landed 19 super rainbows. It looked like we'd timed our visit well as we'd heard the reservoirs had been fishing really hard, but after stocking them a few weeks earlier, not only were the newly stocked fish feeding, but it had also switched on the bigger resident fish.

Probably my favourite species to target at this time of year though, are Perch. Our recent trips jig fishing have been trying to hunt down large stripeys along sections of our local river, the River Lea.

Although it's getting colder, it has been, for November, one of the warmest on record - but the sport has been great. We've caught some lovely Perch mainly on shads and small plugs, despite the low, clear water and the fluctuating weather conditions. Yesterday saw the first 'sharp' frost in Hertfordshire, but we still managed to catch Perch first thing in the morning even though the outside temperature was reading -4°C in the car! It was a good day and we landed 17 Perch to 3lbs exactly. Over a few trips, my Dad and I have banked plenty of good 2 pounders and 11 over 3lb, the two biggest weighing 3lb 11oz.

Although my Dad and I haven't really fished for Perch on the fly for a while, I had an article published in December's Total Flyfisher about targeting big stripeys with fly gear. I haven't caught a really big stripey from the Lea yet on a fly but it is something I intend to try and do in the coming months.

Another trip that I'd almost forgotten about was Zander fishing at Grafham. It was a really tough day. Unfortunately, I lost the first two fish I hooked, and we only managed to catch 2 around 7-8lb. My Dad did have a nice Brownie though weighing 5lb 13oz which took his jig on the drop.

I'm hoping December won't be too cold, like last year, so that we can get out as much as we can. Maybe we might try and get a couple of trips in on the Thames or try somewhere completely different.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Autumn Action!

I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by! - and now it's that exciting time for predator fishing, but I want to fish so many different places I find it difficult deciding where to fish next! I've now left school and started at Shuttleworth College on an Extended Diploma in Fish Management Course (fisheries studies), which I'm really enjoying and finding very interesting.

However, of course, I'm still fishing on my days off and over the past month I've fished in the EYFA Captain's Day Match - it was a tough day on Grafham where it rained and hailed so hard that it looked like we'd all fallen in at the end! We then returned to Grafham with lures targeting Zander, Perch and Pike. Our first trip was unbelievably windy making fishing jigs and drop shots close to the bottom very tricky; holding anchor was near on impossible. Luckily, it didn't stop us from catching a few nice fish including a cracking perch of 4lb - my biggest from Grafham.

I wrote a story about the day which was published in the Angling Times on October 4th, which I've pasted below.

We also had a trip to Hanningfield Reservoir hoping to encounter one of the big perch we've heard about there, but unfortunately, failed miserably! We searched hard but couldn't even find a small one. Then on October 1st our local Rib lake, part of the Rib Valley Lakes complex, opened to predator fishing. Being just a few minutes from home, my Dad and I couldn't resist a crack at it. On the same day last year we caught 21 Pike to 12lb 3oz plus some nice Perch to nearly 3lbs, all on lures. The forecast for the day was 30°, and bright sun - hardly suited for any form of predator fishing - but we were still determined to give it a try!

It was incredibly busy, which didn't come as a surprise with the weather being so hot and the fact that October 1st had fallen on a Saturday this year. Whilst we were fishing I looked up and noticed a car hurtling down a steep hill towards the lake - it was parked at the top of the hill and the driver had forgotten to put the handbrake on. Luckily for some anglers at the bottom of the hill that were in its path, it crashed into a tree on its way down. There was an almighty bang and the car was a complete write off. Apart from all the mayhem, the sport wasn't too bad but the amount of people fishing limited where we could fish, and there was very very little room left after 1pm - not ideal when fishing lures and you want to be on the move. However, we caught 13 Pike to 13lb 1oz and two small Perch, on jigs, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and drop-shots - most of these came at first and last light.

Last but not least we've had a couple of late afternoons jigging for Perch along the River Lea, catching some jack Pike and small Perch up to about a pound. Hopefully, when the frosts start maybe some of the bigger stripeys will come on the munch. I'm really looking forward to targeting these fish with lures and flies in the coming weeks, as well as some of the sport that may lay ahead this winter, for trout and all other species.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A day flyfishing with Keith Arthur

This August, I had a big surprise - an e-mail from Keith Arthur, the presenter of Sky Sports' Tightlines and Talk Sport's, Fisherman's Blues, asking whether I would be interested in taking part in a video clip about flyfishing for Trout and maybe Zander, to be broadcast on Tightlines. Without hesitation, I said yes, and soon a date was pencilled in the diary to meet him at Grafham. My Dad also agreed to drive the boat for the camera crew!

We arrived at the lodge early so we could all have a chat about the day over breakfast. The conditions were looking well suited for Trout fishing - overcast with a slight chop on the water. We were both raring to get out there and fish - all I hoped was one of us would catch for the cameras!

Before we could leave the harbour, Keith and I were rigged up with our microphones, and after tackling up with a slow glass line and Keith with a floater, I motored us both out to Deep Water Point where my Dad and I had caught some Trout a few days before. On my very first cast I hooked up to a nice stocky rainbow, which had taken my blob tied to my top dropper, and soon had my first fish in the boat - phew! Minutes later, it was Keith's turn to hook up and he also had his first rainbow of the day, caught on a big buzzer at the other end (on the point) - what a great start!

We repeated the same drift but this time a little closer to the bank on the edge of a drop-off, and again, it didn't take long before we both had bites - and a double hookup!

Whilst fishing we chatted about everything, including Arsenal - who we both support! Keith is a living encyclopedia - not just about fishing either. He blew me away with what he knows.

After catching about 10 Trout between us, Keith and the camera crew felt that they'd taken enough footage of us Trout fishing, and would like to see if we could catch some Zander. Unfortunately, the wind had strengthened considerably as the day had gone on and it would make holding anchor over various spots quite tricky, also casting fairly heavy flies would be difficult!

The zander sport had been slower in the past few weeks and it took a good hour and a bit before I had the first solid whack, which the fish had taken on the drop whilst the fly was falling through the water. It was only a small fish of around 5lbs, but it was great to get one in the boat and on camera! I was still confident we were going to get some more though.

Shortly after catching that fish I decided that we should move to another area. Keith lowered the anchor down and we both cast out in hope of a bite. On my first cast everything locked up and I found myself playing what felt like a good fish. Keith, with the net on the ready, did the honours and scooped up our biggest Zander of the day, which we estimated was about 10lbs.

Unfortunately, no more bites came from that spot so we decided to move. The zander fishing was proving much tougher than I expected. We tried numerous different areas of the reservoir before managing my third of around 6lb 8oz, and what would be our last Zed of the day. Although I'd caught three Zander, I was pretty upset that Keith was unlucky and didn't get one. We both decided to call it a day with the Zeds and switch back to Trout fishing, and hopefully enjoy some action similar to what we'd had earlier. By the end of the day we'd added another 5 or 6 between us to our tally of the day, caught mainly on Diawl bachs, Crunchers, Buzzers and 'The Thing'. My Dad also managed to have the last couple of hours fishing, and caught 3 including a nice Brownie of about 3lb 12oz.

It had been a brilliant day's fishing on Grafham - the Trout especially, but apart from fluffing up my words whilst talking in to the camera, I think it went quite well. It had been a real privilege to fish with Keith. He is a true professional at his job, presenting and catching fish! Thanks to John Mees also for making sure that it all went well. By the end of the day we were all very tired. What a great day it had been though, fishing with a 'minefield of information'! Now I'm looking forward to seeing it on Tightlines on Friday night.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

A Few Surprises

On our first trip after returning from Scotland, we fished a half day on Grafham fishing for zander. It was a difficult afternoon but we did land 2 Zander each. With only an hour to go, my Dad hooked in to something substantial though. It was giving him a hell of a scrap - which gave us the impression he may have hooked in to a nice Pike, and we were proved right. The scales tipped round to 20lb 13oz - an immaculate fish and our first 20 of the year.

We had another 2 half day trips after this and together, we landed 14 more Zander to 11lb 8oz, plus 4 nice Pike.

Before returning again, I'd been invited to fish with my mate, Ashley Gillies, who also fishes for the England Youth Team. He wanted to take me to Elinor, a venue I'd never fished before, to trout fish from the bank. Ed Foster, the fishery manager, also an England International for the men's team, suggested that we start at the North end of the lake. So with Ash guiding the way, we walked round to find a weed-clogged bay that was rammed with trout! There were fish jumping everywhere and shoals of 10 or more would swim past you as you fished - but it wasn't easy. By the end of the day I'd caught 8 rainbows up to around 3lb, many of which were caught just a rodlength or two out, fishing a floating line. The most successful patterns were Diawl Bachs, Hares Ears and 'The Thing'.

The next day Ash and I fished Grafham, and whilst we waited for my Dad to arrive so that he could be boatman, we fished from the harbour arms. Ash fished a Di7 with a booby and a blob whilst I opted for a midge tip and a team of nymphs. After half an hour of fishing I had a delicate bite. It felt much smaller than the average trout - when I got it in it turned out to be a Pike about the length of my hand hanging on to my size 12 Diawl Bach!

Not long after, my Dad arrived so we quickly loaded our gear in to the boat for an afternoon afloat. It wasn't easy but we landed 3 trout each - I caught a good one of 4lb 10oz from Pylon Point.

Ash had never caught a Zander before, so at around 5pm we decided to take him to a few spots where he'd have a good chance of catching one. At our first spot, Ash soon had a bite but unfortunately missed it. After no more bites in that area, we moved on. At our next spot I managed to catch a small one but they were proving difficult, so we kept searching. I was still confident he could catch one, and in our next area he hooked in to his first Zander. He was well happy with his fish, which weighed around 7 and a half pounds. As he was playing it he said it was the best fight he'd ever had - but it would be nothing compared to what he was about to hook next!...

About an hour later Ash hooked in to a much heftier fish - at first, my Dad and I thought he'd foul hooked a big Bream as he could hardly move it and I'd just bumped out of one and there were a few rolling around us. We were both proved wrong as a huge Pike eventually boiled on the surface - but that was only half the battle because it plunged straight back down to the depths. After an amazing fight, which went on for quite some time, we netted a real monster!

My Dad and I fish Grafham a fair bit for predators, and we've only ever caught 5 over 25lbs from there, but on his first ever trip fly-fishing for predators, Ash had landed a fish of a lifetime weighing 27lb 11oz - Wow! I wasn't really jealous...! We took a couple of quick pics and then raced back to the harbour as it was getting late. What a great couple of days Ash and I had - I know I'll never forget that fish - I can still see Ashley's grin now, and who can blame him? Well done mate!

Our next fishing trip was to be on Coleman's Cottage lakes. A good fishing friend of ours, Paul Henson, who works for Rackhams Carpet Company, had organised and invited us to help out and fish at a corporate day for Rackhams there. It was a match consisting of about 60 anglers. After a good breakfast at the lodge everyone began fishing at 10am. My Dad and I took it in turns fishing. Whilst my Dad fished first I tried to help a few people out with my limited knowledge of coarse/match fishing. Some anglers were catching really well including Paul and his boss Ian. We had some nasty rain, but it didn't seem to put the fish off as anglers were consistently catching. At 4pm the horn sounded and the match had come to a close. There had been some big bags caught and the heaviest was 176lb 4oz by Richard Richman. Paul and his boss were also up there with a big bag too, plus Paul also caught the biggest fish - a nice mirror around 15lbs. My Dad and I only managed an average bag of 40lbs exactly. It had been a great day - everyone had caught and after a nice buffet the trophies were given out to the worthy anglers.

A few days later, we returned to Grafham for a couple of half days practising for Trout, as we had had a surprise email from Keith Arthur of Tightlines and Fisherman's Blues. Keith had kindly invited me to fish with him at Grafham for Trout, filming for Tightlines and, if we had time leftover, maybe try and catch a few Zander. To get an idea of how it was fishing, I fished a midge tip with nymphs whilst my Dad pulled with a Di5. Together, after two afternoon's fishing, we managed to catch 21 trout, plus a couple of Zander. Both methods seemed to work and most of our fish came from along the North shore.

The practising went well and leads to my next blog of the actual day fishing with Keith...

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Youth International 2011, Lake of Menteith

I would never have dreamed that one day I would be representing my country at fishing, but last year I managed to qualify for the England Youth Team. One year on, and I have just returned from the Lake of Menteith in Scotland representing England in the Youth International.

After a nine hour car journey, we arrived at Menteith, a very picturesque venue in the Trossachs, and met up with the rest of the team, Carl, our coach and Phil, the manager. Some of our lads had fished the day before and despite the bright, hot conditions (hardly what we were expecting in Scotland), they'd caught quite a few. After a team talk and discussion of tactics to fish the following day, we and the other nations were welcomed by the Scottish Youth Team President and the Mayor of Stirling at dinner in our hotel, The Rob Roy. Then it was off to the pool table for countless games of Killer!

The next morning we were up bright and early for my first practice session. I was partnered with Ryan Worker, our team's captain, who had fished the day before too. I fished a slow glass line and he used a midge tip, both trying various different flies trying to work out what the fish wanted. Covering different areas across the lake, by the end of the day we'd boated 11 fish on booby variants, buzzers and diawl bachs. But most of my fish were caught on a fly my Dad ties, which works well for me on other venues - the team nicknamed it 'The Thing'! Ryan also had a Pike about 3lb and a double hookup of small Perch! We had a great day out with plenty of action - cheers Ryan! The important thing was that the team had a rough idea where the fish were located, how deep they were and what flies they were taking. We packed up about 5pm and after another team discussion and dinner, it was time for more Killer!

For the second practice session I was partnered with Oliver Avis and Phil Longstaff (the team manager), who was our boatman. Today would be about fine-tuning methods and catching a few fish to boost the team's confidence even more. We caught 9 between us in a 4 hour morning session, on similar tactics to what we'd used on the previous day. We had a really nice fish each, which Phil reckons were both getting on for 5lbs. My fish had actually ended up taking the top dropper whilst my point fly was hooked in a reed! We packed up early to give ourselves time to tie leaders and flies, get tackle ready and chill out before the match the following day.

That evening we were presented with our England Caps, roses, badges and ties by Phil and the committee - a really proud moment! The boat draw also took place and I had been picked to fish with Patrick McKenna of Ireland. After one quick game of Killer it was off to bed for some rest.

Match day arrived. All kitted up and raring to go, we got on the team minibus straight after breakfast and headed for the Port of Menteith. After setting up our tackle in the boats, we lined up alphabetically in our squads and paraded behind a bagpiper which led the teams down to the shore of the lake. We were surrounded by hundreds of people cheering their countries on, clapping and flying flags from all the nations - an experience I will never forget!

Team photographs were taken and then everybody boarded their boats ready for the starting whistle. Once Patrick and my boatman were aboard we pushed off. Soon the sound of 32 outboard engines roared as the starting whistle blew - the match was on!

Along with Ryan Worker aboard another boat, I'd been asked to try the Malling Shore first before heading off elsewhere - an area where I'd caught from the day before. I'd set up with a midge tip and had a pull on my first cast on the hang, but after nearly an hour we both decided to zoom off to Gateside and the Cages where most of the activity was taking place. At 11.30, I got my first trout in the boat on a sparse blob fished on the hang.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky and temperatures were pushing 30°C, with NO wind - the lake was like a giant mirror. My impression was that the fish would go deeper. The sport began to dry up for the fleet, but I found that fishing a buzzer on the midge helped me catch. With no wind, it allowed me to hang my team of flies vertically below the boat after each cast for as long as 2 or 3 minutes, without getting slack line - I think I was probably hanging them in about 25ft of water. The bites were awesome - the rod just bent over and locked up!

The match finished at 5pm and I'd had 6 fish and lost one. They were all caught on buzzers apart from one which I caught on 'The Thing', from the Rookery, Gateside and the Cages. After a long, tense weigh in we heard the disappointing news that we'd only come 3rd with 41 fish, but well done to Scotland for hosting the event and getting their tactics spot on, winning with 68. Wales were 2nd with a great performance catching 48 and Ireland came 4th with 29. It was great meeting the other teams. Well done to Oliver Avis from our team for getting top rod with 8 fish and to Fen for catching the biggest fish! We all fished our hearts out and I'm proud to be in a team with such a great bunch of lads. Thanks very much to Phil and Carl for all the hard work they put in. Also, a big thank you to Bobbie and everybody on the Committee. Well done to Ryan too, who had his last year in the team, and who we all thought was an excellent captain.

After the match we were all presented with our medals and others with their trophies. After a big meal the banter went on well in to the night and we had a great laugh with the other teams.

The next day, after saying goodbye to everyone, my Dad and I fished an afternoon for Pike on the fly. We'd heard of so many being caught accidentally during practice, it had whet our appetite too much. The weather completely contrasted the day before, with rain and cloud. Covering many different spots we caught 41 Pike and 2 Perch between us. It was great watching the Pike fly out from the reeds and whack our flies! I've never caught so many in an afternoon!

Well, although it wasn't the result our squad had hoped for, it was an awesome experience I'll never forget. Now I can't wait for Ireland next year!

See more photographs on my flickr album by clicking here: More photos from the Youth International

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Zander Bonanza

The past month has certainly been a hot one in many ways. Firstly, the weather, and secondly, the fishing!

After the exceptional afternoon Zander fishing we had on Grafham (mentioned in the last blog), we decided to go back and see if we could repeat it. Like our last outing, it could only be an afternoon trip because I had to take a GCSE maths exam earlier in the morning. We decided to try various spots including a couple of new areas before hitting the location where much of our success had come last time we fished. On my second cast of the day I was hooked in to a fish. It didn't seem that only an hour and a half previously I'd had my pen in hand, sitting in the exam hall - now, with my 9wt in my hand, I had a lively near 10lb Zed on the end of my line! What a start! The action continued with a few more fish to the boat, before we arrived at our final hotspot. To cut a long story short, we had an amazing last few hours fishing. I lost count of how many double hookups we had! By the time we had to pack up we'd landed 36 Zander plus 3 nice Perch. The fish averaged around 7lb and I caught a cracking new P.B weighing 13lb 12oz - it was huge!!

We also lost quite few too. We did return for a couple more trips about a week later, although not quite as prolific as before, we still managed to catch 31 Zeds, 1 Pike and a nice Perch. We worked out that over 3 full days fishing we caught over 700lbs of Zander in weight!

June 16th saw the start of the river season. To get some practice with dry flies before the Youth International, we had a couple of trips out on our local rivers using 5wt rods. Fishing dry flies has to be one of the most exciting ways to flyfish, no matter how big or small your catch. It's challenging fishing on a river at this time of year because of the high bankside vegetation and overhanging trees, but it all adds to the fun. We've managed to catch a good variety of species including Dace, Roach, Rudd, Chub, Perch, a Minnow(!), and even a couple of Brown Trout. Roaming along the bank stalking fish is a great way of spending time on a river.

To make the most of the hot weather, we made a couple of trips targeting Carp on the fly on a local syndicate water. Although the weather was really hot, and the conditions suited flyfishing for them, the fish weren't really going barmy on the surface, making it tricky fishing - we think they were getting ready to spawn again. Despite the tricky fishing we caught 4 up to 18lb, including a lovely Koi my Dad caught.

He also lost one that we think may have been 23lb+, right under the rod tip - as you can imagine he wasn't too pleased!

Next week I have a practice day and final meeting with the EYFA on Ravensthorpe, which should be good and it will be nice to see the team again. All our fishing from now on will be getting ready for the match that really counts - the International at Menteith!

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Highs and Lows of Fishing

Over the past 4 or 5 weeks I’ve had some great fishing (apart from one terrible day - but I’ll come to that later). Most of it has been practising for two matches - the Youth National (which I fished on Monday), and the Youth International which will be on the Lake of Menteith in Scotland on July 27th. Practice days on Ravensthorpe, Pitsford and Grafham have been brilliant, catching plenty of fish, and averaging about 9 on each trip. What’s made it even more fun is that I’ve been catching on a variety of methods - straight line nymphing, fishing under the bung, pulling and fishing the washing line on a slow glass. Some of the bites have been awesome and the trout have fought like crazy until I’ve had them safely in the net. The weather though has made fishing from a boat quite challenging, due to strong winds - all good practice though. I think I’ve only fished one day in the past few weeks where it hasn’t been blowing a bit.

Now, to my terrible day. I’ll get it over and done with first so I can save the best for last! For a good while now I’ve been really looking forward to fishing the Youth National Qualifier, a match which I won last year. Practising on Grafham had all gone really well right up to match day. Two days previously I'd caught ten on a variety of methods from a number of different areas, so I was quite confident - what with Grafham being one of my favourite places to fish too, I felt like I had a good chance of doing well. To cut a long story short, I returned to the harbour with just one fish. To say I was gutted was the understatement of the year. I’d fished as hard as I could right to the very last minute, but it didn’t happen for me - why? I don’t know - and why did it have to be on this day of all days? I had no excuses - even if I’d have been fishing 10 rods at the same time I don’t think it would have made any difference. It was just one of those nightmare days all anglers dread. There were some great performances though by others in the team - Ashley Gillies, Kieran Bonas, Adam Worker, Oscar Boatfield and Ryan Matthews (the winner) to name a few, so well done to them - top angling!

About 2 weeks before the national, Pitsford opened to predator fishing with lures. Unfortunately, on that day I had an RE exam to take, so my Dad asked a couple of his best mates if they’d be interested in taking my place. They all go back a long way, about 30 years - when they were on 'Bracken' - one of my Dad's favourite lakes. Over the years they’ve fished a lot together on many different carp venues and from the stories I’ve heard, have had some great fishing and good times doing so. Each of them have a nickname:

Nick Upton (above), known as 'Tall Nick', - doesn’t really need an explanation.

My Dad is known as RS Turbo because of the car he owned at the time when they first met.

...and Paul Henson (above), known as ‘The Ultimate’ because that is what he thinks he is! (actually they’re both exceptional anglers, especially at carp fishing). Apparently, I’m ‘The Ultimate 2’ until he hangs up his rods and I can take over his spot - the day I’m really looking forward to! haha!

The report I got when they dropped my Dad back off at our house was that there was more banter than fishing, and Paul had turned it in to a mini match. I wish I’d been there - it sounded like a good laugh. By the end of the day between them, they’d caught 16 pike - nothing big (2 doubles though) - Nick had the biggest at 11lb 6oz, but they hooked and lost a lot, apart from Paul who boasted as he landed every one of his fish! But, I was told to add by my Dad, that he just ‘edged it’ by catching 6 to Nick and Paul’s 5 each. Actually, considering Nick and Paul hardly ever go lure fishing, they’d done really well. My Dad had to make what he called a ‘major comeback’ to win, as he caught most of his fish later in the day. Paul reckons that he wasn't really trying!

Two days after the National, it was my turn to target the predators - but at Grafham instead, where flyfishing for them is only allowed at the moment. Due to trout fishing, it’s something I’ve done a little less of this year. It turned out to be a good way of getting over the blues of Monday’s match. Still tired from the weekend, we took an afternoon boat instead of a full day out. The weather looked perfect for what we had in mind. We spent about 3 hours targeting Pike in some of the bays with only one take, which Dad missed. We then decided to move to other areas in search of some Zander. It was already 4pm but after 5 minutes in the right place, we picked up a fish each, plus one more about 10 minutes later. Once this switched off, we moved onto a few more of our hotspots, where I picked up another four and Dad had two more, including a cracker of 10lb 3oz. After trying some different areas my Dad seemed keen to explore somewhere else. He had an inkling for an area quite close to the shore. I was sceptical at first as I’d only ever caught one zed from this spot before, and it was less than a pound in weight! Within seconds though of lowering the anchor Dad hooked up! He soon had a good Zander in the boat. 20 minutes on, he’d hooked and landed 4 Zeds! I soon hooked one aswell of a similar size - 8lb 3oz. As I played mine, Dad hooked up again! Once I’d unhooked my fish, I cast out again and BANG! It was our second double hookup in 5 minutes! The constant rod bending action continued right to the end until we had to pack up as the boats had to be in. We ended up with 19 Zander from this one spot in two hours. I was also lucky to catch 2 doubles in two casts - one of 11lb 3oz, and then another of 10lb. We’ve had some great days on Grafham but this was truly extraordinary fishing. In total we ended up with 28 Zander in 5 hours, 3 Doubles, and the average size around 7lb.

On Sunday 5th June, I was actually meant to be in a match again on Grafham - The Rib Valley Boat Pairs that my Dad and I were fishing together, but it was postponed due to 20mph NE winds. It’s a shame as we were really looking forward to it! On Saturday 4th June though, some of the England Youth team members fished in the Airflo International Midlands heat and came 2nd, securing themselves a place in the final at Rutland. Good going lads!

Anyway, I’m not quite sure where I’ll be fishing next but wherever it is I can’t wait!