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...

Saturday, 17 December 2016

A few good fish from a tough two months fishing

It's been over two months since I last updated my blog, which I think is the longest I've ever left it, so I have quite a bit of catching up to do on this occasion! I must admit, everywhere I've fished seems to have been fishing hard for a while now, and we've had to really work hard to get some better fish on the bank (or boat).

I'll start by picking up from where I left off really, which was fishing the midlands reservoirs. We've had a few trips to Grafham and a day on Rutland targeting the Zander, although at this time of year the fishing is often much harder than it is during the summer and early autumn. We've been trying to target the bigger fish by pelagic fishing, which is essentially using your fishfinder/chartplotter to find big fish suspended off the bottom, then dropping down a large split tail or similar soft bait to around the same depth as the fish. You watch the sonar screen carefully as you lower your lure down, to make sure your lure is within a couple of feet of the fish, but not too close so that you spook them. Sometimes the fish aren't interested and turn away, but when they are interested, you'll watch them swim up to your lure on the sonar screen, and (this is the exciting part), slam it like no tomorrow! This was my biggest Zander from our last three trips, which took a 6" split tail - you can see me drop the lure down, and the fish come up and take it on the screenshot!

On one morning whilst I was pelagic fishing, Dad hooked in to this nice Pike, which he caught jigging a shad along the bottom.

Whilst we've been targeting the Zander, we've also caught some cracking Brown Trout. On the trip before last, I hooked in to, at first, what I thought was a good Pike, as it felt like it had quite a lot of weight to it, tore off loads of drag and was head shaking like crazy. It eventually surfaced and turned out to be a huge reservoir Brownie of 9lb 7oz, which is not only a Grafham P.B for me, but as far as I know, it's the biggest Trout caught from Grafham this year!

On our last trip, right at the end of the day, I saw a fish on the sonar in around 30ft of 54ft of water, so I dropped my 6" split tail down and once it reached 30ft, almost instantly I had an almighty whack. I thought I'd hooked in to a very big Zander, especially as the light was fading, but once again I'd guessed the species wrong! We were both surprised and very frustrated when it turned out to be a big Bream of around 10lb! We've caught some big Bream in the past to over 10lbs on flies, and although we didn't weigh this fish, it was certainly my biggest lure caught Bream!

That was our last trip to a reservoir and since then, we've mainly been fishing rivers, with a couple of trips on gravel pits for Pike. Like the reservoir fishing, a lot of our local gravel pits have been fishing hard too - however, we had one trip exploring a pit, and it was quite a contrast to our previous Pike trips over the past couple of months! Jerkbaits in particular worked very well and helped us land 12 Pike, with three of those being doubles, which was brilliant sport!

We had a trip to the Thames fishing from our boat at the beginning of last month, with the main target species Perch. Crankbaits often work well for us on the Thames and we caught most of the 40-odd fish we boated on Berkley Frenzy Flicker Shads and the new Bad Shads, but the best Perch of the day was caught on a creature bait - the Havoc Rocket Craw. The Rocket Craw has become a real favourite of mine in the three years I've been using it and it's helped me catch Pike to 26lb 2oz, Perch to 3lb 15oz, Zander to nearly 10lb, along with big Chub and even a Carp of around 17lb a couple of years ago! This one took a Rocket Craw in Purple Pumpkin Red, that was cast through the branches of a willow tree and fell tight to its roots.

Most of our fishing since our Thames trip has been on smaller rivers, mixing it up between fishing locally and further afield. One of our best trips in the past month or so was exploring a new stretch of a river, banking over 40 Perch between us - ten of those were over 2lb and whilst shads caught the majority of the fish, eight of the ten 2lb'ers were caught on another favourite creature bait of ours, the Havoc Pit Boss Jr.

We returned a few days later and Dad also caught a chunky Pike too, along with a couple more 2lb+ Perch.

Since that trip the fishing has been rock hard, and similarly to the Pike fishing we were experiencing throughout November, on many of the sessions we've had it's been a case of only a couple of bites a trip, although they've often been better fish. Both the Pit Boss Jr. and Rocket Craw have helped us catch most of our bigger Perch over the past month or so.

Our last trip was on our local River Lea - we only fished for a couple of hours, and it was a mostly quiet afternoon, with just a small jack and a follow from a very nice Perch, but right at the last minute, on my last cast, I had a very delicate take, which made heading out all worthwhile! It was a short and chunky stripey which weighed 3lb 1oz, and took a Rocket Craw in Breen Clear Chartreuse.

It's been a while since I've done any filming on my GoPro, but a few months ago, whilst fishing I spotted a big shoal of Roach, and as I had my GoPro on me anyway, I decided to film them. This huge shoal had attracted some nice Perch, a few Pike (one of which was a 20lb'er) and I was also lucky to capture a Great Crested Grebe attacking the shoal! I'd been meaning to put everything together in to a short video for a while, and at the end of October I finally got round to finishing it off.

I know it's not quite the end of the year yet, but as this will be my last blog post of 2016, I'd like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2017! I've been very lucky this year to have experienced some fantastic fishing, and best of all spend it with some brilliant anglers and friends. Here's hoping 2017 is a good one for all of us!

Friday, 7 October 2016

It's that time of the year again!

September and October are months that I always look forward to, not only because the drop in temperatures can really switch predatory fish on, but because many reservoirs open up for lure anglers to try their hand at targeting big Pike, Perch and Zander. Since I was 11 my Dad and I have always fished Grafham on the first day of the lure fishing season, and it's almost become a tradition now, since this would be our tenth year on the trot that we'd be fishing the opening day. This year's opener turned out to be action-packed, boating plenty of fish of all species (Pike, Perch and Zander), although nothing really big. The Pike seemed particularly fired up though, and we decided on our second day we had booked to target these.

Unfortunately, our game plan didn't really pay off and although we caught a couple of Pike, they were not the big'uns we were hoping for. We did catch some nice Perch though on some surprisingly big lures!

Since then, we've had a few trips back specifically for the Perch and Zander. It seemed as if we were going through a spell where we were catching lots of fish, but nothing of any size, but thankfully, on our third trip of the season so far, Dad managed to catch this fantastic 48.5cm stripey, drop-shotting a Berkley Pro Twitchtail Minnow - one of around 60 Perch, 14 Zander and two Pike caught between us that day.

Our best session so far this season came on the fourth trip, although we had a bit of a nightmare start to the day. Dad lost two good fish in the first hour, and I also lost a nice fish, and we thought it was going to turn in to 'one of those days' after the wind got up and it started to get really rough (despite the forecast saying the wind speed wouldn't be more than 11mph). Our luck changed for the good though and it wasn't long before Dad had a nice Zander of around 7lb, which was quickly followed with a fish I caught of around 9lb.

Over the course of the day we managed two more nice Zander, with plenty of Perch in between to 2lb 8oz, but the best fish were yet to come...

With about 15 minutes before the boats had to be back in, my drop-shotted Sébile Magic Swimmer Soft was slammed by a hard fighting fish, which felt like a very good Perch - I was just hoping it wasn't a jack in disguise! It turned out to be a beautiful looking fish of 4lb 1oz (48cm), which equalled my biggest Grafham Perch to date!

After releasing the fish, there were literally about five minutes to spare before we needed to head back in, so we dropped our drop-shot rigs back down again and almost instantly I had another hit, which I missed, then another hit - which I hooked! It was another great Perch, weighing just 3oz smaller than the last, at 3lb 14oz (47cm)! It's my biggest brace of Perch from Grafham, so the day ended on a high!

Apart from fishing Grafham, I haven't done that much lure fishing over the past month, as I've had a lot going on, with just a trip to the Thames and a couple of short afternoons on my local rivers. We fished the night on the Thames on our boat, mainly targeting Pike, Perch and Chub during the day, then when it got dark it was the Zander that we were really hoping for. I always enjoy lure fishing in the dark - there is an eeriness to it that I find fascinating, especially not knowing what species you may hook next.

At about 9pm, I hooked in to what felt like a very good fish, which had taken a Ripple Shad hopped along the bottom in 25ft of water. It felt very heavy on my relatively light set-up - a 7' Abu Villain and Revo STX20 loaded with 0.12mm Nanofil, and it was fighting quite unusually, which began to make me wonder if I'd hooked one of the Thames' elusive Catfish. Whatever it was, I didn't want to lose it, as it felt big!

Instead of a Zander (which is what I was really hoping for) or a Catfish, it turned out to be a Pike of 105cm! We've caught quite a few Pike in the dark on the Thames, but this was certainly the biggest - in fact it's my second biggest Thames Pike to date!

That turned out to be the best fish of the trip, and unfortunately, we didn't catch any Zander, but we had plenty of action from jacks, Perch and Chub.

This year my Dad and I were hoping to spend a bit more time lure fishing around the coast to try and bump up our species list, but it's been such a busy year for us both that unfortunately, we never got round to it this summer. A few weeks ago though, Dad and I had to go to Harwich for a meeting and literally, as we were walking out of our front door, we decided to take an LRF rod just in case we had time for a couple of hours fishing on the sea front. It turned out to be a good decision!

We did manage to get a couple of hours to fish, but unfortunately it wasn't at a great time as the tide was out, but we still managed to catch a few fish, including a new species for Dad, which was a Sand Smelt, and a new species for me, which was a Black Goby, caught on Gulp! Sandworm. I also managed to catch a small Ballan Wrasse and lose a couple of half decent fish too. Although I know both species are pretty common around the UK, it was still nice to add them to our lists!

The weekend before last I headed up to Scotland for Glasgow Angling Centre's Autumn Open Weekend. It was a very successful weekend and, as always, great to catch up with some good friends, some that I hadn't seen for a while too. I also caught up with my good mate Ali Edgar, and it was also great to meet Roy Vanstreels, Fox's Media Manager, who had travelled from Belgium.

A couple of months ago, my Dad and I were contacted by Mark Lloyd, the Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, asking whether we'd like to become ambassadors for angling's national governing body. It was a massive surprise and we're still shocked that we were even considered, let alone asked, and it is a massive honour for us both. The Angling Trust represents all game, coarse and sea anglers and angling in England. They lobby government, campaign on environmental and angling issues and run national and international competitions. They fight pollution, commercial over-fishing at sea, over-abstraction, poaching, unlawful navigation, local bans and a host of other threats to angling. If you love your fishing and want to help protect it, we would both highly recommend joining if you aren't a member already: 

Lastly, I still really enjoy competition flyfishing for Trout, but unfortunately, in between my lure fishing, coaching and other work, finding the time to trout fish has become harder and harder over the last two or three years. I'm very lucky, though, to be part of a great team, most of which have or are currently fishing for England.

The Pitsford Pirates qualified for the Airflo International Final earlier this year, which may sound quite easy, but it's not when you're up against some of the top loch-style anglers in Europe and have to get through two qualifiers to reach the final, which was held this week on Rutland. Although I've fished a lot of flyfishing competitions, including two internationals, this was certainly the biggest I'd fished, with 23 six man teams, so 138 anglers in total. It was a great match and very well organised, but unfortunately, we didn't do too well. Congratulations to Change Flyfishers A team for winning the title!

Monday, 22 August 2016

A very fishy summer!

I'm not quite sure where this summer has gone so far - somehow, it feels like it's only just started but actually, we're just a week away from the August bank holiday weekend! The past few summers have been very busy ones for me as a Project Manager for Get Hooked on Fishing, with lots of coaching events and shows taking place, and this year has been especially busy. The first event was Fish'O'Mania back in mid-July, followed by a Family Fishing day at Suffolk Water Park, then over to Ragley Hall in Warwickshire for the new look Game Fair, and then, the packed out BBC Countryfile Live show at Blenheim Palace - by far the busiest event I've ever shown lure fishing at, with over 5000 signing in for the waterside activities!

At the Countryfile Live show, our lure tank was based so close to the river at Blenheim, that Dad and I couldn't help but have a few casts every now and then. The water was only inches deep - in fact, our lure tank was deeper! We caught around 40 Perch and a jack Pike over the course of the four show days, mainly on Berkley Shrug Minnows rigged on a 2.5g Rock Head. We also managed to squeeze in a couple of hours fishing after the second day of the show, on a small, picturesque estate lake a stone's throw away from where we were staying. Jonathan Fromant, a volunteer who has given up a lot of his spare time to help GHoF, Dad and I fished until it got dark and Dad caught four Pike, the biggest of which was probably getting on for 10lb, which he caught on a chatterbait, along with a nice Perch.

Most of my fishing over the past month took place before the Game Fair and Countryfile Live shows, on either Grafham, flyfishing, or on the Thames, lure fishing. I'd been looking forward to fishing the Thames for quite a few months, as we hadn't been down there since the winter, but we were a little concerned about the state our boat would be in after leaving it so long without visiting. Apart from a few cobwebs and spiders inside, it was surprisingly tidy!

My first fish of the season from the Thames turned out to be a lovely Perch, which took a white Berkley Havoc Rocket Craw, and a couple of weeks later ended up on the front cover of Angling Times!

The white Rocket Craw turned out to be our most successful lure on that trip, which stood out well in the coloured water we were fishing in and helped us catch plenty more Pike and Perch. Our next trip, about a week or so later, turned out to be even more action packed, especially when it came to Pike - at one point Dad caught four in four casts!

We fished through the night in the hope of Zander, and just before it got dark I managed to catch my first Thames Zander for quite a while, which took a Havoc Sick Fish Jr on a 10g 3/0 jighead.

It was great to catch the Zander under a full moon with a cloudless sky, and it never really got that dark - Dad took this photo of some houses as we were motoring downstream at 2.17am!

Hooking in to a fish on a lure in the dark under a full moon is a very eerie but exciting experience, not knowing whether you've hooked a Zander, Pike or even a Chub!

At around midnight, I shone my headtorch in to the water to see how the lure was swimming, and I spotted two elvers swimming just under the surface, which was interesting to watch. The river was a little less coloured and during the day, duller Rocket Craws and Pit Boss Jr's worked very well, helping us boat 26 Pike, 26 Perch, a Zander and a Chub.

On our most recent trip, Dad managed to catch two more Zander.

Whilst heading downstream, Dad and I spotted some fry scattering, thinking they were Perch. We cast our crankbaits to them and they turned out to be Chub!

This was the biggest of six we landed on 5cm Flicker Shads, and like me on the last trip, Dad managed to complete a Thames 'Super Slam' - Pike, Perch, Zander and Chub all in the same session!

Back to flyfishing, and I always enjoy flyfishing Grafham throughout the summer for Pike, Perch and Zander, and we had a couple of good trips towards the end of July, mainly targeting the Zander and Perch, although we have caught a couple of nice Pike recently, which have moved in to the slightly deeper water where we've been targeting the other species.

Dad's caught our biggest fly caught Zander this year so far - a chunky fish of 10lb 10oz caught on one of his 'Zander Lander' flies.

I also had a trip flyfishing for Trout practising for the Airflo International Midland Final - the trout team I fish for, the Pitsford Pirates, had qualified to fish this semi-final match. I fished with Bart Farmer and although it wasn't easy fishing, we found a method for the match day (which I couldn't make), and the team put in a brilliant performance and managed to finish second, qualifying for the final in October! Our captain Charlie Abrahams also won the match too! Well done to Charlie and the team!

The week before last, I fished some local gravel pits that are very shallow and weedy, targeting Pike on buzz baits with Mark Parker for a feature for Improve Your Coarse Fishing. They're one of my favourite surface lures and a favourite summer lure to fish, and even though the fishing was hard, the takes alone were well worth the wait - watching a Pike bow-wave behind your lure and then slam it off the surface is such an exciting way of targeting them! This was the biggest of four fish caught on the day.

We're now preparing for two more Family Fishing days this weekend - one at Rib Valley on Saturday 27th, and one at the Ealing project on Monday 29th. The long range weather forecast looks very good so fingers crossed it stays the same!