How did you get started in the tackle industry?
I just kept applying to Gardner Tackle! In the end, I think that Richard and Michele took pity on me and offered me a job. At the time, I was on holiday with my wife and young daughter Sophie and I was elated when I heard the news. At last a job to enjoy…
Before that I worked at DEFRA for a long time – mainly in a fascinating post related to BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) and scrapie.
My role at Gardner is extremely busy and the team of employees and consultants have really brought the brand on leaps and bounds. I think the consumer perception of our products has lifted too.
You’ve caught some famous big carp … the Royal Forty, Jumbo, Heather the Leather. Which is the most memorable?
I don’t tend to overly romanticise any as being significantly ‘better’ than another. I become fixated with every water I fish, and consequently feel the same level of pure elation associated with all my ‘target fish’ captures.
At the moment I’m head over heels into Welly (Wellington Country Park), and really want to snare a few of the monumental fish that I have yet to catch. The Turtle is number one, followed closely by the awesome Big Sutton and the exquisite Chestnut Common. I can but dream….
- Age: 46
- Lives: Yateley – the hub of the known universe!
- Occupation: Marketing and product development manager at Gardner Tackle
- UK PBs: Mirror 54lb 4oz, common 54lb, leather 48lb, ghostie 53lb
- Hobbies outside fishing? Nah! Unless you count training LushKev (my chocolate labrador puppy)
- Music to accompany your perfect session? Drum ‘n’ Bass, or old-school hip hop anthems
- Pot Noodle or toastie? Toastie
Who was your biggest inspiration in your formative carp fishing years?
In terms of writers, it was probably Rod Hutchinson, who managed to convey a wonderful balance between the full-on nature of the ultra-cult carp angling scene and having a bit of fun (smelling the roses) along the way. However, in terms of my peers it would be Terry Hearn and the group of anglers that cut their teeth on the ‘Diana Pond’ in Bushey Park.
That said, there are loads of anglers that I look up to in terms of their attitude and aptitude. Some of the guys on Welly are truly gifted ‘machines’ and it’s enthralling to watch how they go about their trade. The day you stop learning as an angler is the day you sell your rods and take up golf, or something equally as heinous!
What is your favourite venue, in all the years you’ve been carp fishing?
I have genuinely loved all the waters I’ve fished, but some are spectacularly special. The Hertfordshire Club Lake is a magical place, and I doubt I will ever drop the ticket. The Copse Lake and the Lily (Pads) Lake at Yateley were tremendous, and I loved every second on each of those. CWA Roach Pit was lovely and Simon’s Dinton Lakes were great fun, and run by a top bloke!
Do you ever fish for other species, or is it carp all the way?
My first love is carp, and I can’t see that changing, but I love all sorts of fishing. Most winters I do a fair bit of ‘casual’ chubbing and fishing for big perch. I love trotting with bread too – it’s like therapy, and is absorbing and challenging.
Aside from boilies, if you had to use just one bait to target carp, what would it be?
Tigers soaked and cooked in Thaumatin-B. That would do as a very good substitute if I wasn’t allowed to use a boilie!
What’s your idea of the perfect session?
There are times of the year when it’s simply a joy to be on the bank – like now, in the spring, for instance. I still love seeing carp show, whether it’s a full launch and resounding crash or a cheeky poke of the nose or a tail slap. Getting liners is stupefyingly exciting too, or watching little clusters of bubbles popping up on the surface.
What’s your opinion on the modern trend for carp to be grown on before being stocked at huge weights?
The whole fishing experience tends to be very different for each of us oddball carp angler types. You can either be an angler that seeks solitude, or a socialite with a disco ball and a sound system in your bivvy. The most important thing is to show respect for the lake and its inhabitants.
My view on the stocking of fish that have been fed to a big weight in a heated pond is that it’s abhorrent! But if other anglers want to fish for them, then I don’t expect my opinion to carry much weight. ‘Each to their own’ and enjoy whatever you do – as long as you look after the fish you catch!
Have you ever fished abroad for big carp?
I have only fished abroad a handful of times, visiting venues in Belgium and France, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A week at Rainbow with Steve Broad was a level 9.4 experience! A week of total relaxed silliness and carp fishing on an awe-inspiring venue with an exceptionally lovely man who has more knowledge of the venue than almost any other UK angler.
Who is the best carp angler you’ve ever fished with?
It has to be my old mate Terry Hearn. Ever since I have known him he has been a cut above in terms of raw watercraft, observation skills, relentless effort, adaptability and knowledge. It’s been a long time since I have had the opportunity to fish with Tel as our angling paths have split over the years. I bet he’s even better now!
What about the best bit of angling you’ve ever seen?
One that stands out is Steve Pagulatos’ capture of Arfur off the top from the Car Park Lake. The sheer spectacle was brilliant. I was up a tree nearby watching the whole thing, from the floaters being put out, to the bite and the subsequent boat battle. It was amazing as Big O and another big fish swept through the tunnels in the forest of weed to get to the boat he used just to deposit the floaters out, and the reaction I saw when no bait fluttered down was amazing. They looked confused by the fact that nothing dropped through the water column. It was amazing to behold.
Do you have any ambitions left in fishing?
Looking beyond my current fixation with the Turtle and his cohorts, my future ambitions will be linked with opportunities to fish waters that suit my aspirations. I fancy somewhere as yet unidentified with a big sky and containing a monster carp or two!
Finally, you must have seen some proper ‘strokes’ pulled down the years… any you’d care to divulge?
Most anglers I know are focused on fish safety and don’t do anything that would risk the fish’s welfare. However, getting an edge over other anglers is a different matter, and I have seen all sorts of high jinks, ranging from just reducing a mate’s wraps by a few inches, to gratuitously wiping out neighbours’ lines (just to ‘open up’ a bit of space), through to shouting ‘interceptor’ – in a slightly camp Ringwood accent – while casting into a neighbouring angler’s water. As long as you shout ‘interceptor’, it’s just fine!
There was one time, an angling friend suspected another was nicking water out of his water butt each day, so he urinated in it… that was a good one!