Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Simon Fry Interview

My latest interview is with Garbolino star, Simon Fry.

Hi Simon, thank you very much for agreeing to do an interview;

You’ve been a consultant with Garbolino for a long time now which is quite a rarity in this fickle sport of ours and I have to say I find such loyalty refreshing, can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Garbolino?

Simon - I used to work in the cosmetics industry with a guy called Terry Hale back in the mid 80’s! Terry went on to buy a fishing tackle company called Leeda, who were the UK distributors of Garbolino at that time, and asked me to come and work for him. That’s where I met Darren Cox, and the rest as they say is history! Garbolino started dealing directly with the trade (away from Leeda) in 2003 and has been going strong ever since!

Do you get involved with the development of new products and can you tell us a little about the process?

Yes, I do. As well as working together, Darren and I are very good friends and travel around fishing matches a lot. We are always talking about products, ideas, etc. I will often get to play about with prototype products and have an input where I think improvements can be made, etc. We also have regular trips over to Garbolino’s French HQ, where we meet with the French product and management teams. It’s an ongoing process to be honest.

What exciting new Garbolino products can you tell us about?

The major product category about to hit the market is a range of distance feeder fishing rods which I can’t wait for. Feeder fishing is all the rage currently and Garbolino has always had a good name in this area with the original G and Super G distance feeder rods going back years….. This new range (due to launch in October) will take them on to another level!

What’s your favourite style of fishing?

I’m a bit of an “all-rounder” and love many aspects of fishing so don’t really have a specific favourite style. 

Your favourite species?

As with above, I just love catching fish! My favourite species is the one I need to catch to win the match!

Where is your favourite venue?

I’ve got a soft spot for my local River Avon around Stratford and have had some great days on the river. Commercial venue-wise I tend to favour larger open water venues, with Barston, Larford etc among my favourites, having been very kind to me.

Have you any angling heroes or anyone who has inspired you?

In my early days, Ray Mumford. I have been very lucky to fish with a successful Starlets Team over the last 15 years or so, winning lots of big team events, so I’ve taken loads of inspiration from my Starlets colleagues, most notably of course my great mate Darren Cox.

What’s your biggest fish in the UK? And abroad?

Not had many BIG fish, but have had several “just under” 20lb carp in matches.

A lot of people say commercial fisheries have been the saviour of match fishing, especially with the decline of the rivers but more recently there seems to have been a swing away from carp back towards silver fish matches and rivers, where do you think the future of fishing lies?

I hope there’ll be a place for all styles of fishing in the future. I’m sure the current craze for feeder fishing is set to continue, and events like Riverfest prove there is strong demand here too, but I can’t really see the general dominance of Commercial Fisheries fading. 

Match angling is such a complex sport with so many variables, that overnight success is rare, in this day and age of instant gratification and the ‘want it now’ culture, how do we get more youngsters into the sport? and have you got any tips on how they can become successful match anglers?

The question of getting youngsters into fishing is the major issue for everyone connected with the fishing tackle trade. It’s one that is extremely difficult to answer. Those youngsters that are coming through should try and get involved with a club, or go to venues that hold high profile matches and have a look at the top anglers in action. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!!

Looking at your profile on the Garbolino website you have an enviable roll of honours, which have been your biggest achievements? And are there any more you would like to add to that list?

Two really stand out, with my biggest achievement being winning the 2005 Division One National on The Grand Union Canal around Milton Keynes with Starlets. This was the last of the really big “Teams of 12” Nationals, and was Starlets first ever Div One Title. What made it extra special for me was winning it individually on the day as well. I had around 25lb of bream and skimmers and had a bumper payday after a bet with Billy Knott!

I also won the Drennan KO Cup in 2009. What a great competition that was and a true test of all round ability, with rounds on canals, rivers and various types of commercials. I beat fellow Garbolino Angler, Ian Didcote in the final who went on to win it himself the following year!

I would obviously love to win one of the major big money events.

If you had a time machine is there one moment in fishing you wished you could go back and change? i.e. a dream fish coming off at the net or a decision in a match that’s cost you a title?

Never look back! What has happened has happened, just look forward to the next one!

Have you got one piece of advice that will help the readers put more fish in their nets?

Get as much information as you can about where you are fishing, and be fully prepared with your tackle, etc.

Match fishing has been steadily becoming more professional with anglers smartening up their appearance, big money televised events and more and more sponsored anglers but there are still only a handful of full time anglers, do you think there will ever be a time when match angling can become a viable career, like say professional footballers?

Nope! It’s way too niche a sport and in the grand scheme of things just doesn’t attract a wider interest outside of those directly involved.

On the subject of the big money events like Fisho, MMT and now the Golden Reel, do you enter the qualifiers? Is there a burning desire to win one of those events?

I do enter them and have been in FishO, MMT and Riverfest Finals. I just missed out on Feedermasters 4 consecutive times last year, and 3 times this year have framed in a Golden Reel Qualifier. All you can do is keep knocking on the door…………. One day Rodney!?!

Well thank you for giving up your time but before I let you go, here’s a few more quick-fire questions,

What’s your favourite drink?


Favourite meal?

Salmon Salad

Do you support a football team?

Haven’t watched a game of football in many years! I do go regularly to support Wasps in the Rugby Premiership, and was at the Prem’ Final at Twickenham earlier this year. 

Favourite film?

The Green Mile

TV show?

Once a year…..The Masters at Augusta

What music do you listen to?

Jazz, Soul.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Waking up on a hot sunny day whilst on holiday, looking forward to a chilled out, fun day with my family.

Many thanks again Simon, from Against Men and Fish

Check out the website here - Garbolino

*All images courtesy of Simon Fry

Monday, September 25, 2017

Summerhayes - Open - 24th September 2017

After last week's struggle I was looking forward to fishing Longs this Sunday but feared the worst when I saw on an angling clubs blog that they had it booked for a match and sure enough Pete phoned in the week to say we'd be on Sellicks again.

I met Hurf at the Little Chef for breakfast as he was off to fish the Taunton match on the Tone, which was a nice start to the day but I also received a text from the Tart saying he was on his way to Pete's, which wasn't so nice! I got there in good time and Jeff Sparkes paid me his pound from the other week and I said he'd probably have it back today. While waiting for the draw, Pete showed us his new free range maggots!

Along with Jeff, I had the usual pound with the Tart on our respective positions for carp and silvers and Gareth wanted a pound on both. The golden ball was drawn and today it was peg 2, which Rob Birch then pulled out, I went in and was happy with 19 on the far side, just next door to where I was last week. Rigs were the usual 0.3 gram NG Mini Gimp to fish top two on the right and a 0.6 gram Malman Pencil for two lines straight out and angled to the left at ten metres and also a line at five metres. As always my side tray was nice and simple, Bait-Tech 2mm Carp and Coarse micros that I'd soaked the night before plus 4mm Xpands for the hook.
This week I thought I'd treat you to the view looking up the pond!
On the whistle I fed some micros on all four lines before starting on the top two, in almost a carbon copy of last week, I had a small tench quite quickly but unlike the last match I was getting a few indications so stuck with it and added a small roach on the half hour mark but when I saw Roger up on 14 land a skimmer it was time to try my longer lines.

I had a hand sized skimmer followed by a small carp and then another little tench to finish off a steady first hour and I felt a decent weight was on the cards. I should have known better, the second hour was awful with the only action coming from the inevitable foul hooked carp. Pete turned up and said it was fishing really hard, Rob hadn't had a fish yet on peg 2 and Jeff only had a couple of silvers. While he was behind me I had a good bite and struck into a little blade which of course came off as I shipped back and then I hooked yet another carp.

Just after he left, I saw Roger land another skimmer and then out of the blue, I've had a slightly better skimbob but it appeared to be a loner. As the halfway point arrived I only had about a pound in the net but if last week was anything to go by, it would only take a couple of better fish to get a result today. Jack Billett was on 21 and catching carp quite well and it was neck and neck with his brother John who was on 23. There was another Jack on my right, a young lad who travelled up with the Tart and he was catching a few and seemed like a nice young man, although that won't last if he spends too much time in the Tart's company!

It also started raining and Roger walked past to get his coat from the car, he said he'd had three skimmers and a crucian so he was well ahead of me. I had a spell of missing loads of bites on the longer lines and I did lose a slightly better skimmer when I went to unship at the top two. I eventually managed to hit one of those bites and it turned out to be a tiny blade. I had a quick go on the inside but when I lost a carp, that was enough of that.

With two hours to go, it was time to try the five metre line for the first time, I had a bite quite quickly and hooked a little tench that came off at the net which about summed up how the day was going. I started getting quite a few indications and had another tiny little blade so upped the feed to try and get rid of them, it worked to a certain extent as my bites dried up! I did have a couple more carp and two more hand sized skimmers but I knew I hadn't beaten Roger and I hoped those two lost fish weren't going to cost me.

After packing up, we all gathered at Rob's peg to await the weigh in and while we waited we watched Captain Pugwash aka Mike, in the boat trying to retrieve some lost pole sections. I asked Rob how he'd got on and he said he was blanking after two and a half hours but then had caught a few on paste and was admitting to 5-6lb and I was pretty sure nobody else had that so he was in line for a bumper payday. The Tart arrived and was admitting to 60lb, it was looking like he'd be in the top three so I gave him a pound, then Jeff said he was admitting to 3lb of silvers so I paid him as well and all I needed was Gareth to have caught a few silvers and I'd be skint! Pete arrived with the scales and when Rob pulled his net out he had some nice skimmers and his weight was 7lb 13oz, well done mate.
Rob Birch with another winning silvers catch
Jim Jenner was next and stuck 97lb 12oz on the scales, Mike didn't weigh as he was having too much fun in his boat and then Jeff had 3lb 8oz of silvers, the Tart had 80lb 14oz to go into second place before Gareth had 58lb 11oz but as he didn't have any silvers, that side bet was quits - phew! Duncan had 50lb 8oz from peg 12 and then Roy Hughes pushed the Tart down into third place with 87lb 14oz. Roger was next and when he pulled his net out, it was going to be tight and the digital readout settled on 3lb 6oz. Darren K didn't weigh and then young Jack had 34lb 1oz from peg 17.

Then it was my turn and my fish went 2lb 6oz and I don't think those two fish I lost would have been enough for second, I didn't bother weighing my 20lb of carp. That just left Jack B and his brother to weigh and see who would take home the bragging rights, Jack just edged it with 59lb 12oz to John's 54lb 4oz. Thanks to Jeff Sparkes for the photo*
I struggled for 2lb 6oz*
1 - Jim Jenner (Summerhayes) - 97lb 12oz
2 - Roy Hughes (Summerhayes) - 87lb 14oz
3 - Brendon Ions (Torquay) - 80lb 14oz

1 - Rob Birch (Summerhayes) - 7lb 13oz
2 - Jeff Sparkes (Summerhayes) - 3lb 8oz
Decent overall weights but it's a struggle on Sellicks for silvers at the moment
So Jim won on the day and Rob took home a big fat envelope for winning on the golden peg and both him and Roger have been hard to beat on silvers all summer. Next week we're on the river for the first match of the winter league and I'm really looking forward to it as some of the lads have been down swim clearing and are reporting loads of fish about.

I can't go without saying well done to Hurf who had a better day than I did when he finished second in the Taunton AA match on the Tone at Newbridge with over 7 kilos of quality roach on the waggler.

Next up - River Isle

Coming soon - My next interview coming up in the week

Check Out - My last match (below)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Summerhayes - Open - 17th September 2017

This weeks match was on Sellicks and as I hadn't heard anything from the Tart I was hoping he'd gone into hibernation for the winter but no such luck and as I turned into the car park, his van was already there. I said hello before going to get some nets and Pete has just got a load of smart new Mosella keepnets, hopefully the anglers will look after them! I paid my pools and could see on the board that there were 17 booked in for today, I asked the Tart if any more of the Torquay contingent were fishing and his reply was 'Yes, my disciples are on their way', which about sums him up!

Pete got the Tart to draw the golden peg and he pulled out peg 23 and then, as so often happens, only went and drew it for himself, my destination for the day was peg 18 which I was more than happy with as it's a good silvers area. As for the side bet it would be decided on our respective positions for carp and silvers. My other side bet was Exeter Mike who wanted a pound on silvers. In form silvers angler, Roger Russell, was on 17 but I had an empty peg on my left which hopefully would help as a bit of space is normally a bonus with quite a few anglers on the pond.
The Tart was on his usual flier
I set up a 0.3 gram NG Mini Gimp to fish top two on the right and a 0.6 gram Malman Pencil for two lines straight out and angled to the left at ten metres and a further two lines at five metres. Plumbing up, the level of the pond was down a couple of feet which I didn't think would do us any favours and with most pegs in, I said to Roger that I thought it might fish hard and that 8lb would be a good weight today. As always my side tray was nice and simple, Bait-Tech 2mm Carp and Coarse micros that I'd soaked the night before plus 4mm Xpands for the hook.
Looking down the pond from peg 18
On the whistle I fed half a pot of micros on all five lines before starting on the top two, after about ten minutes, the float sailed away and a fair bit of elastic exited the pole tip, I knew it wasn't a carp and a 6oz tench got me off to a great start. Roger was into a fish soon after but his was a carp and a bit of a lump, he then followed it up with a little tench. I missed a bite but after half an hour I still only had one fish so picked up the other rig and shipped out to ten metres. Tom Mangnall was on peg 20 and getting a few fishing tight to the island but was also suffering with foulers. After a couple of missed bites I had a skimmer of 6oz or so but that was it as a really slow first hour came to a close.

I did manage another skimmer of a similar size in the second hour and lost a couple of foul hooked carp but it was fishing really hard, Tom, Chris Boulton and the Tart to my left were getting the odd carp but nobody was really catching to my right. I kept swapping between my two longer lines, but only had one missed bite from the left hand line. Roy Hughes, who was on 15, walked past and I asked how he was getting on, he said he had one carp and one skimmer. Roger had a skimmer from his short line and then I had my third skimmer from the ten metre line but it was painfully slow and any thoughts of an 8lb weight had gone out the window! I did say to Roger that there was a good chance somebody would win this with an accidental big skimmer or crucian while fishing for carp!

I was dripping in micros on both the five metre lines but, as always, would leave them to the last couple of hours before trying them. The next couple of hours yielded just two foul hooked carp and one tiny little blade which boosted my weight by about half an ounce! So with about two hours to go, I had one little tench, three skimmers and a blade for a pound or so and was just ahead of Roger who had one tench and a skimbob plus a couple of bits. I came in on the five metre line and didn't have to wait too long for my first bite which was another little blade but by this stage I was grateful for anything! I tried the left hand shorter line but no indications so I went back over the other line and the rig settled but kept on going and on the strike I knew it was a skimmer and I played it carefully and was relieved when a nice fish of 12oz or so slid into the landing net.

Tom and Chris were both catching carp well and it didn't look like the Tart would be taking home a bumper payday today, at one stage I'm sure I saw him looking in his carryall for a tube of Savlon! I kept trying different lines but the only entertainment was provided by the odd foul hooked carp and I couldn't believe it was fishing so hard for silvers. With only half an hour to go, I saw Roger strike out the corner of my eye and when a decent fish leapt out of the water I knew it was a good skimmer and at around 2lb, I was sure he'd overtaken me. I was praying for one more fish but it didn't happen and I finished the match with a meagre tally of seven silvers for about 2lb.

I packed up and took my kit back to the car, the Tart was admitting to 50lb of carp but only one silver. The scales started with Alan Jenkins who had 2lb 7oz of silvers and I wasn't sure I had that. One of the Tarts disciples, Geoff Young, weighed 32lb 4oz but reckoned he'd lost twenty carp today! Exeter Mike had four skimmers for 1lb 14oz from peg 8 and it was going to be incredibly tight for the pound. There were a few DNW's before Mark Jones had 24lb 4oz from peg 12, Jim Jenner had 27lb 10oz next door and then Mike had 28lb 10oz from peg 14.

Roy Hughes had 11lb 10oz on 15 and then Yardie didn't weigh before we got to Roger, his fish went 2lb 11oz and I knew I didn't have that, I was next and it was close but as I expected I needed another fish as Adie called out 2lb 9oz which put me second in the silvers. Then it was Tom's turn and he'd done brilliantly to weigh 96lb 9oz, mid match he swapped from fishing pellets to groundbait and maggot and won comfortably. Chris B had 66lb 7oz on 21 to go into second place and then the Tart had 54lb 6oz for third place, so as I finished second in the silvers, that could only mean one thing.......yet another of the Tarts pounds was coming home with me!
Todays board
We were obviously in the right area as the top three overall and the top two silvers were all in a line! Back at the results and as always I clapped and said well done to the winners (even the Tart) but by the time the silvers winners were read out, he'd already gone, wheel spinning out of the car park - despicable! Maybe he needed to get to the chippie for tea before it shut! I picked up £22 for second in the silvers plus the all important £2 in side bets but I have to say that was hard going today, I'm back again next week where hopefully it'll be on Longs.

1 - Tom Mangnall (Mosella) - 96lb 9oz
2 - Chris Boulton (Summerhayes) - 66lb 7oz
3 - Brendon Ions (Torquay) - 54lb 6oz
4 - Geoff Young (Torquay) - 32lb 4oz

1 - Roger Russell (Tackleuk) - 2lb 11oz
2 - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 2lb 9oz

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - My next review

Check Out - My latest guest post (below)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Mullet Nirvana in Ireland - Pete Bluett

My latest guest post is Pete's account of a dream trip to mullet nirvana in Ireland.

My partner Jenny and I have just returned from our annual mullet fishing trip to the Republic of Ireland. As usual, the destination was Rosscarbery in west Cork. What a week it turned out to be.

The town of Rosscarbery sits at the top of a short, wide, shallow estuary. The main N71 trunk road cuts across the estuary forming a tidal lagoon to the north of the road which is connected to the estuary via a single arch. Both the estuary and lagoon are very shallow and mullet can be caught in either. There is very little by way of upstream freshwater catchment meaning it remains fishable in all but the very wettest weather. All three species of grey mullet are present, but we would be concentrating on the thick lips (chelon labrosus). This was our fourth visit, and my aims for the week were twofold – to not blank, and to catch at least one 5 pounder (the National Mullet Club’s ‘gold’ standard).

Tuesday 5th September

We arrived in Ross at about 4 in the afternoon. By the time we had unpacked and had a cuppa, we were both knackered and debated whether or not to go down to the water for an evening session. In the end we decided to give it a go but weren't confident when we saw the water colour - very brown from extremely heavy rain over the previous 48 hours. Rather surprisingly though we came across lots of whelms (mullet speak for swirls) in a sheltered spot along the west side of the estuary. Still not expecting much, we chucked our leger baits out, set up to fish crust popped up off the bottom, and rested the rods up against the wall. Within literally 3 minutes, my left hand rod wrenched around and I was into a good fish. After the usual hair raising scrap, I could hardly believe what lay in the net. It went 5lb 10oz.

After returning that one, there were still fish whelming in the swim and within 15 minutes I had another rod bending take and another big mullet went screaming off. Unfortunately that one came off after a minute or so. I really thought that would have killed the swim, but no, after another 30 minutes or so, one of my rods went round again and I was once again into a good fish. Again the scrap was difficult and nerve wracking in the shallow water, but unbelievably this one was even bigger than the first at 5lb 13oz!

Things really did die after that but I could scarcely believe that I'd had two big 5s and achieved both my aims within an hour of arriving!

Wednesday 6th September

After the feast the famine, well for me at least! Jen and I fished hard all day at various swims around the west of the estuary but despite getting a lot of interest in our legered baits we just couldn't get a fish to stick on. Come the evening flood tide we returned to the spot we'd fished the night before and although there were noticeably fewer whelms, there were obviously fish in residence. After a fair bit of muppetry, I managed a 'small' one of 3lb 13oz, and almost immediately afterwards Jen's rod tip pulled round and she was in too. I knew straight away it was another very good fish and got really nervous for her when it kept kiting into shallow, snag-ridden water. She played it beautifully though and was rewarded with a stunning fish of 6lb exactly - her first '6' and smashing her previous pb by 11oz.

Thursday 7th September

We were joined by old friend and expert mullet angler Dave Rigden for the day and once again due to the strong westerly wind we stuck to legering sheltered swims along the west side of the estuary. To cut a long story short, Dave and Jenny rather inexplicably remained fishless but I was lucky to catch three of 3:13, 4:08 and 5:03.

Friday 8th September

Rinse and repeat with regard to swims and tactics. Once again for some reason the fish came to me and not Jenny despite us fishing close together using identical baits and rigs. I had a 4:13 during the day then a 3:15 at twilight. The 3:15 was particularly odd. I was baiting one rod when the tip of the other rod pulled hard round and then sprang back with the line going completely slack and hanging from the rod tip. I waited to see if anything would develop but nothing happened. Eventually I picked the rod up and as I wound the line tight I could feel a live weight on the end which turned out to be a mullet! I can only assume that it had picked up the bait, hooked itself then decided to lie doggo rather than run off.

Saturday 9th September

Jen had felt unwell during the night so I fished most of the day on my own. Once again it was really windy but I elected to leger off the grass by the bridge arch - a swim that has been good to Dave this year. There were plenty of mullet showing but I had to wait a fair old while for take. A take that resulted in a decent mullet screaming line off the drag for about 10 seconds then coming off. A long wait then ensued during which nothing happened. Then just as Jen came down for a chat as the tide bottomed out, I had another take completely out of the blue. This fish kited constantly to my left trying to get into the flow pouring out of the lagoon, but fortunately everything held and I had a fish of 4lb 5oz in the net.

After lunch I decided to try float fishing in the lagoon. I'd seen a few whelms in there when I walked past in the morning and felt there might be a decent chance of a fish. It proved to be correct, within 5 minutes of starting, my waggler shot under and after an epic 10 minute fight I had a truly stunning mullet of 4lb 14oz on the bank (well, road actually). I don't have a photo of that fish which is a shame because it was fin and scale perfect. Alas, after that, muppetry and bad luck took over and I proceeded to hook and lose three fish that were at least as big as the one I'd caught.

Sunday 10th September

After what I'd seen and experienced the day before, we decided to concentrate on float fishing the lagoon. We saw fish from the off and soon started getting bites. I rather suspect a lot were small fish though because we couldn't hook them. Eventually though I struck into a properly solid lump that didn't really take off but just plodded backwards and forwards long the length of wall we were fishing from. Although we had several good views of it, it was probably 10 minutes until I could make any headway on it. In the end into the net it went, and weighed in at 5lb 9oz.

We were joined once again for the afternoon by Dave. The session was slower than the morning but we did all have sporadic bites. The fishing gods were obviously smiling on me again though as I was the only one of the three of us to connect. After an identical wrist wilting fight to the morning fish, I honestly couldn't believe I'd done it again. This one went 5lb 11oz.

 Monday 11th September     

Our last day again saw us in the lagoon. Unfortunately it was much quieter than the previous two days and bites were few and far between. The morning was a complete blank. I went back in the afternoon leaving Jenny to chill out for a bit longer, and within 5 minutes of arriving my float slid purposefully away and I was into yet another sizeable mullet. This fish decided it wanted to run and made several long fast forays out towards the middle of the lagoon. In so doing it tired much more quickly than the others and came to the net within 3 or 4 minutes. Jen turned up just in time to help me weigh it and photograph it - 4lb 10oz.

The lagoon went totally dead after that and we whiled away the remaining hours of the holiday trying unsuccesfully to tempt some truly huge mullet that we could see milling around in the estuary below the main N71 road.

So that was our week. I'm gutted that Jen only had the one fish, but at least it was one she won't forget in a hurry! For the record, my 13 fish were 3:13, 3:13, 3:15, 4:05, 4:08, 4:10, 4:13, 4:14, 5:03, 5:09, 5:10, 5:11 and 5:13. A week to remember I think you'll agree, and I reckon it’ll be a long, long time before I have a better one!

National Mullet Club Website

Further reading - ‘Fishing For Ghosts’ written by Mike Ladle and David Rigden.

*All images courtesy of Pete Bluett

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Amer Jawad Interview

My latest interview is with Rive's Amer Jawad and if I do say so myself, it's a great read!

Hi Amer, I realise you are a very busy man so thank you so much for agreeing to answer my questions;

As the UK General Manager for Rive can you tell us what constitutes a typical day, if there is such a thing?

Amer - I am very new to the roll of UK general manger for Rive. At first it was learning what was required from my retailers as to what was expected from such a high quality brand. My typical day is always a pre-planned day. This means putting in many miles in the car to reach my existing account base as well as setting up new accounts. Meetings are best pre-arranged for me to make sure I meet the right staff/owners. I don't want to travel the distances and be told to come back when the owner is in! As I cover the UK on my own, as you can imagine you are required 24/7 by phone or email, from UK accounts, anglers and my French and Dutch colleagues! I always say, "a busy day is a good day" 

Obviously Rive are a French company, does that mean you spend a lot of your time on the other side of the channel?

Not really. At first I was required to travel across the channel to learn about how the company operates. This was a great way for me to learn quickly. Now my visits are on average 4-5 times a year.

Do you ever get to fish competitions in France? How does their match scene compare to ours?

As much as I have travelled to France, I have never actually match fished there. But speaking to my colleagues who are all match anglers, their scene is not dissimilar to ours from a natural venue point of view. They use bloodworm and joker far more on matches than we do. Their commercial scene has grown over the years with the introduction of carpodromes. These waters have big stocks of very large carp!

The new Rive catalogue has just been released for 2018, what exciting new products should we be looking out for?

Yes I am very excited to be playing a part in some new product innovations. Some of the new Rive products to look out for are: two new UK suited R16 poles to complement the already popular R16 Professional pole. Obviously the new RS1 box which has been in strong demand since its recent launch. One new product which I have personally seen in the flesh is the new mini twin roller. It has the versatility to switch from a twin roller to a single flat bed type roller with a unique twisting mechanism of the central roller. Some great new smart clothing with UV protection. Without doubt one of my favourite new products to be launched is the free standing side trays. These are just what was asked for in every way and more... Those days when you have limited platform space or bank space. These side trays don't require the use of supporting legs. So no need to worry about holding up the trays with any other forms of supports. Lighter and no extra legs needs to be bought. A real winner!  

The Rive seatboxes are expensive bits of kit, certainly in the upper bracket when it comes to price and they do divide opinion somewhat between anglers with some saying you get what you pay for while others think they are overpriced, can you provide an insight into what you get for your money?

I fully understand that not all can afford to spend the money on a premium, top end seat box. I have learnt so much and more since I have been through the manufacturing process of a single Rive seat box. Let's take this as we are talking about the ST and RS1 boxes as we do a range which starts from £150. One seat box is made and assembled primarily in France. We have many staff who specialise in various aspects of the manufacturing of a single seat box. Each member of staff has a roll to play in the making of one seat box. This ranges from the individual clamps and assembly, the painting of each metal part. The welding of each frame, each tray and drawer unit have to be put together with their own clamps and clasps. The cushions are made with a specially sourced material only available from a top Swiss manufacturer. These are then made by hand by a master saddler in Strasbourg, who also specialise in the motor industry. We use these skilled workers because they now what constitutes a comfortable seat cushion. This means less back problems and a very supportive comfortable seat cushion. We use the best quality marine ply for the base of the seat cushion. This is so that any water ingress will not absorb or cause warping of the seat base. We hold patents on various innovative parts of our seat boxes which command a high costing. Every back plate is made with a specially tooled machine. We have made these boxes with many firsts in the fishing tackle trade. Open leg brackets. High stability footplate which means we are the only seat box manufacturer that has a six legged seat box where as the weight distribution is purely transferred onto 4 legs set forward and not just two. Convinced yet? 😂 (Yep, I'll start saving!)

You do quite a bit of coaching, so with that and your commitments to Rive, do you still get time to fish as many matches as you would like?

My coaching days are always done at weekends. So no work time is lost. I also see this form of support to the various anglers as a way of putting back into the sport what has served me so well and brought me so much enjoyment for best part of 35 years now. Fishing is quite a selfish sport and I personally appreciate those who have supported me over the years. I was always wishing I could have received a level of support when I was learning the sport/hobby. Nobody in my family or friends really got involved in fishing. So for me it was learning the hard way! Now with my work in the tackle trade it has hit my own fishing a lot. But in a good way, if you can say it? It's been important to establish the brand of Rive further over here and also establish myself within the trade. And remember these coaching days are potential Rive customers of the future! Match fishing is in my blood, I won't be away for too long... 

What’s your favourite style of fishing?

Pole fishing for bream!

Your favourite species?

A difficult one this... has to be bream. They are such good weight builders and once you master how they prefer to feed, a big weight is always on the cards. 

Where is your favourite venue?

Voorne Canal (Holland) 

Have you any angling heroes or anyone who has inspired you?

Ex world champion Ian Heaps, in my early days he helped me understand some basic but important lessons. Ex match angler and former England international Kim Milsom. Without knowing it Kim was an angler who was without doubt a natural talent. His attention to detail and how he could read a venue much quicker than most was something I picked up in in my days fishing with and against Kim.

And I must make a special mention to my ex travelling partner Tim Nash. Tim had a way of keeping me calm when I was so het up after drawing. A true legend he was. Rip mate.  

What’s your biggest fish in the UK? And abroad?

24lb Pole caught mirror carp. (UK) 

Large Tuna and Barracuda (US and Kenya) sorry not weighed! Have to be an anglers guess...

You travel around Europe a fair bit, are there any countries you still really want to visit and any species you would dearly love to catch?

India - Mahseer. 

A lot of people say commercial fisheries have been the saviour of match fishing, especially with the decline of the rivers but more recently there seems to have been a swing away from carp back towards silver fish matches and rivers, where do you think the future of fishing lies?

I am not sure commercial fisheries have been the saviour of match fishing. In my opinion it's changed match fishing in other ways. Take the UK team scene, these events have suffered due to the anglers giving up team commitments in favour of frequenting the many commercial fisheries up and down the country. Once to be involved in the biggest matches you had to be involved with a team, nowadays the biggest events are individual events. I see far less youngsters coming into the sport now. So what will the future of the sport be like without the keen youngsters like I once was? Commercials have given us a great variation to guarantee some great sport though and I can understand why these types of venues are so popular. I'll put it simply... when I took up fishing as a hobby, the challenge for me was to catch a fish. It took me 6 weeks to achieve this. I was hooked for life! Now I see pleasure anglers fishing local commercial venues catching big carp on their first visits to the venues. Do they get that same buzz and sense of achievement as I did all those years ago fishing a local park lake? For me the youngsters see completing a computer game as their challenge these days!   

What has been your favourite match win to date? And are there any titles you would dearly like to win?

So many great match wins I could mention. It would be easy to say qualifying for a Fishomania final or some other big wins. But for me it has to be a match that really set me up in the sport for life. Winning the Intermediate youth championships at the age of 16 was a massive step for me. Over 1000 fished this event on a qualifying basis first and I was the eventual winner. It still means so much to me today as I have a lot to thank that day for. The title I now would dearly like to win is an event I have come so close to winning over the last two years... It's the Dutch Classic on my favourite venue (Voorne Canal). To be 1 pt off winning last years festival and runner up on week 1. 6th and 7th this year only 2 points from joint first place. I am getting closer! 

If you had a time machine is there one moment in fishing you wished you could go back and change? i.e. a dream fish coming off at the net or a decision in a match that’s cost you a title?

I feel very fortunate to have very few, if any regrets in fishing. But if I could turn the clocks back on a match it would be the Division 1 national on the King Sedgemoor drain and River Huntspill. I was drawn on a very heavily flooded Sedgemoor drain. I spent the first half of the match fishing a flat float on the pole for nothing. Like a fool I just felt I wasn't going to catch anything as I could see for a long way along the drain and nothing was being caught. I picked up the feeder rod and cast across the drain to a small slack against some reeds. First cast a drop back and a bream was on! I lost this fish in some weed half way across. I went on to catch 6 more bream for 30lb and an individual medal. I am convinced I should have won the national that day. I only needed two more fish... 

Have you got one piece of advice that will help the readers put more fish in their nets?

"If you think it, do it"

Many times I use this as a general rule. The amount of times it comes off is unreal. We have all won lots of matches in hindsight...

Match fishing has been steadily becoming more professional with anglers smartening up their appearance, big money televised events and more and more sponsored anglers but there are still only a handful of full time anglers, do you think there will ever be a time when match angling can become a viable career, like say professional footballers?

I wish it would be the case as so many top anglers put so much time and effort into their sport. But in my opinion, no. 

Unfortunately fishing only really has the appeal to anglers. It's not like snooker or tennis which I know so many people watch, even though they have never taken part in those sports. There are some great televised events, but I feel it won't get big enough for big money to be pumped in at the level of other lucrative sports. 

On the subject of the big money events like Fisho, MMT and now the Golden Reel, do you enter the qualifiers? Is there a burning desire to win one of those events?

I have entered 7 Fishomania qualifiers to date: 

Won the lake 5 times. Qualified 1 time. (Hayfield lakes final)

I have fished 2 Maver Match This qualifiers to date: Barston and Makins fishery.

2 x framed and qualified for the Maver British Pole Champs!

Maybe I should fish these more often?

Yes I can see me doing more at some point in the future.

Well thank you for giving up your time but before I let you go, here’s a few more quick-fire questions,

What’s your favourite drink?

Water... so boring, but so important! 

Favourite meal?

Moussaka (Greek dish) 

Do you support a football team?

Born less than a mile from Anfield... Liverpool FC

Favourite film?


TV show?

The Walking Dead

What music do you listen to?

Foo Fighters 

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Waking up knowing I have a great family. Then taking them out for the day! 

Many thanks again Amer, from Against Men and Fish

Check out the new catalogue on the website - Rive France

*All images courtesy of Amer Jawad

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dillington Pond - Summer League 10 - 10th September 2017

It was back to Dillington for the final Summer League match on Sunday and there were three anglers in contention for the title, Bill on 10 points, Fieldy on 14 and John D on 15. The Paste King had that four point buffer and just needed to avoid a blow out today, which on current form was highly unlikely. I paid Karl my pound from the other week and we agreed to have a nugget today as well. After another lovely breakfast, Hurf announced the draw and with Nick bagging up on peg 2 in the week, that was most peoples first choice. I also fancied peg 1 but also wouldn't mind peg 4, 13 or 14. In a complete change to my usual drawing technique, I went in first (I knew the winning peg was in there somewhere) and slowly opened my fingers, it wasn't peg 2 but I was fairly happy when I saw the number 4 staring back at me as Frank had won the last match there with two bream and a skimmer for 10lb odd.

Bill had drawn peg 2 and there would be no catching him now, Fieldy was on 20 with John D on 19 so it would be next peg battle for the runners up position. Rob was on peg 1, Bob on 6, Steve P on 7, Hurf on 8, Big Frank on 9 and Karl on 10. Along with Karl, I also had side bets with Rob, Hurf and Steve P so it could be an expensive day! My peg looked really good with lilies and reed beds to the left and right and I was intending to spend most of the day fishing for big fish.
My view from peg 4
I set up three rigs for today, a Drennan 0.4 gram Pencil to fish corn at 11.5 metres by the lilies on the left and right, along with a 0.2 gram AS1 to fish two sections to hand and a little Preston Chianti for up in the water. On the side tray I had caster, maggots, corn and hemp and I mixed up a little Pro Natural Dark. Nick Payne provided the pre match entertainment when he did some squirrel hunting with his rig caught up in the willow tree! I was ready with a few minutes to spare so wandered up to have a natter with some of the others which prompted Hurf to comment that the new cast of Last of the Summer Wine (or should that be Whine!) had turned up, I have no idea what he meant! Thanks to Hurf for the photo*
Ilminster AA's answer to Compo, Clegg and Foggy*
On the whistle I cupped in two big pots of casters, corn and hemp on both the longer lines before starting with the top two to hand rig, feeding a few casters and a little nugget of groundbait. I had a couple of small roach on single maggot so switched to caster and had a couple of better roach but it certainly wasn't fast or furious and after three quarters of an hour I had 16 fish for a pound or so and to be honest I was itching to go out on the big fish lines. Elsewhere in my section, Hurf had landed a couple of nice perch, Steve P had a bonus tench and Frank had netted a couple of fish on the feeder.

I slipped on a grain of corn and filled the toss pot with casters and hemp before shipping out and starting on the left hand line. There were odd blows coming up and I felt sure it would only be a matter of time before the float slid away as a nice bream took the bait. Half an hour passed without a proper indication and I was just thinking about putting some more feed in and trying the other line when the float sailed away and I missed it! My hope that they'd arrived soon faded when a further thirty minutes passed without any more bites.

I cupped in some more feed before going over the right hand line, this time a positive bite came quite quickly and I bloody missed that one as well, the same thing happened next chuck but at least there were a few fish there, I shipped out again, determined to hit the next bite but this time the float just sat there! I put some more feed in and went back over the left hand line, I had two fantastic bites where the float dipped and held there before sliding away and I missed both of those as well! It was also raining and a blustery wind was making presentation difficult.

As we passed the half way mark, I hadn't added anything to my early pound of fish and from feeling fairly confident, I was now pinning my hopes on a few fish showing in the last hour. Karl turned up and said he'd only had a couple of pounds and that apart from Adie on peg 14 who had caught seven skimmers early on the feeder, nobody was catching much. I tried double caster and had a few small roach, one of 4oz and a chublet of 8oz or so but I was going nowhere fast and still felt I needed big fish to do any good today.

Rob also came for a wander and said he'd had one chub but had lost two under the bush in peg 1, he also reported that Bill had caught a decent bream plus skimmers and John D was getting a few as well. I missed a couple more really good bites and with only an hour and a half left, not only was it looking like my bad run was going to continue, there was also going to be a queue of people waiting to collect pound coins from me!

Then the float sailed away on the left hand line and this time I did connect with it, this was a good fish and the way it was fighting, I knew it was no bream, mindful of the lilies, I played the fish on the long pole until it surfaced and it was a big chub, I unshipped a section at a time before slipping the net under a four pounder, this was more like it! I fed that line again before going over the right hand line and the float barely settled before sliding away and chub number two was on, this one around 3lb and I'd gone from nowhere to 7-8lb in two chucks.

I shipped back out and the float's disappeared again, this time the chub made a beeline for the sanctuary of the lilies on my left and it all went slack, I was convinced it had snapped me but the hook had pulled out. On the next put in, the float has buried but this time it was another 8oz chublet, out again but this time I hooked a beast that went off at a rate of knots, through the lilies and this time, it did snap me! Time was running out so I went back out on the right hand line but after all the commotion, it went a bit quiet, I managed another chublet from the left hand swim but with ten minutes left I was praying for another chance but it didn't happen and I'd made a right mess of it today.

I'd had more than my fair share of chances today, six bites missed on corn followed by six bites hit on corn (how does that happen?) and 6-7lb of chub left in the swim, why, like an idiot, didn't I step up the hooklength and elastic after I'd lost that fish? I packed up and went to give Steve a hand with the weigh in and get some photos, Rob didn't weigh in peg 1 and then Bill had another nice net of bream and skimmers weighing 15lb 8oz which would secure the league title.
Bill had a nice net of bream and skimmers weighing 15lb 8oz
Then it was my turn and I was surprised when the needle stopped at 9lb 8oz and those two lost chub had really cost me, Bob had only caught a few bits and chucked back, Steve P had 4lb 8oz which included a lovely little tench and then Hurf had a big bream plus some perch and roach for 7lb 7oz, Frank had three skimmers for 4lb 2oz and Karl had 2lb 13oz so if Bill framed, I'd sneak the section by default.
I weighed 9lb 8oz which included two big chub
Steve had a nice tench in his 4lb 8oz
Hurf had a nice bream and weighed 7lb 7oz
Karl had 2lb 13oz from peg 13
Back at the results and Fieldy had won the next peg battle with John, but only just, 10lb 13oz to 10lb 6oz which meant he'd held on to second in the league behind Bill. I ended up winning my section and £20 plus a clean sweep of all four side bets but I was seriously gutted, opportunities to win matches don't come along that often so you have to make the most of them when they do and I haven't today. It wasn't just the two lost chub, which was bad enough, any one of those six missed bites would have been enough for second place.

1 - Bill Hopping (Ilminster) - 15lb 8oz
2 - Graham Field (Taunton) - 10lb 13oz
3 - John Dursley (Enterprise Angling) - 10lb 6oz

A - Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) - 9lb 8oz
B - Adie Bishop (Taunton) - 8lb 6oz

Top three in the league
1 - Bill Hopping - 11 pts
2 - Graham Field - 15 pts
3 - John Dursley - 17 pts

So a massive congratulations to Bill on winning the Summer League on his first attempt, he did it in style as well with six section firsts including three match wins (and breaking a match record) along the way.
Bill Hopping, Paste King and Summer League Champion

Here's a look back at the league in numbers,

Number of different anglers who fished over the ten matches - 26
Biggest match attendance - 18
Lowest match attendance - 12
Biggest winning weight - 58lb 14oz (Bill Hopping)
Match records broken - 1
Most match wins - 3 (Bill Hopping)
Most section wins - 6 (Bill Hopping)
Most consistent peg - 1 (4 wins)
Number of double figure weights - 37

Last but not least, a massive thanks to Rob Cox and Steve Hurford for running another great league, Ilminster Bowling Club for looking after us so well and to all the anglers who make it so enjoyable to fish.

Next up - Summerhayes

Coming soon - Another great interview

Check Out - My last match (below)

Monday, September 04, 2017

Summerhayes - Open - 3rd September 2017

I was back at Summerhayes this week and for once the forecasters had got it right and it was chucking it down, a quick pit stop at the Little Thief set me up for the day and then it was on to Bridgwater. There was a good turnout today with some new faces which was great to see along with the more familiar ones and it was nice to see the Wickham's again, unfortunately the Tart was back again and trying to make out I owed him a pound from last time as his weight percentage was closer to the winners than mine was! Have you ever heard such rubbish and the worse thing is, it took him a week to think that up!

Todays match was a rover on all ponds and I was hoping I'd be able to get on Longs somewhere, the golden peg was drawn and it would be choice number 9. Pete announced the draw and everybody started delving into the bucket, I asked the Tart what he had and of course he was on the golden peg, I went for it and pulled out number 10 and the only good thing about it was that I could make sure I wasn't too close to him!

Roy Hughes had first choice and went for peg 13 on Sellicks, Nigel Wickham went for 18 on Longs, Scott S picked Sellicks 11, Matt on 23 Longs, Simon Ryall went back on Longs 15 where he won on Monday, Gareth Lennox chose his favourite peg, 23 on Sellicks, Bruce Hunt went for 15 on Perch Pit, Rob Birch went on 34 Longs, the Tart went back on 37 Longs (where he was on Monday) so I decided on peg 32 on Longs (next to where I was last time).

It looked nice and I set up a 0.3 gram NG Mini Gimp for the top two lines left and right and also at top two plus one straight out, the other rig was a 14 x 11 MW F1 Slim for a ten metre line. On the side tray I had 2mm Bait-Tech Carp and Coarse Pellets which I'd soaked the night before and given a decent dusting of Special G Dark plus some 4mm Xpands for the hook. I also made up some paste but when I came to find the only two paste rigs I own, they were nowhere to be seen and I think after my one and only disastrous attempt at fishing paste, I must have thrown them in a cupboard somewhere, never to be seen again!
A very wet peg 32
I was ready with a few minutes to spare so popped up to use the loo and on the way back, I stopped off to clarify with the Tart how the side bet would be decided today as I didn't want him trying to swindle me again! We both decided the fairest way would be on our respective positions in carp and silvers (remember that!).

Pete blew for the start and I fed modest amounts of micros on all three of the short lines before starting to the left (just off the reeds). I had to wait a short while for my first bite (which of course I missed) and then missed the next one as well, I hit the third one which was a nice skimmer of 8oz, I then had a hand sized skimbob followed by a tench, another smaller skimmer and then a leaper of a pound or so and was really enjoying myself when the bites just stopped (much like the last match) although I was fairly happy with about 3lb of silvers in the net.

I cupped in some more micros before switching to the right hand line, Rob appeared from behind his bush and asked how I was doing and said he was already getting carped out with four in five chucks. No indications from the right hand line so decided to have another quick go on the opposite side, the float settled before sailing away and after a short scrap, a lovely crucian about 10oz popped up, no bites for a bit but then had a proper skimmer of 2lb plus and not long after another of similar size and along with a few skimbobs I had 5lb in the second sixty minutes to put me on 8lb after two hours. So although slower than Monday it was steadier and I was getting quite a few indications.

I had several more skimmers in the third hour along with a nice roach to add another 3lb to my total and despite the rain I was really enjoying myself and even better, no carp as yet! I did lose what felt like a crucian or tench and also had a fish which could have been a skimmer or lethargic carp come off. Then just when I thought I was on for a good weight, I couldn't get a bite, I tried the right hand line but only had one missed bite so I cupped in some more micros on the two short lines before venturing out to the top two plus one line for the first time.

Two carp in two chucks wasn't the response I'd hoped for and was just about to give it up as a bad job when I had a 4oz skimbob, two more carp followed so put some more feed in before going to the loo. I stopped to ask Rob how he was doing and he said he was getting some decent skimmers but still having carp problems and had one while I was there. As I passed the Tart he was playing a carp and that smug look was back again so I didn't ask how he was doing.

Back on my box and things hadn't improved, all I could catch from the left hand line was carp and I pulled out of several foulers too and I still couldn't catch from the right hand line. So after three steady hours where I'd put 11lb in the net, I'd stalled again (in hindsight once the bites on the short lines stopped, maybe I should have put some feed in on the longer line and fished that for an hour or so). I did try paste on the left hand line and had a couple of knocks but as I don't know what I'm doing with it, I soon gave it up as a bad job.

Going into the last hour I upped the feed and was putting in a full toss pot every chuck and started getting some smaller skimbobs and had another crucian and with five minutes to go I had another two pounder and was getting regular bites and didn't want the match to end. When Pete signalled the all out I had 26 silvers and thought I might have a bit more than I had on Monday, maybe 13-14lb but was sure it wouldn't be enough, especially when Rob said he'd had ten big skimmers.

I packed up and took some of my kit back to the car, I met Jeff coming the other way, he'd been on Sellicks peg 15 and said he'd struggled for 7lb or so, the next person I saw was Glynn who said he'd caught all day and might have close to 20lb and with Pete only paying the top two in silvers, I knew my bad run was set to continue. The scales started with the Tart who had done better than last time with 128lb 12oz, then Lewis Jones did really well on peg 40 to weigh 142lb 9oz as he'd only just got back into fishing.

Glynn Wickham was next on peg 4 on 'Suicide Straight' and had a nice net of skimmers weighing 17lb and I thought I'd be short of that. There were a couple of DNW's before we got to Simon Ryall on peg 15 where he had nearly 200lb on Monday but this time he weighed 77lb 12oz which just goes to show that fish swim! Dave Romain had done well again to go into the lead with 158lb from peg 26. Then it was my turn and it was a lot closer than I thought with my weight being called at 16lb 4oz and those slow spells could prove to be costly. Rob had a brilliant 24lb 1oz to go into the silvers lead and as the scales headed to weigh in the other lakes, both the Tart and me were in third place so the side bet was still quits.
Glynn had 17lb of skimmers from peg 4
Bruce on Perch Pit weighed 19lb 8oz of skimmers, roach, perch and a big crucian to go into second in the silvers, onto Sellicks and Roy Hughes had 104lb 8oz of carp which just left Gareth Lennox who had 166lb 6oz of carp from peg 23 to win the match. Back at the results and a quick look at the board revealed the Tart and me both finished fourth so the side bet was quits but then as he was last in the money he started saying I should pay up!!! No shame that boy, I might actually have to get the side bet rules written down, signed and counter signed before the next match to stop his desperate attempts to take a pound off me! On that subject, Jeff sloped off without paying up again.

I have to say I'm really enjoying the silvers fishing here at the moment and the weights are really good although I'm still off the pace and need to find a way to keep those bites coming for six hours. Apologies for the lack of photos as it was absolutely chucking it down!
A rather moist weigh sheet!
1 - Gareth Lennox (Frenzee) - 166lb 6oz
2 - Dave Romain (Summerhayes) - 158lb
3 - Lewis Jones (Summerhayes) - 142lb 9oz
4 - Brendon Ions (Torquay) - 128lb 12oz

1 - Rob Birch (Summerhayes) - 24lb 1oz
2 - Bruce Hunt (Summerhayes) - 19lb 8oz

I'm always saying I love to see your photos and Baz Morgan sent me a couple today from France where he's fishing the River Villaine. Photos courtesy of Baz Morgan*

A barbel for Baz*
A cracking French tench*
And Nick Payne also contacted me with some photos from a dream session at Dillington today, he caught a 2lb skimmer first chuck and continued to catch all day, mainly skimmers but with two proper slabs and a 2lb perch on corn! Photos courtesy of Nick Payne**
A cracking net of fish for Nick**
Two proper slabs**
Jon Newby also sent in this lovely photo of his son, Ethan, with a cracking 6.5lb carp caught at Goodiford Mill at the weekend. Photo courtesy of Jon Newby***

Ethan with a lovely Goodiford Mill carp of 6.5lb

Next up - Dillington

Coming soon - Two great interviews

Check Out - My last match (below)