Hi, my name’s Matt and to be frank, I’m not the best fisherman in the world. Well, I say not the best, but my kids think I’m a hero and I like to keep it that way. Occasionally I’ll take a photo of what I’ve caught and spin them a big fish story which they lap up, so I thought, why not write about it online?
I hail from South Wales, a region of the UK where it rains a lot and there are a lot of sheep. Luckily for me, I have an umbrella and I like to fish, so it kinda works. As for the sheep, not so much.
I started fishing at the age of 12, following in the footsteps of my dear departed gramp who was an excellent fisherman in his own right. His trophies adorn my many bookcases and he’s always been my primary inspiration. Even now, when I catch a ‘good un’ some thirty years on, I sit there looking at what I’ve caught and imagine him smiling and looking proud.
He’d go out on boats a few times a month with the local DSA and come home at some ungodly hour with a huge sack stuffed with thornbacks, conger, ling and pollack and occasionally a monkfish. I was always allowed to get up and help him wash and clean the fish and I remember vividly gazing into tin baths full of wide eyed and sharp toothed monsters of the deep.
We ate it all. I was brought up on a diet of conger, dogfish (rock salmon) and anything else he could catch. Ling was always a favourite of mine.
My first rod was an old Sealy split cane affair that gramp had given to me. On my first outing I coupled it with a wonky fly centrepin, 20lb line stripped from an old boat reel and a can of green giant sweetcorn shoved delicately onto a 1/0. I can still remember trudging home after a few hours in the rain, fishless and dejected. I was determined though that the canal wasn’t going to get the better of me.
With my family not being the most affluent, I read as many books as I could and learned as much watercraft as my brain could handle, hoping that knowledge and skill would help compete with the other lads that frequented the canal near my home. Most of them had seatboxes, landing nets and all sorts of gizmos that I’d happily kill for, but after a while I began to gradually catch up with them.
The only fishing match I ever entered, not long after I had started fishing, was on a barren and featureless lake, with no pads, no weed, only 2tf deep at most and organised by the local angling club I was a junior member of at the time. I watched the lads either side of me pulling in 2oz roach after 2oz roach and using maggots on various poles and shiny rods whilst I was sat on the floor, using an old cork float, line that was way too heavy and sweetcorn on what was probably around a size 6 hook. I eventually managed to catch a small roach that had somehow managed to impale itself, and having read about deadbaiting decided the only way I was going to save face was to land something big. Onto the hook the roach went, and I lobbed it into the middle of the lake. After what seemed like an eternity, the rod lurched forward in the rest and after a few minutes a small crowd had gathered around me. Eventually I pulled in the biggest fish of the match, a 3lb eel who had snaffled the poor roach. I came 4th if I recall correctly, much to the disgust of many of my peers but was admonished for livebaiting as it was disallowed.
I can clearly recall landing my first 1lb plus perch from the canal. I’d taken to using worm as bait because occasionally trout would get into the lock system from the feeder streams and I liked taking them home for my nana. One day I belly crawled up to the head of the lock and slowly lowered my float down. Almost as soon as the worm it the water the rod curled around and I yanked up a glistening stripy. I was totally smitten with it, the beautiful colours, the powerful build and the sharp, spiky dorsal. The trout could stuff it.
I still fish the same way, with relatively cheap gear and not a lot of it, more often than not happy just to be at the water’s edge whether I’m catching or not, though I do tend to use appropriate gear and suitable hooks nowadays. Thirty years on, my quarry is a little larger. I love catching anything, but my primary target is nearly always perch. My biggest is currently 3lb 11oz, caught on sweetcorn… no, seriously.
I hope you enjoy reading about my little adventures as much as I enjoy writing about them.