I would imagine I was about six years old when I first held a fishing rod, my Father and Grandad were occasional anglers and it was usually on the annual family trip to the seaside that we would spend a few hours on a beach or jetty doing the "chuck it and chance it" thing and so it will comes as little surprise to find that my first fish was a flattie from a shingle beach in north Wales. That's more or less as far as my involvement in angling went until my early teens when a combination of a school friend's interest and the arrival of Go Fishing on television sparked something off and I all of a sudden developed a fascination with the sport that has never waned since, I really do owe John Wilson a great deal. So from the age of 13 in 1987 I spent every available moment by the water, more often than not on my local River Soar and I have some wonderful memories of long summer holidays spent fishing for all sorts of species, sometimes I even caught a few too! Chub were always a favourite and they remain so today, probably my fondest memory from back then is a bag of roach totalling just shy of 12lb's from the white water of a weirpool taken on hemp and stick float, the biggest ancient old warrior weighing in at 1lb 6oz and that fish remained a pb until I was in my mid 30's, a rare old fish for the Soar and even scarcer today than back then. Winter days meant chub or pike, a 2lb chub was a good one from the river in those days and we just scraped into low double figures with the pike though they were plentiful, something else that i'm afraid isn't the case today.
On June the 16th 1989 I caught my first carp, first three carp in fact, all from the surface which I still think is by far the most exciting way, that was the start of a new phase in my angling and though for another year or two I still diversified into other species I spent more and more time chasing carp at a local reservoir, catching my first 20lb plus fish on Friday the 13th of September 1991, lucky for some! Every spare moment was spent on the bank and for two seasons running I caught in excess of 160 fish, roughly half being doubles, I was very much into the numbers game back then. 1991 also saw my first forays onto a considerably harder local water, way beyond my ability in all honesty, deep, snaggy and low stocked and to cap it off no night fishing, it wasn't the place for a beginner. But by catching a lot of fish from the reservoir I learnt quickly and when I finally caught one of those elusive fish from the tough water I realised how much enjoyment can be gained from a hard earnt reward and spent more time there from then on, in fact I couldn't begin to imagine how many days I spent by that lake up until 2004, a weeks holiday would often be spent on the bank and with dawn to dusk rules in place it was very hard work.
Buying a house and getting married changed things greatly, I could no longer devote so much time to my angling but I had to find a way to get my fix, the most significant change I made was to virtually abandon long weekend sessions and to start to make the effort midweek, quite often spending two or three overnight sessions on the bank between work days each week. What I didn't expect as a result of that change was for my results to soar, I found it much easier to work at my angling for several shorter periods of time than one longer session and that set the scene for my style angling to this day in many ways.
In 2005 I started to once again think about fishing for other species, my first thought was barbel and my initial source of information as to how to go about catching them was via an internet forum. It was through the forum that I met several other like minded anglers, one thing led to another and we decided to start our own specimen group, the Soar Valley Specialist Group was born. This pushed me even deeper into multi species fishing, I thought I was obsessive as a carp angler but when I found myself chasing a multitude of species I realised I really was in deep, I also realised what I'd been missing for all of those years, variety certainly is the spice of life.
Thats pretty much where I am now in my angling, I pretty much choose the species i'm chasing according to the season and the conditions, to some extent I plan ahead but its not unusual for me to suddenly change tack and go off in a completely different direction and I wouldn't want it any other way, every trip is a new adventure and with every change of venue, species or method the interest is renewed further.
To me fishing isn't a sport or a hobby, its a way of life and a passion that I can't live without