Gardner’s marketing guru on stars of the future, time bandits, not being able to see and his fear of cows. Yes, cows…

In your youthful days were you rubbing shoulders with any of the big names of the future?

Doing my apprenticeship in Bushy Park there were a lot of up and coming super keen anglers of many age ranges – that is where I first made Terry’s acquaintance, but also people like Dave Swinchat and the youngsters (way back then) like Dean and Danny who have both gone on to catch top carp. There was Micky Grey (local legend) and now and again you might even see Jay Haywood – sometimes he even spoke to us! Really too many to mention and most of them are still fishing and catching.

Have you ever been a time bandit?

No! I remember having a two-week session at the start of a season one year on the Copse Lake whilst my girlfriend (now betrothed) went to America with her family. It was like heaven on earth living the Copse Lake dream those two weeks, but facing reality back in work was less pleasant. It’s the only time I have ever fished that long. At the time I often wished that I could fish more, but in hindsight that would have cost me all the things I have today – like a family! As the saying goes, ‘You have to be single to be single-minded’ – well it helps.

What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses on the bank?

Weakness: one in particular drives me mental and that is my eyesight. It does my head in when someone is pointing at a bubbler at 40yds and I can’t see it. Strengths: getting on with people! Oh, and being meticulous with tackle and perhaps determination.

You are passionate about all fish you catch, but if you had to pull that special one out of the memory sack, which one would it be and why?

Every time I get asked this one I think of a different fish (yes ‘either of the two’ says some smart Alec!). Today the one that springs to mind is my first twenty – a fish called Lucy out of Whinney Hill many, many moons ago… Happy memories.

Is there anything that scares you when you are on the bank angling?

Cows… No really. I hate ‘em. I go ‘Churbling’ (barbel and chubing) sometimes and get really nervous when a herd starts bounding about in a group towards me. I have to take deep breaths and try not to jump in the river! I bet loads of farmers are laughing saying, ‘them thar cows are like babies’.

What’s it like working in the angling industry now? Maybe you could give us a brief insight into your day-to-day role within Gardner Tackle?

It is a very varied and busy role! I am more and more focused on product design, development and sourcing, but my role here also encompasses dealing with the magazine (and iMagazine) editors and advertising teams, liaising with sponsored anglers, dealing with customer product enquiries (and occasional complaints), taking retail orders and new account enquiries, arranging shows, helping with packaging – all sorts! In a small office there are always times when it’s ‘all hands to the pumps’ and you help one another out so the role is always very varied and busy. It’s never a dull day here at Gardner Tackle luckily.

How do you see GT developing their already extensive and innovative range in the future, after all, Rick has been around along time and stood the test of time?

The aim is to enhance and improve the core Gardner branded range with more solid reliable products, and to continue to develop unique ‘Gardner’ items along the way. Rick is still a great innovator and has a meticulous approach to improving product ideas and making sure that they are practicable aids rather than gimmicks to catch anglers.

What are your current aims and aspirations?

My fishing is split between two different types: my own personal fishing and the feature fishing as part of my marketing position here at Gardner Tackle. I really enjoy the feature fishing and always make every effort to catch on my features otherwise they are not an honest representation of the tackle and methods portrayed. It may or may not be surprising how nerve-wracking having to catch to order can be. For my personal fishing I am lucky to have a Frimley syndicate ticket for ‘local’ fishing and also fish a lovely venue in the Colne Valley (that has gripped me by the throat again this year). I would like one of those big commons out of Pit 3 at Frimley, but am focused on the Colne Valley venue. Great fish, nice members and very challenging… Exciting stuff.

Are you still a bit of a bait head? Is it still as important to you?

It’s more important to me now than ever, though I admit I don’t roll my own anymore. It is impossible to fish around anglers that really have an in-depth understanding of bait (and its application) and see their results. Not all baits are equal. There can also be no disputing high quality bait will out perform lower quality baits in the long-term. I am really happy with the bait I am on now from Carp Company (Icelandic Reds) and fish without a single doubt about the baits effectiveness. Once you are that that happy you can focus on the key angling aspects of location and presentation.

Is there anything that particularly gets your hackles up about modern-day angling?

Not really! I have come to realise that the magic of fishing as a whole is that it means something different to all anglers. I do detest litter, though!

What would you change if you could in angling today?

Perhaps that greater consideration be shown to both other anglers and our quarry by the MINORITY of carp anglers that perpetuate the myth that all us ‘carpers’ are abusive, uncaring and selfish. I know it’s not true, you know it’s not true, but this perception still clinging on in the minds of some.

You are a very accomplished angler but if you had to have two anglers on your side to make a team who would they be and why?

Personal friends – well, one would have to be Terry (obviously) but the other would probably be my old mate Jamie Smith, because there is never a dull moment when Jamie’s about! You have to have fun sometimes after all.

Where do you see angling in five years time?

Probably evolving (improving) and developing like it is now, and most importantly I hope I will be enjoying it as much as I am now. Targeting big fish on exciting waters still, but who knows where? Time will tell…

**This article was taken from Issue 83 (February 2011) of CARPology magazine.**