I’m often asked what it’s like to be involved in the fishing industry, which in my case is on a sponsorship level. The honest answer is simple, it’s rewarding, interesting and at times it can carry a little pressure. By pressure I mean having the ability to keep producing material on a regular basis. Naturally if you’re having a purple patch and catching plenty then the rest is relatively easy as often it’s the case of reliving the story in words or on film.
I’ve been involved with a few companies over the last decade but in that time my longest affiliation has been with Gardner Tackle, which has been for some 8 plus years. It’s been an incredible journey and a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions at times. I’ve experienced some serious carping highs, some would compare to perhaps a euphoric highs. However, I’ve also been on the other end of the stick having gone through some tough times outside of fishing with mental health on the bi-polar spectrum. My illness has impacted me and my fishing at times especially when it’s not happening. I torture myself and it almost makes me want to stop altogether. I know this isn’t the answer or where the problem lays. It’s simply the unfortunate way my brain formats information and processes. It’s looking to eliminate an unpredictability that is angling, which at times puts my head in a bit of a spin to say the least. Luckily the team and friends I surround myself with soon put me straight and the search goes on.
I’ve met some great people, fished some great places and been very fortunate in testing prototype products, giving input/opinion on things that I find interesting. Despite my age of 38 I still feel like a kid in a sweet shop and when exciting new products are ready for launch and in-turn I get to use them in my own angling.
My journey with GT started when I sent Lewis an e-mail after a few other anglers prompted me to try my luck. I politely enquired if there was any chance of involvement within the team. Not because I wanted free tackle or for egotistical promotion but purely because I love carp fishing and wanted to have a platform to not only share my experiences, but also to learn and improve as an angler and as a person.
It’s no coincidence that many great anglers have surrounded themselves and learnt from other successful, educated anglers, so this is exactly what I did. It’s been a long learning curve that’s forever evolving, but during this period I’ve gained so much knowledge and memories from not just the carp I’ve caught or the places I’ve visited but also about filming, media and the industry in general.
I was originally involved with what I believe to be the very first online carp fishing magazine – ‘Carpaholixx’, so this gave me a bargaining tool to get a foot in the door at GT. I think Lewis initially replied with a thanks but no thanks, please try again, but after a few more e-mails and a bit of negotiation on my part he agreed to meet me and have a chat. Moving forward he agreed to give me a shot as a ‘friend of GT’ which is like an entry level of sponsorship. On meeting Lewis for the first time in the flesh I was a little star struck truth be known, having read about him and seen him in books and magazines. He’s a great bloke (a bit of an eccentric camp) but a good egg all the same and made me feel at ease. I then went on to meet the office, warehouse and sales staff and over time I’ve met most of the team members.
Gardner Tackle is a great brand that has a strong pedigree, which was started a year before I was born, which is testament to the brand and has gone from strength to strength with many leading reliable products available. Hard work and determination finally landed me a full place in the team and I’ve never once taken it for granted. ‘Nobody is bigger than the club’ as Sir Alex Ferguson once said, which is very true.
I’ve had some magic times filming with Alan Stagg (Staggy) and in fairness he has taught me a lot. One stand out moment with Staggy and to this day it’s still my favourite piece would have to be when I caught The Vein out of Swan Valley in 2014 weighing 46lb 4oz live for the cameras. The planets properly aligned that day.
One of the great things about the team is how diverse it is, with many hugely talented and successful anglers. I’ve never wanted to be the best or catch the most because I understand the level of requirement this takes. All I hope for is to fish to my potential, work hard and catch consistently. I have no idea how long the journey will continue for but if it all ended tomorrow I’d have no regrets and forever be grateful for an opportunity that I didn’t think I’d ever get.
I’m currently trying my best to land one of the absolute monsters that inhabit Wellington Country Park in my photo album. Up until now I’ve had them to 47lb, but there is plenty left in the tank on that lake. Despite all my efforts though I’m currently on an 18 night blank spell with only tench a pike to speak of,
but I shall keep on trying.
Good health and tight lines moving forward to you all!