I came to fishing later than most people, I was in my early 30's(18 years ago). It happened by chance, I was on boating holiday cruising down the Shropshire Union Canal and had mored up for the night, just in front of my boat was a man fishing from the back of his boat and was catching small Pearch and little Roach. I was facinated, so I went over for a chat. I was hooked!, so I mentioned to my wife I fancied having ago myself.
When we returned from holiday I went to Argos and bought a fishing kit for around £20 (I still have the rod) and after a couple of barren trips to the canal I finally caught a fish! a beautiful silver Bream from the Bridgewater Canal. I can still remember the thrill of seeing the float slide under!.
Around the same time A Passion For Angling was being shown on BBC2, that magical and beautifully photographed programme had me transfixed.I was determined to try to catch some of fish I'd seen on the programme. I joined Warrington Anglers Association and bought lot's of books and monthly magazines to try to learn as much as I could.
At first I fished the canals and after a while I could catch lot's of Pearch and Roach with the odd Bream thrown in for good measure, fun as this was I wanted to connect with something with a bit more power and fight.
I convinced myself the Pike was the fish for me! so back to the book shops to find as much infomation as I could, it was daunting! should I Livebait, Deadbait, use Spinners or Lures, as I loved to see a float slide under the water I settled on Float fishing Dead bait's as the easiest method for me. so for the next 3 years every time I went fishing I had some Pike tackle with me and I dropped a dead bait 'in' to see what would happen, and nothing did! I carried on fishing & catching the run of the mill fish Pearch, Roach and Bream (and they were getting bigger and more of them) so for 3 years I dreamt of pike but never saw one. Then one cold day in October I was on the Macclesfield Canal at Poynton I had my usual float fished Sprat in the water whilst I carried on with my usual catching of Pearch and Roach and at 3.40 pm (I remember it that well) the Pike float started to bob up and down and then slide away, I waited 5 seconds and struck! I was on! connected to Pike! my heart was pounding, as I struggled with the mighty! Pike (as it turned out it weighed 3lbs), after what seemed an age I slipped the net under the fish and I had done it! I'd caught a Pike! . I visited the same swim 5 or 6 more times over the next couple of weeks and I caught Pike every time. When I think of it now I can't understand why it took me so long, on those next visits I fished in the same way I'd fished over the previous years and caught nothing but now I could'nt stop catching.
At the same time as catching my first Pike I had discovered River fishing. I lived in Stockport at the time and whilst out walking by the River Tame saw a couple of people fishing so I gave it a try, that was the best decision I ever made over the next 5 years or so I fished the Tame 2 or 3 times aweek and it was a very rare event if I failed to catch,there was Chub, Roach, and BIG Pearch the ocasional Trout, and even the odd whisper of Barbel but most of all there was Pike, and lots of them, not massive but up to 7lbs and in running water they were great fun.
Once I started to fish rivers I almost gave up on canals. The tactics were very different, I learned to use a Centre Pin Reel ( I now own 5 Centre Pins), I love to be in my Waders in the water watching the float slide down the swim (and occasionally vanish under) not knowing what you're attached to!, it could be Gudgeon or a Chub, it doesent matter what you've caught, as long as you're there, in the water,and in the peace and quiet, Heaven!
As I mentioned earlier I had joined Warrington Anglers Association and was able to make use of the wonderful selection of waters available to members. I started to fish Rixton Clay Pits, what a wonderful location, and full of Tench, some of them big. I also began to fish the River Ribble at Bolderstone, what a river The only small fish I ever caught was a very young Barbel everything else was big! I started to catch Barbel, what a fight they go like crazy and never know when to give up and one day I caught my first double figure Barbel a 10lb beauty. Chub of 4&5lb were almost common.
My most memorable day as a fisherman must be day I caught a 16lb Pike(see photo above) at the Wide Hole on the Macclesfield Canal (also in the Warrington Anglers Association Book) the fight was long and hard I thought I'd lost it in the bushes a couple of times but I managed to bully it out each time.
I've never fished a match I'm not competative! and for me fishing is relaxation,having said that I have the upmost respect for those that do, and do it well!
As for the future, I'd like to try for a Carp, I've caught 3 so far, all by fluke and not by design. I like to tackle a few more Barbel and most of all get my two little boys into fishing.