Hi Vic, thank you very much for agreeing to answer my questions,
Firstly can you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got into fishing and the first fish you caught?
I didn’t start fishing until I was in my late teens, I was more interested in football, tennis and ice skating back then. My first trip was to Longleat with a couple of workmates from Temple Meads Motors and my first fish was a perch.
After that I was hooked and started to fish the local River Frome and Bristol Avon, to be honest I didn’t used to catch much until I met a guy called Steve Dawson who had a small tackle shop in Bristol. I called in one Friday on my way home from work and he asked me if I would like to fish a match on Sunday, I said OK but you need to tell me what to do.
So the next day we made a lead rod out of an old float rod and to cut a long story short I caught enough fish to win my section, the match was a South West winter league at Newbridge and I fished for RWP. After that Steve taught me how to float fish and we spent hours and hours on the RWP stretch above and below the weir at Keynsham, it was the perfect place to learn different float skills as it was slow and deep above and fast and shallow below the weir.
The following year I fished all the RWP and other club matches and really got the bug for match fishing. I used to hang about in Veals on a Friday evening trying to pick up a few tips from the likes of Topper Haskins, while I was down there I noticed the final list of the Veals Matchman Of The Year and Steve was in the top 50 and I was about 95th.
I said to Steve my aim was to win it within the next five years, the following year I was about 45th and 3 years later I actually won it. I fished for Bristol and West for a while and won the Veals league again 2 years later. When Topper asked me to fished for Bathampton, I couldn’t believe it, as this was the team full of all the local stars. What a great bunch of anglers, I learnt loads from fishing rivers, canals and lakes from the best such as Topper, Chris Cooper, Andy Greenham, Jimmy Norris, Rich Coles, Gary Butler and many more.
Over the next few years I was fortunate to put all this knowledge I gained from fishing with Bathampton to good use, winning the Shakespeare 2 day team match on the River Tay in Scotland fishing the Topper float, two weeks later I won the Normark team match on the Exeter canal and went on to win the NFA regional plus the Longleat Pole Champs.
I was also lucky to win the very first event at Whiteacres, then owed by Andy Seery and his family, this turned out to be some of the best memories of my angling life over the next decade teaming up with the one and only John McCarthy (Mac), I think we fished every festival during that period and only paid for our accommodation once, if one of us didn’t win it at fishing, Mac would win a free caravan on the karaoke singing ‘Up on the Roof’.
Unfortunately I had to get up and attempt to sing ‘Losing My Religion’ after losing a bet with John when he only won £25 all week and was nicknamed the 25 quid kid, the bet was if he won the following week I would get up and sing, to my dismay John won, it took 3 pints of cider in 10 minutes for me to get up on that stage!
Money was a bit tight back then and I can remember turning up at Whiteacres with Heather and our two boys with just £35 between us so the pressure was on to do well, as it turned out I ended up having to win my section on the last day to beat the legend Steve Gardener to win the festival, I think peg 10 on the Match Lake was the peg I drew and was lucky enough win and ended up with one of Clint Elliot’s Matchbox seat boxes and £2500 for my efforts.
Made some great lifelong friends down there Adrian Marshall, Tony Troth, Colin Perry plus the current River Masters champion Paul Cannon and many more from all over the country. One good memory is when the one and only Charlie Barnes used to travel up to my house at 4am and we went up to The Prior near Redhill to fish two matches in one day run by Steve Gardener.
We had one match in the morning, then had lunch followed by a game of football before we had the afternoon/evening match getting home about 1am the next day. The first afternoon match I fished was where I first met Mac who said don’t talk like a #@#@ when I said I had four carp for over 40lb. They actually weighed about 44lb, I even stopped fishing to pose for one of the angling journalists who was covering the match and I ended up winning by half an ounce!
After I left Bathampton I joined Thatchers along with my son Andrew where we enjoyed a lot of success especially fishing the Super League. The great thing about team fishing back then was the sharing of all the experiences of team members, it’s a shame team fishing has dwindled to what it is nowadays.
What’s your favourite style of fishing?
Stick float or waggler
Your favourite venue?
Longleat or Shearwater before they were stocked with carp
Do you prefer natural or commercial venues?
And favourite fish?
Big roach and chub
Obviously, you’re a very busy man with fingers in lots of pies including being the boss of Mosella UK and one of the owners of the excellent Avalon Fisheries. Can you tell us little bit about how Mosella started and if there are any exciting new products in the pipeline and also about your involvement with the fishery?
I originally got into the fishing trade through frustration of not being able to buy decent worms. It started at Whiteacres where I spent £80 on worms for the three up and coming festivals, when I checked the worms before the first match I had next to no worms for my money so Mark Harris came to the rescue and got me enough to fish with during the festivals.
I spent the next 3 months sourcing worms and testing different materials to keep them in, once I was happy with the quality I started my own business, South West Worms and within six months had to go VAT registered and one thing lead to another and I ended up purchasing the franchise for German based tackle and bait company Mosella in the South West through Keenets with Steve Gardener heavily involved in formulating the UK ground baits.
Within 18 months the boss of Mosella wanted me to take charge of the UK, I then went on to get involved with tackle design and development. One of my first jobs was to design a new range of luggage, again this came about not being able to buy luggage to suit the current trend of carrying ready-made rods and me being me I didn’t want to carry more than one holdall so the new Prestige luggage was born and is still in demand nearly 20 years later, so I must have been doing something right as other similar items have appeared in various colours over the years.
Another thing I am proud of is the pellet bander tool The Band-A-Bait and the Micro Band, I designed these again out of frustration as I struggled to get the pellets in a band especially with wet hands, this opened the door for a lot of anglers who had the same problem. The latest products that all the other top brands have introduced into their ranges is EVA.
Mosella UK has changed the way anglers transport their tackle and bait thanks to the innovative EVA products and we have more new designs for 2021, I’m also proud of the quality and design of our nets. Around 2012 Mosella in Germany and us went our separate ways as due to the crash in 2010 the exchange rate became unworkable and Mosella UK was born, UK designed products for the UK market.
A few years before that I purchased Avalon Fisheries with my fishing partner Leigh Nutland, after fishing a match on the Sunday we shook hands with Tedder the owner the following Tuesday and moved to Somerset with my late wife Heather in 2008, the best move of our lives, we wished we’d done it sooner.
Avalon now has the Match Lake with plenty of carp up to double figures, a big head of bream, skimmers, tench chub and roach, the Specimen Lake has carp to 30lb and the Syndicate Lake has fish just short of 40lb. I run the match lake and Leigh is in charge of the specimen lakes.
Owning a fishery is many angler’s dream, would you recommend it and do you fish your lakes much now?
I do enjoy the lakes but it does stop me from fishing all the competitions I would like to fish as we like to weigh in the matches.
You’ve had some big match wins over the years, is there one that stands out that you are most proud of?
I suppose it would be the Whiteacres festival I’ve already mentioned as the pressure was on due to the lack of money to get through the week, we couldn’t go shopping until Tuesday as Monday’s winnings had to pay for the pools for the rest of the week!
Have you any angling heroes or was there someone who inspired you?
A couple of my angling heroes are Ken Giles and Clive Smith who used to come down to the Bristol Avon and the K & A canal.
If you had a time machine is there one moment in fishing you wished you could go back and change? i.e. a big fish coming off at the net or a decision in a match that’s cost you the win?
It would be the year I decided to fish small hooks and light lines for the season, I am talking size 24 and 26 hooks to 12oz line, I was fishing a lot with Gary Etheridge at the time which may have a lot to do with it but what a season it was, including fishing seven matches in Cornwall and winning all seven, but if I could change the outcome of one match it would be the John Smith’s at Evesham, after the first four hours I had about 8-9lb of roach and was on the verge of a win when I hooked a barbel on a size 24 hook to 12oz hook length, I played it for over half an hour and it came off just as I went to net it. When I shipped back out someone in the crowd stood on a couple of sections of my pole!
Aside from match fishing, have you or would you like to try other styles of fishing?
In this country I’m only really interested in match fishing. I do a bit of fishing in the USA with my mate Jim Cook who has a house and boat in Florida and when we used to have our holidays abroad in the Caribbean.
Have you got a tip that will help to put more fish in the reader’s nets?
The most important is how and when you feed, get this right you results will improve.
And any advice on something fishing related that people can do while we’re all stuck at home at the moment?
That’s a tough one, you can only watch so many fishing videos and tie so many hooks and rigs! Do all the things you need to do at home and give yourself more time to go fishing in the summer.
Before I let you go, here are a few quick-fire questions,
What’s your biggest fish?
Roach 2lb 15.5oz
Biggest match weight?
Not my biggest but the most memorable was 157lb of roach to win the Bann Bonanza.
What’s your favourite drink?
Freshly squeezed orange juice
Sweet and sour chicken
Anything with Tom Hanks
I tend to watch a lot of sport
What music do you listen to?
Stereophonics, Pink Floyd, Bowie
Do you have any other interests/hobbies outside of angling?
I would love to ski more, but Heather used to love the warmer climate and not too keen on snow. Once we get back to normal I’d love to take my grandson skiing. I also quite like a game of table tennis.
Thanks Vic hopefully we’ll get back on the bank and fishing matches again soon!
Against Men and Fish
*Images courtesy of Vic Bush