I haven’t done an interview since the Covid lockdown so another was well overdue and I really enjoyed this one……
Hi Richard, 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?
It was a bit of a strange one, I’d obviously mentioned to my parents that I wanted to give it a go, I was only probably 10 or 12 at this point. My Grandparents spotted an advert in the local paper for a junior fishing club, so the following Saturday they proceeded to drop me off at the local canal with a random old man called Malc, they’d never met before along with a few other kids. He showed us all the basics and we’ll have caught a few roach, perch and gudgeon. I remember being really jealous when one of the other lads caught an eel, I really wanted to catch one and never did… Still haven’t to this day!
Looking back it all sounds a bit dodgy and wouldn’t happen these days without a load of paperwork and red tape, but it did it’s job of getting me into fishing. Anyway, as a fat, ginger kid, I was probably at quite low risk of predation… So I was probably safe.
What’s your favourite style of fishing?
I give different answers to this every time anyone asks depending what I’m doing at the time, but if I had to choose it would be clunking fish on the short line. Especially on a light elastic, you’ve been throwing casters on it all day, that float buries for the first time, you give it the biggun and the fish just doesn’t move and six foot of elastic comes out.
Your favourite venue?
Match fishing wise, Larford Speci lake in the late autumn when the skimmers are eating meat, it’s scary how good it is and a style of fishing you don’t get to do at many places.
Away from matches then a lake we fish in Iceland for trout and arctic char, I’ve been a couple of times with Mikey Williams and Tom Wallis (both match anglers), I can’t pronounce the name of it, but its incredible when you are stood in freezing cold, gin clear water, surrounded by mountains and seeing some of the biggest trout you’ve ever seen launching out in the middle of the lake. You won’t see another human for the week that you’re there.
Do you prefer natural or commercial venues?
Commercials for match fishing and naturals for pleasure fishing.
And favourite fish?
Probably sea trout at the moment, just because of the venues you get to go to and it’s something totally different to what I’m used to.
You’re very well known for Winning Ways with Jamie Hughes and Andy May but could you tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are now and was it always in your career plan to make angling videos/features?
It was far from planned! I was really into my carp fishing when I was a teenager and dropped out of sixth form to work in a tackle shop so I could have more time on the bank. My parents weren’t impressed, but even though I always did well at school, I never really liked being told what to do.
I did a few years at ‘Mullarkeys’ which was our local shop before it went bust, then I ended up at Fosters of Birmingham and by this point I’d been getting into my photography a bit, mainly because of carp fishing and wanting better catch shots and taking the odd arty sunrise picture. So I sort of fell into the role of looking after their social media accounts and teaching myself how to do a bit of filming along the way.
A year or so later, Pat Macinnes, he’d previously worked at DHP as a photographer for all the magazines, Total Carp, Match Fishing, Pole Fishing etc. I’d met him originally when I did a feature for Total Carp a couple of years previous. He moved from DHP to Leeda (which is the company who owns Wychwood, MAP and a few others) in a media role.
Anyway, I saw he’d been promoted to marketing manager, so on the off chance I pinged him a message on Facebook, basically saying congrats on the promotion, does this mean there is a job going. I’d obviously caught him on a good day and he said to come up for a chat.
The following week I travelled down to Milton Keynes, wore a suit which I instantly regretted and felt awkwardly over dressed… but got offered a media job working across the brands, so in March 2015 I moved down there. At this point I was still into my carp fishing but had to go out and shoot some match content for MAP and that’s where I first met Andy and Jamie.
Winning Ways probably started to form as an idea, when we shot the Christmas special of ‘Challenge Andy May’ where Jamie ended up fishing against Andy on Gold Lake at Partridge, this was the first time they’d filmed together and it just worked. They bounced off each other and the video went down really well. (In fact I just looked and its now over 180,000 views!).
Then a bit further down the line, Paul Holland and Andy Bennett had launched commercial masters, this was in the Vimeo era where you would pay a fiver to watch a single video! Jamie had been out to film a live match for them, he came back from that wanting to do something along those lines but making it more entertaining and accessible for all levels of angler, at the time, Commercial Masters was targeting your more experienced match anglers. Andy May was well up for it, I agreed to do the filming and editing… basically all the hard work and it all started there.
So going back to the question, I always knew that I wanted to work in fishing, but I never had a plan, it was just a case of taking opportunities as they arrived.
Can you give us an insight into a typical day?
On a filming day, if its not a live match, we’ll aim to get to the venue for around 8am to beat the traffic and we’ll look to get a few videos shot each day. So pick a peg, get everything set up and normally start with a couple of easy bits. Catch-up vlogs, podcast stuff just to get everyone into the swing of things.
From there we’ll get the main fishing video done, either a technical one or a challenge, maybe finish the day with a couple of videos for our ‘Basics’ channel. We’ve got fairly efficient over the years and most stuff is first take and as it happens.
Then on the other end of the spectrum, the days when I’m editing it’s just a case of locking myself away in a room for hours on end.
Any funny stories you can share with us?
Most the stupid stuff has been shown, obviously when I’m filming I try not to laugh myself but I remember Andy properly breaking me one day. We were filming a meat feature at Hampton Springs, the weather was shocking, Jamie was on the box and Andy was asking the questions. But Andy + Meat means a LOT of innuendos and I can’t even remember what set me off, but I was in tears of laughter behind the cameras.
I’m never sure how Jamie manages to fish and present a video with that going on behind him, but we got a video out of it in the end.
I watch an awful lot of angling videos on YouTube and there is a vast array of content (and quality!) my personal preference is live matches (silvers competitions if possible) but they’re a very difficult feature to get right in my opinion as fellow anglers want to see the action (i.e. the float going under or the tip going round). Without blowing too much smoke up your a**e, you used to produce some fantastic content with ‘All In Angling’, which did just that, have you got any tips for budding ‘Angling Influencers’?
When I started working for myself, that was one of the things I wanted to get right, being able to see a float is HUGE, so I ended up forking out over £1500 on a lens specifically for that job, a 200-600mm if that means anything to you. Basically it can see a float better than you can.
So to a degree kit is important, but when it comes to making a good video, the person in front of the camera is what makes or breaks it. You can be the best angler in the world, but if you can’t explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, then the video won’t be great. It’s a massive skill to have and there aren’t many that can do it well.
So working with the right people is MASSIVE, then from behind the cameras it’s just about making sure you capture everything whilst disturbing there match as little as possible.
Linked to my previous question, I’ve been blogging since way back in 2006, over the years there have been some fantastic fishing blogs but we’re now a dying breed and many have either fallen by the wayside or become vloggers. I’ve often thought about trying it but I struggle getting two or three blog posts out a week as it is! Do you think there’s still a place out there for the written word?
That’s commitment! Fair play. I think it’s just changed where people publish them, obviously having a dedicated website for them is rare now, but there are now more people blogging about matches than ever, they are just in short form over on Facebook. It’s the same as what TikTok has done to video.
But that also means content is produced and forgotten about very quickly, so having something like you do gives it the longevity. You might get less people seeing it, but the people who do read it actually value it, rather than glancing at how you did in a match and scrolling by.
It’s the same with us doing a book a year or so back, I didn’t really know how a book would go down, I mean I can’t remember the last time I brought a book! But it turned out to be mega popular, having something physical that you can refer back to is different to a video.
That’s the problem with YouTube, once a video has been out for a few weeks, they tend to disappear into the ether. But with a book it’s always there and I think people value it more than a video on the internet.
You can obviously fish a bit yourself (congratulations on qualifying for the Fish South Silvers Final recently by the way), have you got a favourite match win over the years? And are there any matches you would love to win?
Just drawing well recently! Qualifying for the Winter Classic final from Larford was a good one, I drew next to Matty Dawes, who had bashed me right up on the same qualifier the year before, I thought he was going to do it again as he was catching way quicker than I was out long. But I’ve come short and it was SOLID, like scary solid. I’ve ended up plonking 86lb 12oz on the scales, just beating Matty’s 79lb. It’s a joke how good that venue is at that time of year.
Like most people I’d love to win one of these finals, all you can do is keep qualifying and hoping for a chance (then not mess it up!) It was a proper buzz in last years Winter Classic knowing you were in with a shout. I drew the inform peg 10 on Warren which suited my tappy pellet fishing, I’ve caught steady all day and knew I had half a chance. I ended up 4th in the end, but when the three names above you are Matt Godfrey, Andy Bennett and Jamie Hughes… That’s what you’re up against so to win one you really need everything to fall into place. Ideally them lot I mentioned drawing absolute shockers and me on the epicentre haha!
Is silvers fishing your preferred choice or do you just tend to target them in the winter months?
The last few years I’ve focussed on the silvers stuff putting the time into Angling Trust Silver Fish and Gary Rodgers ‘Winter Classic’. It’s always fun as Andy and Jamie have been doing the same, so we all get into it and having a target like those finals, makes the cold days a lot more enjoyable.
This year was more of the same, but seeing Fish South Silvers launching this year I had to give that a go to, so set myself goal of trying to get in all three which I’ve finally managed to do.
It’s not something I really do in the summer, although I find myself incorporating a silvers line into my carp matches a lot more now, but I’ve said it a lot that splitting your year in half with silvers in the winter and carp in the summer makes it so much more enjoyable. You get a fresh start in October when the silvers matches start again, I used to hate winter as I get so bored of patient carp fishing, but now I probably look forward to the winter fishing more than summer.
Where do you see the future of angling going, it seems like it’s becoming more and more fragmented and specialized with big money events and even international competitions for the various disciplines (feeder, float, pole, river, commercial, carp, silverfish etc etc)?
There hasn’t been a better time you want to fish big events, but as you say, it is all becoming a bit fragmented. It probably makes it easier for people to compete, if you pick your path, be it feeder fishing, river fishing, commercial silvers, whatever… You can spend a lot more time perfecting that and compete with the big boys.
Obviously you’ve got a select few, Andy Power, Matt Godfrey etc who do it all, but having the choice is probably good for anglers as a whole. I’m sure there will be a point where it hits saturation point, but whilst these events are still selling out, then it can’t be a bad thing.
Have you any angling heroes or was there someone who inspired you?
When I was all carpy it was Terry Hearn, also the likes of Matt Hayes and Mick Brown from watching them on Total Fishing and the Great Rod Race.
It’s a bit different in match fishing as I’ve worked with most the current names at some point so you know them as mates rather than ‘oh my god, can I have your autograph!’.
Although we are hopefully doing some filming with Bob Nudd later in the year for Winning Ways, and he is one of the few people with that aura about him, just a legend of the game and I’ve never really met him, so looking forward to that one.
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?
The very first ‘On The Flyer Winter Classic Final’ I just fished like an absolute tit, I caught a couple of big roach in a practice match launching a maggot feeder to an island. It was a decent chuck but I convinced myself it was the right thing to do and I’d have it to myself. Come the final the wind was horrible, coming across me and I basically spent half the match chucking a feeder and it didn’t land in the same spot twice! Unsurprisingly I came nowhere…
It was probably worse seeing it when I was bank running for Jamie in the 2022 Match This final, the one where he was fishing for perch on a top kit. You look back and he’s lost a fish at the end which has 100% cost him £40,000… Or if he’d fished for perch for another 10 minutes, he’d have won.
But at the same time they’ll be just as many times where a bit of luck has gone your way, look at that Fish South, Des has pulled two pegs out the bag, one of which was the one I ended up on, and had to redraw. I also landed a skimmer hooked in the eye which probably won me the match. Thinking about it… I am just bloody lucky at the moment!
Aside from match fishing, have you or would you like to try other styles of fishing?
I’ve done most at some point in my life, other than sea fishing. I like the variety and it’s just nice going to different venues. All the fly fishing side of things is great for going to stunning places, the last couple of years we’ve been to Iceland and Islay (one of the Scottish islands) and it’s refreshing to do something different. My casting is a bit shit, I don’t get too technical with it, but just going to some mental venues and catching a few fish with your mates is what it’s all about.
Have you got a tip that will help to put more fish in the reader’s nets?
The big one for me recently is understanding tow, especially with silvers where you feed groundbait, if conditions are rough then your baits going to be moving. I’ve had days where you are catching a good 6ft down tow of where you’ve fed. I used to get so hung up on keeping my rig dead still, but often letting it trot through your peg is a better option.
What’s the one thing in your tackle box that you couldn’t do without?
Probably pre tied hooklengths! Guru F1 Pellets in 18 and 16 cover all my winter fishing, I hate tying hooks so they’re a life saver… Even if I get a few disapproving looks for using 0.13 for skimmer fishing!
Before I let you go, here are a few quick-fire questions,
What’s your biggest fish?
113lb Catfish from the Ebro, in the UK 39lb Mirror from one of the Fosters of Birmingham syndicate waters
Biggest match weight?
Can’t actually remember, it was around 220lb I think from one of the strips at Decoy, in the days you had to drive back for a net every time you filled one. Think I got through a set of tyres that day!
What’s your favourite drink?
A nice cold cider after a match!
Can’t beat a good steak
Interstellar or Inception…
What music do you listen to?
House, Tech House, Techno
Do you have any other interests/hobbies outside of angling?
A bit of golf in the summer, been trying to go to the gym a bit recently, not sure how long that’ll last though!
Thanks Rich, it’s been lovely to chatting to you
Against Men and Fish