In 2000 my parents opened a trout fishery called Ellerdine Lakes.
The following March, at just 24 hours old, I was at the fishery.
Ever since I could hold a fishing rod I have been fishing. From about the age of seven I was fishing without any guidance and quickly became a capable angler. Taking advice from regular anglers at Ellerdine I built a lot of knowledge and understanding of fish behaviour, flies and methods. Being at the fishery most weekends enabled me to practice my casting and try different methods.
Our fishery holds many competitions throughout the year and aged 11 I qualified to fish in the Iain Barr World Bank Masters Final. This is what really kicked off my competition scene.
The second time at the final I managed five fish, which put me 20th out of around 120 people, which at 12 was quite an achievement.
At 13 I had a trial for the England youth fly fishing squad, my first time fishing Grafham Water, and was selected.
In summer 2014, the England team, including me, walked down the bank to the jetty on Grafham ready to set afloat for the day’s fishing. However, it didn’t go to plan. Losing four fish in one drift I managed a blank.
Nevertheless, the team’s great performance meant we won the bronze medal. This also meant I did not automatically qualify for the 2015 team.
In 2015 I tried for the 2016 team. All went to plan, catching six fish throughout the tough bright and breezy day. That put me 3rd, with two previous team-mates taking 1st and 2nd. This might have been helped by Dad and I going out the day before, catching 10 fish each in four hours. This made me more confident to go out and try to win in my way.
Towards the end of 2015 I was chosen to fish in the prestigious Sir Bob Church Classic. Drawing the same boat as the former editor of Total FlyFisher, Steve Cullen, I knew I was in for a good day, learning more than my brain could handle. Having caught two fish we thought we would have a cast for a big fry feeder.
Going to the other end of the reservoir, we landed at our chosen spot. After five casts I saw a bow wave form just behind my fly. The fish’s jaw opened but, much to my regret, I snatched the fly out of its mouth. After this I failed to catch any more fish, with Steve taking one more big fry feeder.
The match was followed by a great meal with some of the top anglers in the country.
Over the years I have been lucky enough to fish alongside some of these anglers, sharing knowledge and stories from the years gone by.
In October 2015 I fished the Greys England Youth Bank National at Ellerdine. My starting method was a standard floating line with three cormorants. With quick success on them on the practise day it would have been a mistake not to give them a swim. After four fish it all went a bit quiet so I decided to switch to a cormorant and a tequila blob and had a further five. This saw win the competition and qualify for the final on April 10th, also at Ellerdine.
I have a busy competition schedule ahead of me, with Iain’s final, my Greys final and all the England youth training days, which are leading to the big youth international on Lough Lene in Ireland! I am looking forward to all the competitions and hope I win a few more.