Alan Stevens

Fishing Friendships and Ben’s Huge Dab

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We might not quite be there yet but I can hear the large lady warming up her vocal cords so to speak. It is going to be weird to be able to fish again with real people. The two dimensional world of Zoom, MS Teams and Facebook is going to blossom into the three dimensional cacophony of social interaction. But with whom are we going to head out with once permissions allow. This week I will focus on some local angling legends that, post lockdown I can’t wait to get out fishing with. 

Fishing is such a great leveller. Whatever jobs people conduct Monday to Friday and regardless of age or from which diverse background people come from, when fishing on the beach it is just that. Pure, equal pleasure with a common goal to achieve a great outcome against the odds. 

With the greatest journalistic ambition since Watergate; I asked three of my fishing mates, Ben, Rob and Dave to reflect on their fishing lens on the world so here goes. Stacey Dooley watch and learn

Q: You guys are mad on this sport; what got you in to fishing?

Rob – I used to go out on my bike, ride for miles and miles as  kid. one day me and my mate discovered a fishing lake. So borrowed an old rod, cycled about 10 miles to this lake and sat there all day fishing with a loaf of bread. didn’t catch anything that day, but I enjoyed being next to the water. and I still do to this day.

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Dave – I think it’s kind of always been there. As a little kid I used to spend summers down in a little fishing village in Kerry on the extreme edge of Ireland. Then we moved to New York and I used to go pond and lake fishing with the Scouts. As a teen back in Ireland I messed about with sea fishing in Kerry, and was always lake and river fishing for trout where I lived in Galway 

Ben – My dad got me “hooked” as a kid. Took me course fishing all over Leeds, where I’m originally from. Only started sea fishing about 20 years ago when I moved to Colchester with the army.

Q: In this designer gear age, how has it changed for you over the years?

Rob – A huge amount in these last few years. I used to fish with cheap as chips gear. now I’m a bit of a tackle tart. I do like trying out all the latest stuff. if I could afford it id have a shed full of zipplex and shimano!

Dave – When I fished as a kid everything was simple and borrowed or hand-me downs. When I started fishing again a few years ago I started with cheap as chips gear, and no ideas. I didn’t do it often enough to warrant better equipment for a while, but now I do appreciate having better kit. But I’m never going to spend hundreds on a rod or reel. I do spend somewhat cautiously, and try to plan big spends into family gifts at Christmas and my birthday. This all goes out the window when I go to the tackle shop with Rob the Geardo

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Ben  –  I’m not an expensive gear kinda guy. Believe you can catch anything with low end rated gear as much as expensive gear.

Q: What’s your best day fishing ever?

Rob – out on a friends boat at Mersea. it was the 1st time I had taken my little boy, who was three at the time. I have never seen any child so excited as he was that day. So to see him happy made it the best days fishing ever.

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Dave –  I could mull this over for a year and still not come up with a particular session in my life. So many times spent just enjoying the day fishing 

Ben – Spalding, Lincolnshire with my dad on the Coronation Channel. Catching tench, that’s the last happy memories I have with my dad before he sadly passed away.

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Q: What is your favourite tackle/rod/reel, and why?

Rob – My akios fx420 14ft rod is AMAZING! I’ve used rods more than twice the price and blows them away. I’m a big hook man, 4/0 i lose less bites on a big hook, and even the tiniest of scorpion fish and rockling have taken my big old hooks. love a wessex rig too

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Dave –  I do love my Penn Affinity 7000 – it’s such a wonderful and forgiving reel, as I’m not the best at taking regular care of my gear! And I’ve paired it with a Shimano Alivio I picked up last year – love the setup and they just seem to suit me 

Q: We have all done it; what’s the worst purchase of fishing gear ever?

Rob – got a sonik sks reel. I’ll probably end up chucking it in the sea if i ever have to use it again.

Dave – The wire traces I bought as a kid or even recently. I have never used them

Ben – Treated myself to some insulated fishing wellies. First time I wore them at the water’s edge I found they leaked! Cold wet feet, not happy. Supplier sent another brand out no extra charge after giving some poor man a right ear bashing.

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Q: What are you looking forward to most as lockdown eases?

Rob – catching more fish than Dave Ryan, I do already but be nice to out-fish him somewhere other than Mersea!

Dave – Beach time with friends, whether fishing or fire evenings, or best of all, both. And fishing on our friend’s boat for sure 

Ben – Getting my boat out with my other fishing pals, Duncan and Richard.

Q: How does the family view you being out all day fishing?

Rob – she loves me going fishing. gets me out of her hair. she’s even been to the tackle shop to pick bits up for me.

Dave –  Normally she is happy to get rid of me anyway to be fair. Throw in tide times, bait taking up too much space in the freezer, and Rob needs a break from the kids – she’s pushing me out the door! 

Ben – Never needed an excuse, my missus is spot on with me going fishing, even when we are on a family holiday I take a rod. a few years ago I worked in Iraq for 11 years and Afghanistan in the military before that. I witnessed some horrific things as the team medic and then jumped from the frying pan into the fire by becoming a prison officer for 5 years. I suffer with PTSD and part of my therapy is fishing, so my better half is very supportive in that. If anyone suffers with mental health, fishing is excellent for just being by yourself and listening to the waves. No stress. And if you do have a bad day

Q: And at the end of the day…home on time for dinner or use your bait up?

Rob – I weigh 20 stone, always have to get home for my dinner!

Dave – I regularly overfish my stated return time. Usually by at least an hour or so 

Ben – Use my bait up, and try anything to avoid a blank

Q: Who is the best fisherman out of us?

Rob – Mullet from Mersea, Stingray from Batemans, huge lobster from Walton pier. its gotta be me! i don’t get huge quantities but I do quality

Dave –  Can’t vouch for Ben’s fishing – I’ve never seen him catch a thing. Rob can be right jammy when it comes to catching, other times he’s bored after 2 hours because all he’s caught is a glove. I simultaneously try and work harder about my fishing, whilst being completely lazy about it – hence my mixed results . But I’m working on it. Simply for effort it has to be me

Ben – Me of course. Have you seen the size of my Dab

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So there you have it. Three lovely blokes who share the same passion for sea fishing. Can’t wait to be out fishing with them. 

In the short term; this week it is my turn to be interviews for the essex anglers podcast, to be published later this week where I will be grilled about my lame attempts to master the dark arts and how, with the help of the community, we are bringing sea fishing to kids in need of some green and blue spaces via the John Wilson Fishing Enterprise. For now I want to thank Kevan at Colchester Bait and Tackle and Liza, Steve and Beth Stoker from The Mersea Seafood Company for giving us a head start with this project

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