Interview with Terry Jackson

Terry Jackson needs no introduction, he is Irelands top specimen hunter, fishing author and all round good bloke. He always gives a humble account of his fishing in his articles and you could be forgiven for thinking your just reading about some ordinary angler. But have a look at Terry’s records with the Specimens committee and you will see he catches a fish of a lifetime at least once a month and most often even a hell of a lot more. Then you look and see he has done it with most species. He has inspired more anglers than they might freely admit and i was delighted to have a few mins of his time….

1. What’s your earliest fishing memory? That would probably be when I discovered my

Grandfathers pond was full of Rudd and some Carp. I found an old glass fibre rod in his

green-house, and with a porcupine quill float attached, my Grandfather showed me

how to make bread paste and where to collect small red worms. I fished on that pond

whenever I had the chance, often until after sun-set, eaten by mosquitoes! I was about

seven years old.


2. You have represented the country for match angling, how did you get into that? My father

encouraged my passion for fishing and after many years of pleasure angling, we joined

a local angling club, East Belfast Coarse Angling Club. At that time it was one of the

largest coarse angling clubs in Ireland. I fished junior leagues, and then entered into

senior leagues. During this time, there were rigorous qualifying matches for Irish Team

selection. I was lucky enough to qualify twice, once in Italy and once in Belgium. Later

in life, I qualified for the Irish team in the World Salt-Water Boat Championships. These

were all hugely rewarding in gaining knowledge and new angling experiences.

skate 196lb

3. How did you decide to branch out and go for all species? Simply, I love catching fish, all

fish. After years in match angling, I realised my passion was in catching fish rather than

trying to beat the guys either side of me. Don’t get me wrong, I am still as competitive

as I always was, and the competition angling was a fabulous apprenticeship, but I

enjoy pushing the boundaries in other directions now. Targeting all fish has taken

me all over Ireland, pitting my wits against new species using different methods and

tactics. This hones the angling skills and you soon realise that certain methods learnt

for one species can be adapted and fine-tuned to fool another. It makes this sport even

more fascinating. I have also been to some stunning Irish venues, had mind-blowing

experiences and met some great anglers and life-long friends along the way.

spec plaice

4. What was your first specimen? I think it was a Cuckoo Wrasse! It was a random invite on

a boat trip aboard the “Missy Moo” skippered out of Bangor, County Down by Tommy

Martin. There were five specimens that day, and I asked what the big deal was about

a specimen. The lads explained that it was considered a fish of a life-time for that

species and so, the gauntlet had been thrown down and I discovered a new angling

challenge. I tried so hard that day to find a specimen Cuckoo but couldn’t manage it.

Eventually I gave up, put a set of Cod feathers on, baited with full fillets of Mackerel and

targeted Pollack. After a few Pollack. I happened to land a specimen Cuckoo Wrasse

two ounces under the Irish Record, and that was me, hook, line and sinker so to speak! I

learnt several things that day, one of which is that sometimes you can try too hard! It is

important to relax and enjoy what you are doing, and not to turn it into a task.

tope 45lb

5. You are now the Irish record holder for Roach and Roach/ Rudd, and you are Ireland’s

most prolific specimen hunter, did you ever think you would bring it this far when you

were starting out? Thanks for the comment Paddy, there’s probably a few would argue that!

When I started Specimen Hunting, I initially only dipped my toe into the water, but it soon

became too enjoyable to ignore. It suited my attitude and approach to angling, pushing the

challenges further and the boundaries wider. Breaking a record is one of the high-lights of a

specimen hunter I suppose, but I honestly get the same buzz when I land a specimen sized fish

of a new species. In 2013 I managed three new species over specimen weight, and each one

was as exciting as the Roach Record. Any dedicated angler in Ireland is capable of the same

achievement and more so, but as with everything in life, what you get out of it is directly related

to the effort you must put in.

spec roach

spec roach rudd

6. What specimen would you most like to add to your list of enviable captures? Basically any that

I have not run into so far as specimens. The rarer species such as Rays Bream or Black Bream or

Angler Fish would be fantastic but in reality, a life-time may not be long enough find them, never

mind landing one over specimen size! This year I will be targeting less species but concentrating

more on several I don’t have. My target is hitting the forty separate species mark, seven to go!

For 2014, the Irish Specimen Fish Committee has introduced length based specimens for Smooth

Hound and Spur Dog to join the Tope category which is excellent news, although I already have

those. I am hoping that one day they will do the same for all shark species and Common Skate,

large specimens that we already catch in good numbers but due to size, cannot weight them on

shore without causing damage.

turbot 22lb

7. What do you enjoy outside of fishing? As an ageing ex-biker, speed and freedom, but mostly

freedom away from the madness of the modern world. I have swapped the bikes for boats now,

and get the same adrenaline buzz. Even a float-tube gives you the space and freedom to un-
wind. Maybe it’s just my way of growing old and boring!

river fish

8. Who is your ideal bivvy partner? I would like to say any buxom lady that can hair-rig a boilie and

make a mean bacon sand-which, but better not. Apart from “Skip”, my Jack Russell and alarm

dog, any angler that is on the same wave length as me and can keep up with the pace. Andy

Wolsey has been fishing with me for a couple of years now, he’s a good lad, a great angler and

companion, and so far I haven’t managed to burn him out, but I’m getting there. Other than

that, I always enjoy learning from some of the Cork lads.


9. What music do you listen to if any? The ageing ex-biker will give you a clue, but if not, check out

my amateur videos at They are

just a bit of fun, but the backing music is required to block out all the swearing! I pick the music

that I like for the videos.


10.Who have you admired in fishing? As an ex-match man, I always admired stars such as Ivan

Marks and Kevin Ashurst who made it to the top and stayed there for years. They followed in

the foot-steps of anglers such as the late and great Bennie Ashurst and Billy Lane. As a kid, I

read their books from cover to cover in a bid to try and find even a small piece of the magic they

possessed. Closer to home, I admire the guys that submit many specimens year after year with

regular monotony. I understand the work, travelling, skill, knowledge and understanding of fish

species, along with the huge effort it takes, they make it seem easy, yet in reality, it is far from it.

I also admire the new-comers that have the same dedication, and will be the next generation of

keepers and hopefully, protectors of our precious waters.

carp 20lb

34 lb pike

Terry, the B word, it must never happen to you? Yeah of course i blank! It’s a major part of the learning curve. Take note of the weather conditions, Moon phases, temperature and then whether you blank or succeed. They all play a role to a lesser or greater degree in whether fish are there, are feeding or just laying low. I recently targeted pike, knowing full well I wouldn’t catch. I didn’t catch and it proves the point.

Me:  Like all anglers, we will all be upstaged by someone, and i personally loved the story of bringing your Daughter Lucy fishing. Bivvying up for the nite She was asleep when the first alarm went, he tried to wake her and she would not rouse. The same thing happened, and again and again before Terry needed some serious shut eye….. He slept like a log, and as the alarm went first thing in the morning Lucy wakes from her slumber and expertly plays the fish, by which time Terry was coming around enough to see Lucy land a 7lb tench! After thirty years fishing for them he has never had a 7lb………

b 480

The apple didn’t fall far from the cart Terry thanks for your time

About paddykeogh20

We are three anglers who enjoy all aspects of fishing. Whether we are blanking or catching were happiest on the bank or shore. If you like your fishing join us by watching our many trips and as we interview some top anglers along the way.....
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