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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 http://www.eu.purefishing.com/blogs/uk/terry-jackson/videos/. 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.
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………
The apple didn’t fall far from the cart Terry thanks for your time