Graham Hill is a man who needs no introduction, his bass fishing exploits have seen him features in magazines and on DVDs and he has personally inspired many many anglers to go lure fishing for bass. His knowledge of bass fishing in Wexford is something to behold and Graham was only too happy to take my call…..
Me: What was your first fishing experience?
GH: My very first experience of sea fishing, was in the North East of England in the winter of 1969. fishing off the Holderness beaches between Bridlington and Spurn point and I was 11 years old at the time.
Me: You are one of the leading lights in Bass fishing, how did that first bass come about?
GH: I think your first bass, however it comes, is an experience that any angler or non angler for that matter will never forget. A friend of mine and me, both of us young men at the time were cod fishing on a cold crispy morning on the Holderness coastline at the North end of Hornsea between the breakwaters in March 1980. We had caught some nice codling in what was at that time of year what we called the Spring run of codling. Baiting our hooks with yellow tail worm, a bass of around 4lbs came up the beach and as i can remember after a very spirited fight. This was for this area a very rare event, a newspaper event even, the year was 1980, and between this year and 1990, shore fishing both summer and winter, I landed only 3 more bass. Today this area is very good, for bass fishing for both bait and lure in the UK so just goes to show how things can change over the years.
Me: Graham what is it about Wexford that makes it so good for bass fishing?
GH: Wexford is the best, a jewel in the crown of Irelands shore bass fishing, but is like anything you do in life, you will only get what you put in. I would say one major factor is the estuaries. That is the Waterford estuary, Bannow Cullenstown and Wexford harbour. All freshwater outlets that make the diversity of the area, one thing I do know, it is beyond any shadow of a doubt that Wexford estuaries hold the finest peeler crab in Ireland and this obviously adds to the attraction for the bass, this is a great question, one i cannot possibly answer here Paddy, there are so many factors in the area of SE Ireland that all add up the right way for the great fishing Wexford can produce.
Me: You have guided Henry Gilbey over here and you featured in his DVD’s, what was it like behind the scenes on a fishing DVD
GH: Where do I start with this, well Carol and I invited and guided Henry over to Wexford for the first time in November/December 2003 to sample some of the Fabulous Fishing that we had been experiencing in SE Ireland for some winter Bass Fishing, the trip turned out successful with Bass and other species caught on both Bait and Lure and Henry getting some really stunning pictures for his Sea Angler articles, the impression must have been instant.
I think it was around next March time that Henry contacted me and asked I would consider a slot in his series of Discovery Channel series Wild Fishing i jumped at the chance to be honest a bit daunting jumping into the world of journalism and tv.
Reading between the lines now I think i was put on the agenda and fitted in to an already organized Schedule of series episodes on Wild Fishing due to results the previous November.
Well I was getting a little nervous before the arrival of Henry and the film crew but as I know now from working with Henry he is a hard task master, you have to be on the ball and nothing else will do that is with photography so when a film crew is on the shore with us at £xxxx a day well that don’t take a lot of working out so the pressure is really on to get a result.
I had taken 2 days off work before Henry and the crew came over on the Thursday Bait gathering and general recognizance of the area studying the weather and tide patterns I was fully loaded with bait and information, all was set,,,,,,,
I got a basic run down of what the Henry what he required for the shoot bait and lure fishing over two days we had to make a episode fit for TV Quite daunting. When the 2 black mercs 4x4s pulled up at the morning of the shoot didn’t help my nerves I crapped myself and it got curtains twitching in the area, I felt like a lamb to the slaughter, this has to work…
Day one was off to the infamous Bass Alley Bait fishing in its hey day should have been called double alley nailed a few small Bass up to 3lbs which in its way a relief but I knew that this could be improved on even though Henry seemed delighted with the results.
Where next?? The lure rod came out and down to Carniavon bay to a mark I know, within one cast of my lure bang a Bass of around 8lbs a superb specimen and the first lure caught Bass of any size caught on camera for national TV. I was shaking with excitement not to mention Henry as we all know how he can go off on one,,,
With other species and more bass caught on the shoot we nailed it and the rest is really history.
Basically Paddy this was the front runner for the DVD that Henry and me made in SE Ireland in the following September, since then there has been fantastic magazine articles, books etc over the next years and to this day on the explosion of Bass fishing not only in Ireland but all the British Isles and Beyond.
Me: soft plastics or plugs, if you had to pick what would it be?
GH: Paddy I love fishing with both so much I think this question is a little unfair but hey the fantastic delalande shad in pearl blue or white is up there with the best capable of out fishing any other lure hard or soft on the Market today in the correct situation, I came across the delalande shad back in 2003 from a friend of mine called Michelle from France (Grenoble) .I cannot begin to give this lure credit for the amount of Bass it will attract when he introduced me to this lure I will be forever gratefull,,there are other also ran’s on the market today, but I find it hard to believe that any can match the consistency of the original delalande paddle tail shad.
Me: What kind of fishing inspires you?
GH: Small stream freshwater fishing is a passion of mine I have carried with me since I was a boy, possibly you find this hard to believe but it’s the surprise of the unknown when you are fishing a small virgin stream with a 10ft light rod, center pin reel mobile fishing with a pint of maggots in a maggot Bag landing net on your back on the move exploring a river this can produce fish and fishing you would not believe.
Me: In between all the amazing catches please tell me you blank too?
GH: Paddy you should know better than to ask this Question, that Anglers of my standard never blank ha! I have blanked thousands of times but even when you blank you never stop learning I just love taking out anglers from all walks of life and seeing them catch fish. I suppose this is where my Bass lure fishing developed as a mobile angler as all the basic fishing skills are better learnt in the light freshwater arena.
Me: Whats the best music for Graham Hill?
GH: Karaoke!!!!!! Simply the best, lets have a sing song after the fishing…
Me: what has been you most surreal fishing experience?
GH: Winning the Munster Open in 2002 and 2003 and Munster Closed Medal in 2004 and 2008 getting the green jacket and representing Ireland at International level was a real honour for me ,I fished with Rinishark angling club from Waterford and to be honest a fantastic club I cannot speak too highly of them guys, they got me into the match fishing off the southern beaches of Ireland I suppose the surreal point was when I realized that I could catch nice codling at distance with a single clipped down rig baited with that yellow tail and prime crab cocktail that took me back over 20 years to the beaches of the Holderness coast, no messing down the southern beaches such as Tramore ,and Garryvoe when the conditions suited for a old Yorkshire man.
Let me say to James McCarten and the guys at Rinishark, big thanks for having me.
Me: And finally Graham, what was your most memorable catch and what do you hope for 2014?
GH: My most memorable catch yes great question, not counting my wife Carol, I would say it was the times down the Bannow Estuary in a place Carol and I Christened Bass Alley many years ago this place was a caldron of Bass on both the rising and ebb tide a place were dreams came true this place was created by tides, storms and the ebb and flow of a very fertile estuary created overnight,,,
Sadly at the end of 2003 was at the end of its cycle and starting to fill in with shingle and the Bass fishing slowed ,Carol and I were lucky enough to get a couple of years down there where doubles were caught for fun. Finding Bass alley was really my time where I was on my own fishing a great mark that for one was my most memorable catch.
As for 2014 I just hope my family and friends keeps fit and well and always will feel optimistic going forward into the New Year with my Fishing there are wild and fun times coming and that’s for sure fishing is a open book just turn the page.
I would like to dedicate this questions and answers to my Great Mate and Angling Partner for many Years,
Paul K Ashbridge 1949-2013