Roger Bayzand was probably the best skipper in UK charter fishing, His boat Sundance was one of the most booked out charters and it operated out of Lymington. He was also a writer for Sea Angler magazine, and I for one, still miss his monthly input into the magazine and I still use many of Rogers Tips to this day. Roger then emigrated to Australia where it wasn’t long before he was back afloat again and into more great fishing. Roger has taken up painting in the last few years and has gained quite a reputation for his artwork. So now over to Roger for his interview…
Me: Hello Roger, what was your introduction to fishing?
RB: I was lucky enough to have a dad that took me fishing, mainly from dinghies around Lymington river targeting bass and flounders.
Me: What was your own first boat, and how did you begin charter fishing.
RB: My first boat was 9 foot dinghy that we rescued and repaired, I worked my way up to a 16 launch with a 4 hp Seagull outboard, then a proper 24 fishing boat with a 12hp Lister diesel for $900! I got a job working for Hurst Castle Ferries who used to run fishing trips at the weekend and loved the Charter fishing so bought a boat suitable to take passengers and started on my own. That was the first Sundance (the name came with the boat) a 28 wooden foot Berry with a top speed of 7 knots.
Me: Sundance was to be become the UK’s top charter boat, what was the formula for good fishing?
RB: I think my success was getting on well with my customers and treating them as you would like to be treated, fishing as any angler knows has good and bad days but as long as the skipper shows that he is trying his best then the crew are usually happy. I always felt the pressure of finding good fishing but would go that bit further to find them. Many of my anglers became life long friends who I am still in touch with.
One of the joys of the job is that everybody is on a day off and out of the working environment so out to have a good time. My long association with Sea Angler Magazine certainly helped with the publicity but I got to the stage where my bookings were 100% repeat business.
Me: Can you tell us Roger about the fishing out of Lymington?
RB: The Needles area has a good variety of fish, strong tides make it difficult at times and it was local skippers who pioneered the use of wire line, thankfully that has been superseded by braid these days. Winter cod fishing is still a big draw as there is a chance of catching a really big fish, in fact we had 4 over 40lb during my time and my personal best was 39lb. Summer produced some great bass fishing and plaice south of the Isle of Wight plus mixed bags of bream, rays, tope etc. We started wreck fishing in the 80’s and found very good fishing for pollack and cod on the mid channel wrecks in latter years some huge catches of cod have been taken from some rough ground brittle starfish beds in the summer months.
Me: You also done Channel Island trips for big turbot and bass, what was one of these trips typically like?
RB: The Channel Island trips came from fishing wrecks closer to the French Coast than home so we did a few runs into Cherbourg overnight . Then Trevor Housby (a very good friend and angling writer) wrote and article about the fishing near Alderney, he put me in touch with Roddy Hays who lived on the island and we arranged a 3 day trip with one day fishing in their local waters. Our first venture was not that successful not realising that the neep tide that we had picked is the worst for fishing around the islands, by chance the next trip was on a bigger tide and we found more fish. It was a big learning curve as the tidal currents have a huge influence of where when and what to fish for. Bass loved the fastest run where as the best catches of flatfish came as the tide turned on the banks where there was no actual slack water, the current just slowed and changed direction, being in the right place at the right time was critical. In the early days there was just the occasional boat for company, Paul Whittall from Weymouth became a good friend and we often exchanged information which effectively meant that we could be in two places at once and over time we developed a routine that maximised the best fishing time. The customers stayed ashore in Alderney for anything up to a week and the Harbour Lights Hotel run by Howie and Rowie Gaydon became the fishmen’s favourite haunt.
Me: What were your favourite catches aboard Sundance over the years?
RB: Too many to list but it always gave me a real thrill for a youngster to catch their first fish on board Sundance.
Me: You packed up and moved to Australia and bought another boat, what prompted the move and what is the fishing like there?
RB: After 30 years being beaten about in the English Channel the time had come to retire, not many people realise the hours we put in as the day starts long before the anglers board and stops when you hit the sack, that does not come that easy when you get older.
RB: We decided that UK winters were too long and cold and the warm subtropical climate of Queensland was the place to go. I bought a 28 foot Blackwatch Express just to go fishing with my friends and had a new fishery to learn. It’s funny that each part of the world has different methods, I joined the Sunshine Coast Game Fishing Club and learnt a lot from those guys who shared their information very freely. Live baiting for marlin and sailfish was totally new to me and turned out very successful, I much prefer hands on fishing rather than towing lures. My best catch was 3 black marlin before 11am on my own, it was so good I went out and did the same thing the next day. Winter snapper fishing on light spinning gear is really good fun, imagine catching supercharged black bream up to 20 lb on soft plastic with almost no lead on the line.
Me: You have gained quite a reputation as an artist, can you tell us about that?
RB: I always enjoyed art at school and after retiring I finally had time to have a go, I am having a lot of fun and selling some pictures.
Me: What would be your dream Australian catch?
RB: I am getting a bit long in the tooth to tackle a 1000 lb marlin off the Barrier Reef although that would be one hell of an adrenalin rush, I will settle for a 10lb+ bonefish on fly from Exmouth, Western Australia.
Me: And finally Roger, what are your fishing plans for 2014?
RB: More snapper this winter, which starts next week as we are upside down here!
Me: Thanks a million Roger hope you have a great year
RB: No problem Paddy anytime