Following on from Gary’s kayak angling article, we get to have some time with him to find out more about his angling background. Gary is one of Ireland’s top kayak anglers and has just been appointed to the team at Sea Angler, so over to Gary now
How did fishing begin for you Gary?
I grew up in Bray and the river Dargle flows through it. I remember that no one in my family was into fishing, but I was just fascinated by water. There was a guy in my class in primary school who was into fishing and his Dad took us to Bray harbour where we fished down the wall. We were just catching little bits but I loved every minute of it.
How did your fishing progress from there?
Well growing up in Bray I had the river and the sea right beside me, and there was another guy in school who was a member of the Wicklow Anglers Association and I started going going up with him. I was really interested in fly fishing so I done this for the next few years, entering matches and to my surprise winning a few and I was really enjoying it. I qualified for the Irish U18 fly fishing team in 2000. I loved the fly fishing for the match side of things I didn’t agree with the killing of trout just for that purpose.
How did you start getting more into the coarse fishing?
Well I was now of driving age and I really liked the idea of catching some fish that were bigger than the usual trout. So with the car now opening up the door to fishing further afield, I wanted to be catching tench and pike and things and enjoyed float fishing on the canals too. I set about getting as mush info as possible and reading whatever books I could. I really enjoyed the coarse fishing and I don’t get to do enough nowadays.
What about the piking?
When I was a kid I got to go pike fishing maybe two or three times a winter when the trout season was closed and someone I knew was going piking and I would tag along. Again it was only when I started off driving that lakes in Cavan and Monaghan became accessible that it really took off for me for a couple of years.
How did the kayak fishing come about?
I discovered kayak fishing by accident really. My girlfriend and I went out and bought sit on top kayaks for ourselves for excercise and to just get out and spend sometime by the water. It was only when I got out on the water that I thought that this would be the ideal platform to fish from. You can approach areas silently, you can get into spots that boats can’t get to and I could launch anywhere.
What were your first kayak sessions like?
The first few times in the kayak were actually spent on the Royal canal as the weather was lousy at the time and I just wanted to get out and used to paddling and practice tipping over and all the usual stuff. Once I got more confident I decided to take her out on the sea, as I was still living in Wicklow at that stage.
You also enjoy the writing side of angling can you tell us more about that?
Well it has been a very good year for me, I have been doing my articles in Irish Angling Digest for the last five and a half years. I had been sending Sea Angler articles sporadically for the last two years, but it’s only in the last few months that they have decided they want me on the permanent team advising kayak anglers. With my blog, I try to get out as often as I can and update whenever possible. I have been pleasantly surprised by the interest that is there and it’s fair to say has opened up a few different avenues for me. I like writing and I like photography so it all fits in well.
What has been your happiest catch over the years?
Well there have been many over the years, I enjoyed the big tope on the kayak, two 20lb pike in two casts was another. Probably my most favourite memory though was when I was 15/16 and I was fishing the Dargle. We had been fishing the river hard and were catching plenty of small sea trout but all only around one to two pounds. I was working in Rory’s fishing tackle at the time. Then one night we were out I got one 6.5lbs! Being my local river and how excited I was the time, that was a very special catch.
What Irish species would you most like to catch?
It would definitely be a big perch. It has eluded me for a long long time. Perch was the first coarse species I ever caught and though I’ve had countless perch, I have yet to get one much over two pound so I just can’t seem to get a big one. It’s one I’d love to get and they fight their heart out on light tackle.
What are your hopes for the future?
I’m studying freshwater/marine biology at the Galway/Mayo institute of Technology. There are many problems facing Irish fishing, pollution, poaching mismanagement of some waters and many others. I’m hoping when I’m qualified I can start working towards implementing some changes as we can all play our part in saving our future fishing in the country and bring back angling tourists to help boost the local economy. I hope that soon, we as a nation, realise the importance of recreational angling and how much money it can generate for the tackle trade, hospitality industry and local shops and services and that everybody chips in to protect what we are lucky enough to have.
Well Gary many thanks for talking to us