IFD: Dai Gribble has been fishing for 47 years and in that time he has fine tuned his skills and knowledge of watercraft to produce the amazing results we see today. This year Dai really rocked the record books by catching some of the biggest tench and bream ever caught in the UK. So here is Dai’s interview about his journey so far….
What were your earliest memories of fishing?
I still remember my very first trip. My Grandad loved his fishing, and he used to fish the River Ouse in the town centre in Bedford along the embankment. I kept saying I wanted to go fishing with Grandad, but my mum said I was too young. So because of that I can clearly remember the day when I was finally allowed to go. We fished into darnkness under the street light of the footbridge. We were just catching gudgeon and bleak and I can still picture it in my mind. I was five years old.
From that early start, how did your fishing develop from there?
When I was a kid I could never get enough of it, but you had to rely on your parents taking you. My Mum actually took me even more than my Dad. From my early teens I enjoyed fishing a local canal for tench with my mates. We would fish at night for them under floats with just a torch before we got our hands on some beta light floats. Then I started driving and my horizons could open up a bit more.
When I was seventeen, I got a ticket to fish a place called Copmere and it just grabbed me. There were big tench in there and I started trying to target them. It took almost two years to get my first but that only sucked me in more as it was one of those things that I wasn’t stopping till I caught one!
I started then catching some of the double figure bream when they were still considered something of a rarity. At the time Copere held the British record so that was in 1984 and I was 20. It was right also on my doorstep and I didn’t have a lot of money for travelling so it suited me well. In 1990 I had a 9lb 13oz tench from there which was my best for a long time afterwards.
How did you then come to running Copmere?
It was run by a working mans club called the G.E.C. and I volunteered to go on the committee. Eventually I ended up as chairman of the club. At the time there were a lot of older guys running the club who weren’t as much into the fishing side of things. I pushed to get catfish introduced to the water which was massively overstocked with small fish. Then in about 1992/93 the social club was knocked down and basically merged with another part of the factory. The fishing club in the factory was very much match orientated, they took a couple of the waters so myself and Barry (another committee member) said we would run Copmere as a syndicate and any existing member could join and we just took it from there.
Does running the fishery take any of the pleasure out of your time there now?
It does on a day like today where straight after work I had to head over there because vandals had been at the boats. It used to happen the odd time but it seems to happen almost every year now. So there are many chores like that but Copmere will always have a very special place in my heart.
Can you talk us through your species fishing?
Well to catch big fish your going to have to go to them wherever they may be. In 2002 I started fishing in a place called Linch hill. It was recommended to me by a guy from Stafford who used to fish there for carp. On my first two nights I had three PB bream! I had a 13lber and two 14lbers and my second ever 20lb carp and in the following year I had a 16lb bream.
For barbel fishing I always loved the river Severn, but in 2005 I decided to try the Trent. I thought the chances of a bigger fish were better. So I started fishing there and had a lot of fish one summer with a few doubles included. Then I moved onto the river Dove which is quite local to me and after about three years I had my best ever barbel out of there.
For chub I got hooked on the river Severn above Shrewsbury. It’s a big wild part of the river with very few anglers. I love the fishing up there as it’s just you against them with no distractions. You could fish five to ten swims without bumping into another angler. In 2000 I had a 6lb 2oz which I was over the moon with.
Around the same time I began fishing the river Wye for pike, and on my first trip was blessed with a brace of 20’s! Myself and my wife Jill had gone to Hereford for Christmas to visit some friends. We had gone for a walk just to look at the stretch and I had seen this swim and I thought that looks pretty pikey. Six weeks later I went back and after getting the first rod out, I was just putting the line through the fourth eye of the other rod when the float started moving. It turned out to be 25lb 6oz. I moved swim and about an hour later had a 25lb 10oz! I can see the attraction of fishing the trout reservoirs for big pike, but for me I just love fishing the natural waters. My best pike was 28lb 14oz and thirty from one of the rivers would be on my bucket list.
Besides the tench and bream, what have been your favourite catches over the years?
The 28lb 14 pike off the Wye because it fought like a tiger! It went 25 yards down the inside of the river. Then it went out into the middle of the river and just hung there while I tried to gain line against the current it was a monumental fight I really enjoyed it.
I also loved the roach fishing on Willow, it was really relaxed and social with a great bunch of guys. I had to work really hard to get a big roach and in the end got one of 3lb 7oz. It had taken about four years and because I had to work for it it gave me a lot of satisfaction that particular catch.
My first 4lb perch this year was also a favourite. I’d fished on and off for perch but never really put the effort in, so last Winter I gave it a good go and on the 13th March this year it finally happened. My first tench from Copmere was another ecstatic moment.
What advice would you give a young angler thinking of getting into specimen angling?
My advice would be to take it one step at a time. If your PB tench is 5lb then there is no need to go chasing a 12lb next because every PB is another step that brings a lot of happiness. If you jump in at the deep end you are just shortcutting so much enjoyment that you should have had. Whilst your doing that your learning all the time. This year alone, I’ve had fishing beyond my wildest dreams. By the start of this year I had caught 21 double figure tench since 2006 and I thought that was pretty good going, so to get 16 this year was very much appreciated. And always remember the best way of catching the biggest tench is to catch as many tench as you can!
Can you tell us about catching your PB tench this year?
Well it came in quite easily at first, it didn’t start fighting until under the rod tip. We got the net under it, and we were on a relatively high bank so the fish looked side on as it slipped in. I looked at it and my initial thought was It looks big, but I hadn’t realised the depth of the fish until I put it on the mat and I just burst out laughing. On my previous session I had eight doubles and a 13lber and I thought I’d never see the likes again and here I was so soon after, looking at the biggest tench I’d ever seen. I rang a mate who lives close by to come down and take pictures. I got his answering machine but thankfully he got the message. I got another angler who was on the lake to come and weigh it as well so it was weighed on different scales to make sure. I went up to let Tom in the gate and I felt like I was drunk. I rang my wife to tell her I’ve just had a 14lb 12 and her response was F*cking hell!!! It was the third biggest tench ever in the UK and the biggest caught by design. To top it off I was back there the following week and had it again, this time an ounce more. Sometimes now I just look at the picture and think, “bloody hell I caught that”!
You then went on to catch one of the biggest bream ever can you tell us about it?
Well I had only bought my ticket for the water this year to secure it. I was more thinking I would get to know the place for a real campaign next spring, But the tench catch came so early on that I thought, bugger it I’m gonna go after the bream now.
So I started fishing for the bream with large amounts of groundbaits, boilies and pellet and I was of course fishing a different area of the lake to where I was tench fishing. My previous PB bream was 18lb 12oz which I never thought I’d beat. I was really hoping for one around 16lb but I knew this place had great potential so I was hopeful. So I started out, and at 4am the chap in the next swim woke me as he had just had a big bream but had dropped his scales in the water and could I weigh it. It weighed 16lb 4oz!
I was fishing a spot that I thought they might be passing through about 180 yards out and he was only fishing 30 yards out. So I went back to my swim and was dozing on the bedchair, thinking if he has caught them at 30 yards and is going today I’ll have to move swim that would make more sense. Less than two hours later at 5.50am I had a drop back bite and I wound down and hit it. It was 16lb 1oz and I was so relieved as I thought I don’t have to move swim now. I had a few more during the afternoon and evening and I baited up again. I had a few more in the morning and the last fish proved to be the biggest at a new PB 20lb 10oz. I was speechless, I think it was the fifth biggest bream ever in the UK as far as I know.
And finally Dai, what targets are left for you for the future?
I’d like to catch a big zander from the Severn of course, but there will always be new challenges if you keep your eyes open. Also there are your own targets and methods of catching so next year I might just do some float fishing who knows. You have got to want to be doing what your doing, If you can’t enjoy the blank sessions you won’t achieve your goals I just love being out there fishing.
Well Dai it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you thanks for your time mate.
No problem Paddy anytime…