IFD: Eddie Turner is an icon of pike fishing. Known simply as ET within the sport, he has a lifetime of fishing experience and his track record of catching big pike is hard to credit to just one man.
The inventor of many pike fishing products we take for granted nowadays and the founder of ET pike tackle. Eddie is also an accomplished author on the subject, with his first book Mega Pike has become a much sought after classic. We are very lucky to have some of Eddies time so now over to Eddie…
You have spent a lifetime fishing for pike, can you tell us how that journey began?
I grew up in Stoke Newington, my house backing onto Abbey Park Cemetery. Unbeknown to me, the godfather of pike fishing was buried there. Alfred Jardine no less.
My house was close to 2 football clubs, one good and one not so good. I followed the good one, “Spurs” There was a red & white one but their name eludes me for now.
I never started fishing till I was around 13 or 14. Having been too busy chasing women and causing havoc. The first fish I ever caught was a Perch from a local park lake.
I was hooked. My first taste of pike fishing was the gravel pits in the Lea valley. I had a friend a couple doors away and his step dad was a fisherman and he took me and my Dad. I remember him catching an 18lber on a match rod and single hook after hooking a bleak, taking ages to get it in and ending up taking it home, and then eating it. Although at the time I was horrified, it had a lasting impression.
That was my first taste of pike so to speak.
I did my apprentership on the gravel pits on the Lea valley. Learning from names such as Bill Palmer and the like. The North Met was the first pit that we started to fish. Typical Lea Valley gravel pit. My first 20 came in the guise of a 28lb 8oz fish. Caught from a gravel pit further up the valley. It came to a float fished sprat.
The bailiff at the time witnessed it and before we knew the place was packed.
A vital lesson learned, keep shtum…….. If I tell you I’ll have to kill you springs to mind.
Ironically my second 20 weighed 30lb 4oz. I thought to myself I might be quite lucky at this.
You were quickly rising through ranks of pike fishing, what do you think set you apart from other anglers just going through the motions?
With good friends and youth on my side we were as keen as mustard. Reading magazines, books and attending the first meetings of the then Pike Society.
Pooling our ideas together we began to understand our quarry better.
The real breakthough came when we started to fish Abberton reservoir. Wanting to out do or catch more than everybody else made us better anglers, always trying something new. Obviously luck has a part and when you try something new and you catch you start to delevop.
Lots and lots of ideas came from the days at Abbo. Drifter or originally named the barns float. (after Barns Wallace of the bouncing bomb fame who tested a prototype at Abbo) ….The weigh bag as we know it,,,,backbiters…..un hooking matt (actually invented by an Irishman.) The water level of the reservoir had dropped and it was a long way from the water to the soft grass. He used to lay an old GPO sack which he wetted and laid it down by his rod. Saved his old legs.
My favourite method was live baiting, mainly free rovers. Its accounted for the majority of the bigger fish. I think you could say I am a trier.
Having travelled widely in search of big pike what places do you remember most fondly and is there any never agains?
I’ve had so many great fishing adventures. The first trips with myself and Bill in Norfolk to the adventures in Ireland. We always tried to have fun along the way. My first trip to Ireland was an experience to say the least. We were totally un prepared for the adventure. Had some great times especially the “gay” cottage adventure. Laugh a minute stuff. Fully prepared this time and we actually caught fish. Abberton reservoir one of the most famous venues in the country. Most of the Lea Valley anglers fished there at one time. It was a great place to experiment. At one time it was probably the most fished venue in the country. The “culvert” being fished every day of the then Pike fishing season. (1st Oct to 14th March.) except Christmas.
Never say never springs to mind. I have fished some sh*t holes in my time. From literally a tip where there were more beer cans than an off licence and rats the size of cats. Each with their own merit. I don’t think there is any where I wouldn’t go back.
You can be known for being quite secretive, would we be right or wrong in saying that?
I learnt my lesson very quickly. After the capture of the 28lber we decided to keep our cards close to our chest. Pike fishing can be hard at times and very ruthless. Once we started to catch better and better fish we had to become like the secret service. The only time we ever told people the story was when it was well and truly finished. The first article I did was with Dave Philips the former editor of Coarse Fisherman. We had a VIP day at Thorpe Park. We ended up catching around 200lb of Pike that day, the biggest going over 20lb. It amuses me seeing people putting their catches on facebook, when the fish are still wet.
You have made a huge contribution to pike tackle having been the inventor of unhooking mats, back biter alarms, drifter floats and many more, do you still have the same drive for developing tackle?
From early on in my pike fishing I always tried to think out side the box. Try do a bit different. I’ve always subscribed to the “ try something stupid”. Like shallow fished bait….deepest water…..float fished…oils etc etc. 9 time out of 10 it dosen’t work but occasionally it does.
If you look at the range of tackle that we produce today most of it apart from the hooks, wire etc are products that we came up with all those years ago. The first Backbiter was developed in the mid 70s. All the products we sell are stuff that I use myself.
As an author your pike books have become much sought after, how much time and effort goes in behind the scenes?
Having always been in full time employment, ( I run a display and exhibition firm.)
It always seemed to be busy in the winter months. So most of the time I could only fish weekends. Never used to get a lay in till March. I spend a lot of time day dreaming and scheming, for the next pikes downfall. I like a challenge and recent years it seems that’s what I have been up too, probably because I’m getting older and feel I don’t know how much longer I can keep it up.
Of all your big fish captures, what have been your personal favourites?
The very first trips to Norfolk, having experienced some fantastic fishing capturing 3 fish over 30lb in a season. Totally ill prepared looking back, but such a laugh. The Abberton 33lb 4oz was such a fantastic fish. Totally out of the blue. So few 30’s ever really came out from there and I felt privileged to catch one. Along with a 21lber minutes before.
The Trout water 39lber that took almost 2 years to catch. Didn’t even know it existed, but played on a hunch. Lastly the 35lb 8oz fish from last year. Never thought that the fish would end up so big and to be honest at one point I didn’t think I would be able to fish again. So I rate it as probably my favourite. Over half the 30s I have caught have been from non Trout waters.
If you could relive any session which one would you pick?
Probably the last few years. The challenge of a new water, with really limited history.
I had a few health problems and had a limited mobility. At one time I thought I might not be able to walk! However after 17 hours of surgery and 2 stints in hospital I managed to get back at the Pike again. The pit in question had limited access, but I was fortunate in the fact that my fishing vehicle was capable of a bit of off road work. So walking was a thing of the past. The fishing was difficult as the terrain was white clay and chalk. The water crystal clear and very deep. We were lucky that there was detailes map of the depths. After many weekends I finally came up with the goods. The first time I used livebait, the float slid away and I ended up catching a 28lb 8oz Pike. We stayed at it hoping that better things were to come. I caught the fish again in late November. It went 29lb 12oz and was the same fish. It had a very prominent scar on tis flank. We caught fish but the biggest fish apart from the big’un very few fish over 10lb were caught. We tried prebaiting but there were only low doubles full, of prebait. Something had obviously gone wrong somewhere, we believe that there was a fish kill of sorts and most of the Roach died. The Pike ended up eating each other and a few bigger fish survived. Slowly they disappeared, leaving just one big female.
We hoped we were wrong and kept on trying. At the back end of that season on a drifter fished at 150yds 13 feet deep over about 35feet the float buried. At first I didn’t think it was a big fish but as it got nearer, the water in close was very deep the fish started feel heavier and heavier. Once over the net I knew it was the same fish, but it looked chunkier. On the scales it went 32lb 8oz and I was over the moon.
The next season I was back on there again. I found it hard to believe that there were no back up fish in there. My trips were getting less and less. Only fishing it when there was a westerly wind, so I could drift to the area I thought held the bigun. This particular day I arrived at the lake around 1 o clock. The wind was directly over my back. 30 minutes later on my first drift I was staring at a hugh fish. It was the same fish as previously caught but seemed even bigger. I couldn’t belive the size of it. On the scales it went 35lb 8oz . It was my 30th 30lb Pike. A proper pit fish.
For any aspiring big pike angler, what tips or words of encouragement would you give them?
When you consider the what is available to the up and coming Piker these days. With the likes of the internet, forums, youtube etc information is freely available. The tackle is now readily available to all. When you consider that when I first started most of the tackle we had to make ourselves. That was one of the reasons we started ET back in 1984. Pike fishing has changed dramatically over the last few years. It seems that 30lb are common place or they would like to think so. Trout waters have mainly caused this. People’s expectations change. People seem to want instant success. I would say that you need to try all the disciplines for yourself and see which you like best. Best advice is keep your captures to yourself, If I tell you I’ll have to kill you. Experiment yourself, there is no substitute for experience. Keep trying, keep off facebook and Learn from others.
What does the future holds for Eddie Turner?
To stay alive a bit longer. Lost quite a few fishing buddies over the years, and also I’ve had my fair share of hospital visits. Can’t walk as far as I used to due to the various operations on my leg, but onwards and upwards. When you’ve been through the mill, Pike fishing and some of the crap that goes with it seems futile. On a positive note I just like being out there. I prefer a challenge nowadays. Back to old skool Piking. Pike fishing just seems to be getting harder and harder, with less and less quality waters. Most waters are now club or syndicate and really most are not Pike friendly. The threat of Cormorants, poachers and Otters have all taken their toll on most of the waters. I suppose that’s why places like Chew are so popular.
Well Eddie thanks for giving us some of your time, and we will be looking forward to your future exploits.
Anytime Paddy my pleasure…