IFD: Just over a week ago Jon Patten had his new world record dogtooth tuna ratified by the IGFA, this record fish will give him a line class and all tackle record. It’s not the first world records Jon has either, with line class records for rainbow runner and zander bringing his total to an astounding four.
It was a great pleasure to talk to Jon and he really is one of the true gents of angling. As he told me to help myself to some of his pics, it was so hard to choose favourites and I was left with my head spinning at all I had to sift through. What I picked for use here is only a tiny fraction of what I could use.
A true multi discipline angler Jon has been there and done that, so now over to Jon for his interview…
Jon you have spent a lifetime chasing big fish so how did it all begin?
My introduction to fishing came from both my Step-dad and my real father, both of whom adored fishing. One loved rivers and lakes and the other sea fishing so from a young age what chance had I got?!
My parents were always very busy when I was growing up so I would always go down the river for some fishing. Then when I would go to visit my real father on the coast I tended to do a lot of sea fishing, and that’s how my love of fishing for multiple species came about.
My introduction to big game fishing came one day when I walked in on my Grandad and uncle watching World of sport with Dicky Davis. During a break from the horse racing they done a feature on the world marlin fishing championships and I remember thinking one day I’m gonna do that it just captured my imagination.
From there what species did you focus on in the early years?
On the coast it would have been the plaice and mullet as I could fish for mullet from the shore quite easily. As well as the shore plaice my uncle had a boat and we uses to get lots of them including some very good sized ones.
That was on the Kent coast but I lived in Oxfordshire and we had all the gravel pits and such all around us. Back then I was mostly focused on chub and pike, so they were my staple fish.
Then I moved from Oxfordshire down to Devon, right on the coast where I would normally go out general fishing. Then it became a seasonal thing where I would go after cod in the winter for a few months, then wait for the rays to come in and as the summer went on more species.
From there I wanted to catch the biggest of my favourite species at the time, the Tope from the shore. I think back then I had more 30+ Tope than anyone else in the country. Unfortunately we don’t get the numbers now we used to for whatever reason that has changed things. Now I have to fish very hard for just a few fish each year but that’s how things go in fishing.
Jon can you talk us through your fishing calender in the UK?
In the winter time I love to do a bit of zander fishing mostly on the canals. I will also try fitting in some cod, spurdog and conger.
Then in the springtime when my zander fishing is tailing off, I’d be looking to go for tench and eels on the freshwater side. From then on it’s ray fishing and I have just gotten into spending more time fishing for undulated. For those I’ve got to travel a long way whereas the blondes and small eyed are on my doorstep.
From there I will do some sessions for catfish, gilthead bream and plaice. In the height of summer it becomes a bit of a mixmash as I go after whatever the conditions suit or just whatever takes my fancy, I tend to jump from one thing to another.
This year I will give the stingray a good go. From July you will find me trying again for zander, then putting in some hours for tope and big bass. This is all while looking after my wife and four kids and running three businesses so it all gets a bit hectic as you can imagine!
What was your first taste of fishing abroad?
Well my first experiences of fishing abroad was on family holidays in Spain with my parents. Like any other kid I would just have a tiny little kids rod and would fish for the small species around the harbours.
That was to escalate over the years to chasing around the world trying to catch species I had always dreamt of.
What have been your favourite destinations?
All of them(and laughs)! I have loved them all. I spent fifteen years going back and forward to the Caribbean and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Most of the places were very beautiful and some of them rather dodgy. A few times in the remote areas we found ourselves quite close to marijuana plantations so that got a bit hairy. Once we are asked rather politely to leave and once I thought we were going to be shot! Having said that I absolutely adored the Caribbean and I had some amazing fishing out there.
I had tarpon to 70lb on a 8wt fly rod, bonefish to 11lb also on the fly rod. Sharks from the shore to 250/300lb so it will always be a very special place for me and bar a few hiccups I always felt safe there.
I love fishing in Asia but you need your wits about just that bit more.
However my favourite place I have fished was for small brown trout in the Alps. Just the experience of setting off on your skis complete with fishing gear and setting off down the mountain and through the forest and you couldn’t find a more scenic place to fish. It’s not always about the biggest and best fish but just the memories you gain from it. I was only saying to someone the other day, the reason we all started fishing was because it was fun. If you compare your catches to others you won’t enjoy it, and for me if fishing no longer is fun that’s when I’ll hang up my rods.
I’ve fished Australia, the south Pacific, Africa and every destination was a memorable experience. If I was to recommend a first place for a travel destination other would have to be the Florida Keys just for the quality and quantity of species available, the diversity there is phenomenal.
With a globe trotting angler for a father, your boys Jack and Reef must have very respectable lists of catches themselves now, can you tell us about the boys?
Both of my boys have quite respectable lists now by anyone’s standards so it’s been a pleasure watching that develop.
Reef my youngest had a 700lb tiger shark when he was twelve years old. Reef really likes the really big fish and to have a long battle. Jack would swap that the more sporting fish like tarpon and bonefish.
Reef would love to heading offshore whereas Jack would prefer to head back into the Everglades to catch snook, reddish and tarpon.
They have both had huge sawfish, wahoo, dorado so they enjoyed that and then back home they like the carp and perch and things like that.
Just last week you became the all tackle world record holder for Dog tooth tuna when your record was ratified by the IGFA. What was the fight like and how would you describe it?
I can pretty much sums it up in one word……. Brutal! Right from the take it was a punishing fight that lasted almost an hour. I was already knackered by a 200lb broadbill swordfish only an hour or two earlier so to say I was exhausted would be an understatement.
They are one of the iconic species of game fish in the world and they are very good at what they do. They will even chase off shark to feed at times, and if there is a weak point in your setup they will find it.
I also hooked into some that actually felt bigger but I could do nothing with them to stop them getting back to the reef.
I’ve had tiger sharks well over the 1000lb and these thing were just on another level. When it went, all I could do was hang on and try and turn the fish before the reef. You also need a really good skipper to maneuver away from danger. Once they hone in on something they hit like a steam train and they fight dirty. Unfortunately they do tend to fight for their life and my one died at the end of the fight showing that there can be mortality.
Myself and my mate Tim also hooked five in deeper water too that were mauled by the sharks. I was absolutely wrecked by the end of the fight but elated I had won the battle. I caught it on a rod that is rated to break at 83lb so they put my record in the 130 category although that is a lot heavier than what I was using. But yes it was a very happy moment for me and a new world record.
Jon of all the captures, what ones do you remember as meaning the most to you?
Blimey that’s a tricky one! I spent three years trying to catch a really big sole and I was absolutely elated when I got one, I was jumping all around the beach! I felt similar when I got my 5lb 1oz perch as I has always hoped to get one of that size. This really is a difficult question because they all meant so much.
My best plaice was 7.5lb I fondly remember that one, but if I had to pick, it would probably be two fish. One was a zander and the other was a swordfish. I have always had a deep love of zander so that explains that one and for the swordfish, It’s for what you actually have to go through to get it in. It was hooked nearly 2000 feet down, so to get it up when they fight extremely hard and have a very soft mouth. So to get it in felt like doing the marathon.
What targets in the UK would you still like to achieve?
I’ve never managed to catch a stingray from this country so I’ll be giving that a good go this year. I’ve had all the other rays over here so it would be nice to complete the list.
If I were a bit younger and had the time or will power I would love to catch a shore porbeagle. I’m sure it can be done as we have had them from the boat to within 200 yards from the shore.I also may go up with a couple of mates and try for a skate from the shore in Scotland this year. I have had plenty of them from the boat but it would be nice to get one from the rocks. But any fishing and I will count myself lucky Paddy.
And finally Jon, what targets around the world can you see yourself doing next?
Well I’ve caught five of the billfish and I would really like to complete the grand slam. I’ve also caught several of the shark species so I would like to complete the shark grand slam also.
Whether I get to do it or not I don’t know, but I would like to try so I may go to some of the destinations which may allow me to do this. For the billfish, I still need a spearfish so it would have to be either the Canary islands or Hawai and I’ve been to both in the past anyhow.
For the sharks I might do a trip to San Diego to try for a mako, but the one I really need is tricky because there is not many places left that allow them to be targeted. Otherwise I’ll try several locations in the US if possible. But like I say it’s not all about targets it’s just the having fun and enjoying it along the way that for me is what’s really important.
Well Jon thanks so much for talking to us and hope you have a great year mate.
No problem lads anytime.