"Like many of my generation, I began angling at the age of nine. In my case, I fished with friends – and their fathers – on small ponds in rural Essex, catching tench, crucian carp, roach and rudd. In my teens I ventured further afield, to park lakes, gravel pits and the River Chelmer. I can well remember being laughed at by adult matchmen when I fished with a pole (a whole cane affair) in the Essex Championships on two successive years, being placed in my section on each occasion!
"When my family moved to Leeds and, shortly afterwards, I went to university in Belfast, my angling was interrupted. Nevertheless, the chub and barbel in the Rivers Wharfe and Nidd fascinated me, and in my early 20s I again flirted (successfully) with the match-fishing scene.
"A major change occurred in the mid 70s when I went to Hull University to read my Ph.D. By chance, I became friends with Kevin Clifford, Neville Fickling and a small band of big fish anglers, and my tally of big fish rose steadily. Large pike and tench dominated my time, but I got the carp ‘bug’ when I caught my second double, a 20lb common on floating crust!
"Within a few months of completing my research, I moved to Nottingham and full-time employment within a fisheries department. The number of waters at my disposal was immense, and for the next decade I fished as often as possible for big fish. During that period I also became the General Secretary and magazine editor to the NASA, as well as scientific advisor to (and, later, Honorary Fellow of) the PAC. Angling politics had started eating into my fishing time!
"By the late 1980s I had decided to set up my own fisheries consultancy, and this restricted my angling time. However, this was offset by self-planned exploratory trips to France, Belgium and – for four years running, to many parts of the USA and to Canada in search of carp.
"I am now based on the Shropshire-Staffordshire border, with even less time on my hands, but I still I manage to get out carp fishing. I intend to do a lot more fishing in the next few years, especially for large barbel, tench and roach.
"For the record, my big fish tally includes English carp and pike over 34lb, roach to 2lb 10 oz, double-figure bream and tench to almost 9lb."