Intervju med Mick Brown

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Mick Brown – Det känns inte som vi behöver ge honom någon närmare presentation. Och det kändes så otroligt roligt att han tackade ja och ville ställa upp och svara på ett gäng frågor! För det här tror vi att ni som läsare verkligen uppskattar.
Mick är en av de största om inte den största som jobbat som professionell Sportfiskare i England och en legend! Han har fångat många stora fiskar. Han har gjort filmer, skrivit böcker och en massa mer som ni nu ska få läsa om. Så istället för att vi ska skriva vidare så ger vi er en galet bra intervju med mästaren Mick Brown! 

Mick Brown med en stor ål från sin ungdom

Hello Mick!
Could you please tell us a bit more about you and your angling background in UK?

– Yes, I am now 70 years of age, and have fished for most of those years. I was brought up in the City of Birmingham and it was never easy to find somewhere to fish. But I came from a family where many fished and took me fishing, Through the influenced of my family. I started with trout fishing and match fishing, and I moved into ‘specimen angling’ in my teenage years. This approach was very new at the time, and it appealed to me that bigger specimens could be caught by design, rather than by luck. As suggested by the great angler Dick Walker. It is not easy to describe 60 years of fishing in a few words. But my enthusiasm took me on an incredible journey of travelling and discovering all types of fishing and rubbing shoulders with some colourful characters.

In particular I was fascinated by pike. And this species has been the basis of my lifestyle and business for most of my adult life. I have fished for many other species of course, some with considerable success. But pike fishing will always be my first love. The progression in my career goes through making DVD’s, writing books, marketing and technical work in the tackle trade, working with angling holiday companies, guiding on rivers and lakes, extensive writing for the angling press (almost 1000 articles and features!). And of course appearances in approx 90 television films.

That is really impressive!
You have been fishing for many years, almost 70 as you said before. But what target fish have been the hardest to catch for you? For example a pike over 30 lbs or a carp over 40 lbs.

– Things change with time and experience.
I once found 20 lb carp difficult to catch. But that was when they were not stocked in many waters, and before ‘self hooking’ rigs were designed. Nowadays, there are so many waters with big carp, not just 20 pounders but much bigger. And I know I could go to one of them for a few days and eventually one would hook itself while I was probably asleep! I don’t find catching any species with a self hooking rig to be very satisfying, even though it is fun. Big pike used to be difficult too. But it is more about location than anything else. They are very much affected by angling pressure too and this can greatly affect one’s potential to catch a big pike.

Once I have access to waters that have big pike, and not pressured by other anglers, I find them very easy to catch.

Finding these waters is the challenge. Once on the water, I work to a logical system I have devised to track pike down, often making use of lures, livebaits and deadbaits. The UK trout reservoirs provide an exception as they grow big pike artificially and they are not too difficult to catch. The 30 pounders I have caught from these large trout reservoirs do not give me as much satisfaction as those I have spent time locating myself in smaller lakes and rivers where they are very rare. Other species have provided challenges too. But over my lifetime we have seen climate changes that have benefitted many species.

When I started fishing, a five pound chub was a monster. As was a seven tench or a ten pound barbel. I could catch any of these fish quite easily nowadays as they have become so common through climate change and also through anglers high protein baits. It is not so hard to catch specimen fish of any species in the UK nowadays as there is so much free information available regarding places to fish for them. You just need time and money! Nowadays we catch a lot more ‘specimen’ sized fish in the UK. But it is much easier to do so and does not seem so satisfying to me.
Perhaps one species that I still find to be a challenge is a big eel. Five pounders were quite rare in the past, and are still just as hard to catch today.

Närbild på en ål som har en mört i munnen

Interesting answer Mick.
Moving forward to your pike fishing and some questions from our members in the Community.
Henrik have a couple of questions for you, the first is.
Your first choice of method in hard trout waters?

– I would work to a system. Above all else, I am trying to locate areas which hold pike, and they may be quite limited. Particularly in the coldest months. Lure fishing is the easiest way of covering a lot of water and discovering these areas. You may not catch the pike, but you might see them following the lures. Pike in these waters are not usually hungry and often feed in very short bursts. So it is easy to miss these areas. When I finally have a good idea where there are pike, I bring in livebaits if the pike are not taking the lures.

The lure choice though can be critical and you must be sure you have fished effectively. As ever, depth and speed of the lure plays an important part. Sometimes, I have used a pike fly to catch big pike when they are lying in very shallow water, not usually a big fly either. Then there is deadbaiting. Many will tell you that it doesn’t work on trout waters. You should try it! Sometimes, they will take baits like sardines, smelts or herring straight away. If not, I experiment with pre baiting, and have made it work many times. There are lots of tricks in deadbaiting that many do not understand. But it can be very interesting and productive.

And the second question from Henrik was.
Your best all-round deadbait? And also the best way of fishing a deadbait?

– Any deadbait can be made to work, but experimentation will show that, on a particular water, some will work better than others. The most important aspect of the deadbait is the ‘scent trail’ it produces. Although the pike might see the deadbait, it will mainly be the ‘scent trail’ that guides it to its meal. Experimentation with different baits is always worthwhile as there is often a preference. And one should be aware that bait size can be important. For example, in the early summer, pike seem to prefer a larger bait. But in the cold months of the winter, they will often prefer a much smaller bait.

As I mentioned in an earlier question, there is not a simple answer. There are many other tricks that the angler can use to improve the effectiveness of the bait. Popping it up from the bottom is one very good tactic, by making the bait more visible, and providing it with movement by various means is another. In many waters, it may simply be a case of fishing the bait hard on the bottom. Two things to be very aware of are location and feeding times. Get them wrong and it doesn’t matter what bait you are using!

Mick med en grov gädda

Next up is Jonatan that have a question regarding deadbait fishing in summer and early autumn, what is your preferred method and bait?

– I think that summer and early autumn deadbaiting may be different in Sweden, as the water temperature is probably lower than in the UK, especially in deeper waters. In these months, I am reluctant to use deadbaits due to the fact that pike swallow them very quickly. Which can lead to them becoming damaged or killed. I much prefer to use lures in this period. If I did decide to use deadbait at this time. I would choose a method that offered an instant bite indication that a pike has taken my deadbait.

This can be achieved with a float, or a leger rig that is used with a correctly set up electronic bite indicator. This is a waste of time though if the angler is not vigilant and determined to strike immediately. Regarding the actual bait, as at any other time of year. I will experiment with different deadbaits, which includes sea fish and coarse fish. I would use bigger baits of about 20 – 25 cm long in warm water conditions. So that they are not swallowed so quickly and easily.

Good answers.
So now we are moving on to the next area and it is of course your trips to Sweden and a specific occasion.
This question is more than one who have asked!
You were at (Lödde river) Lödde Å on March 23, 1997 and witnessed the most sensational pike triple in Swedish sport fishing history – how do you look at this experience today?

– Many things have happened in my lifetime which I can only put down to fate, or even luck. Yes, I was very fortunate to be at Lödde Å on that very special day. It was a magic day where I witnessed some monster pike. But also a joyous occasion in the company of newly found friends and colleagues. To witness those huge pike was a pleasure in itself, but the moment I will never forget was when I asked, and was granted, permission to have the privilege to hold the biggest pike in my arms for a few seconds. I knew that I would probably never see such a massive pike again in my lifetime. And I never have!

En klassisk svensk bild med tre gigantiska gäddor från Lödde Å
A poor picture taken from the last issue of Svenskt Fiske, Sportfiskarnas (swedish anglers associations) own magazine. This was the cover of their previous magazine Sportfiske. This capture was the one Mick witnessed.

That was a magic catch and we understand that it was a good moment for you!
We are staying in Sweden for a couple of more question.
What was the biggest difference to fish in Sweden if you compare it to UK?

– If I am honest, pike fishing offers the same challenges to me wherever I fish. To me, it is all about searching for pike and then working out the best tactics for catching them. In Sweden, because many of the waters are much bigger than I am used to, the searching process takes longer. As many of your waters are much deeper than I am used to in the UK, I need to use different tactics when the pike are deep down.

When I first visited Sweden over 20 years ago, I was not equipped with tackle to carry out my searching and fishing in an efficient manner. Nowadays, with the advent of big, fast boats equipped with sonar and GPS, plus the knowledge we now have of deep water fishing. The task is made considerably easier. The range of equipment, tackle and lures available today is phenomenal and makes the job so much easier. It makes me wish that I was a young man just starting out. Had this been the case. I would have spent much more time fishing in Sweden in recent years.

We can just agree with you that the tackle industry is moving forward. And so are we, to the next question.
Do you have any good answer or thoughts on why it comes that angling in UK is so much bigger than it is compared to Sweden? Culture, more people, something else?

– I think the reason why angling has become very big in the UK in the last fifty years or so, is related to the way our society has developed. After the Second World War, our country became very industrialised. And I think that a large section of our society felt cut off from nature, and found that pastimes like angling reconnected them with the outdoors. Greater affluence opened up opportunities that were not available to previous generations who lived a relatively hard life.

Maybe this is why some of our greatest anglers were born and raised in the most heavily industrialised areas of the country. I think that people living and working close together in big towns and cities had more opportunity to plan fishing trips together. And maybe that is why competition fishing was the earliest form of fishing that gained a big following from working class men.

The generation that followed (my generation) took this further by changing the interest to catching specimen fish rather than organised competition fishing. Being a very industrialised country, it was inevitable that businesses that made profit from making and distributing fishing tackle would arise. Throughout this period, there was a movement away from treating fish with disrespect. And anglers developed the means to fish for them in a much more humane way. Maybe Swedish anglers are still very close to nature and do not feel the need to fish for sport as a means of escapism.

Mick med en stor mal

An interesting answer Mick!
But now we need to move on to your films you have made with Matt Hayes.
So the first question in this subject is.
What was the hardest thing with making all these films like the rod race and the greater rod race? For example how many hours did you spent on one species? Did you fish for a species that you never catched? How many hours of film did you cut away where you didn’t succeed?

– I think the reason that our films were successful is that we felt that we had a clear vision of what the angling public would like to watch on their televisions. With this in mind, each series was very carefully planned. This involved researching the venues and ensuring that we fished them at the best time of the year. And had the correct fishing tackle available. Of course there were areas where our knowledge was lacking. So we ensured that we gained enough experience beforehand to give us a good chance of success.

I don’t think viewers will be aware that we have to work to a very tight schedule and budget. Because of the very high costs involved in filming and editing, we have very limited time to produce each film. Normally this would be two days to produce each episode, which would include travelling time.
If you take out the time spent presenting to the camera, the actual fishing time is often just a few hours each day. But this is what we are expected to do. And we cannot afford to fail because doing so would mean that we would no longer be employed by the production companies.

Matt and I both come from business backgrounds that required us to be extremely efficient.

So we are used to such pressure and were able to make most films within the time restriction. Out of nearly a hundred films we made together, I can only think of two occasions when we had to ask for extra time.
One was fishing for carp at the Monument. And the other was fishing for salmon in Ireland. So, in answer to the last part of the question, very little film was wasted and not used. You might find it interesting to know that we caught many big fish that were never shown in our television programs. Sometimes we caught too many fish and the editor could not fit them all in. This includes a carp of almost 40lb and some nice pike over 20 lb.

Interesting Mick and hopefully I do not speak for my self here, but the films you and Matt did was and still are some of the best angling movies. Now for the next question and this time it is Oscar that have one for you.
What is the best or funniest fishing memory with Matt Hayes?

– Our fishing days, whether we are filming or just having a day fishing for pleasure, are always filled with fun and laughter. We are joking all the time and find fun in everything around us. To you, maybe these things are not so funny, but at the time they were to us. One time that was very special to me was when we were driving through the night to make our next film and we sang songs for the whole journey. So that we would keep awake. We made up the words as we went along, and after a few hours they became outrageous. It was recorded too! Hope no-one ever finds it! There are so many great memories of our times spent together. We have been very lucky.

That sounds hilarious, would have been great to hear that, or maybe not, hehe.
Now for the last question about you and Matts films and this time it is Daniel that wondering if there will be any more episodes of the The Rod race with Matt?

– We have tried for many years to get another Rod Race film series but have been unable to find anyone prepared to commission it or finance it. We still do not understand why the television companies became very much against showing angling after we had had so much success. I believe it was possibly the fact that angling did not attract the big money advertisers. It’s all about profit. We are thinking now about financing a project ourselves and then try to recover the cost through DVD and download sales. We would like to do this in September this year if we can raise the money!

Mick Brown och Matt Hayes med varsin karp

That would be great and I think that a lot of people would be prepared to pay for a new dvd.
Now for the last couple of questions.
What do you feel is the greatest achievement you have accomplished for the angling scene, not just in the UK but in Europe and the rest of the world?

– I never intended to make a difference to anything, but my written and film work has clearly influenced many other anglers. Both in the UK and further afield. I would like to think that I have showed other anglers that fishing can be fun and that we should respect the fish we catch and the environment they live in.

You have certainly done that Mick!
What is your top three catch?
Do not just need to be the biggest but maybe the most Memorable catches.

– A very difficult question to answer as there have been hundreds of days when I have felt very satisfied with what I have caught. Maybe one of the best would be when I caught a 30 lb pike from my local river. I have caught many bigger pike, but such a fish from my local river is almost unheard of. Maybe the 44lb carp I caught when filming Record Breaking Fish should be included. The catch was not that special as I caught it on a self hooking rig and I was lucky to catch the biggest carp in the lake – one which held the lake record for many years to follow.

What made it special is that it was the fish we needed to make the show a success, and it was a great relief to everyone involved that we had achieved it after putting in so much effort. For the last one, I will mention a pike I caught this year. I thought my days of catching monster pike were finished, and did not hope to catch another pike in excess of 30 lb, but I caught a huge pike of 33lb 14 oz (15.3 Kg) recently. I revisited a favourite water where I thought that the big pike had all been eaten by otters or taken for food by Eastern European poachers. They had clearly missed this one!

All great catches Mick!
But how much fishing are you doing today?
And what is it that makes you returning to the water after all these years?

– I do not do a lot of fishing nowadays. This is because I have so many other things I want to do in my retirement. Each day spent by the water is still enjoyed as much as ever though, and I tend to fish places with challenges that make the fishing special and interesting. It is these challenges that make me keep fishing. I could go to ‘easy’ waters and catch a lot of fish, but that is not my way and gives little satisfaction.
I fish for pike in the mid winter from December to February (my favourite time for pike), and through the summer I fish mainly for eels, but sometimes tench, catfish or trout. My main interest in life has also changed. For the last three years I have been studying guitar music and specialise in Chicago electric blues style.

Good to hear that you enjoy your retirement, and we have noticed that music and angling goes well together. A lot of Swedish anglers seems to have music and angling as a big part of the lives.
Now for the last question then.
What has been the hardest thing to been a professional angler for so many years? The pressure to catch or something completely different that is hard for a non professional angler to understand?

– The hardest thing about being a professional angler is that it is difficult to make any money from it!
Catching the fish is the easy part! People see anglers like me and Matt Hayes wearing logo’s from big companies, and using the latest tackle, but they do not know the reality. No-one in the tackle industry or angling media treats you with respect and they all try to use you at minimum cost to themselves. I could live with this though as I enjoyed the work. The only way I could survive being a professional angler was to do other things to bring in the extra money I needed to have a good standard of living.

I ran a pike guiding service and produced my own books and DVD’s which helped a lot. To be a professional angler, you also need to be a businessman and manage your time wisely and efficiently. Luckily for me, my wife Jan has been my business partner for many years and given me endless support and help, ranging from administration duties through to film and photographic work. She has been to Sweden with me too several times!

That was all Mick.
So a big thank you from us at Swedish Anglers for giving us some great answers on our questions and that you lent us some of your valuable time!

Mick med en stadig gädda

Do not miss out to visit Micks pages for more pictures and videos.
And you can also buy books, films and more on some of these pages.
Micks Homepage
Micks Facebook page

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