For as long as I can remember I have fished. As a young child I started off catching roach and perch on the Monmouthshire Brecon Canal at Malpas, Newport, along with silver eels and flounder from the tidal River Usk at Grove Park. When we were old enough to catch the bus my angling friends and I progressed to fishing the various sea wall venues and docks at Newport, and in addition each summer we would spend several weeks camping at Gower, West Wales, during which time we would fish for almost exclusively for bass.
I left school at 16 and spent 4 years in the Merchant Navy as a navigation cadet, travelling extensively around the world and getting my first experiences of fishing throughout the tropics. Next I spent a year crewing aboard the Bristol Channel pilot cutters, before joining South Wales Fire & Rescue Service in May 1982. There I remained for 30 years before retiring on June 1st 2012. Throughout this period I worked first as an operational Fire Fighter and then as a Crew Manager, always based at the busiest fire stations in South Wales.
The beauty of the Fire Service was that it follows a four-day-on, four-day-off shift pattern, and this allowed me to again resume and indulge my passion for angling. In 1983 I bought my first boat, the first of many, and by the end of the 1980’s I was fishing from my own boats as much as two or three times a week. I would trailer these to numerous destinations throughout South Wales, along with an annual trip to Co Kerry, in Ireland.
My first article, fishing for shad, was published in the August 1990 issue of ‘Sea Fishing Magazine’, now long gone. During the early 1990’s my work was published with increasing regularity in the various fishing magazines of the day, and not surprisingly this lead to me fishing extensively throughout the British Isles. In March 1993 I was contacted by Mel Russ, then and now the editor at Sea Angler Magazine, and offered the position of Contributing Editor on the magazine. Sea Angler was then, as it still is, by far the biggest selling specialist sea angling publication in the UK, so not surprisingly I eagerly grabbed the opportunity.
Working for Sea Angler really opened doors in the angling world, and I soon found myself in the amazing position that within reason I could fish pretty much where, when and whenever I wished throughout the UK and increasingly beyond. I am pleased to say that 20 years later I am still at Sea Angler, and am extremely thankful to Mel Russ and the tremendous support, encouragement and advice he has provided over the years.
By the mid-1990’s I was travelling abroad several times a year to fish, in order to provide material for my articles in Sea Angler. I became involved with Annie Ayton at ‘Safari Plus’, and this led to a great many exciting opportunities visiting, researching and then often hosting trips to numerous destinations throughout Africa. Some of these you can read about in the ‘Memorable Trips’ section of the website. I am particularly proud of the fact that it was following a trip in 1996 to Namibia with Clive Gammon and the articles we subsequently produced that Namibia became such a hugely popular destination with British shore anglers.
By the end of the 1990’s I had written three books, ‘Estuary Fishing’, ‘Dinghy Fishing’, and ‘Cod Fishing’, and had contributed to several other books written by other anglers such as John Wilson. Also, I had appeared in several TV angling shows and video’s, something which has continued to this day.
By the arrival of the new millennium I was working closely with Martin Founds at Anglers World Holidays, initially in exploring and promoting the fishing in Norway. Again I am proud to say I was the first to write articles in the British angling press, namely Sea Angler Magazine, about the amazing cod, coalfish and halibut fishing available in that country, which fuelled what rapidly became such a massively popular angling destination. Were it not for Martin Founds determination to develop this product, it is likely we would have had to wait several more years before Norway became the truly amazing destination it is today.
I still work with Anglers World Holidays as a destination consultant, travelling extensively around the world, and regularly hosting trips to destinations throughout the USA, Central and South America, Africa, The Indian Ocean and, of course, Norway. Again you can read about some of these under ‘Memorable Trips’, as well as see which trips we are planning next.
These days I contribute regularly to ‘Sport Fishing Magazine’ and ‘Marlin Magazine’ in the US, ‘Voyages de Peche’ in France, ‘Zeehengelsport’ in Holland, ‘Fisch & Fang’ in Germany and ‘Ski Boat Magazine’ in South Africa.
Since 1996 I have been Shimano UK’s sea angling consultant. I am also a qualified RYA Advanced Power Boat Instructor, with a personal commercially endorsed Advanced Powerboat Certificate.
Often I am asked what has been my greatest/favourite catch, and many are surprised when I say it is not the 1,120lb blue marlin I caught in Cape Verde. I have caught many memorable fish but I think no I must choose the 110-120lb tarpon I caught on fly with Capt Bill Basset out from Bud n’ Mary’s Marina in the Florida Keys. No 2 would be a toss up between a 100lb sailfish on fly in Costa Rica, or a 40lb giant trevally, again on fly, caught in Mozambique.
Of course also I am proud of my personal best 54lb 8oz Norwegian cod; my IGFA approved tarpon, bonefish, permit Grand Slam from Belize; the 275lb black marlin I got on my 50th birthday in Kenya, and a great many other fish the memory of which is indelibly imprinted in my head. Perhaps, though, it was those first few eels and flatties I used to catch on garden worms at Grove Park that are most important of all, for had it not been for them who knows how things might have worked out?
Today I am a full time Angling Photo Journalist and I am always keen to travel somewhere new, catch something different and generally try something unusual.So if you think you have any ideas, please feel free to get in touch!
Finally I would like to thank my lovely wife ‘Alison’ who for the past 26 years has always remained supportive whenever I’ve come up with ‘yet-another-must-do-trip-away’. I’ve had the great pleasure of her company on many memorable trips, and look forward to a great many more together in the future.
Dave Lewis: March 2013