For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved everything about fishing, probably because my dad was in the fishing industry all his life and is a very keen angler. 

I can remember my first fishing trip to a local pond when I was just three years old.

I caught about a dozen tiny roach and perch and I found it so exciting! After that I became well and truly hooked on fishing.

Dad suggested to me that it would be good to record all of my trips (as he’s been doing it all his life) to offer something to look back on, so I’ve started a little diary of my catches.

During the first year that I started recording my trips, we only fished 3 times, but year on year our trips grew in number very quickly and this last year we entered 128 sessions in to our diary. I fished mainly lakes and rivers but my first sea fishing trip to Scotland at the age of 6 was so exciting! We went for a whole week to the beautiful Fort William and that really was the start of my sea fishing adventure. We caught loads of fish, mainly from the shore and we have been going back every year for at least a week ever since.  

On one occasion we wanted to find a new area to fish and found Oban.

We had already heard of Roger Eaton, famous skipper of ‘Bluefin’, so we met with him and he kindly booked us for a two day trip aboard his vessel.

Dad caught a number of giant common skate out in the deep waters around the Isle of Mull, but I was a little gutted as I was only 6 years old and too small at the time to tackle the huge skate. We were so fortunate to have this adventure every summer though and we make sure Scotland is always booked each year before we make any other plans.

I had the best time with my dad and Roger who never treated me as a child and was always encouraging and willing to share so much of his knowledge. We kept in touch for nearly 7 years and last year, when I was 12 years old, dad received a call from Roger. He had decided to retire, but wanted to make one last trip with a view to getting me my very first skate.

The day came and we all felt very strange, knowing it would be our last trip out together. But at the same time, we knew it was going to be a special one.

The plan was to strap me into a harness and I was already dreaming of a fish over 100lb in weight. I really was aiming for the big one!

I didn’t have to wait very long at all to get a bite and before I knew it I was straining to haul a huge skate to the surface. My first ever common skate weighed 101lb, but I had next to no time to recover and I was soon in again. My next fish weighed 151lb and I was absolutely over the moon! Apparently it’s unusual to catch male skate over 100lb and here I was with two. It was so exciting for me, but extremely hard work retrieving them up from 200 metres of water. 

It was a day to remember and I feel honoured to know Roger. He is such a generous man and made my summer holidays even more special by letting me fish alongside him. On other occasions, when it was too rough to venture out in to the open sea, we tried more sheltered spots. On one occasion we ventured in to the beautiful Loch Etive. There I caught plenty of spurdogs, thornbacks and codling and we found it to be a very prolific Loch. 

Chris landing one of this first common (flapper) skate in Scotland

Looking through my diary, I can recall a trip some 4 years ago with my sister Ella. It was her first fishing trip on a boat and we decided to make it in to a competition. We ended up with 38 spurdogs between us and a few thornbacks. Dad didn’t have time to fish and to save arguments he said we both had 19 fish each and declared that it was a draw. Ella really enjoyed the fishing, but also taking in the wildlife. We saw otters, lots of seals and even a sea eagle. The mountains and general scenery are so beautiful and I am very lucky that we visit once or sometimes twice a year. We both love to eat our catch and practically live on fish when we are in Scotland. Pollack, sea trout and big mackerel, all caught from the Loch in front of our lodge!

So now, sea fishing is my obsession and I truly love it. I really don’t mind what I catch, big or small, any species. However, if I had to pick a favourite, it would have to be cod. Bass would be a close second followed by dover sole.

The winter season just gone has been a cracker, with lots of great memories for me including a new personal best shore caught cod of 9lb 4oz from Severn Beach last October. The fish was caught on a pulley pennel rig baited with fresh lugworm. It’s a very popular spot but I also caught a number of keepers from marks between Clevedon and Burnham-on-Sea that are less busy.

A PB shore cod of 9lb 4oz

In March this year we had our first plaice fishing session at Brighton and caught 11 plaice and 2 flounders. It was a long journey but the fishing made it well worth the effort. I also landed my best ever bass in 2021 and ended up with 17 keepers throughout the year. So far, this year is shaping up to be even better and at the time of writing I’ve caught 4 so far and beat my PB again with a beautiful fish of 7lb 4oz. Most of my bass are caught on lugworm but a few have come to fresh peeler crab and are often taken just 40 metres out. I love my shore fishing but when I get the chance, I do like to get afloat too.

At least once a month we are out with Chris Buxton, Skipper of Portishead based charter boat ‘Channel Explorer’. To me, he is the ‘cod king’ and a genuinely nice man. We have had so many fantastic days and nights fishing on his boat. We always have a good catch and plenty of laughs along the way! Our last trip was on the 11th of April. Due to the weather conditions it looked like the trip was going to be cancelled, then at the very last minute the weather forecast changed and skipper Chris decided we could fit in a short session before the wind picked up. It meant an early start, getting on the boat at 5am, but this is never a problem. It was only dad, Chris and I on the boat- three Chrises! 

We landed a total of 25 cod between 1lb and 8lb,  6 congers and 7 thornback rays. I cannot thank him enough for that adventure, Chris has helped me so much with advice on rigs and general fishing in the time I have known him and we really enjoy these trips. 

Over the years, local anglers and charter skippers have been so friendly and encouraging and Chris is no different. Since I started to concentrate just on sea fishing, I began to get to know the guys in the local tackle shops and they too have been fantastic when it comes to helping me out. Graham Hobden of Oliver’s Angling in Clevedon provided us with brilliant rigs and fresh bait, as did the two Steves at Reel Fun Fishing in Portishead. Steve Ace in particular has helped us with marks and bait presentation as well as offering general encouragement. There’s so much information to absorb from these guys and together with dad’s diary entries and watching DVDs when I was growing up, I’ve began to really build my knowledge and I’m now at the stage where I’m always looking forward to the next session and sometimes struggle to sleep the night before. My family joke about my enthusiasm, but I don’t mind.

Chris with a cracking pair of thornback ray aboard Channel Explorer out of Portishead

The desire to target new species is always present and the more experience I get the more my confidence grows in what I’m doing and the fishing seems to get better and better!

I feel so privileged to have the Bristol Channel and some of the best fishing marks in the country on my doorstep and I look forward to the trips that are yet to happen this year. There is already talk of venturing in to north Devon and even over the water in to south Wales at some point this year with some of our new friends we have made on our journey and I also look forward to the possibility of making new ones. A few weeks ago, when we were fishing at  Burnham-On-Sea, I met my friend Finnan Williams, who kindly gave me a lesson on casting my new multiplier reel. I’m  really grateful that he shared his knowledge with me. A PB blonde ray is in my sights this year and some extra casting distance could really help with that.

So, this is just a brief account of my first nine, truly exciting years of fishing. At the beginning we fished mostly for coarse fish and had some amazing trips, especially on the Hampshire Avon and the wonderful river Wye. Distance or weather never stop us and at the moment sea fishing is our number one pursuit. But that’s not to say that when conditions are good we won’t still have a go for tench and carp in the summer, maybe some barbel and chub in the autumn, pike, perch and grayling in the winter. But right now, we are truly loving our sea fishing and I’m finding it so beneficial to record all of my catches. They will be there to look back over in years to come and hopefully inspire even more successful trips.

It's been a great year for bass for Chris

Some of my best saltwater  catches to date are as follows:

Common skate 151lb, cod 9lb 4oz, bass 7lb 4oz, thornback ray 12lb 8oz, conger 16lb, smooth-hound 14lb, spurdog 11lb, dover sole 3lb 2oz, blonde ray 9lb, thick lipped mullet 4lb 5oz and flounder 2lb. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and if you’ve ever considered creating a diary of your catches, I’d say go for it!

Lots of cod, Chris' favourite fish
Share