I first became aware of Craig Gosling many years ago when news began to filter through of his tremendous bass catches. Catches that were in fact so phenomenal that they made the news long before social media was even a thing. Many years later and after some casual observations of this obviously switched on character, breaking Craig down was very much at the forefront of my mind when the concept of Getting Hooked Up popped in to my head. This should be interesting.
JT: So, Craig, it seems like you’re one of those anglers who has been fishing for forever. How long have you been fishing?
CG: I’ve been fishing 36 long painful years, still learning every trip out though.
JT: How did you start out?
CG: That’s a good question. It started I suspect, with my mum badgering my dad, Steve Gosling, to take me to Dungeness in the car to all his PSV matches. My earliest memories are Ford Cortina’s, pound notes for fuel, pumping yellowtail lug in the sleet, and shivering around a Tilley lamp that took methylated spirits to start it!
Thats the kind of memories that all sea anglers should have!
JT: Did Dungeness become a special place to you then?
CG: Out of all of these memories, by rights I should’ve never wanted to fish again, but the discussions about how many cod they would stop fishing at kept me going. Somehow, even though the name Dungeness is more familiar with the Dab World Cup now, I still love it, and still hold good, rose tinted memories of proper hauls when the cod were feeding.
JT: So who else, other than your father inspired you in those early days?
CG: Dad was definitely my biggest inspiration, but along the years when the cod stocks vanished, Ray Brewster came to the fore. Many know the name- he is John Darling’s old fishing buddy and I’m proud to say a great angler in his own right with the ability to turn his hand to both coarse and sea fishing alike, and smash it, I’ve had the pleasure of putting Ray on the bass, and he’s returned it putting me on the cod, a true gent.
For those of you not old enough to remember, John darling was responsible for putting Dungeness on the map in the 1980’s by making some legendary hauls of cod.
JT: And who do you currently look up to within the world of sea angling?
CG: Current man crush (I did laugh at this terminology!) I’d have to say two- Gareth Griffiths being one. Any opinion anyone may have other than ‘outstanding angler’ doesn’t matter, the man is a trawler, with stupid stamina levels and he earns my total respect.
And one I’ve held for a long time- Steve Harder. A guy who I’m sure must blank, but I’ve never seen it. He seems to pick a species and boom, there he is, holding it.
JT: I’ve asked a few successful anglers this, but have you ever had an interest in competitive fishing?
CG: Matches are not for me. To be honest I’m far too lazy to be anywhere at a certain time, unless there’s bass involved, or to gather livebaits. And I’m not a people person. Well, not a ‘lots of people’ person, anyway. I think match anglers that do their thing week in, week out are a different breed and I have nothing but respect for the workload. I just don’t get it!
JT: What was your first fish?
CG: I’m pretty sure it was a dab, almost certainly a dab, my dad loved them and I loved catching them. Though looking back now, it was probably a ruse to keep me occupied while he fished ‘properly’ for cod.
JT: So tell me what motivates you to fish now?
CG: Hmm….Interesting, I’ve spent my life with tunnel vision regarding big bass and catching them. I’m known for not even weighing what my friends consider ‘good bass’. If I don’t think it’ll touch ten, I won’t bother. But motivation for me is, really, the desire to learn. I mean since I bagged ten doubles in just a few months two years ago, I’ve subconsciously not been doing what I should. By this I mean I should be looking at my diaries, picking the tides that I know do well and venturing out, but I find myself thinking ‘you’re never going to beat that’, so, instead I’m in silly places, doing silly things. I mean last year, wow, just wow. The year of the furloughed f*** wits, as I call it. Well last year I didn’t even want to go to a beach let alone fish it, so motivation then was at an all time low, I retreated, thankfully to our private lakes, but it is the pursuit of bass and learning about them that motivates me the most.
JT: So where is your favourite place to fish, if you can share that with us?
CG: A number of different places inspire me. If I feel like anything at all could come out of the dark deep water, usually in stunning surroundings, that’s what makes me happy. The back of the Isle Of Wight and Dorset come to mind, these are my happy places, generally because you won’t see another person for ages. It’s bliss, but it’s also about where I’m staring at my rod tips all night too. My worst nights have been on the Thames and the Solent. The backdrop at those places is horrific with their oilfields and industry. That’s not for me, I hate reminders of man and his pollutive ways when I’m fishing.
I can relate to this, I hate the upper reaches of the Bristol Channel for exactly the same reasons.
JT: What would you consider to be your biggest achievement to date?
CG: No single one really, though my 15lb 14oz bass was pretty memorable. I made my first cast and landed that fish after just eleven minutes and followed it up with several more. But although that fish was special and it’s a bit cliche, it pails into insignificance compared to when you introduce someone to the sport and they make their first catch, it really does.
Craig is clearly underplaying his catches here, but one thing I’ve learnt in recent times is that the best anglers often do. For the record, he has landed literally DOZENS of double figure bass from the shore….
JT: What is your current tackle of choice?
CG: Tackle these days consists of Anyfish Anywhere rods for when the sea is lumping it in, though I do like the Zziplex Profile GT for live baiting, probably my favourite method.
As for reels, I’m a bit of a Shimano tart, with the Trinidad models being my absolute favourites.
JT: If you could use just one bait, what would it be?
CG: Just one…Lugworm. Black lug. It enables me to catch whiting that catch cod, and pout that catch bass. Sole and many other fish love it too.
JT: What are your thoughts on social media?
CG: I hate it, which is Ironic really as according to my friends I can’t put it down and I’m currently serving a ban for bad language. However, it’s a bit like a hand gun in the States. I reckon it should vanish completely, but it can’t just vanish for some so it would have to go for all. I see it interrupting meals, spoiling fishing sessions- honestly, I see so many people cast out and log in, you may as well be a stay-at-home-Bert.
But as much as I hate it, I’m afraid it’s here to stay. I’m coming to the conclusion it’s like many things in life, you can slowly use it to your advantage and get stuff from it or just see the negatives. And if you do that, it becomes a stressful experience.
JT: What are your pet hates within fishing?
CG: I have several, bare with me. Jet-skiers and Inconsiderate swimmers for obvious reasons, anglers who say “I’m glad I kept it, it would’ve ended up in a trawlers net”.
Yes, Barry. You’re right, that 11lb bass was just born in front of you and had you returned it, it would’ve swam straight into a trawler’s net”. Pleb. Keeping under sized fish too, something that once led to a proper punch up.
JT: Finally, do you have any interesting stories from your time by the sea?
CG: A story to tell? I’ve a million. A lady playing the harp at 3am, reeling in a corpse, naked surfers, shells going off against a cliff, saving a couple from drowning and a load of other stuff that you wouldn’t believe unless you were there. Thankfully, I’ve seldom been there alone. Most of the above I should add, was at Beachy Head.
Who else would love to hear a detailed account of any one of the above occurrences? I for one most certainly would and I’m hoping Craig will be so kind as to enlighten us in a future edition….
JT: Thanks for your time today, Craig, it’s been very interesting.
CG: My pleasure mate….