If you’re in to fishing and you’re in to Facebook, you probably would’ve noticed a certain Gareth Griffiths. Or to be more accurate, you would probably have clocked the phenomenal catches he has made from around the coast of the UK. Catches such as these surely don’t happen by accident.
Jansen Teakle catches up with ‘GG’ as he is commonly known in the first of a new series, Getting Hooked Up, that will see Hookpoint delving deeper in to the realms of sea anglers who take their dedication to a blistering new level and have the enviable portfolio of catches to prove it.
It was probably twenty years ago that I first became aware of Gareth Griffiths, an angler hailing from Barry of a similar age to myself making a name for himself on the South Wales coastline by racking up a number of admirable catches. With the advent of social media and the subsequent platform presented for many an angler to parade their results, it became impossible to miss the end results of anglers such as Gareth who were clearly well versed in getting amongst the fish.
Back in the present day, I seized the opportunity to pick his brains for an hour, one unseasonably wet June afternoon, in the hope of discovering just what fuels this man’s relentless enthusiasm and undoubted ability with rod and line.
JT: Thanks for your time today, Gareth. So, tell me, how long have you been fishing?
GG: Around 35 years- or something like that.
JT: How did it all start and what were your biggest influences?
GG: I remember as a boy fishing with my dad at Barry Docks. He used to tie a length of rope to the back of the van and around my waist so I couldn’t get too close to the water. I always loved the water and remember those early fishing trips well.
JT: who do you look up to in fishing, either back then or now?
GG: everyone, I’m a midget! (Laughing at himself).
Pushing for a serious answer, I really wanted to know who might have been responsible for setting this fire burning over three decades ago.
GG: I dunno, there was a number of good match anglers around when I was a kid and they took me under their wing and showed me the ropes. Lee Byrne and Daryll Evans taught me how to fish and I won’t forget that, but I also looked up to Roy Tapper and Joe Arch who were amazing on the match scene.
JT: Was match fishing ever something you got in to?
GG: I did a bit of it, but it wasn’t really for me. My first club was Elysian S.A.C and I met some of the best match anglers on the scene, guys like Roy, Joey and Phil George. But I just liked getting out on the fish. I have done a few matches but it was always a lot of effort. The cost involved meant that even if you did okay you’d probably only just get your money back. It wasn’t for me.
JT: Did you have any major wins though?
GG: I won the shore and boat leagues together one year in my local club, Dow Corning S.A.C and came second in the Llantwit open. I enjoyed it at the time but I soon moved on when i realised that I just wanted to go out and fish, but not in a competitive way.
JT: Who else influenced your fishing in those early years?
GG: Again it was the match boys who inspired me to fish harder, the likes of Joe Arch and Roy Tapper in Legion S.A.C. They did really well and still do, makes you want to get better yourself.
JT: What was the first fish you caught?
GG: That would have been a goby in Barry Docks, I used to fish there a lot as a boy. It was a brilliant venue and I caught some nice fish there and saw some really big stuff come out too. Big pollack and conger… I saw some huge conger in there probably around 60lb. I fished it a lot over about ten years and always caught something.
JT: It’s not a venue that receives much coverage now, is it somewhere that is still worth fishing?
GG: Its not as good as it once was. Some years back, molasses was leaked in to the dock from one of the plants and it starved the water of oxygen and killed a load of marine life. It’s never been the same since that happened but you’ll still catch a few fish there.
JT: So, what motivates you to fish now?
GG: Trying new things and exploring new areas, new ideas. I like finding places that haven’t seen a line and working out how to tackle them and trying different things out.
JT: You’re a busy man, how are you finding the guiding and doing so much of your own fishing?
GG: The guiding is going really well. I’ve always taken people fishing with me and love putting others on the fish. Starting the guiding has been brilliant, it’s all I do now for work and lots of anglers have had good results catching their first ray or huss or whatever when they’ve been out with me. It’s all about the fishing for me. In the past I’ve dragged people out who had no interest in fishing but they caught fish and got in to it, they now spend thousands on kit (laughing to himself).
JT: Where is your favourite place to fish?
GG: Everywhere, I love catching them all. I travel a lot and like to get the different species. I recently caught a black mouthed dogfish and that meant a lot to me, I was shouting my head off with excitement! Big and small, I love ‘em all. I love going up west Wales on the tope but I like going to places like Somerset and the south coast too and fishing for different stuff like thornbacks and undulates.
I couldn’t help but be taken aback by the black mouthed dogfish admission- of all the fabulous fish that Gareth has caught, this is the one that immediately popped in to his head!
JT: Which other fish really stand out for you as your biggest achievements?
GG: I don’t know really.
At this point I asked Gareth to reel off his PB list…
GG: I’ve had tope to 59lb 13oz, cod to 17lb, bass to over 11lb, a PB blonde ray of 20lb 14oz, skate over 200lb, I dunno really, there’s been a few. My boys fish also mean a lot to me, Steen’s 8lb bass that he caught all by himself and Colton’s 19lb 3oz blonde ray. Those two fish are very special to me.
This is the thing that always grabs me about the likes of Gareth; anglers who have an outstanding portfolio but also a great many in-between catches to their name that fall just shy of that personal best.
JT: So, what is your tackle of choice nowadays?
GG: I love the Century Kompressor SS and Daiwa Saltist BG30, but I also love the Conoflex Frenzy for the lighter stuff too.
JT: If you could only use one bait, what would it be?
GG: Ragworm- you can catch anything on it really.
This surprised me, going on the fish that Gareth targets for the most part, I’d envisaged it being mackerel, sandeel, or some other fish bait.
JT: What are your thoughts on social media?
GG: Everyone loves a like! (laughing). I think it’s a good thing for people to show their catches and talk about fishing, but you do get the jealous guys and the keyboard warriors who like to have a pop but I just try and ignore that now. It’s a lot different to what it used to be. I don’t take it all too serious.
This really is evident, if you follow Gareth you’ll see that he rarely takes anything seriously, other than the fishing itself!
JT: What are your pet hates in fishing?
GG: (Starts laughing) Probably jet ski’s. I remember fishing up country and we had our baits in the water and it was perfect. They came out of nowhere and the noise was mental. They didn’t give a damn and were blasting around in front of us. We didn’t catch much after that.
JT: Finally, what is your strangest fishing tale?
GG: (Ponders briefly) Not like the strangest, but the most memorable was when we were fishing at Friar’s Point and some guy walked past us asking where the cliff was. We followed after him and he was sat on the front ledge in the water with waves breaking over him. We spent half an hour chatting to him and managed to get him back to the beach shelter. He had other ideas, ran back to the rocks and we ended up helping the police and coastguard get him in to the van. It wasn’t nice but it was a night I’ll never forget.
If you would like to book a guided session on the Welsh coast, you can contact Gareth on 07841 435310 and potentially join the dozens of other angler’s who have enjoyed a successful fishing session under his watchful eye.