Guntars Zukovskis burst on to the sea angling scene in 2020 with the capture of a potential British Record bass- a truly remarkable fish of 21lb 5oz. This goliath silver bar might have been a fluke capture, but further hugely impressive catches soon came to light, numerous others followed and it became clear that Guntars, or Gruu Gruu as you may have come to know him through his social media channels, very much knows one end of a fishing rod to the other. 

But what might surprise you is that he has only been fishing here for a comparatively short period of time. Jansen Teakle donned his investigative cap and delved a little deeper in to the back story of this relative newcomer to the shores of the Bristol Channel in part three of our series, Getting Hooked Up.

The fish most people will know Gruu for

JT: Thanks for your time today Gruu, can I call you Gruu?

GZ: Of course.

JT: Great. So have you always resided in the UK?

GZ: No- I moved here from Latvia around twelve years ago.

JT: So- how long have you been fishing?

GZ: I did about ten years of coarse fishing from a young age, then as a teenager I didn’t do any fishing for about five years. It’s been around six years now since I started sea fishing in the UK on the Bristol Channel.

I’m genuinely taken-aback. Thats one hell of a portfolio of fish to have taken in your first six years of sea angling!

JT: How did you begin your fishing exploits and who is responsible for inspiring you?

GZ: I was about five years old when I started fishing, getting up early in the mornings to go fishing with my dad. My dad was a massive inspiration to me from a young age. Going out with him, I was learning new things every time and always trying to beat him on catches- chuckles. My first sea fishing experience was aboard “Sea Fire”, a charter boat operating out of the port of Watchet here in Somerset. We were catching dogfish after dogfish and enjoying every bit of it, not knowing how much of a  headache they would give me in future. After those charter trip’s, I started looking up places to fish on the internet, slowly began learning new things and what tackle I needed to start beach fishing. 

Gruu unofficially has the largest shore caught blue skate too, but records are not yet being accepted

JT: Who do you look up to within the fishing community, either in the past or present?

GZ: I look up to many local anglers who I have met on the beaches over the years. They have helped me lots with their fishing experiences and vast knowledge, but there is no one in particular that I would like to highlight. 

JT: Have you ever taken an interest in competition fishing?

GZ: No, never. It’s always been pleasure fishing only. But one day I might try an open competition like the Cod Open. 

JT: What was the first fish you caught?

GZ: My very first sea fish were dogfish on those charter trips, but my first fish from the shore was a small conger eel. Even though it was small, it got me hooked on beach fishing. After every trip I felt I was learning more and more, I researched a lot and practised lots of different things over many hours.

JT: What motivates you to fish now?

GZ: My friends and family have always encouraged me and have been really positive, which I find is a massive push. I’ve met some top anglers on the beach, some of which have become good friends over the years and it’s always nice to meet up with them and see what we might catch. Sometimes though, all the motivation I need is the thought of getting out in the fresh air and away from everyone to clear my mind.

We can all relate to that!

It's not so easy to find a double figure Bristol Channel cod these days, but Gruu has already ticked this off too

JT: Where is your favourite place to fish?

GZ: Anywhere on the Somerset coastline of the Bristol Channel. That’s where my sea fishing started, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Over the past few years I have learned how to fish different marks, fishing for different species and what’s the best time of the year, tide and weather to fish these marks. I think I know it quite well here now, but there’s always more to learn. During the summer months I like to travel to the Devon and Dorset coastline for a change of scenery and to fish for bait. 

JT: From your portfolio of catches, which fish do you feel are your biggest achievements?

GZ: The biggest achievement of them all would definitely be the bass I caught last year that weighed 21lb 5oz.That is my fish of a lifetime, but other fish that I feel are special would be a Blue skate of 15lb 3oz and a shore caught double figure cod that I managed last year after a long time trying to catch one. 

JT: What is your current choice of tackle?

GZ: At the moment I am using a Century Graphex Sport and a Century Fireblade. My reels are Penn Casting Special multipliers and Penn Affinity 7000 fixed spool reels. I am new to multiplier reel casting and it’s only been a year since I started using them. For rough weather bass fishing, I am sticking with fixed spool reels while building my confidence casting with multiplier reels on calmer weather days. 

JT: If you could only fish with one bait, what it would be?

GZ: Squid. That’s one bait I never leave the house without. I would say fishing the Somerset coastline, squid bait will work and catch fish 80% of the time. I have fished many different bait combinations next to each other since I started fishing and squid never fails. 

JT: What are your thoughts on social media? 

GZ: I am really enjoying sharing my fishing pictures on social media with people who share the same passion for fishing. I have helped many new and old anglers through social media and often find myself answering their questions in the comments sections. I’m sometimes getting a dozen private massages a week with all kinds of different questions from people who have seen my fish pictures. I do like helping other anglers when I can. Instagram must be my favourite place to share my fishing pictures. Keeping track of the different fish I’ve caught and at what time of the year as well as keeping all of my catch pictures organised makes it easy to look back on what I might have otherwise forgotten.

No one trick pony, Gruu has managed a specimen sole amongst his haul of impressive fish

JT: What is your pet hate in fishing?

GZ: I can’t stand selfish people who leave their litter on the beach. There have been several occasions when I walk up to someone and ask them to pick up their litter. Or arriving at a fishing mark and collecting other angler’s litter before even setting up my rods because someone else didn’t want to carry it back to their car. I don’t understand why they can’t clear up after themselves.  

JT: Do you have any memorable stories you’d like to share?

GZ: There’s one story I will never forget. Last winter I arrived at my chosen fishing mark an hour early to make sure I got on my spot of choice. I set up the rods and made the decision to cast one rod out early while waiting for the tide to run off the reef where I would be fishing for rest of the day. About ten minutes later, another angler arrived. He walked up to me and told me that he usually does better on the left side of me. I think he wanted me to move, but didn’t say this… He then crossed the water in his waders on to the reef in front of me that was now visible. He began setting up directly in front of me and it was only when he put his rods together and saw my line going over the top of his head that he decided to move. I just couldn’t believe that someone would attempt something like that on an otherwise empty mark! It got me a bit frustrated for a bit.

I bet it did… Why DO they do it? 

I asked Gruu for his PB list and just remember, this is all within six years of starting sea fishing. What a well rounded list with some particularly special captures to-boot!

Bass 21-5

Congereel 24-0

Smoothound 17-10

Blonde ray 17-4

Blue Skate 15-3

Thornback ray 11-5

Cod 11-2

Mullet 5-9

Dover Sole 2-4

JT: Thanks again for your time today, Gruu. I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of you over the coming months and years.

GZ: No problem, I enjoyed it!

Gruu has managed shore caught hounds to 17lb 10 in his local Bristol Channel waters