Match anglers are often those with the greatest array of skills and probably the most versatile of all of us who parade with rod and line. Joe Arch is another name that I have been aware of since my early years and when the suggestion went up to get him involved in Getting Hooked Up, I jumped at the chance to get inside yet another great angling mind whose achievements are not only off the scale, but inspirational too.

JT: Hi Joe, thanks for talking to me today.

JA: No problem.

JT: So, tell me, how did sea fishing begin for you exactly?

JA: It all started for me when I was about four or five, apparently. My parents told me I got obsessed with it on a family holiday down in Devon. They told me I had seen a youngster catching lots of fish on a breakwater and I nagged them senseless to get me a rod. One good thing that came out of it, my parents said it was how I learnt to read. I was a lazy reader in school but I was bought fishing books and they refused to read them to me so I had to learn to read for myself!

Joe with a cracking garfish

JT: Can you describe to me your early years with rod and line and anyone who inspired you at that time?

JA: Throughout my school years I had season tickets for the local reservoirs and enjoyed fly fishing but I also did a lot of coarse fishing on the local lakes. I can not really say that anyone inspired me during these early years, I was just mad keen to go fishing and I did lots of it.

JT: You are known for your prowess on the match circuit, so how did that really come to fruition?

JA: I’d always had a keen interest in sea fishing but when I learned to drive that was when I really started getting in to it. I joined a few local clubs, fishing their competitions and started to talk to other anglers in the clubs and learning about new marks and different techniques. It would have been the late eighties when I really got into match fishing in a big way though. Most of the time before that was spent trying to catch decent fish and I managed to get a couple of 20lb plus Bristol Channel cod. I also had two double figure bass from the Channel around the same time period.

Joe has an excellent match fishing record both home and abroad

JT: What do you class as your finest match fishing achievements? I can picture a few over the years.

JA: I have had a fair bit of success in my match angling career. I won the world shore gold individual and the team award in England in 1997, but the silver individual medal I won in Montenegro when Croatia hosted the world championships in 2009 is probably what I would put down as my most memorable achievement.

JT: I see that you enjoy a few overseas trips too. What would you say have been your most memorable destinations?

JA: I like to catch new species of fish. I remember reading an inspiring article that Clive Gammon wrote about catching a shore caught haddock in Scotland. I managed a shore caught haddock in Norway the first time I went there, which I was well chuffed with. Other memorable catches include bronze whaler sharks in Namibia, shore caught bonito, very big garfish and several other large species of various rays in the Canaries. One fish I would like to catch is a bonefish, not on a fly rod, but on a free-lined bait.

Joe has caught some very big rays overseas

JT: You mention Clive Gammon; Have you found other magazine articles to be of use over the years?

JA: I learned to cast by reading an article in Sea Angler written by John Holden and it was about a casting style called a pendulum-layback. I put this into practice and my casting came on leaps and bounds. The articles Alan Yates used to write were very helpful in the early years. The one that still holds true today and always will is let the fish eat the bait. Never reel in too quickly once a bite develops.

JT: How do you feel about social media? It seems everyone has an opinion about it.

JA: Social media….it does have its uses sometimes, but there are too many keyboard warriors out there for my liking.

JT: What are your pet hates within the world of sea angling?

JA: Pet hates would be the people who slag off tackle brands because they can’t get on with certain items. If they don’t like it that’s fine, we don’t all like the same things, but don’t slag it off. Some people should learn to keep their opinions to themselves.

A lovely coalfish for Joe

Recently I put a post on Facebook about a poor cod I caught in Norway and some very experienced anglers stated it was a pouting. It amazes me that people can not distinguish the difference between a pout and a poor cod! 

JT: Finally, what advice could you offer to reader’s of Hookpoint and what do you think your own fishing will bring in the years to come?

JA: These days I really like using circle hooks for my pleasure fishing. They are so much more fish friendly. I miss far less bites and hardly ever drop a fish once hooked. Caring for the catch is an important part of fishing for me. As for my own aspirations, I just want to keep on doing what I enjoy and that is catching fish!

JT: Thanks for your time today Joe.

JA: No problem!

Circles on a perfection loop are great at securing a hold in the scissors