In this month’s instalment of Getting Hooked Up, Jansen talks to another angler who seems to have the golden touch when it comes to finding those fish that many anglers will only ever dream of. Not content with a seek and destroy back-catalogue of impressive captures from his native Dorset coast, Nigel Bowditch took it upon himself to move to the island of Alderney where for fourteen years he spent many hours exploiting the many species of fish that the island had to offer. And boy, did he shine.

JT: So Nigel, when did it all start for you?

NB: It’s been 34 years since I first went fishing with my eldest brother. Now that makes me feel old when I think about it! I still recall it as clear as day and remember the sheer feeling of awe that the two inch minnow that graced my hook that day brought me. 

Little did I know of the addiction that would soon follow.

Isn’t it funny how the smallest of steps can lead to the longest of journeys?

Nigel has accounted for some exceptional mullet over the years

JT: Who inspired you to start sea angling and who do you look up to within the sea angling fraternity?

NB: I think my greatest influences within angling were anglers like Mike Ladle and other angling writers of the time. I remember reading Operation Sea Angler and seeing the stories of our big Dorset congers and bass, then obsessing about trying to hunt them down. The angling literature of the time might have been one of my main influences, but without the input of my brothers, I would likely have never taken up the sport or pushed myself so hard.

JT: So, some anglers will recognise you as an angler based on the Channel Island of Alderney, but was fishing the reason for your move to Alderney in the first instance?

NB:In a way, definitely, yes. But the quality of life also played a huge part. 

Alderney offers up some fantastic wrasse

JT: I’ve been to Alderney a few times and I’d imagine it must get pretty desolate if you’re there for a period of time. How did you find it?

NB: Island life is, hmm, a bit difficult and despite having awesome fishing on your doorstep it can definitely become claustrophobic. Having said that, knowing that there’s fish on the move and being able to run out straight after work and catch is definitely up there with island life’s great rewards.

JT: So having had your fill of Alderney, what made you decide to leave and relocate to Norway?

NB: The decision for the move to Norway this year was basically due to the need for bigger fishing challenges and a better way of life in general. I now feel that from an angling point of view I have achieved everything I wanted from Alderney so it’s time for a change.

One of many fine bass Nigel has caught

JT: What continues to motivate you in angling?

NB: I’m very stubborn and I constantly set myself high goals , I don’t walk out of the door to go fishing to impress others- I go out to hunt a personal best that I’m happy with. And I have high standards. It’s always the hunt that’s my main motivation.

Is this the mindset that separates the great anglers from the good ones? I think so.

JT: What are your greatest angling achievements?

NB: Every time I find exactly what I’m hunting in the place I predicted it would be, that is a buzz I will never grow tired of and is an ongoing achievement that keeps giving. Perhaps my shore caught tiger fish would rank pretty highly too, but that’s a long story for another day.

I really did have to press Nigel for PB fish examples. Like many angler’s of his calibre, he’s far from boastful. He was particularly reluctant in fact, but I did squeeze the following out of him. These are all PB fish landed from the Alderney coast:

Tope 61lb

Thick lipped mullet 9lb 15oz

Blonde ray 24lb 12oz

Ballan wrasse 7lb 14oz

Can you see why Nigel felt he had done all he could in Alderney?!

A chunky specimen tope from Alderney

JT: Where is your favourite place to fish in the world?

NB: Very, very hard to answer, but I guess the Florida Keys takes a lot of beating. Looking in to the water and seeing a variety of hard fighting fish, some of which are more colourful than you could ever imagine is just mesmerising.

Not to mention it’s the land of monsters and when a bait is out in the dead of night, you truly don’t know what’s going to pull that ratchet. It’s definitely an angler’s paradise.

JT: What is your current choice of tackle?

NB: Well it’s a bit of a switch over time in that respect. Since moving to Norway I’m back on my old Century Kompressor Grand Prix rods armed with Shimano Ultegra 14000 fixed spool reels. I Had to make the big change to fixed spools as fishing in depths of 200+ meters in Norway’s deepest fjord definitely required braid .

As for the lure gear, I’m using a Shimano Dialuna coupled with a 5000 size Shimano Saragossa. But even this gear will have to be adjusted as the conditions vary here so much.

A beautifully marked specimen blonde ray

JT: What are your thoughts on social media in regards to the angling community?

NB: Ooooo!! Now thats a very interesting question and a tough one.

Let’s start positive with the fact it connects like minded people who can share their knowledge, achievements and failures. My biggest angling hate however is also locked in to this subject and that is that it sometimes makes it all look a bit easy with no apparent ability to really work things out. I think that some people are looking for a quick fix and being told exactly where the fish are takes away that whole learning curve that failure brings. It’s just a personal point of view and no malice intended, but just turning up with no homework or legwork and reaping the rewards isn’t really for me, more is learned on a bad trip than any good trip, after all.

JT: What is your number one pet hate in angling?

NB: Very simple- Bullying!

This kind of links in with the last question too, as social media has definitely unleashed a new class of bullies, safely sat behind their keyboards and phones. Making sarky comments over a person’s catch/tackle or venue choice is just so narcissistic. Anyone I see doing it is instantly blocked these days as life’s too short for such toxicity.

Now based in Norway, we're sure Nigel will be seeing a lot more of these!

JT: Finally, what’s your most memorable fishing moment?

NB: Well, if you’d have asked me a few days ago I’d have told you a story about being chased by a bear around a lake while fishing for large mouth bass, or trying to unhook a ten foot angry alligator.

But it actually happened this week and although no real drama occurred, I won’t forget it.

Turning up early to fish for halibut in the most beautiful fjord I’ve ever seen with mountains lining its margins on possibly the calmest, warmest day I’ve ever fished anywhere, with good company and lots of fish. The atmosphere was just so perfect and that doesn’t come along often at all- truly a memory I’ll savour forever.

JT: It’s reassuring that even anglers with many a great catch to their name appreciate these simple pleasures that hours by the water bring. Thanks for your time today, Nigel, it was a pleasure. 

NB: Thanks for including me in the magazine. 

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