Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Interview with Andy Frost, Broadland Legend

MH: Hi Andy, thanks for talking to the Pike Pool.
Your name and dry sense of humour has been familiar to many of us on the Piking forums over the years, can you start off by telling us how long you’ve been Piking/fishing? Why Pike? And what keeps you going after all these years?

Andy: I caught my first Pike in 1966 when I was nine years old from a local marsh drainage dyke, it was huge, around 5 to 6lbs I reckon. The serious stuff, or shall I say as seriously as I've ever taken it kicked off when I started driving at 17, so that's 38yrs of piking.
I do dibble at a few other forms of fishing, but Pike are the only species that really do it for me. A year after I caught my first Pike, Peter Hancock appeared in the local papers with "that" fish, well that was it for me. I remember crazing my uncles arse to take me to that Horsey Mere place, it was a waste of time asking my Father, he was a dawn 'til dusk worker, needless to say my uncle never took me.
I still go today for the one simple reason....I enjoy it, although the joints play up a bit these days, I do hope to put a few more seasons in yet.

MH: You are well known as a Broadland angler and have seen the various systems come and go as Pike fisheries. What do you think was the best (most exciting or enjoyable) period?

Andy: As for the best period, well for me it was the Yare in the 90s, probably because I was better prepared. When the Thurne was on fire in the early 80s, if I'm honest, I never really gave it my best shot. I was a lot younger and hence relatively inexperienced. At the time I was concentrating on the Trinities, and catching loads of quality fish, but nothing like what was coming out just up the road. Nonetheless, I had my fair share on the Trinities so on that score I have no complaints.
The Yare was always my local water, and we noted an explosion of fish around 1989, it was gradually improving all the time and I could see an opportunity coming. This time around, I was determined to give it my all, as previous experience had by now taught me that nothing lasts forever, so armed with that marvellous quality that is hindsight , I gave it my all. There were times when it was simply mind-blowing, and as time passed the quality fish started to come through. Once again as far as my lifelong ambition of a 30, from my local water was concerned, it seemed to have passed me by, but right at the very end, when fish were thinning out lady luck smiled on me, and on Feb 1st 2004, I had my dream fish of 33.06. Just two years later it was all over, two devastating salt surges put paid to what to me was a thoroughly enjoyable period in my fishing life. But life goes on, so nowadays I have reverted back to fishing all over, basically wherever I fancy according to conditions.

MH: Can you give us some idea of just how good the Yare was at that time?

Andy: Well as I said elsewhere at times it was unreal. I well remember one season when fishing on Nov 5th, me and my mate had to pack in earlier than usual to get to the Firework bash. We'd shared a haul of around 170lbs of fish, taking into account I don't start until October, on that day I caught my 100th double of that season. At that time twenties were still relatively thin on the ground though but as time progressed the numbers dropped off, but the size of fish were certainly improving. I can never envisage it returning to this kind of form, in the areas I was fishing it was unusual to even see another angler but as is always the case word eventually got out. I'm just very thankful, and indeed lucky to have been there from the start. Sometimes in life you need that little bit of fortune and I certainly had mine. I would be the first to admit that at times I had it really easy so my advice to anyone who finds themselves onto some good fishing is, keep it quiet and squeeze as much out of it as you can because it never lasts.

MH: Are you optimistic about the future for the Broads?
Andy: Am I optimistic, well yes, I think things will improve, but only slightly. I don't honestly think we'll ever see two periods in Broadland Pike angling (Thurne in the 80's & Yare in the 90's) like this again. Mainly because there are too many of us about and the "surprise" spring won't happen, there'll be too many of us that remember this. The Broads will always be worth a shout, but in all honesty I feel it is back to reality.

MH: What do you think is the biggest development that has helped your Piking over the time you’ve been fishing?
Andy: Improvements, well they're many fold, welfare equipment is now very, very good. I think in general we're fishing with better equipment. If I were to single one thing out, it would be better boats, I now have a folding cuddy and if it were not for this I would pack it in. More modern boats I feel enable us to fish in far more comfort and hence more efficiently, couple this with vastly superior clothing, and really we've never had it so good. Hot food and drink always on tap, it's almost unbelievable to think how things were years back.

MH: Many well-known Pikers have fished the Broads over the years, which ones have inspired you?
Andy: Anglers I respect and who have inspired me, there are several. Obviously the old school, Bill Giles in particular, although I never met him, what he said in his day still holds true today. Out of the latter day anglers , one VERY close friend of mine , he'll know who he is if he reads this, along with Jack Spall, and of course Steve Harper who besides being a very good angler has done tremendous work by compiling books covering the history of this very historic area.
MH: Anyone who has had the pleasure of sharing a boat with you will eat very well. Could you describe your cooking set up and what is your favourite food whilst fishing?
Andy: As I said earlier we are far better equipped these days. I love my cooking on board my boat, I'm a lazy sod at home and very rarely even make a cup of tea but in the boat I love it! It all adds to the enjoyment of the day. My choice of cooker is the Coleman "grill and ring", ideal for getting a good feast going.

MH: You once described to me a very clever shallow water livebait rig, would you share this with the pool siders please?
Andy: With regard to the livebait rig you mentioned, firstly I must say it is only really suitable for tidal waters. By this I mean when there is just enough water to cover the Lily pads that abound down here and by just enough I'm talking of 6" of water and over. We all know that once pike have had a feed up they will retreat to the cover of the lilies but getting a shallow enough presentation with a livebait will still tempt them. It's not complicated; I always try and keep my fishing and rigs as simple as possible. All it consists of is a direct extra-long trace of around 4ft in length, a single treble and the conventional swivel. On this goes an ordinary old fashioned Gazette Bung, set at whatever depth the tide dictates, the remainder of the trace above the Bung acts as the uptrace , which is essential to cover bite offs. Three of those small cork balls spaced evenly along the trace above the float ensures it's kept fully on the surface, so as not to sink into the pads. Simple really but highly effective.

MH: Do you have a pet hate/dislike about modern Pike fishing?

Andy: Dislikes in modern Pike angling?? My number one is I do honestly feel a lot have lost the real reason why we do this; the numbers game seems to have taken over. I'll hold my hands up and fully admit I was guilty of it once, and on my own personal reflection it was pretty sad. I suppose I'm winding down a bit now and only go when I really fancy it. Obviously I don't like to see bad handling but that's a hard nut to crack in that we were all like that once. By that I mean beginners and everyone should remember that. In this field the Pike Angling Club of Great Britian has made great advances in promoting welfare and I sincerely hope they continue to do so.

I'll get slated for this I know, but I can't abide by bait boats, if you haven't made the cast then its fishing and not angling as far as I'm concerned. I'm not overly keen on fishfinders either. I once had one for about a week and then gave it away, I just prefer doing it naturally. I fully realise that nearly everyone has one nowadays, it's a free world and we must all chose which path we take but they're not for me.

MH: What do you think of Derrick Amies recent book about Norfolk Pike fishing?
Andy: With regard to the Derrick Amies book, well there are three camps here; the disbelievers, the believers and those that couldn't give a rats arse. For the record I'm firmly in the former. It's been trawled over time and time again but I say just LOOK at the evidence in the book and work it out for yourselves, I think I'll leave it at that.

MH: Of all the Pike you’ve caught, large & small, which one gave you the most pleasure?
Andy: Out of all the fish I've caught, I’ve enjoyed all of them in a strange kind of way. I never tire of seeing a fish. Obviously my PB gave me immense pleasure, just seeing such a specimen was enough but to have actually caught it was the icing on the cake. Two of my lifelong angling companions have had their PBs when they have been with me which was very pleasing. Only recently watching my very close friend and his young son bagging up gave me as big a buzz as if it had been me doing it.

MH: Can you name two anglers who you'd like to share a boat with for the day? One from the past and one currently fishing.
Andy: Anglers I'd like to share a boat with? tough one to call really, all the old Broadland anglers have now sadly passed on, but I would say that a day with Bill Giles would have probably made my angling life complete, what a true Gent he was. As for present anglers, well there are many, this may seem an odd choice to some but out of anglers still at it today, Denis Moules is my type of man. Immense local knowledge and a very accomplished angler, I sincerely hope that it may happen one day.

MH: Do you have any fishing ambitions left?
Andy: Ambitions. As I said earlier I’m probably winding down nowadays so I tend not to set myself targets these days. I just want to keep enjoying things as long as I can. I'm the sort who sometimes loads boat and motor the night before and don't always make my mind up where I'm going until I get up the next morning. It probably goes without saying that I would dearly like a Thurne thirty, it certainly won't happen this season, as I haven't bothered to fish it since October.....fed up with all the hassle Natural England are causing up there, I just had to get that one in !!

Thanks for taking the time to talk to the Pool Andy. It’s been a pleasure asking the questions and I’m sure The Pool- Siders will enjoy reading what you have to say.

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