Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Interview With Bill Palmer

 Bill Palmer will need no introduction, one of the nicest guys in the game who always has time for a chat at the PAC convention or a regional meeting. Bill’s input on the forums is always positive and he never has a bad word to say about anybody. In a lifetime of angling Bill has been there, seen it and got the Tee shirt!

Hi Bill,
Forum members will be aware that you have been doing quite a lot of Perch fishing recently, can you tell us a bit about this please?
Bill: Perch Mick, always had a soft spot for them mate. It being my first rod caught fish all 5 inches of it! That started me on a life time of adventure and angling pleasure. The biggest fish of all Dick Walker once said and when it reaches 3lbs+ it certainly looks it. Had some great times in my teens fishing the London reservoirs with minnow, before the perch disease. Then the pike took over my life, and the perch were put on the back seat and forgotten. When I had reached 300 twenty pound pike, I said enough is enough and spent more time perch fishing. I’ve loved every minute of the last couple of seasons. I’m just like a kid again as a big spiked dorsal fin breaks the surface, and our most colourful and handsome fish slips into the net.
It’s been a couple of years now that I’ve been targeting them again, there’s never been a better time to catch them.

What are your favourite/most successful methods for Perch?
Bill: My most successful bait and method? Well I’ve had them on jigs, lives and lob worm. Float fished lobs has to be my most successful method. Find yourself a couple of features, over hanging trees, boats, reeds etc. then feed chopped lobs for half an hour. Quietly lower the float fished lob into the swim if there’s perch there, the float will bury itself, the jobs a good un.

What’s your biggest Perch so far?
Bill: Biggest perch, not a monster by today's catches Mick 3lbs 9ozs. Had lots of 3 plussers from reservoirs, drains gravel pits and rivers. Still trying for my 4 pounder+, but I am happy catching anything over two. I will have to start concentrating on the carp puddles for my 4 though lol.

Have you fished for any other predators? Catfish, Zander or Eels for example?
Ebro Catfish
Bill: Yes done a bit of fishing for Zander, Cats and Eels over the years mate. Hope to get out and do a bit more eel fishing in the next month or so, The last big challenge in predator fishing, a fish with no name.
Number 1 son got me fishing for UK cats in the 90s, and I was lucky to catch a couple of thirties and a forty first go. The power of the fish was unbelievable, I firmly believed at that moment in time the Wels Catfish would become Britain’s anglers most popular predator. Today the pike still rules though, the only cat fishing I do now is a couple of trips to the mighty Ebro in Spain. I don’t take it to seriously it’s great fun, sun on your back and catching something that tries to pull you in, instead of you trying to pull it out. I recommend everyone who has not done it to experience it at least once in their lifetime.

 Now back to Pike fishing…
Is there a period of your Piking life that you enjoyed most? A particular water that was on song or a run of good luck?
Bill: The most enjoyable period in my piking life Mick, got to be when we first start out mate. It’s all new, so much to learn so exciting. When we hook into a big pike and a long broad back comes into view, just like a submarine surfacing we go to pieces. I used to have no control over my arms and legs, finally getting her into the net. God I miss them early days! I’ve never taken drugs but them old knee trembles must have been one of the biggest highs one could experience.

Of all the fish you’ve caught, which has given you most pleasure?

Bill: Which fish has given me the most pleasure? Love them all Mick. When holding a big specimen be it a roach, rudd, perch, eel, or pike and even carp. there I've bloody said it. LoL

OK, let me put it another way, of all the big Pike you’ve caught which one gave you the biggest Buzz?

One of many twenties
Bill: This is a hard one Mick, I suppose all our early big fish gave us a buzz. So I think I will relate to not one fish, but a catch of pike I caught 40 odd years ago. It was Christmas Eve, a slight mist hung over the reservoir as I put my gear down. Making up my first rod as a slow sinker I hooked up a small bream, air injected it and cast out into the south half. On my second rod I cast a ledgered roach into the north half. Watching both rods I took out a small bottle of the hard stuff and had a swig (well it was Christmas eve ).

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of the rods away, putting the pick-up in I struck into a good fish. She weighed 22lbs 8ozs, I rebait with a big bleak a quick squirt of air and cast it back out. I settle back down and take a celebratory swig from my bottle. The mist lifted then came back down again when I noticed the rod in the south half was away, pulling into the fish it takes on a lovely curve and the line was singing. A couple of minutes of pressure and she’s in the net, 26lbs 20zs, yes I cry. Holding the fish in the water till she regained her strength, she slowly disappeared. Back upon the wall the bottles out again, and I start to do silly walks up and down the bank. Ten minutes later the north rods away again I’m met with heavy resistance, after another good fight my third twenty goes over the net 22lbs 6ozs. I’m quite high now as I cast out another bait, not with drink, I hasten to add but with the capture of the last three fish.

I’ve hardly got my breath back, when the lines hissing of the reel on the north rod. My legs don’t seem to belong to me anymore, as I floated down to the rod and set the hooks lol! I pump the fish hard to the net, blimey could be another twenty, I settle for 19lbs 8ozs. Tony Pithers joins me as I recast the rod, come on Ttony bring your gear down here its fishing its head off plenty of room. No I reckon you cleared them out Bill. As Tony made his way back to his swim I'm away again, Tony returns is it a big one Tony enquires, it don’t feel too bad I say feeling under complete control. I have the fish close now and Tony spots it, I don’t wont to scare you Bill but don’t lose this one he whispers. I nearly had a heart attack, just landed 3 twenties and a 19 and Tony made a comment like that lol!

Drain Thirty

It wasn’t a monster but still a very big fish at that moment in time 24lbs 8ozs. Tony takes a couple of photos and we returned her. I remember sitting on the bank with the pictures of the fish flashing through my mind. I know i had a drink but I wasn’t having hallucinations I had just made the catch of my life, four 20 pounders and a 19lb 8oz in the same day.

Wow, what a fantastic story!
You seem very nostalgic about the old days when you first began Piking Bill, do you think you enjoyed fishing more back then? If so, why do you think this is?
Bill: Just like that old saying, the good old days yes. It’s probably true in my case, i did enjoy my fishing more, way back then. Why do i think this is, well some of it is as i mentioned earlier it was all new and so exciting, so much to learn. Then as the years roll bye I believe we become a bit repetitive with some of our fishing, and we just go through the motions.

Another thing, today’s piker can go into a tackle shop and buy whatever he needs. We were so lucky in away, having to make all the bits and bobs to help us catch fish. From rods, nets and rigs we got a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment catching on something we developed and made ourselves. Number 2 son is using a couple of rods today, that I made 40+ years ago.

On the plus side today Mick, the piking is probably 100% better now than when I was in my teens. What with all the great work the PAC has put in over the years. Also better handling and the returning of fish, a lot more have a chance of becoming specimens.

Do you have any fishing heroes, past or present?
Bill: Heroes Mick, we are talking fishing yes mate lol, there’s been one or two that I’ve looked up to in my youth. Dennis Pye’s photos of big pike in the Angling times would have me dreaming of fishing the Norfolk broads as a kid. He was the man at that time, and was probably the piker that got me interested in this mad obsession of ours. It’s a shame he gets some stick now he’s dead, and can’t answer back. If there’s anyone out there that wants to question my catches let them ask now or for ever hold there peace LOL.

Dick Walkers articles were again the first page I would turn to, not a pike angler I don’t thick he even liked them but the father of modern specimen angling.

I don’t think anyone has the slightest doubt about your catches Bill! Is there anything you dislike about modern Piking/Pike scene??
Bill: Dislikes in piking Mick, yes there is unfortunately the big pike seen at times. There’s too many of us chasing too few of them now mate. Oh the lies, deceit and secrecy just to catch a bloody FISH.

 Your book “Dimples to Wrinkles” is a gem. I was having yet another read through the other day and noticed the single hook rigs. Can you tell the pool siders a little more about them and do you still use them nowadays?
(Your live/dead combo rig has caught my fishing pals & I a good few fish so thanks for that!)
 Bill: Yes I still use them now and again, always have a wallet of singles made up with me Mick. I started using them on the London reservoirs in the 70s, using mainly small roach and bleak air injected to beat the weed. So simple but very effective with a big 1.0 single I had no hooking or unhooking problems, a brilliant rig when you only have small baits. Using a hypodermic syringe, put the needle just under the baits scales and squirt a small amount of air into the fish. The bait will pop straight up off the bottom, be very careful you don’t stick the needle in your hand. This rig has certainly caught me more than a few good fish over the years.

Another one I used way back then, was a small poly livebait rig. If my life depended on me catching a pike this is the one I would use. Again a very simple rig, basically the same as the air injected one only different using polystyrene instead of air. I still keep a bag of different sizes of poly for size of bait, they are all wired up ready for use.

My pike fishing today is mainly deadbaiting on gravel pits, using the two trebles. After all these years it’s unbelievable and a shame that we have not come up with anything better when using big baits. It seems old Alfred got it right all them years ago, the Jardine snap tackle still rules.

You've fished alongside many of the best known names in Piking, which ones impressed you the most either as anglers or as people?
Bill: God what a question Mick, we don’t wont to embarrass anyone do we. So lets keep it brief, and just say................The good the bad and the ugly he, he.

Yes Bill, we do want you to embarrass people!
Bill: I will leave it in Mick if that’s ok, got some very good friends out there. I don’t have to name them, they know who they are. As for others, if you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything at all.

Do you have any ambitions left in Angling Bill?
Bill: Angling ambitions, yes a couple mate but not that bothered. To enjoy a few more seasons would be nice, what with my time running out. That 4 pound plus perch would be more then welcome, plus a river thirty that I had finished my interview with Esoxworld awhile back, would be my cherry on the cake.
It’s been absolute pleasure asking the questions Bill, thanks so much for your time. I’m sure that 4 pound Perch is just around the corner and I can’t wait to see the picture!