Martin Bowler is one of England’s most brilliant fishermen. He has caught plenty of really big specimens and probably fished the British Isles more than anyone else has ever done.
After having interviewed Martin Bowler via video-call on Skype, I immediately started to write this featured article on him, as he was kind enough to also answer a few written questions. Read the very interesting and inspiring result below and find out more about Martin’s amazing angling adventures.
It’s late Thursday afternoon when I finally get a stable Skype-connection with Martin. Due to the Coronavirus-situation, many people in the U.K. are trapped at home and there is plenty of internet surfing going on. But, third time’s the charm, and not only did Martin give me that video interview, but he also agreed to a featured article.
It’s amazing writing about Martin Bowler, as he is one of my personal fishing role models and idols. But, I must admit that it also feels strange and somewhat uncertain; if Martin Bowler is stuck at home and not fishing his 4-5 times a week, the world must have gone mad indeed!
Nonetheless, he did provide me with amazing and valuable written and spoken fishing action and I am mighty proud of the fact that I can now present this interesting article to you, dear readers. I really hope you are going to enjoy it ans much as I do! Let us move on to the first question I had for Martin.
What’s your absolute favorite species to catch?
I love fishing for every species that swims so picking one is really hard. If I had to however it would be a spring salmon which is not only a truly wild fish but it’s also normally found in a magnificent setting. In the combination of these 2 factors alongside how hard they are to catch in the UK makes them the ultimate challenge.
When Martin mentioned the salmon, I, as well as many other fishermen out there, I presume, start to think of the past and how plentiful these fish once inhabited our rivers and seas. Every time I see a caught salmon, I am both happy and a little sad, as their number save gone down so drastically.
Many wild salmon stocks have been damaged pretty severely in the past and they seem to be extra sensitive to various environmental changes. But during the last decade or so, things have actually started to look somewhat brighter for the salmon. There are also plenty of large-scale restoration projects going about, which will certainly make a difference over time!
Thus, there is hope for the future, and fish like the one Martin caught on the above picture might one day be caught, and released, in myriads once again!
After having asked Martin about his favorite species, I wanted to know if he has a favorite way of catching fish as well. Turns out, he does!
Which fishing method is your favorite one?
Once again this is difficult for me to choose, as the fascination is the sheer variety so if angling ever lost this I’d probably quit. However it I had to it would involve a float of some description because my love of angling began when the tip slipped under the surface for the first time.
I don’t know about you guys, but I can certainly relate to that! I too caught my very first fish on a float, back when I was 12 years old. It’s was just as Martin, so aptly, described it; the magic begins when that float goes under for the first time, and for so many of us, that magic never leaves us!
If you want to take a break from reading, check out the video-interview I had with Martin below. Then, get back to reading this article! (Note that the video is a little bit behind the audio, due to heavy lockdown internet usage that day!)
I am sure that, if you are reading this article, you are familiar with all the Martin Bowler movies. There is of course “Catching the Impossible”, “A Fish for All Seasons” or, in later years, various Sticky Baits and Drennan productions, which, by the way, are very decent pieces of angling films!
These movies both catch the essence of Martin himself, and of angling in general. They manage to capture that magic and fantasy and then visualize it in the most brilliant and beautiful of ways. Of course, the very talented Hugh Miles, who is a marvelous film maker and photographer, helped in that regard.That trio of Bowler, Miles and Cribbins did indeed make fishing movie history. And that, my fellow anglers, is a fact!
In one of Martin’s Drennan YouTube clips, you see him landing a monstrous pike. Naturally, I wanted to find on more about his pike angling.
In 2016, you caught an absolutely brilliant pike of 34lb 12oz pike from Chew Valley Lake in Bristol, is this your biggest pike? And what’s your dream weight for a pike?
No, I’ve actually been lucky enough to catch 2 bigger than this weight. I also had a 36lb monster from Chew along with a 35lb 4oz fish from an estate lake in Dorset. My dream weight for a pike is still unchanged at 30lb as they’re just so rare. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had 9 over this mark and would dearly love a 10th.
A total of NINE 30+ pounders; that’s Martin Bowler for you! Imagine the amount of time and skill that is needed to make such catches. And I am pretty certain that Martin will catch his 10th mega pike in the foreseeable future!
This haul of big pike is a good example of how fishermen can stay motivated over a long period of time. If you’re into specimen fishing, you need to constantly adjust and change your goals, as you will most likely achieve them sooner or later. And that’s exactly what makes this type of fishing so appealing and esxiting.
Here is what I mean by that; say you are a decent fisherman and you manage to develop your fishing skills pretty consistently. If you are that type of angler, you will catch many of your target species and weights within a reasonable time frame. And then what, are you satisfied with that? Does the hunt become less interesting?
It certainly is a risk and I guess that many fishermen do actually feel like that. Maybe they are content with that, however, and just fish on. Or maybe they simply drop the passion and the hobby and start playing golf or something. Not the specimen angler though! When catching a personal best and set a goal weight, that one will immediately set a higher goal start a new hunt! And so on, and so forth!
That is the brilliancy of specimen fishing, you never really reach your goal, and hence, you do always and forever enjoy the ride! In any case, specimen fishing is so versatile, when it comes to techniques, venues, and species, that it would be hard for anyone to complete that journey in one lifetime! Perhaps Martin Bowler is an exception to that rule. Maybe!
You do quite some saltwater fishing as well, how is the fishing off the coast of England nowadays?
Yes, I love sea fishing as I do every aspect of our sport. Believe it or not, if
you’re after huge species then the UK has incredible fishing. The English
Channel has the biggest conger eels in the world. In summer 20 miles plus offshore our waters fill with thousands of blue sharks. We have porbeagle shark to over 500lbs along with the potential for 6 gills, mako, and threshers. The most incredible story is the bluefin tuna which have returned in their thousands along the west coast. All in all a pretty special place.
This is something I actually did not know and was extremely happy to find out about via Martin. The UK sea fishing is indeed something out of the ordinary and anyone, local or visitor, should embark on a saltwater adventure in Great Britain. You always read about big game fishing in some remote region of the world. But, for people living in Europe, it’s actually much closer than one would imagine!
Funnily enough, Martin mentioned the return of the Atlantic bluefin tuna to European waters, which is actually something I wrote a very interesting article on a while back. Make sure you read that article as well if you want to find out more about the amazing bluefin tuna. But first, finish this one!
Nature is indeed both amazing and amazingly mysterious. Amidst an environmental crisis and overfishing hither and thither, certain species seem to simply disregard these threats and make amazing returns. Not much is known about the recovery of the bluefin tuna or other species for that matter, but it sure is great news. However they returned, let’s make sure they stay and do well this time!
When one writes an article on Martin Bowler, the topic of carp fishing can under no circumstances be left out. Hence, my next question for Martin.
If anything, you are a carp angler. Which venue are you most fond of when it comes to carp fishing?
My big fish career started with carp and I still love the species. I’ve fished
every type of venue but my favourite is a low stocked large gravel pit that is both windswept and open. With the popularity of carp angling, these are becoming increasingly difficult to find so when I do it feels like I’ve got the same excitement as I did when I first started.
Gravel pits are superior fishing venues indeed, for carp, as well as for various other species. They have always fascinated me, in a way. Gravel pits are old open-pit mines that, you guessed it, were used to extract gravel from. The beauty of their existence is that they actually hold a promise to us fishermen; they are usually dug in river valleys so that they might fill up with water, ones the digging is done.
It’s one of those rare occasions when we human beings invade and deplete nature, but then we also give something back to it. We leave behind us something else than just a gigantic hole in the ground, which counts for something, at least in my book! It is at least some form of sustainability and I wish that this act of taking and giving would be practiced more in our world.
And so, where there was once only gravel and nothing else, life suddenly starts to flourish under a newly created surface. Some of Britain’s biggest carp are found in such venues and many of them are actually quite beautiful waters!
We have now come to the last part of this article and I can only conclude that this first interview article was an extremely pleasant one to write. I must thank my dear wife Tania for both giving me the initial idea for a fishing website and also for integrating these types of content-rich, person-based articles. Undoubtedly, this project holds a lot of potentials and I am very excited about its development!
So, how do you wrap up an article on a living fishing legend? Well, by asking him if he’ll stay around, so that we may enjoy many more movies and articles (Martin writes brilliant articles for e.g. Drennan, by the way) with him in the future!
Let’s assume you will reach the age of 100, can we expect to see an ancient Martin Bowler on the bank in the distant future, or will you quit fishing when you are (really) old?
If I’m physically able to I will be fishing. It’s a way of life and I’d be lost
without it. Fortunately, I can never say I didn’t get to fish enough!
That’s the answer many, if not all of us, had hoped for, and I for one am glad to hear it! All of Martin’s content, tips, and tales are such an inspiration and I would not like to spend a dark and cold winter indoors without a few new Martin Bowler articles or YouTube clips. Not that I don’t watch them during the rest of the year as well (well, if I’m not fishing myself that is).
But winter is most certainly the period where a fisherman needs extra inspiration and encouragement. Or sometimes, just something to dream about and look forward to. And trust me, there is nothing that heals fishing abstinence better than a Martin Bowler movie!
There is just so much experience and passion there. You can simply see it, hear it, and feel it when watching him fish. And personally, I would like to see a 100-year-old Martin Bowler on the bank, because to be honest, I don’t think we would be any different from who and what he is now: an angler, through and through!
I want to thank Martin for this incredible interview and wish him tight lines for his next fishing adventures!
All images courtesy of Martin Bowler