Coarse fishing from 5 on the canal at Bude in Cornwall Pete has been fly fishing since the age of 11 when he started on the North Cornish streams and then some of the older reservoirs in Cornwall (which are now all coarse waters).
He learnt to tie flies at 14 and in 1965 at 18 began work for the Cornwall River Authority (now the Environment Agency) in the Pollution and Fisheries department before moving to Surrey in 1968 as commissioning Chemist on a new sewage disposal works. This job with a Local Authority evolved into running all the outside works department in the days when Councils did all manner of functions.
At the same time Pete was developing his fly fishing skills as the newly emerging small stillwaters evolved and he also fished the larger reservoirs.
He qualified to teach fly fishing back in 1981 by which time he had already started to develop three small lakes on a private estate into an exclusive syndicate. Being able to operate excavators and most machinery he cut all the wood to make platforms, bank reinforcements, bridges, stores and a fishing hut as well as doing all the maintenance work single handed. That’s many many hours of pushing mowers, sweeping leaves and cutting hedges.
Around the same time, his first article was printed in Trout Fisherman and another career started. For no clear reason Pete found he could write easily and very soon was contributing features for a range of magazines and periodicals while also getting involved in competitive fishing and sitting on the committee of the Fishery Managers and later the Fisheries Advisory committee for Southern Water. He had a regular page in Anglers Mail and a couple of divergent years with a short lived stillwater magazine before returning to Trout Fisherman where he has been a stalwart of the magazine for 30 odd years. Working extensively with photographer Peter Gathercole he has contributed features from many waters in the UK, as well as abroad. Six published books ranging from fly dressing to the definitive books on Small Stillwaters and now there’s a completely new one out called Observations and Obsessions.
Around 1985 he went to Oregon and fished steelhead for the first time and became firm friends with Jim Teeny whose skills and fly lines are legendary.
The next year he was in Alaska and that started another career of arranging and escorting guests on fishing trips. Alaska continues to this day and hundreds of people have enjoyed this Great Land. Pete also ran trips to Kodiak and British Columbia for steelhead, the Bahamas for bonefish, Tierra del Fuego for sea trout and Canada for lake trout and grayling as well as brook trout in Labrador. Latterly he has taken groups to S America to fish for giant rainbows.
During his competition period he twice won the Small Fisheries Championship (only actually fishing the two events) and went to France for the European Open for five years coming 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 2nd.
Pete was in Bob Church’s team for reservoir events and they won on Grafham Water although having left Local Government in 1987 to start a fishing shop time was getting in short supply with the fishery job too so he dropped out of competition fishing other than occasional charity events. Pete finally stopped running the fishery in 2014 after 34 years but keeps his hand in with working on a length of chalk stream and helping with occasional jobs on fisheries where he has special skills.
He made one of the early videos “Fly Fishing in Clear Waters” in 1986 and in latter years has been a regular on Sky Sport’s Tight Lines often out filming with Keith Arthur.
The shop was both coarse and game when it started but in 1998 it moved from Godalming to Albury and went game only. Now into 30 years it’s a long running business during which Pete was the first to handle Teeny Fly Lines and Abel reels and was the first G Loomis distributor. Always a fly dresser and with many patterns to his name there was a consultancy period for Fulling Mill and an enduring relationship. Then in 2015 came the ultimate accolade of being asked to be a brand ambassador to Hardy which has capped Pete’s business and fishing life. This could lead to many changes throughout the year.
Let me be your guide to ensure you have the most rewarding fishing trip ever