An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Q & A with Jan Porter

Jan Porter should need no introduction. With a successful career in match fishing spanning decades and some super specimens to his name, he is one of our sport's most recognisable personalities. I caught up with Jan to find out a bit more about his life in fishing.

1) As a teenager growing up through the 90s, I remember you as the top match angler in red. How did the outfit come about?

I felt I'd lost some time having stopped angling for 6 years as I
The Man in Red

played in a 'rock band' and held down an engineering job at Rolls Royce on shift work. Angling wasn't the number one thing in my life at that time; I just wanted to make it in the band. I started match angling again after I split from the music scene and got back into it. I then left Rolls Royce and bought a fishing tackle business I named ‘Jan's Tackle’ because I could use the J as a hook in the logo. Eventually, I picked up the thread on the open match circuit and got my mojo back and had some success, but it wasn't going quick enough. A friend of Pete Hobson, who used to fish for Starlets based in Birmingham, suggested I get an image to speed things up with the media and get me noticed in the press as I was starting to make waves results wise. I used to wear a red beret and had a red Coca Cola tracksuit and I thought that would stand out in the crowd, which it did. Santa Claus's image was reinvented in the 50s by Coca Cola which was pretty significant in my book as he became an icon commercially. If it's good enough for the biggest brand in the world and Santa you have to sit up and take notice, well I did anyway. I'm also half Norwegian and red makes up most of the flag plus Nottingham Forest played their best ever footy under Cloughie and wore red shirts.

2) Obviously, your image has now changed somewhat. How has your angling changed in the last 15 years or so and does match fishing still play a part?

I sort of killed the 'Man in Red' when I retired from the domestic match scene in 1992, however I carried on wearing red as I fished for Norway in the world championships several times. I went back to carp fishing again instead of match angling but it was a small jack pike that turned my head. I used to fish for carp in the late 60s and early 70s as well as match fishing for my club. The pike was a result of a urge to get back into my angling again after watching Passion for Angling, plus I'd sold my shop after building up the carp and specimen side and been to a couple of Carp Society meetings which really interested me. I was working for Fox at the time as a latent match consultant and immediately could see the commercial potential coming for carp equipment because it was all about multiple tackle items. Two, three and sometimes even four of the same item for one individual made me realise that the capital spend was much greater than a general coarse angler. Also the major rivers were being badly affected by pollution and farmers were getting subsidies that allowed them to build 'irrigation' or fishing lakes on set aside land. Also lots of purpose built commercial fishery were being built such as Makin’s and Heyford, to name but two. It all made sense to concentrate on the carp angler, since in my eyes it was going to be the main driving force in the tackle trade in every respect, hardware and bait, and so it was and still is two decades later. I knew the red thing wasn't suitable in the specimen world, so I wore olive like most do ex-army kind of stuff for a couple of years which I love anyway then I saw some carp anglers 'snide' shall we say on some pretty hard waters. I though they behaved like snipers and were extremely covert in their approach. I didn't have the gumption or desire to do what they did but I wanted a new image and discovered Realtree (an American effectivity camouflage outlet) after some serious hunting down on my part. I was quite forward and told them they needed to get into the angling market and I could help them do it. They took me on as a consultant so I introduced them to Shimano and I created the Tribal concept which was my interpretation of what carp angling was and still is about.

3) Apart from angling what do you enjoy?

Music, I noodle around with guitars, buy stray guitars from car boots and do basic repairs to them; I love going to car boots. I've been trawling around them for 20 years and it's almost like angling, a hunter-gatherer kind of mentality. It's a form of angling too I guess, the early bird catches the worm which is a great analogy as in crack of dawn although dusk and night are great times to fish too. I am fortunate that I can fish mid-week so come the weekend you'll find me around the boots with my 110 litre rucksack looking for bargains of which there are many.
I'm a bit of a hoarder and collect pots of things: CDs, LPs, Japanese, 70s/80s, headphones, Vietnam war military clothing (I wear it from time to time), plus old fishing tackle from my era. All the stuff that was state of the art then is considered junk now but it's a fashion thing more than anything else and I still love my Octoplus seat box attachments the best on the rare occasions I fish match style as opposed to 'specimen hunting', stalking or fishing from my Jon Boat for predators, barbel and chub in the winter. I also have a Honda Africa Twin XRV750 motorbike which I pootle around on when the weather is nice.

4) What are your standout fishing moments?

Where do I begin? Being asked to join Nottingham's Mighty Trentman AC and winning the Division 1 National with them in 1983 and then competing in the World Club Championships after that win is a great memory. Then being asked by Dick Clegg to represent an England Select side on three occasions, becoming captain of Trentman AC and winning the Division 1 and the Angling Times Winter league in 1987/88 season. Fishing the World Clubs competition in 1988 in Spain and coming runner up individually, winning a third Division 1 Team badge in 1992 and being highest placed UK angler in the following World Club Champs in San Marino. Another special moment was winning the John Smith's Individual title in 1989 with 14lb plus of chub on the waggler. I then finished in the top 20 individually for Norway in 1992 World Championships in Ireland. I was 15th and one more fish and would have been third and won a bronze medal.
There of course lots of open match moments but all the fun was on the way up and I had a pretty heady 12 years on the match scene pioneering and innovating quite a few techniques and styles I'd like to think. Ironically red seems to be very prevalent in the match angling world these days 
I've caught some pretty decent fish by my standards since I started specimen fishing but last season was my best with 3 x 30lb plus carp, 3 x 9lb plus tench, a 12lb 9oz Zed from the Warwickshire Avon and on the very next cast I followed it up with an 18lb 14oz pike from the same swim.

5) Do you have any regrets from your career in the sport?

None at all really all things considered, it's not always been a smooth ride but I have managed to keep my profile high and enjoy a working relationship with Shimano for nearly 20 years and I'm proud of that. I don't earn as much money as having a proper job but I am more into lifestyle than money so as long as I can get by, pay the bills and go angling for what and when I want to in the UK then I'm pretty content with my lot.

6) You’re a member of the Angling Trust and if we are to believe what we see and hear then angling is on a downward spiral. What do you believe to be the most pressing concern and what can anglers do to help?

Get youngsters into the sport, it's a simple remedy but not easy with so many distractions that are about in modern life. Mr Crabtree, the new TV series, has gone a long way in my opinion in reminding us all what angling is all about or at least what is available. What is needed now is a major push by the tackle trade to understand that unless we invest in the future then there will be less tackle companies as the demand for tackle reduces and anglers jump off this mortal coil. Like I say it's not easy and yet we can all do our bit.
Take a friend fishing is a great scheme and it works. Talk angling up more and try and encourage anglers who have got out of the habit to come angling with you. The other big concern is predation by cormorants and two-legged predators, or should I say poachers? They blight our fisheries, especially rivers that are by and large open season for fish thefts all year round. That said, I feel there is more of a concerted effort being made recently by the Environment Agency. So far, their actions when addressing this issue have been woeful.

Many thanks to Jan for taking the time to help me out on this. He has a few distractions away from angling at the moment so it's really appreciated. As always make sure you add yourself to my following list and feel free to post comments. Thank you. 

1 comment:

  1. This was a good suggestion that you put up here...dude…..hope that it benefits all the ones who land up here. 

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