When I was 11, my grandad took me to Chantecoq fishing. It was a baptism of fire! Mud, tangles, mud, crack-offs, mud, digging your own toilet, mud, mud and more mud! I blanked, but my grandad didn't, despite my protestations that he should hand me the rod that was bent into a 20+ Chanty common! Nevertheless, my apprenticeship had started, and I was more than eager to learn. If there's one lesson my grandad taught me about fishing, it's that there is no point whatsoever in having something in your armoury that doesn't do the job. To me, that means keeping things simple in terms of tackle and sticking to what consistently works in terms of bait. The baits we used on my first fishing trip in 1994 were Rosehip Isotonic and Honey Syrup—the latter now discontinued (despite my appeals to Allan to bring it back!). The leftover bait from that trip I took home and used on a local pond. I caught every carp out of it. I caught the same fish three times on the same Honey Syrup hook-bait in two weeks—it was also the biggest fish in the lake at a shade under 17lb. As long as I had just one of those ‘Mistral boilie things’, I had very confidence I could catch a carp! I tested this theory in 2007 when, having left all my fishing gear and bait at my job in France, I took a single, 10-year-old Crab and Crawfish pop-up to Sefton Park in Liverpool and caught 2 twenties!
Now, here we are in 2017, and I'm still using Mistral Baits, and still catching! I can honestly say that, hand on heart, I've never used another brand of boilie in 23 years of fishing for carp. I bet there aren't many people who can say that?! I'd say that over the years, there can't be many boilies from the Mistral stable that I haven't used. Every one of them has caught me fish - and consistently, too! What more could I ask for from a bait company?! Obviously, I have my favourites... Belachan Shrimp and, obviously, Rosehip! My confidence in Mistral is such, that when I don't catch, I know it has nothing to do with the bait – it’s me, or the fish just aren't having it!
My UK fishing is done mainly in Shropshire on the Mangrove Swamp and Birch Grove, but I also fish regularly in France and Spain. I'm in the process of finishing a PhD in English at the University of Liverpool, and I've written for Crafty Carper and Carpworld. It is an absolute honour to be a member of the Mistral team. Here’s to the next 23 years! Tight lines!