The year gone by…looking back over 2016

Let me start off with an apology for letting this blog slip away…I was thoroughly enjoying writing but Summer came and with it work, fishing and surfing took over and I just lost the flow of regular writing. I guess once you fall out of rhythm it is a hard thing to get back into.

2016 then…it’s been a great year for me in terms of both Surfing and Fishing, I’ve had some awesome surf sessions along with fishing ones.

So to pick back up from where I left things in July…

The end of July saw some pretty good Bass fishing round my beloved Gower coast, there was alot of small Bass about and it became hard at times to find a way of avoiding them and targeting the better Bass. This is where luring in the dark came into its own. Simple tactics, focusing on being in the right places at the right time and complete focus over where and what your lure is doing in the water yielded success.

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Ignore the gloves, I had hands that were falling apart from being constantly damp fishing, surfing and working in all weather.

This year really has opened my eyes to night fishing and how much it really is about confidence, a lure with a confident angler on the end will always out fish a lure fished by an unconfident angler (believe me I’ve learnt this the hard way). Something else that I really believe in at night is the power of a WAKE. A waked lure at night has done some real damage this year, not just for myself but a lot of the guys I fish with. A calm flat night, a wake along the surface just seems to drive the Bass mad. Slow but not stupid slow and your sub-surface lure will be just in that surface film waking and enticing the Bass with something to home in on.

August came and the Bass fishing dropped right off…we had a few unseasonal summer swells which saw the likes of Langland and Gennith pumping on quite a few occasions in the sun. I spent a day in Pembrokeshire with Matt Powell of Bass Fishing Wales on the hunt for some of the big Bass he had been both seeing and hooking into but on the day only a few small Bass played ball but we fished some stunning ground and got pretty adventurous. Wetsuits on clambering along cliff edges, near to swimming out to the mark, stuff a navy seal would be proud of.

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In August I had my first piece of published work for Sea Angler writing on behalf of BASS, I was really stoked with this and how the piece turned out, and its something I will keep for a long time. With my passion for writing still strong, its something I would really like to make more of and continue and improve on. Hopefully there is more to come. IMG_6852.JPG

September saw the Bass fishing at home start to pick up, with local estuary marks that hadn’t fished all year start to produce once again. Once again the Fiiish Black Minnow in the deadly yellow and white combo proved its worth, picking out Bass consistently in water you just wouldn’t look at for lure fishing.

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It does get a little clearer further out but not by much…

September is meant to be the month when we get some of the best waves of the year with clean ground swells straight off the atlantic rolling to our shores, yet this year they just never arrived…so with this in mind I headed off to Ireland with a group of Welsh Boys I didn’t know all that well but welcomed me along and made me feel apart of their friendship group along side some awesome Bassing. Here’s a taste of some of the fish had throughout the week across some stunning Irish coastline.

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Returning from Ireland, and October on the Horizon, everything should be at its prime, perfect clean autumn swells and Bass hungry on the feed before the water temperature begins to drop…well only one of those turned up, the autumn swells. October was an awesome month for surf and plenty of Autumn session were had. It was also when I headed to Newquay, Cornwall with the Swansea Uni Surf Team to compete in the BUCS Surf Competition, an annual comp that sees universities entering teams of surfers from around the UK, this year had a huge turnout with well over 350 competitors for a weekend of surfing and partying. As part of the Swansea Uni team, I took 5th place individually and as a team we took a respectable 2nd place in the team rankings. I was happy with my performance although I would really like to return next year with my eyes set firmly on making the final.IMG_7044.JPG

The waves were consistent back home there after with windy, stormy Langland being a regular thing, something I do thoroughly enjoy as it’s what I grew up surfing.

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Photo – Chris French

Into November, on the back of October’s swells it went flat for what seemed like an eternity. This gave way for calm, gin clear water, something I have rarely seen in November, just look at the image below!! Yes I did use my sunnies as a polarising filter, but it can only show whats there.

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The fishing, with the conditions we had, really came on fire. It seemed that the East winds, and sudden drop in temperature drove the Bass well and truly mad. When you found the fish they really played ball, smashing lures in the pitch black with sheer aggression with the average stamp of fish definitely up on what is was for most the year.

Its interesting what has been working at night, far contrast to what you will be typically be told will work at night, again confidence it a huge factor. Not forgetting that deadly wake. But the black at night concept hasn’t seemed so true is all I’m saying…

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Winter slab of silver…

December has been a surfing month with plenty of good sessions round Gower, with the crowds of summer dying off as after work surfs are no longer possible. With a new stick from long time shaper John Purton – JP Surfboards, I’m amped to get in the water as much as possible now on my small wave shredder and impressions so far is that it definitely turns crap, gutless waves into waves worth getting wet for. The fin set up also lends itself perfectly to laying down a hard rail and surfing this in small clean waves I can definitely feel an improvement in my flow and rail game.

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With the temperatures now dropping rapidly as winter takes its hold, conditions have definitely swung towards surfing, and that will be mainly what I am doing now until April. Piking, stillwater fly fishing and Grayling will be the targets over winter with their sessions taking place when flat or surf is poor. Grayling on the fly is something I am very keen to pick up and learn, theres something oddly satisfying about wading a river in the depths of winter while the ground is frozen and icicles hang from the overhanging branches on the far bank. I also find the czech/french nymphing methods captivating and something I am very keen to learn the ways of.

So to all those reading this, I apologise for the length of this post, but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading as I took you back over my 2016 season. It’s definitely been one to remember and I have a lot to take away from it and continue on with into 2017.  A late Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year.

Nathaniel

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Louvine Collective Interview…with founder Phil Richardson

When I started up this blog, interviews and opening up others to different people, brands, projects and events was something I really wanted to be able to do, it hasn’t been instantly but I feel that there is enough of a following now to warrant it.

IMG_2579_1024x1024If you haven’t heard of Louvine it’s a pretty cool brand hailing from Hossegor, France. They’re starting to gain some traction over here in the UK and there’s a growing amount of crew seen repping their threads. Myself included…

I caught up with Phil Richardson – Co-founder of Louvine and fired a few questions his way to shed some light on what his brand is and what it’s all about!

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So Phil, you’re the founder of Louvine…Tell us a little about the brand. What inspired the brand and what was your background before Louvine…

It started a couple of winters ago on a dark and stormy evening in Seignosse, France. I was having a Jack Daniels with Mike Mailman – a good mate from way back. I told him I’d been casting my mind about creating something called LOUVINE. Mike; originally from Newport Beach in southern California happens to be a very talented, creative guy. A few days later he sketched out the OG logo design and we were away! We started the company SAS LOUVINE COLLECTIVE and opened our shop in Seignosse, France a bit over a year ago.

So the name ­ Louvine. Aside from sounding good, what’s it mean. It’s French isn’t it?

Only in the South West pocket of the Bay of Biscay, Atlantic Ocean are Seabass called Louvine (pronounced Louveen ). It’s a word from the Gascon language, an old dialect. The name has a local identity and rings well in a variety of languages. In other areas of France Bass are called ‘Loup’ or ‘Bar’.

From what I’ve seen on your social media pages (Facebook and Instagram) you seem to have a pretty good lifestyle. Fishing. Living by the sea. Surfing. Good food and beers.    – Tell me a typical day with the Louvine Crew. (We will say the fishing is on great weather and surf pumping)

Hossegor/Seignosse is a beautiful part of the world and I’m extremely fortunate to live here. The surrounding environment has inspired our brand

My day always starts with a strong coffee, that’s why I put some camp mugs in our range.

Our shop/office is across the road from the beach so if the surf is good and/or the bite is hot I try to get amongst it, sometimes only briefly if the day has a full program.  If I’m too busy there’s always tomorrow.

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Sounds like a pretty good day – good mix of Business & Pleasure.  How do you see things for the UK market. Been seeing the brand popping up more and more over here!

I’ve just returned from a 2 day road trip to Cornwall.  My first stop was Ben Field’s The Art of Fishing in Wadebridge. He will soon be stocking the Louvine range and I couldn’t wish for a better place to start our UK retail adventure. There is nothing more rewarding than getting out on the road and meeting the crew. The ‘Louvine Collective’ are all the people that support our brand. I dropped by FOWEY for round 2 of the Cornish LRF League. We send the guys over some prizes and our program is all about supporting grass-roots events. I’d really been looking forward to meeting everyone as I want Louvine to grow organically by building relationships with people. In the UK a handful of cool guys have supported us from the beginning and without them we never would have got anywhere. I am very grateful.

Sounds good, there’s a growing number of surfers/anglers round Cornwall. I agree, great place to start! Let’s get talking fishing then,If you could only fish for one species for the rest of your life. What would it be?

Dunno….It would have to be a species that takes lures presented in as many forms, styles and situations as possible. I am originally from Western Australia and it’s hard to beat land based Samson fish (Seriola hippos). Tough fighting, tricky scrappers that can dust you into the reef at any moment.  Have to bring your A game to bag one.

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Phil wish a hefty Samson fish over in Aus!

Since moving to France a good mate Benoit Claverie has introduced me to bigmouth bass fishing.  Les Landes, the local county has several bass stocked lakes and if you love lure angling I recommend you have a go someday.

Both species, from different marine environments take surface lures (bass more than Samson), plugs, jigs, soft plastics et al and fight like hell. Probably have to give Sambos the nod as they do massive runs and bass don’t. Can’t beat a big take and a screaming reel!

But you’re not just into fishing. As with me surfing is a big part of your life. How long have you been surfing. Are you a longboarder or Shortboarder?

My first memory in life is at the beach. My brother and I used to carry an old single fin down to the water’s edge, one on each end because it was too heavy. I still surf a 5’10” fish/shortboard but if it’s 1 foot and clean longboards are fun.

What’s your favourite wave or place you’ve traveled?

For a surf and fish holiday CAPE VERDE.

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OK…maybe I can see why he chose Cape Verde!

Ok so let’s have some quick fire questions…

Salt or fresh?

Salt because it’s across the road

Boat or shore?

Shore because I don’t have a boat. But after seeing that 13 pounder that Rob Boxall caught on his boat the other day I defo need one.

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Hard or soft plastics?

Either/Or

Beers or spirits?

OUCH! Look out!

Wetsuit or boardies?

Boardies 4 sure

Haha, Sweet! Good answers…that is hell of a Bass Rob has… fish of a lifetime. Bet you’re stoked to see a Louvine hat in the shot too.

The best part about that is I have followed  Rob on social media for a while and always enjoyed seeing his passion for fishing and life.  I finally met him at the European Fishing Trade show in Nantes earlier this year with the Jersey Lure League crew and Mick from Mr Fish and now I count the crew as good mates. As I said earlier meeting people and interacting around the lifestyle we all strive for is what motivates me with the brand.  When I see a friend catch a huge fish of a lifetime I am super stoked and feel part of it.

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It’s easy for Phil to be stoked for Rob when he’s had his Bass of a lifetime already!

Thanks for your time again Phil. Just to wrap things up… Anything final you’d like to add? What’s next for Louvine, with the summer ahead I take it you’re going to be busy!

Spring has been epic in the shop. Our event THE LOUVINE STREETFOOD FESTIVAL went off with a bang!  The upcoming Exposition LA VIE AQUATIQUE fish art show on 18th June will also build momentum rolling into summer.

I am thankful everyday for all the support. The little things add up and slowly the jigsaw puzzle takes shape.

Our clients are immensely important and we try our best to deliver and show respect. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and I apologise. Our mission is to constantly improve the range and find better supply chains. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It is a tough environment for small brands but I see and believe in our future. To use a metaphor -­ It’s day one of a test match with a damp, green pitch. The ball is seaming around and wickets are falling cheaply. We have survived the opening session and got ourselves a start. But, a lot of concentration and effort is required to build a big score.

 


 

Well there we have it…that’s Louvine

Check their site out here or their pretty active on Facebook and Instagram sharing some interesting stuff daily!

Tomorrow I become a surf coach…

Well as the title says tomorrow I become a surf coach…after years and years of being coached myself, tomorrow marks the day the I become one myself. I’m heading up to Surf Snowdonia to their Wave Garden to assist in coaching the Welsh Junior Surf Squad on the first squad training of the new year.

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© Surf Snowdonia

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s an honour to be given the opportunity to give back to my country and help the next up-coming generation of “groms” (that’s surf talk for kids) to achieve the best they possibly can and hopefully pass on experience and knowledge I’ve gained over years competing and being in their position myself.

Gwen Spurlock and Sam Moore are the head coaches and have a wealth of experience with this and it’s going to be great to work with them and assist them as part of the coaching team this weekend.

I’ve been pretty lucky over the years to have been coached by some very good coaches; Lloyd Cole, Micha Lester and Joel Gray. I hope to take what I’ve liked from each of these coaches and hopefully offer something useful and a great experience for the squad.

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Throwback to my time representing Wales in the European Championships Azores

I’ve not been up to the Wave Garden before, but it’s been on the “bucket list” since it opened last year, I won’t be surfing it myself as I’m there to coach but I’m looking forward to seeing some of Wales’ best up-coming talent tear apart the world’s finest in land waves. It’s had its criticism but is there really a much better venue to coach technique than a perfect peeling wave that is the same time after time…I can’t think of one, not in the UK at least!

Check out the potential of the wave. Can’t wait to see it in person with our young Welsh talent tearing it apart.

 

Good Luck To My Aussie Expats

Two of my best mates; Connor Griffiths and Josh Hocking, are over in Australia at the moment, surfing, cruising round and having an all round great time. This week they’re competing in the Noosa Festival of Surfing.

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Connor cross stepping to the nose – Sophie Cartwright

So while I’m putting on a hooded 5mm wetsuit and boots to jump into icy water and onshore waves, they’ve been chucking on boardshorts and a teeshirt (maybe even a little suncream) and surfing some great Aussie longboarding waves.Jealous?? …Of course not!

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Josh perched on the nose – Sophie Cartwright

Connor in particular has been very focused on this comp and I remember nearly 2 years ago now when he first told me that he was determined to get over there and enter the comp as soon as he can, well with a bit of hard work, saving and some superb surfing…he’s made it there.

He blitzed his first heat in the Mens Open coming out first and is through to round 3 which will be held tomorrow. Check out this footage of his first round heat. Yes all those waves were in 20 mins under a lot of pressure…Good on you Con keep up the good work!!

Gower, Swansea…Home

 

mapofgowerFor many people, especially my age (19), getting away from home is something they can’t wait to do. New experiences, escape the boredom of their home town and discover new places. I however feel differently…

I love where I’m from and with Swansea having the simply stunning Gower Peninsular on its doorstep I would be very hard pushed to find anywhere in the UK I’d rather be. When it came to looking at Universities I subconsciously tried to find somewhere that was similar to home before I realised and decided Swansea University was the best place for me to go and I’m looking forward to starting there next September.

We are very lucky to have such a huge expanse of coastline that gives huge variety to both the Surfing and Fishing opportunities, it is truly beautiful. Rightfully so in 1956 Gower became the UK’s first “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” and with locations such as Worms Head, Llangennith and Three Cliffs Bay it’s no surprise.

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© Paul Gill

From Langland through to Llangennith the whole of Gower has phenomenal (nearly) year round surf and a well deserved reputation for producing some of Wales’, if not the UK and Europe’s finest surfers, as it has done for over 70 years!

Here is a slideshow of images that show Gower’s true beauty and Surfing/Fishing potential!

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Fishing round Gower can be tricky, it’s the kind of place that takes years and years to get to know and although surfing has given me a big advantage and knowledge I can relate to fishing the coastline, I still have plenty to learn. Without having such a huge expanse of coastline though and so much variation I don’t think it would be quite the same and that’s where my love for Fishing Gower comes from.

It’s far from just Bass fishing we are very lucky to have though, we get some phenomenal Tope fishing once the Mackerel shoals arrive come June, our winter Cod fishing was once famed across the UK and our sandy bays are home to some of the UK’s finest Golden Grey Mullet fishing, something I’ve got to try my hand at.

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If the Tope are in you can expect plenty of them!

As far as places go for Surfing and Fishing, there are plenty of exceptional areas along the Cornish and Devon coastline, on both north and south coasts but I am yet to find somewhere that is like home and has that very special appeal we are so lucky to have.

Although people will move away and leave Gower, they’ll always miss home, there’s very few places as stunning and special as Gower, the place in very lucky to call home!

Welcome

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Thanks for checking out the site – This is a project I’ve been brain storming with for a while now and hopefully it can build with time. I found over the last year I really enjoy writing and maybe, just maybe it would be interesting to others.

So let me introduce myself…My name is Nathaniel James, 19 years old from Swansea, South Wales a Surfer come Angler.

Surfing has and always will be my main love and it’s given me opportunities I could have never imagined. I got into Fishing as a result of an absolute love for the sea and anything to do with it, first as something to do to satisfy boredom when there was no surf, but quickly I was “hooked” and it became almost as big a part of my life as Surfing. The two in my opinion go hand in hand, if it’s flat I’ll be fishing and once the swell picks up then Surfing takes over!

Without a doubt Surfing has helped me massively in Fishing, I came into fishing with a good understanding of “watercraft” and “reading the water” which is massively important, especially in my favourite quarry; Bass fishing, but this can only be used and built on by time on the water which is always my main aim, to get out there!

Hook N Surf is a complete reflection of me and my Surfing/Fishing lifestyle. I hope to share this with you and it see where it goes!

Hope you enjoy and its somewhat interesting and you’ll continue to visit.

Nathaniel