The Fishing’s Story of Peter Cockwill

It’s fishery show time and anglers up and down the country should try and make time to visit one and learn from the many experts

I’ve been enjoying going to the occasional show as part of my role within the Hardy Pro Team, not least because it’s also given me the opportunity to renew friendships from the days when I seemed to have time to go fishing.

A few months back, I had a day at the Sportfish event at Reading and it was good to meet so many people as well as spending time with John Horsey who is also in the Pro Team.

An absolute ace on the reservoirs with both trout and pike, John is one of fishing’s true gents and it’s been at least 20 years since we fished together. I can well remember the super five-pound rainbow he had from Blagdon.


For whatever reason we were sitting in the boat, just talking, and John had his flies hanging over the side when the rainbow picked up one of his buzzers. That’s what I call class! It’s funny how individual fish stick in the memory, their story remaining as fresh as though it were yesterday.

“There are some great talents all around the country and the fishery world is still a very attractive scene for would-be fishery owners…”

Something that’s also fun, are the mobile phones produced at shows and club nights to take awkwardly-posed ‘selfies’, picturing their owners meeting up with the likes of John and myself, as writers for Trout Fisherman.

Peter Cockwill: Tackle shop owner, fishery manager, guide and Trout Fisherman contributor of 35 years
Peter Cockwill:
Tackle shop owner,
fishery manager, guide
and Trout Fisherman
contributor of 35 years

Thankfully, my wife Sue now comes to most of these shows and loves to help with these photo ops, making for more natural poses all round! She is largely responsible for me being more at ease at these events generally.

It’s not really in my nature to mix at big functions, but Sue persuading me that sharing my knowledge via writing and teaching also involves me being more available has really made a difference.

Oddly enough, I have always been able to cope with large groups for corporate days and club nights but in many other circumstances I would normally prefer to keep in the background.

Sue has changed all this, as she is remarkably good with people when we attend charity days, or travel with guests on our foreign excursions.

Events I’m looking forward to

A couple of big events coming up as I write are an Avington Fishery fundraiser for a breast cancer charity and then my annual trip to Alaska, when this lovely Surrey girl is suddenly the perfect host while I do the driving, and is then completely at home with the guests when we are at our remote fishing camp.

I somehow doubt that in her wildest dreams (nightmares?) she ever thought that she would be in a tent with a hubby who then wants to go out on the river for 10 hours a day, or that shower time would have to be negotiated with a bunch of guests and guides!

Evenings in the mess tent revolve around a great meal with far too much food consumed, and then a riot of crazy stories and jokes.

It all makes the tundra somehow less daunting, although heading back to the nice hotel and the shops in Anchorage after half a week in camp is an equally enjoyable part of the itinerary.

One thing’s for sure, this year’s guests, who include Troutmasters stalwarts Bob Forsyth and Roger Woodhams will be guaranteed to make the local guides wonder what we Brits are all about…

Amazingly I’m already into planning excursions for 2017 and I still get a kick out of sharing the anticipation of what fish the guests may catch.

>> Why I Love White Acres?

Listen to the experts

I’m not too sure of other show commitments for the rest of this year but I’m more than busy with corporate days, the shop and guiding days plus a fair bit of travelling around the country for magazine articles.

I love seeing fisheries that are new to me and it reminds me of a question that cropped up at the Sportfish forum when we were asked how to approach a fishery for tactics on a first-ever visit.

That’s the time to sit back and listen to reservoir experts like John Horsey and Simon Kidd, the river ace Paul Proctor and then the multi-talented Charles Jardine, only to realise that each of them is so vastly experienced at all aspects of flyfishing that they can suss out any given situation.

Little wonder that they are at the top of their profession, and in such demand. There are some great talents all around the country and the fishery world is still a very attractive scene for would-be fishery owners and managers and almost always it’s a course at somewhere like Sparsholt College in Hampshire that’s the starting point.

Enthusiasm and a willingness to work at what may often be really arduous and grubby jobs is the trademark of anyone who succeeds in the fishery sector and it certainly isn’t the place for a clock watcher.

You only have to see what goes on at any of our well-known waters to appreciate that it’s a vocation as much as it’s a job. All we have to hope is that there will always be people keen to make a fishery their main aim in life and give us beautiful places at which to catch trout.

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