As the only man on the planet to have caught 160 fish weighing 100lbs or more, Martin Hodgkinson is an authority on what it takes to bring the monsters of the deep to the surface, and from now on he’ll be relying on Zerofit baselayers to help him achieve further greatness.
Notable trips to Florida have seen him land two enormous Sawfish, weighing 1,000lb and 800lb respectively, as well as a 400lb Bull Shark that didn’t take kindly to being hauled onto a boat.
‘It nearly bit my face off while I was trying to get the hook out of its mouth – it was about three inches away from my face. It took three of us to get it aboard, the shark was biting everything it could, the boat, one of the rods, everything – and nearly me! I’ve been shark fishing a lot in Florida, but we don’t kill anything – we’ll always put them back in the ocean.
‘When I caught the big Sawfish, we couldn’t get it on board – because it was 21ft long, two feet longer than the actual boat! I love fishing for Tarpon in the US too, because of the power and the challenge, and that’s the same with the Mekong Catfish in Thailand. They break your balls, they are the hardest fighters,’ says Martin, from Wolverhampton.
After taking up the sport in his early 30s in the 1990s, Martin has developed into one of the world’s leading anglers, receiving invites from far afield to go and catch fish to help promote the fishing tourism destination. In 2015 he helped England win Gold in the 17th FIPSed World Carp Fishing Championship on the River Ebro in Mequinenza, Spain, not long after becoming the river’s record weight holder for a carp following the catch of a 64lb 4oz beast, and he’s also landed a monster 176lb catfish from the same waters. But how did it all start?
‘I had no interest in fishing at all, but I used to drop a couple of mates off at the weekend to do it. I’d call them a pair of gnomes, sitting there with their rods, but one day I didn’t need to rush back, and the sun was shining so I thought I’d stick around for a bit. When one of my mates was setting his second rod up, he asked me to watch the first one and as I was looking at it, the float went under. I panicked, lifted the rod and the fish was fighting back – it was that moment that I saw the challenge, and it just got me. I stayed all day with them, and from then on, I just wanted to keep doing it.
‘Obviously, as I worked harder at it, I got better, and the chance to catch different species appealed too. I got into carp fishing and eventually got selected for the England team, but my other passion was the monster fish. If it would eat you or bite you, I’d want to catch it,’ says Martin, who is the latest angler around the world to be pleasantly surprised by the quality of Zerofitbaselayer products.
‘When I bought them, I noticed the difference with Zerofit straight away as soon as I’d put them on. I’ve worn lots of other company’s clothing through the years, and they’re all alright, but the difference with Zerofit was the warmth and the comfort. The Ultimate is perfect for when I go to watch football too, down at Wolverhampton Wanderers FC. It’s cold, the wind whips around the stadium because the four ends at the ground are not blocked in, so the wind comes belting in and there’s no escape,’ says Martin, a builder by trade.
‘I’m also fascinated by the summer baselayers too because they have been designed to cool you down. These will be ideal in places like Italy and Thailand too, when it’s scorching hot. When you’re in that heat, it’s hard work with a big fish because you could be playing it for an hour and a half, so it’s exhausting,’ adds Martin, who was speaking to us ahead of a trip to Thailand, a destination he rates as on par with Florida as the best in the world for what he does.
Martin’s passion for fishing is plain to see, but while others of his ability and skill have chosen to make match fishing a career, he felt differently.
‘I was asked by various broadcasters whether I’d be interested in TV work, but I just don’t want to go down that route. I know what I can do and what I’ve done. Obviously, it’s good for getting sponsorships, like the guys in the England squad have done, but then they have to do DVDs and promotional material.
‘I just didn’t want to get into that, because I’d be dictated to by them – I’d be asked to go on the stand at various fishing shows around the country, answering questions and it takes all your time away. And I would never want to have to go to a lake on a certain day and be expected to catch big fish – the pressure would take away the pleasure. Even when I was initially approached by England, I didn’t want to do it at first, but my kids persuaded me. ‘Come on Dad, you’d be fishing for England!’ So, I did it, but I don’t do competition fishing now,’ he says.
Martin is currently recovering from a shoulder operation caused in part by years of catching these monster creatures, and is also battling Prostate Cancer, but still has big ambitions for the forthcoming years.
‘One of my aims is to get 200 fish over 100lbs which might take me another four years to reach that total, although with fishing you never know because fishing is fishing. We’ll see!’ he concludes.
Martin is available to hire for a small number of promotions – please contact business partner Diane James at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Zerofit continues to shake up the world of fishing with products such as the award-winning Heatrub Ultimate £55) and Heatrub Move (£40), as well as the Heatrub Ultimate Socks (£25) and Performance Move Hoodie (£50) which are finding favour with anglers all over the world. Be warm on the water this winter with Zerofit – The World’s Warmest Baselayer®