This is the opinion of Des Taylor, one of the world’s premier anglers who has been catching fish professionally for more than 40 years. We caught up with him on Zerofit, his undiminished passion for fishing, writing, helping others, catching Jaws and his unlikely start in the sport.
‘Nobody ever fished in my family, but there was a chap called Stan Poole and his son Keith who lived nearby, and they used to fish in a canal at the bottom of our road, and one day I went with them. As soon as I caught my first fish – a Stone loach – I was hooked and I firmly believe that if you’ve got the gene, that’s it,’ says Des, who relies on the Zerofit Heatrub Ultimate Baselayer, Leggings and Socks during the coldest months of the year.
‘Fishing, it's a gene you have – you can be a millionaire like Chris Tarrant, or an absolute pauper – if you have the gene, you cannot get enough of it. And it’s a silly thing really – you go out in the rain, go out in the sun, catch a fish, and then you put it back in the water! It’s a very silly gene to have and I’m sure if I’d spent more time on something else, I’d have probably earned more money, but I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed myself so much, he adds.
Des may have risen to the top table of fishing but growing up in the Black Country in Cradley Heath in the 1950s and 60s he was identified as a talented footballer and was on the books of Wolverhampton Wanderers as a boy, during the Ronnie Allen managerial era.
‘I was on amateur forms at Wolves, but I was always thinking about fishing. I’m Black Country bred, but I’ve always been a countryman, interested in country people. I’ve always been into bird watching, twitching and I love anything to do in the country,’ adds Des, who has been writing for the UK’s leading industry publication The Angling Times every week for the last 33 years.
But was there a defining moment that made him think he was good enough to make a full-time career out of fishing?
‘It doesn’t really happen like that and it’s a mistake some kids ask me – “I want to be a fisherman, I want to earn my living being a fisherman”, they’ll say, but I tell them you can’t do that. You have to learn your trade. It’s not about catching a few fish and setting up a Facebook or Instagram page, that’s not longevity in angling. I first started as a most unsuccessful angler, as everyone does.
‘From the age of 11 to 16, I don’t think I caught 100lbs of fish – in total! But fishing was never meant to be easy. I learnt my trade; I got better and better. I did a bit of writing and I got to the point, like lots of people do in life, you’re running two things – each holding the other back and you have to decide. That was how it happened for me at 29 years of age – was I going to full time into angling, or would I continue to do it as a hobby outside of a job? I was a pipe fitter – and I have to tell you – a very poor pipe fitter. I was the worst!
‘But fortunately, I have a very understanding wife who wants me to be happy, she said ‘go for it’. I did, and the rest is history. I’m now 70 and for over 40 years I’ve been earning living from fishing. Apart from my family, my life is totally absorbed in fishing. I’ll be eating my Christmas dinner but thinking about what I’ll be doing fishing in the next couple of days, what I’m going to catch, where I’m going to do it. I am totally addicted to fishing.’
Having fished all over the world for fish of all shapes and sizes, Zerofit is curious to know if there can be a favourite spot?
‘I love Canada, but my favourite place is Africa. The last time I was there, I walked off the plane and there was this amazing smell, the heat, the vastness of the country, and if you love it, as I do, you can’t get enough of it. It’s a beautiful place, and I fished all over for different fish, Tarpon, Marlin and Billfish, as well as Sharks. I love the people too,’ says Des.
‘One the easiest fish to catch is a shark, you throw a lump of meat into the water on a big hook, and he takes it. He’s not scared of anything. And when you fish for a Great White, he can eat the boat. Probably the furthest you can get from coming from a council estate in the middle of Dudley as I did is fishing on the sea where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean and landing a 1,000lb Great White – not the most skilful, not the best fighting fish but when I did that on a three-week trip, that meant an awful lot,’ he adds.
At 70 years old, you’d be forgiven for thinking Des might be slowing down, but not a bit of it. He offers private or group tuition to anglers of all abilities, continues to dispense words of wisdom via his Angling Times column and has embraced social media, especially Facebook with more than 18,000 fans engaging regularly on all manner of fishing topics. He hosts a Friday Night Live Show each week, which is enjoyed by people all over the world.
‘People say to me I need to slow down, that I’ve got nothing to prove. It isn’t anything to do with money, or ego – it’s actually what I want to do, it’s the thing I can’t get enough. Still. I love to help people too, it’s a great feeling to be able to do that. When I was younger, and I wanted to catch big fish and impress people, but I’ve done that and now I like to go to the different places, fish for different species and talk to the people who live in these amazing places, and are great anglers – they speak the language of an angler.'
As the interview ends, and the November rain and wind lash against the windows, attention turns to the arrival of the colder temperatures.
‘I wish I’d had Zerofit a few years ago when I went 200 miles in to the Arctic Circle, it was minus 25, minus 18 when we were fishing. Zerofit is at a price that anyone can afford and that buys them the very best. Over the years, I’ve used good baselayers, I had one from Germany, one from Norway and they were brilliant. Zerofit is at a new level, it’s the best of the best. If you want to be warm this winter, then get yourself a Zerofit baselayer.
We ask Des one more question – did he ever believe he could have achieved what he has in the sport of fishing?
‘I had a Maths teacher called John Cox and he pulled me aside in front of the class once and said “this lad will not do anything in life because all he’s interested in is football, girls and fishing” – which I thought were three brilliant things to be interested in! He said it as an incentive though. In later life, wherever I go fishing, Mauritius, Norway, wherever, I’ll go to the bar and have a double of whatever their most expensive drink is on the top shelf – and I’ll toast him and say ‘Jock, how wrong you were!’
You can hear more from Des every Friday Night at 7pm during his Live Show and join the 18.4k followers on Facebook here or by reading his column in the Angling Times, on sale every Tuesday.