Gunn Sporting: A Reel Professional

Q: How do you think we can get more people involved in fly fishing?

A: I believe social media is the key. Why should the US have all the fun and make fly-fishing look “cool”? It’s about time we did too. David Beckham is a great advocate for the sport. I am sure after seeing him pictured with a salmon in Iceland the sales on kit skyrocketed. We should use this online powerful tool to promote this incredible sport and encourage the young. I have no doubt in 5 years we will see an immense growth in participants.

Q: What is your favourite discipline of fishing and where?

A: When someone asks you what your favourite genre of music is and you reply saying “I like everything” – this is how I answer this question with regards to fishing. I have started hosting trips this year, I am lucky enough to be travelling the world with like-minded people. I am soaking up information like a sponge, in Iceland recently I learnt more about salmon fishing in a week than I have done in 25 years.

Q: Salmon fishing has the stigma of being wealthy sport, do you think this is fair and if so are there cheaper ways of getting in to it?

A: We have access to a vast array of waters and most of the time you can buy a day ticket or weeks fishing at a relatively low cost. I wrote an article in ‘The Field’ Magazine called Around Britain with a fly rod’; in a nutshell I wrote about 10 destinations to fish within the UK – locations close to home that won’t leave you high and dry. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee people! Fishing is for everyone: the young, the old, the disabled, females and males. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do – fishing is for everyone. 

Q: You’re absolutely nailing social media at the moment with nearly 13k Facebook likes, do you think you’re making fishing more appealing to a younger generation?

A: I hope so - these things take time. I am starting to receive really positive feedback from a lot of people of all ages. A father sent me a message saying, “Trying to get my 10 year old girl to catch the fly-fishing bug by letting her see your page. Very encouraging to see and hopefully help me inspire Lily to get into fishing”. If my social media profiles are having this effect on my followers then I am a very happy angler.

Q: With regards to Brexit how do you think that will affect salmon stocks in the Atlantic given current fishing quotas?

A: I attended an evening hosted by ‘The Atlantic Salmon Trust’ before the referendum. The speaker said it was important for the UK to stay in the EU with regards to Atlantic salmon. An EU member has more of a voice on subjects such as coastal netting and farming rather than a country who is out. Being a part of the EU also gave us great access to scientific research on impacts pollution, parasites and disease from salmon farming. I recently visited Norway where I was told their government stated that if they had to choose between wild salmon and farmed salmon they would choose farmed salmon. What a scary statement, I just hope this opinion does not trend anywhere near our waters that’s for sure.

Q: What do you do when you aren’t fishing?

A: There isn’t much of my free time where I am not fishing. In the week I work in London for a commercial property company. I do enjoy the contrast between office life and fishing - I appreciate the country more when I escape the big smoke. Working in the city enables me to sustain my fishing lifestyle, although I do find it hard being in London 5 out of 7 days a week. As soon as Friday hits – I’m outta ‘ere! I do also enjoy going down to Devon where my Father lives. You will either find me wading up the River Bovey or galloping across the fields on my iron-grey horse Murphy.

Q: Do you encounter much sexism in fishing?

A: Hmmmm… Let me have a think about that. ALL THE TIME! Countless remarks such as: “You’ll never make it in the fishing world unless you take your clothes off”. That’s exactly why it’s important NOT to take your clothes off. I am not saying you have to cover yourself head to toe with buffs and what not, at the end of the day women are sexy and they should show that off and use it to their advantage - but seriously less skin and more fin! I was at a recent event where a man approached my boyfriend and I, he said, “Lady you just stand there and pretend he’s teaching you about fly-fishing whilst I take some nice photos”. I hope this attitude will change in the next coming years towards women and fishing.   

Q: If you could change one thing in fishing what would it be?

A: The way we treat our environment…I fish a quaint chalk stream river in London called the River Wandle. You won’t believe how much rubbish floats down this urban gem. The members of the Wandle Piscators walk through the river every year and clear out all the unwanted waste. Isn’t it amazing what a difference a fisherman and his friends can make. Talking of things floating down the river two weeks ago I was fishing one of the pools and a face planted wood pigeon floated passed me, I poked her hoping she would come back to life but she didn’t flinch - she had seen better days.

Q: Do you tie your own flies?

A: I get asked this question all the time and my answer is embarrassingly no. To tell you the truth I don’t have time at the moment. I have tied a few but I’ve never put them to the test. What I can tell you is that I have huge plans. When I have more space to tie flies at home I will be setting up a permanent devoted table to fly-tying! I suppose my view on tying is that it’s like being an artist; you need space to put your canvases and paint brushes. Watch this space!

Q: You must put your gear through a lot of punishment with the amount of time you spend in the field, how important do you think it is to have well-made kit?

A: I look after all my gear pretty well, at the end of the day I would be stuffed without it. My Orvis waders have stood the test of time and so far they haven’t leaked (touch wood). I do a lot of my outdoor pursuits in cold weather and I must admit that buying proper clothing is so important especially if you want to stay out all day and not have to go in because you are cold. Ranulph Fiennes once said, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just inadequate clothing”.