Des Taylor: Talking Fishing with a Legend (An Interview)


Des Taylor: talking fishing with a legend

Des Taylor is a fishing legend; he has been a professional angler for 40 years, caught countless species and big specimens, and has traveled all around the globe to fish in the most foreign and exotic places.

I contacted Des on Facebook and he agreed to a video interview and a featured article right away. What followed was highly interesting discussion on fishing with a very down to earth and pleasant angler. Read the article on Des Taylor and his lifelong passion for angling.

Des Taylor is 69 years old, but this does not prevent him from going fishing! In fact, he seems to be extremely energetic, healthy, and always hungry for that next fishing trip. We have all seen countless movies and YouTube clips with Des fishing for anything that can swim. He has inspired several generations, first via the TV, then via DVD, and now, more than ever, through the internet.

I was amazed by how active and engaging Des is on social media, running live fishing shows, having a Facebook group, a Youtube channel, and much more.

At the same time, he manages to keep his authentic image of the countryside angler who’s in love with nature. This merge of the the modern and the classic is something that few people manage to create. But with Des, it appears all but natural. And so, my first question for Des was about his angling origins.

Do you remember your very first fish and did it make you fall in love with the sport, or was that at a later point?

Des Taylor roach fishing

Here, Des referred me to a passage from his book “Great Days”:

“Now, although I was brought up in the heart of the “Black Country” on the Brickhouse Council Estate near Cradley Heith, I was never far away from water; indeed my childhood revolved around a water course at the bottom of our road, Mayfield Crescent. The water was known as “the cut” – it was here that a lifetime affair with the countryside began.

I could never catch a big roach at that time and a true monster was a roach of a pound. I suppose one of my first ever great days was a catch of a big roach to about 8 oz from that canal. That fish gave me a love and respect for the species that has stayed with me to this very day.

Even now, having caught fish nigh-on 2.000 lbs and had fish nearly pulling me in the water, I have to say if I had to catch a fish on my dying bed, it would be a 1 lb plus roach – even better, a 2 lb roach!”

It’s true, that first fish we caught in our lives as anglers is always the one we hold dearest, isn’t it! It is perhaps that simplicity and innocence of childhood that makes us want to go back to a time without any care and concern. And that first fish usually represents that longing, I think.

Des has virtually fished for all the species that exist in the UK, and many others all around the world. Him being such a versatile specimen hunter, I wondered about his possible fishing preferences.

Do you have a favorite fishing method that you’ve always enjoyed most? Or have you maybe changed preferences over the years?

Des Taylor asp fishing
Des with an asp caught in Holland

Any method that I can feel or see the fish take! Lure fishing, fly fishing, surface fishing for anything, but poppers for the likes of asp is incredible, feeling for bites in the night for the likes of tarpon on the live crab, touch ledgering on meat for barbel, spraying maggots fishing only a foot deep seeing fish like chub taking the bait and float.

I enjoy sitting under a bivvie for days on end for a big fish, but the more exciting you can make it the better.

Des’ answer to this question aptly symbolizes what specimen fishing is all about, doesn’t it! The fact that a specimen fisherman always has plenty of ways to catch fish and keeps finding them interesting and worth spending his time on is what separates that type of angler from any other. That never-ending thirst for more and incredible enthusiasm.

Maybe, that’s also the reason why so many specimen hunters keep fishing throughout their lives, while “normal” anglers, or the hobby kind, usually drop out after a few years. And sure enough, things get in the way, as always, that’s simply called life! But the die hard specimen angler will always find a way to fish, regardless what’s going on in life at the moment!

It’s probably why specimen fishing is a true passion, not just a hobby. Of course, part of that passion and the hunt is to constantly go for bigger fish. The PB (personal best) has a mythical status among specimen fishermen. The most commonly asked question specimen hunters ask, and receive, is this one: what’s your PB?

Is there a personal best of yours that you value more than all the
others you have caught?

Des Taylor eel fishing

My personal best eel of 7.03 lb on a night I caught a 7.03, 6.04 and 5.13 lb.

What Des caught there is to many 3 PBs, not just one! The smallest of those eels would be an absolute dream fish for most anglers, and surely, it was for Des, too! But he wouldn’t be Des Taylor, if he wouldn’t have managed to actually catch two even bigger ones that night. Man, can you believe it, three such eels in one session!

His PB of a whopping 7.03 lb is a fish most of us will never see in real life, I suppose. Des told me that the eel has somewhat recovered in the UK lately, but in many other countries, the eel is becoming ever rarer. But let’s stay positive; we really don’t know what the future holds and little is know about that mysterious species that is the eel.

Perhaps, it will make a glorious comeback in the near future. I, for one, certainly hope to still be around when that happens, because the eel is an absolutely cracking fish to target!

Apropos that, Des and I actually discussed this very topic, among others, during our video interview. How about you take a little break from reading this article and check out the Catch & Strike YouTube interview with Des. Then, return to reading the article!

Feel free to subscribe to the Strike & Catch YouTube channel (at the end of the video)

With his 69 years of life experience and roughly 60 years of fishing experience, Des talked a lot about the old and the new days during our interview. Of course, anyone who has been active in the sport for such a long time, and who also happens to be very much aware of environmental developments and changes, is able to draw solid conclusions and bring up relevant comparisons.

Des Taylor is such a person and he does not hold back when it comes to talking about such issues. I respect that a lot about him! Of course, things will always change and evolve, for better or for worse, but if we want to become more aware and pro-active about angling, the environment, and really anything else that concerns our very existence, people like Des are a valuable source.

As previously mentioned, Des has been travelling the world to catch all types of fish in all kinds of places. One that could my attention was his quest to catch a a real giant of a fish. Quite honestly, I was almost a little afraid of that story, but it also intrigued me, so I had to ask!

Could you tell us more about your great white shark adventure down in South Africa?

Des Taylor shark fishing
The fish of a lifetime

Once again, I will quote directly from Des’ fishing book “Great Days”:

“The reel screamed in one high pitched note that confirmed the shark had taken the bait. I engaged the reel and for the first time in my life, I had hooked a fish so big it was capable of pulling me out of the boat.

For the next two and a half hours, I was pulled all over the Indian Ocean, that fish was so strong. It would run a couple of hundred yards and Trail would back the boat up to the fish so I could reel line back on the Fin-Nor Multiplier, then the fish was off again. Trail can make it easy for you with the boat, but not for me, I would have to do it the hard way, and I’m proud to say I did.

Two hours later and a nautical mile away from where I had hooked the fish, the shark of my dreams finally came to the side of the boat. Trail grabbed the wire, we measured her, and Trail announced it was around 1850 lbs. For people he liked it would have made 2000 lbs, but for me it was 1850 lbs, who cares?”

Des Taylor shark
The white shark; majestic and frightening

Like I said, a little frightening, but what an adventure it must have been! Can you imagine hooking and then fighting an almost 2000 lb (probably it was a 2000 pounder anyways) monster of a fish!

Reading this section, I actually got reminded of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea”. Des’ fight with that great white seemed to be very similar to the fictive fight the old man had with the giant marlin. And, even though Des was much younger when he actually caught the shark, he now really is an old man. So, the comparison holds true, I believe.

Returning to Des Taylor’s home country, I wondered if there actually is any species of fish that he has not managed to catch.

Is there a species at home in England that you have fished for, but have never caught?

Des Taylor carp fishing

Although I have caught carp in the UK to 39.12 and carp in Europe to 75.14, I have never caught a 40lb carp in the UK. I hope to change that this year!

What a splendid goal to have; a 40 plus pound carp is not an easy thing to catch, but it certainly keeps one going, until that fish is netted. You see, there is that incredible drive of the specimen hunter, once again!

Especially when targeting venues that are not heavily fished, catching rather undisturbed big carp is anything but simple. Carp are fish that take time to catch, that have often to be convinced to start feeding and that are sometimes impossible to catch. After all, they have been around for a long time, and hence, they are smart creatures.

Only very devoted and patient anglers will eventually catch such big carp. Des is most certainly one of that kind, which is why I am quite certain that he will manage to catch that 40 pounder this year. We should all keep an eye on that and see, when (in his case, the question really is when, not if) a picture of Des Taylor with a 40+ carp is going to appear somewhere on the internet, or in a fishing magazine.

By the way, if you enjoy watching fishing movies with Des Taylor, then you should definitely check out his newly released videos “Fishing with Des Taylor. You can purchase and download them directly from his homepage, here.

With all that content that Des has produced over the years, I was wondering if there will be news projects in the future.

Are there more Des Taylor fishing books in the making?

I have a number of books I have thoughts to do. My next is “The Ramblings of a River Angler”, where I talk about the fish in the UK rivers and how I have caught them, understanding the river and the wildlife.

Personally, I really look forward to reading that book. If you have watched any of Des’ YouTube videos, you know that the way he presents and explains his fishing methods, especially in the English rivers, is extremely educational. A related book like that will surely hold tremendous amounts of value and wisdom, when it comes to river fishing in the UK.

And this concludes the featured article on Des Taylor. It has been a true honor writing about and talking to Des, and I’ll make sure to meet up with him next year, when I am in England, fishing for barbel. A follow up article and a covering YouTube video will surely be the result of that meet up, so be sure to check that out, when the time comes.

I want to thank Des for his time and all his great answers and wish him the tightest lines possible!

Be sure to visit Des Taylor’s homepage and Facebook page for more inspirational content.

All images courtesy of Des Taylor

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Max Loesche

Hi, I'm Max, the founder and head author of Strike&Catch. I have been a passionate fisherman since 1997 and spend as much time as possible on the bank. Click on my name to read my full biography.

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