As you may have seen on our social media pages, senior worm drowner and international fisherman Mike Green has put pen to paper to compile his first ever fishing book, Angling Escapades. It’s not your average fishing book – there’s very little instruction or technique involved – instead Mike uses the chapters to recall his fishing adventures, both at home in his native United Kingdom and abroad, choosing the most entertaining stories from his many fishing adventures around the globe.
In British fishing circles, Mike is known for his humorous storytelling, and he’s spoken at numerous fishing shows, exhibitions and after-dinner speeches, often accompanied by plenty of pictures of big fish. He’s been fishing for more than 70 years, shot clay pigeons and fly-fished for England, and caught trophy fish on almost every continent. If you want to treat yourself or the fisherman in your life to a lighthearted, laugh-out-loud book of fishing stories, you won’t go far wrong with this one.
“Bloody brilliant!” – Claire Sumner, Northants, UK
“Well done, Mike, I completely and thoroughly enjoyed it end to end. Starting with the tribute to your father for me was brilliant!” – Willi Stephens, USA
“Best fishing book I have read in my life!” – Ken Dawes, Worcs, UK
“Many fantastic pics… a great read. I love your conclusion at the end of your book, it is also mine. Well done.” – Alfi Nagy, Vienna, Austria
“Fantastic! – Want another copy for my son!” – Rod Barley, Irchester, UK
“I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading ‘Angling Escapades’, although I am no fishing aficionado I find the stories very entertaining and humorous and very well written! The photos are fabulous too. Well done Mike!” – Diane Robinson, UK
Try before you buy?
Below is a short excerpt from Mike’s book, detailing his adventures in…
My first visit to the Seychelles some years ago involved a twelve-hour flight to Mahe, the largest island, an over-night stay, and then a very short (50-minute) flight in a light aircraft to the delightful Bird Island. The landing strip on ‘Bird’ is simply a grass strip in between palm trees, and the pilot has to make an initial pass over the landing area to make sure that one of the giant tortoises that live there is not ‘in the way’ (I am not quite sure what happens when one is!).
On this trip, which was not really a fishing trip, I was there with my darling wife, Sally, and my best friend Ken, plus his then-girlfriend Noelle (now his wife), both of whom had been there before. One can walk around the whole island in an hour, and, by the time that once-a-day plane has taken off again, there is a wonderful feeling of remoteness, which I really relished. There are about fifteen chalets, as I remember it, with a central lodge/restaurant where you go to eat delicious meals. The whole ambience is one of paradise. Anyone interested in getting away from it all and just chilling out could do a lot worse than Bird Island.
Nobody else there was interested in fishing, so Ken and I had the place to ourselves. The fishing opportunities appeared to be divided into four: on one side of the island, close to the chalets, the beach was that typical of what you would expect to find in the tropics – white sand, palm trees and gentle surf. By day, if we felt like it, we would walk slowly along this shore, keeping well clear of any bathers, casting small bonefish-type flies into the waves using seven-weight outfits, and catching various small, but aggressive, fish – chiefly pompanos – most of which were returned (although some were kept for shark-bait!).
After dark this same shore, where we also bathed, was patrolled in the moonlight by many sharks, mostly black tips, lemons and nurse sharks. It was quite fascinating to watch them snaking effortlessly along in the gin-clear water, often a mere four or five yards from the sand. Some evenings after the meal we would walk the few yards from our chalets, trying to avoid the ever-present battalions of land-crabs, and cast our fish baits out a short distance on thirty pound class outfits. It was unusual to wait many minutes before a shark would come gliding along, hesitate briefly, turn and home in on the bait. Their ability to smell an easy meal is uncanny, and there would follow a ferocious fight, hopefully resulting in a beached fish, which we then unhooked with pliers, employing a length of wood as a gag. We used barbless 8/0 hooks, so in no time the fish would be happily swimming away in the moonlight.
On one particular night, one of us hooked something which felt immovable. Taking turns we played it, (or more accurately – it played us!) for over two hours. At one stage a massive triangular fin broke surface, which I assumed to be a manta ray, but then another fin came up about seven or eight feet behind the first. We started to get a bad feeling about things!
“If those fins belong to the same fish, I suggest we cut it off,” I said to Ken, but he was all for getting it in if we could. Eventually, when it was very close in and my pal was hand-lining, a wave lifted the beast onto the sand. It proved to be a giant nurse shark, the weight of which I wouldn’t care to guess. All I would say is that it looked twice as long as Ken was tall, and he looked around at me and asked:
“What are we going to do now?!”
Before I had time to answer, the next wave lifted the enormous creature back into the surf, where thankfully the hook fell out. A good result! We gave each other a pat on the back and had somewhat of a late night after a celebratory scotch!
On the other side of the island, there was an attractive flat where, at the right stage of the minimal tide, it was possible to wade several hundred yards casting at bonefish and bluefin trevally, up to about six pounds. They were not as numerous as in the Bahamas, but there were enough to keep us interested, and remember that this was all just a few minutes stroll from our accommodations – all great fun!
If this were not enough, there was one sportfishing boat on the island, skippered by a French guy called Clive, which you could book for a day or half-day charter. Clive didn’t say much, but we got on really well with him, and caught any amount of reef fish, including jobfish of up to fifteen pounds, on sinking fly-lines and light spinning outfits. Those fish, particularly the jobfish, were wonderful to eat in the restaurant, and we enjoyed them – as did most of the other guests – most evenings. At the north end of the island there was a steep drop-off to over a thousand feet within three hundred yards of the beach, and we did a bit of trolling while crossing this area, boating lots of bonitos and two sailfish of about fifty pounds each. All of the fish were killed, even the small reef fish, but you must remember that Bird is pretty remote and they were used to feed the islanders – nothing was wasted.
As I stated earlier it was not really a fishing holiday, but I am not one for just laying in the sun. It would bore me to stone in thirty minutes!
My next visit to those lovely islands was a few years later, and this time it was specifically a fishing expedition. It started badly. After the same twelve hours overnight in economy seats, the discomfort and lack of sleep left me feeling pretty ropey, and I was overjoyed when we were finally transferred to a gorgeous looking catamaran which was to be our home for the week. There were six of us fishers – my cabin mate, once again, being Ken – plus Bruce, the South African guide, Dominic, the ultra-smooth black skipper, and a great young cook whose name for the moment escapes me.
We set sail to the news that it was going to be ‘a bit bumpy’, so I asked Dominic how long we would be sailing for. When he said, “Twenty four hours,” I thought he was joking, but I soon learned he never joked. I still feel ill at the thought of that journey and what to me seemed like mountainous waves. As we headed straight into them and it became dark, I spent a couple of hours sitting on the tiny loo in our cabin with my head in the sink, thinking I was going to die, and not even caring if I did! When my body was finally completely empty, I made my wobbly way up to the deck, looked with horror at the huge swell, then noticed the skipper at the wheel, looking cool as a cucumber!
“Does it ever get worse than this?” I enquired with some trepidation.
“Much worse,” came the calm reply.
“Is it going to get worse?”
“Nope, it’s going to get better!” he reassured me.
Very slightly consoled, I returned to our small cabin and tried to get some sleep, but the incessant banging of the twin hull bashing into the waves made it impossible. Eventually the banging started to moderate and the next thing I knew it was light, calm and sunny. We were there – St Joseph’s Island, and what a beautiful sight it was; the journey there was just a distant memory!
The order of the day was to go onto the island for the morning in a small rubber boat, after a super breakfast, and wade the flats there looking for bonefish, of which there were plenty. Unfortunately, the first one I hooked was chased by two sharks, and playing it absurdly hard to try to stop it being eaten, I broke my rod, which put an instant end to my morning’s fishing. But at least I caught it and the sharks didn’t, and I just waded around in the warm water enjoying the breathtaking surroundings.
We headed back to the boat for a delicious light lunch, then set out to catch the serious fish that afternoon: giant trevally, or GT’s, as everyone calls them. To achieve this we cruised very gently around the island, close to the reef, casting both sides with large eight-to-eleven-inch poppers, and ripping them back in a series of jerks, creating showers of spray and not a little noise. Tackle was basically heavy-duty spinning rods, eighty pound breaking strain braid line and one hundred pound monofilament shock leader, and if this sounds a bit excessive, believe me these fish are THUGS.
I had caught my share of sharks, which can certainly pull a bit, but nothing had prepared me for the almost terrifying raw power and aggression of a GT. They hit the surface lure with a splash that could have been made by a small vehicle and then try their best to pull you in! The speed and ferocity of that first run has to be experienced to be believed and, at the time, I had never known anything close to it. If I remember correctly, my first one, when eventually boated, weighed sixty pounds, and proved to be the largest of the six I had during the week – some initiation!
So the mornings were spent wading the island flats for bonefish, and the afternoons popping for GT’s – lovely mixed days, enjoyed by all and helped by really wonderful weather. In addition to the GT’s we also caught kingfish, dorado, rainbow runners, barracuda and large red snappers, some of which made it onto our plates later in the day.
When I had caught ten bonefish during a morning on the island, I would stop casting and try to help my pal, Ken, who was having difficulty spotting them. I would repeatedly point to them as they approached, but it wasn’t overly successful, and at one moment Ken exasperatedly said to me:
“Son, I couldn’t see them if they were in some bastard’s SINK!”
Also, I learned from Bruce how to tie the GT Knot for joining braid to the nylon shock-leader, It looked a bit complicated to me and I asked him what was wrong with my knot of choice, the double grinner? Bruce showed me only too clearly when my knot broke three times against his! Time for a bit of pride-swallowing, and I now use the GT knot exclusively.
So ended a truly magnificent week, not to be repeated unfortunately because of the appearance in that area of the dreaded Somali pirates. No fish is worth that risk!
Want more of the same? Drop Mike or Stephen Harper a line using the buttons below, and we’ll get a copy out to you tout de suite!!