Hi I’m James Stokoe winner of BBC’s “The Big Fish” and I’ve been fishing since the age of 13, which in some eyes makes me a late starter. Deep down I do wish I’d started from a younger age but I couldn’t have started it in better fashion as my first outing fishing with a friend of my dad’s produced the King of all fish- a stunning Atlantic Salmon around 12-13lb which is something I will never forget as this is the moment that set me as an angler for life. Now fishing isn’t just a hobby or sport to me-it’s a lifestyle!
Salmon fishing is my thing and ever since the first catch I have been tied to this amazing fish. Im lucky enough to live on the bank of the mighty Tyne (well 300 yards away). This river is phenomenal having over 40,000 fish migrating the last 2 years. The fish themselves are truly amazing animals, especially in regards to their life cycle-leaving the river system as a small salmon smolt, travelling thousands of miles to their feeding grounds then their natural instinct kicks in urging them back to their place of birth to breed which is incredible it’s like a built in sat nav.
Of course the only way to catch these fish is on the fly; there’s nothing that compares to catching anything on the fly never mind salmon. It’s like an art form and so satisfying when you cast perfectly as you’re not using any form of weight or lure. There’s a lot more timing and skill required to place the fly where you need it. There’s something about that initial take when your stripping or doing a figure of eight and you have direct contact with the line in your hand.
Landing a salmon has to be one of the most rewarding catches due to the fact that these fish don’t actually feed in the river and for me nothing feels better than returning them as I have that much respect for the fish. My trophies are the photos and memories I have, not the dead fish on the bank.
Last year On the show I had the opportunity to fly fish for some incredible bucket list fish which included bone fish, bull trout, tiger fish, sail fish and Icelandic browns. This fueled my dreams for more oversea adventures especially with the growing numbers of new species to catch on the fly.