Jamie Clossick Interview
Paul Monkman talks to the famous DJ carper from Blackpool.
Paul Monkman: How long have you been an angler?
Jamie Clossick: Quite some time now. I think I had my first rod bought for my ninth birthday and I’m 43 this year.
PM: How did it all start for you?
JC: We had moved house and there was a farmer’s pond at the back where the kids on our street used to fish. They took me one day and I was hooked after catching a small perch. I still have the picture!v
PM: How did you get into carp fishing?
JC: A little further away, although it was still within walking distance, was a lake on the Prince Albert ticket called Whirley Mere. It was stuffed full of crucians and small carp from 3-10lb. There was a natural progression from float fishing to legering to try and land the bigger fish that would inevitably snap me up on the float gear.
PM: When did you turn your attentions to targeting individual carp?
JC: The first time I had come across a named fish was after I had moved back to Bedfordshire in the early nineties and fished a lake called Woburn Sands. The biggest was a scraper 30lb carp called Scaley that I caught that year, although I hadn’t actually targeted it; I just fished for whatever took my bait. The next lake after that which really shaped my big fish hunting was Elstow 2, which at the time had two scraper forties called the Twin and the Mother. With a low stock it was the hardest lake I had ever fished and the first ‘puzzle’ I ever tried to solve in relation to the lake and fish’s habits.
PM: You have fished for and caught some of the most coveted carp in the UK. What have been your most enjoyable pursuits?
JC: They have all been enjoyable for different reasons. I guess the Colemere Banana Common will always be the biggest achievement as I did not know for sure that any fish were in there. It is around 90 acres with around seven carp including this elusive common that was rumoured to be a possible record. It wasn’t quite that big, but I will never forget the feeling of seeing it roll 30 yards out attached to my line. I saw the unmistakable golden glow of a big common and my knees went as I went into panic mode. I managed to hook five out of the seven fish during one spring on there and no carp has made me feel as elated since.
One of my biggest achievements was catching a northern 40-pounder, which I had attempted to do for a number of years and had come close with a number of captures of the Half Lin from Manchester’s Dead Man’s Lake. It always fell just below the magical mark, although the jewel in Lancashire’s (or Greater Manchester’s, as the pedantic will tell you) crown is Mr Angry from the infamous Manchester Park Lake. It is a very tricky one to catch and an absolute unit of a fish. I finally caught it at over 44lb a few years ago, and it has to rate as one of my most enjoyable captures by far.
PM: Do you still have the same drive for catching big UK carp as you used to?
JC: Interesting question. The answer is currently no, although I know that the drive is still there inside me.
I don’t have a syndicate lined up this year, for the first time in many years, and flitting around various day-ticket lakes with no real goal has made me very apathetic about even catching fish. I enjoy being out on the bank, but couldn’t really care less if I catch or not, and that has turned me into a bit of a nod! I haven’t landed a carp this season.
I am very competitive, love a challenge and really become obsessed with a goal when I have one; to the point that everything else goes out of the window. I know that when I have the urge to work out a particular lake or see a fish that I really want to catch, then I will be just as keen as I ever was.
PM: Are there any UK fish you’d currently really like to catch?
JC: Not really. If I had to pick one then the obvious name that jumps out is the Burghfield Common. However, I would probably be more excited over the possibility of an unknown fifty in a reserve or a new lake, even if it was just a possibility of it existing and not definitely there.
PM: Have you ever carp fished abroad?
JC: I have been a couple of times, and it is something that I am probably going to do a lot more in the future, replacing my syndicate fishing of the past by maybe planning four or five decent foreign trips a year instead of the weekly trek down South.
PM: Are there any foreign waters you’d like to pit your wits against?
JC: Lake Balaton in Hungary really excites me. Anywhere that I feel like I am pioneering, even if I know that people have been going for decades. As long as I feel that I’m exploring then I’m happy. Maybe some of the big French waters like the Orient, though I also have an interest to explore the big Dutch lakes around Amsterdam.
PM: Not only are you an accomplished big-fish angler, you are a DJ, poker player and the joint host of UK carp fishing’s first-ever podcast, The Carp Cast. Firstly, how did you get into DJing?
JC: I mentioned that I become obsessed with things and the first example of that was playing the guitar. I started at school and by college I was into bands and attending the guitar institute in London. After finishing studying, performing became my job for the next seven years, until I realised that I was relying on a number of other people in the band with varying levels of ambition to earn my living. It relied on everybody being in the same mental and life space at the same time. We turned down some great opportunities because maybe one of the singers had a new boyfriend and didn’t want to go away for six months, or similar reasons. Being an ambitious entrepreneur I was often frustrated with other people’s drive, yet I needed them to earn a living. Music was the only thing I knew, so a move into DJing was an obvious way that I could still earn a living without relying on anybody else. In those days being a DJ wasn’t cool. It was a hard step and not one that I would admit to my musical peers. DJs were often seen as ‘failed’ musicians, and as someone that had studied and taught guitar for a lot of years it was something I just had to deal with.
PM: How often and where do you play your sets?
JC: My first job was in a holiday camp that I hated, so after a few months I found another job at an infamous bar called ‘The Merrie England’ in Blackpool. I moved up North the following week with nothing but a knackered car, a box of CDs, a few clothes and my guitar. I am still here 14 years later, with a beautiful family and some great friends, so the risk was worth taking.
After a few years here and building many contacts I moved away from commercial music into house music, which had always been a love since my early nineties raving days in abandoned warehouses around the Luton area where I’d lived.
I have played in many clubs around Europe including Ibiza, the legendary Sankeys and other Manchester clubs, the Warehouse Project and dozens more venues until I bought my own house music venue in Blackpool that I ran and played at for four years.
PM: Have you had many other carp anglers come and listen to you?
JC: Yes. A fair number visited my bar when I had it and there are quite a few ‘house heads’ working for various angling companies that I see out and about. Dance music and fishing certainly go together. In fact I was in Pacha in Ibiza some years ago and had a tap on the shoulder in the funky room saying, “Are you Jamie?” As I turned around in my somewhat intoxicated state, I realised it was Danny Fairbrass strutting some moves with his future wife.
PM: You are almost in the top 1000 of the UK’s all-time best-earning poker players. When did you first start playing poker competitively?
JC: I started quite recently, maybe three years ago now, and playing seriously for the last couple of years. I won’t stop until I make the top 100!
PM: What has been your best result to date?
JC: I have had an online score of $21k on Pokerstars and my biggest live score is £25,000.
PM: How have you found the poker scene differs from the angling industry?
JC: I find all scenes have the same elements of people. There are good, bad and indifferent people in it for their own various reasons from just a hobby or escape from their routine, to being really passionate and serious about it. Every industry I have been involved in has been the same once you scratch the surface.
PM: What do you hope to achieve from your poker career?
JC: I want to be as good as I can possibly be, and it would be nice to have some big scores to make life comfortable. I have always got involved with things that I have wanted to do out of passion rather than good business acumen, and that has cost me financially over the years, but if you become really good at poker you can make a lot of money in a short space of time. I have a number of friends more experienced than me that have hit the one million earnings mark in the last 12 months.
I try not to discuss poker too much with non-poker players as most people just see it as gambling (including some recreational poker players), but poker at the highest levels has less risk (although a similar methodology) than what the banks are doing investing your hard-earned cash every night on the markets. Every action has an expected value, so I see it more as risk-assessed investment opportunity than gambling, although you certainly can ‘punt off’ in the wrong mood.
PM: The Carp Cast certainly seems to have captured the imagination of the carp-angling public. Are you happy with how it’s gone so far?
JC: Yes, definitely. It is growing very quickly and we hit 5000 downloads last month, which I think is amazing in such a short time.
PM: For those who haven’t listened to it yet, how would you describe The Carp Cast, and how did it first come about?
JC: I listen to a lot of spoken word, long form conversation podcasts, mainly from the US, and have done for many years. Being involved in music all my life, sometimes it is the last thing that you want on when you unwind. I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio, or even watched pre-programmed television for that matter. In the modern age of Netflix and the like, we watch the things that we are into when we want to watch them and that is how it should be. When I was a kid there were three channels on TV (that shut off at midnight) and Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4. We were force fed stuff we were not really into out of a lack of choice.
With the digital age that is no longer the case. I knew that if more people in the UK listened to a podcast it would really work. I have spent years talking on mics to the public (I once worked out I had entertained over 1.5 million people at gigs), plus I have the production skills, having owned and run a recording studio, so I was the perfect person to do it. Mark Watson (co-host) also listened to some of the podcasts that I listen to and, after a conversation one day, he was the catalyst to kicking my arse into gear to make it happen.
There is no censorship with a podcast and, being quite opinionated, I wanted to do a news, views and gossip podcast of the current carp scene while maybe touching on day to day life philosophy from time to time where we can be really honest about stuff.
PM: You’ve had a number of big names on the show so far, but who has been your favourite guest?
JC: They have all been great for different reasons. Rob Hughes was a real jaw dropping one for me, being a geek, discussing the underwater stuff, but I guess Mark Holmes was the one that stirred up the most discussion.
Kevin Nash was the first guest and I thank him so much for taking a chance on me to get this off the ground without any question about what it was all about. He just trusted me and agreed to do it. That means a lot, and what a big name for our launch episode.
PM: As a free-to-download podcast, it must be costing you a lot of money to produce. Can you keep funding the show’s production, or will you need to raise funds by other means?
JC: Once again this was one of my hare-brained ideas that I just went full steam ahead with, giving zero thought to a business plan. It is very time consuming, probably totalling maybe 16 hours work per show, and for this reason we release a show every other week.
The hard costs are around £100 a month for hosting on various sites. Mark and I stand that between us, so it won’t kill us, but as the show is growing in popularity I think that we ought to be looking to monetize it soon. People have offered to donate money, but I think that we can be more creative than that to raise funds. Advertising is an obvious route to go down now we have a loyal listener base. We may look at merchandising and possibly some live events on lakes.
PM: You are also the man behind the Northern Angling Show. How challenging has it been organising a show of such magnitude?
JC: Yet again here’s another example of me biting off more than I can chew after observing that the North really needed a show and knowing the demand from living up here. Once again, if I’d had any idea of the magnitude of the task before doing it, I may have thought twice!
Roger Bacon and I had put on some smaller shows a few years ago to raise money for the local hospital and also for a fish stocking. These were really successful, bringing guests such as Terry Hearn and Dave Lane to Manchester, but we said that if we ever did it again then it would be on a much larger scale to rival the big southern shows.
Move forward a few years and we found the perfect venue in Event City at the Trafford Centre in Manchester and, with my knowledge of events from the music scene and involvement in the angling industry, we set upon the mammoth task of planning the Northern Angling Show. We had over 7500 visitors at NAS 3 and are currently planning for NAS 4 in February 2016.
PM: Do you expect the NAS to be a regular on the show calendar for years to come?
JC: Certainly. The events costs over £120k each to host and we should see some profit for all our hard work at the next show, so we aim to continue growing and improving it over many years to come. We have so many ideas that have been restricted by budget, but as we grow our creative side can be facilitated. Watch this space!
PM: So, what does the rest of 2015 have in store for Jamie Clossick?
JC: More of the same I hope. I would like to get in a couple of fishing trips abroad and plenty more podcasts recorded. I’ll also be hunting out any soft poker festivals across Europe, along with some monstrous fish!