John Attard - National Federation Champion 2012 exclusive interview
How long have you been fishing with KSFA and any remarkable experiences, old anglers that you will never forget?
I have been fishing with KFSA since its inception way back in 1994. Although we were still finding our feet at that time KFSA was an immediate success with no less then 142 members by the second year. I will never forget my very first competition, actually just before KFSA was officially declared a Club, it was organised by our now long time President Steve Johnston, founder of KFSA.
It was my trusted friend Ray Tirchett who had told me about this competition to be held in Gzira, and I was really quite afraid of making a donkey of myself and coming last. But I was persuaded and took part, and just imagine how proud I was when I was declared the winner of the day. You never forget your first.
The person who inspired me most in sport fishing is undoubtedly Steve Johnston, who through KSFA opened new avenues and opportunities and for this I will for ever be grateful to him.
How well do you compare nowadays competitions in Malta to those organized some 10 years ago?
We have gone a long way to make our matches as fair and at the same time as competitive as possible by making subtle and sometimes not so subtle changes across the years. But we have to be careful not to go overboard here by completely changing our league format every year, as in my opinion this can have a counter effect.
How do you feel as the Maltese no1 angler for 2012?
Being Malta`s no1 angler is nothing short of a dream come true, and in all humility I declare I will be both honoured and proud to be representing Malta in the forthcoming European Championships in Spain.
When, how and what do you prepare before a match?
I prepare for my matches throughout the year, but the final preparations, I do the day before, having evaluated the venue and weather. Both very important factors to consider before a match. You would, use totally different rigs and rods if you were fishing in calm winds, then in a force 6 majjestral. Besides the rods and lines one must never underestimate the importance of ground bait, were in my opinion a good mix of bread crumbs and the classic smelly cheese should should make the base of every ground bait, this I usually complement with over the counter offers. But keep in mind. It is not about the amount of ground bait you throw in. Some seem to be under the illusion of the more the merrier. It is not so, it is how much you bait yes, but not too much, when to bait and where to bait. And what time of year it is. It is a fact that in summer fish will never tire of feeding, their metabolism is the highest then, but in the winter months, they can very easily go off your offering if you bait to much, and your bites eventually will dwindle to nothing.
Biggest fish ever and any personal records on thin lines?
My biggest fight with a fish on thin lines would be a 33mins struggle with a bonito (Plamtu), which amazingly too a rag worm, on a 5m rod, rigged with a .16mm line fishing a running ledger and a size 8 hook, it weighed in at 3.6kg. But my biggest fish ever from shore came on my 8m pole, long before joining KFSA, this being a 4.3kg mullet, landed from Valletta in the night.
Favourite fishing rod? Hooks and any other preferred brands?
Favourite rods, definitely float rods and poles since I am a passionate float angler. I like Shimano rods and reels best, though I do have an Artico 6m bolognese, which is also fantastic.
Hooks definitely Owner hooks, I have tried many different flavours, and owner keeps coming tops. Line is another story, despite not being as strong as mono, flurocarbon is the way to go if you want to improve your catches, I have tried many brands, my favourite was HyperCatch which I used to get from abroad, but they have stopped producing it. Still trying to find a worthy replacement.
How rosy is the future of shore sportfishing in Malta?
Sports fishing can only get stronger in Malta. The day our National Federation, applied for Malta to take part in the World Sports Fishing Champs in Italy in 2011, it gave our sport a breath of much needed fresh air, as now there is the ultimate to fish for. What we always aspired to, to fish for our country.
Which are the main problems you encounter when fishing competitions in Malta? How can we get more people into the sport?
Venues can be a problem as we are very limited, sometimes even getting the right bait is a hassle, but all in all I think we do very well.
We should encourage, the younger generation by organising matches for children. Even going to schools and giving talks on sports fishing. The joy and satisfaction of catching fish on very lightest of lines and rods, and the ultimate in satisfaction. Catch and release. The last ironically has proved one of our main problems regarding memberships, as mentality is very difficult to change, and the cult in Malta of keeping even the tiniest of fishes is so deeply ingrained that people will not join, because they cannot keep their fish! But slowly, slowly even that is changing. Our motto should be: Conserve our seas to conserve our sports with me being a strong believer.
I would of course like to thank my partner Dorothy, who had to put up with my ranting before every match especially towards the end, and for enduring it and never grumbling but instead encouraging me all the way. A special thank you also goes to KFSA through which I have learned so much, without which help I would never have achieved what I achieved today.