Adrian Smith, guitarist with the prolific heavy metal legends, whose songs include Run To The Hills and The Number of the Beast, tells all in his book, Monsters of River & Rock.
The 63-year-old rocker said: “The aim of the book was to concentrate primarily on the fishing, and I was a bit surprised myself when I finished it to find it also included quite a lot about the music – I’d estimate it to be somewhere like 65 per cent fishing focussed.
“I’ve actually woven tales together involving both, relating stories about fishing when we were away on tour. I always tried to take my gear with me, including travelling in the tour bus with worms and maggots under the seats."
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He added: “Sometimes our schedules are hectic, I’d just grab a few hours on say a canal in Amsterdam before an evening performance, which is more relaxing for me than hanging about in a hotel room. Mind you, I had a bit of an escaped maggot scare in a posh Dutch hotel!
“My first ever carp was in the States, where there was this murky-looking creek running by our hotel in Wisconsin. I was told with disdain there were ‘only’ carp in it – I promptly went out, bought cheap gear and filled my boots with plenty of doubles.
“I learned to love fishing going with my dad, initially to the local canal, where the beauty of the lovely roach he caught contrasted so much with the bleak city surroundings of the gasworks stretch. We moved on to fish pits in Hertfordshire, and going there was a holiday in the country for me.
“We also tended to only fish days – my dad used to call anglers who went fishing all night for carp ‘fanatics’. Mind you, I earned myself a few bob from them as I used to go out collecting worms from the lawn at nights then go down and sell them to the carpers.
“When I got to 15, I discovered rock music and got completely absorbed in that, so fishing fell totally by the wayside, but some years later when I joined Iron Maiden in 1980 it turned out the then drummer, Clive Burr, was a lapsed angler, so we decided to have a go together, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I haven’t stopped since, and at times it has become a bit of an obsession – the book is subtitled My Life as Iron Maiden’s Compulsive Angler, and I get quite a buzz out of it.
“I especially wanted to catch a 10 lb tench, and spent a decade trying to do so before finally cracking it last year on a lake in Buckinghamshire, where I fished three days for the one bite. I moved onto my next target, which is now barbel. I already have a PB of 15 lb 10 oz from a stretch of the Thames by Windsor Racecourse. I’d love to better that, and have found a stretch on my favourite venue, the Thames, which is enjoyably quiet and peaceful, although it hasn’t produced a lot so far.
“One of my tour highlights was in Vancouver, British Columbia, and I decided to hire a guide and fish the Fraser River for their giant sturgeon. I hooked a 100-pounder, not massive by their standards, but it fought so hard I feared I had injured my arm and wouldn’t be able to play the gig. I came through it in the end, but that was the time I managed to fall over on stage and land right on my backside in the middle of a song!
“Much nearer home, back in 2009, I had the good fortune to land a chub of 7 lb 14 oz from my local River Colne, in Buckinghamshire, and that was the biggest of the year. I had a walk along the banks one day and an angler showed me a photo of a very big chub he’d caught in the swim, so I thought I’d come back and give it a go. Sure enough, I landed it on that first visit.
“It just shows that good fishing is aided by talking to people and info-gathering. Sometimes you only find out about a brilliant venue after it's passed its best, but sometimes you can find things out if you keep your ear to the ground.
"For me, fly fishing in shallow water for hard-fighting bonefish on the salt flats of the Turks and Caicos Islands is a pastime that's hard to beat. It has the bonus of my wife also enjoying relaxing on a local beach.
“To coincide with the book launch, I am also putting a few self-made videos on YouTube of me out fishing, including one on the River Ebro, in Spain,” concluded Adrian.
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