Fly fishing

Turning through the years with the help of a rock monster



After reading Adrian Smith’s fascinating book, Monsters of Rock and Rivers, I was shocked to discover that his lifelong passion for angling went hand in hand with my enjoyment of the sport. Can I say straight away that I’m not into rock music, more so the Beatles, Roy Orbison, etc. but when I stumbled upon this superb read I saw a reflection of myself throughout the 280 pages.

Each of the 18 chapters is cleverly interwoven with concerts from Iron Maiden and Adrian seizing the opportunity on tour to launch a line in the most exotic destinations on the planet.

While I’m a few years ahead of Adrian, this journey through a fishing life began for both of us at the age of five or six – short pants and runny noses. In both cases, our father played a central role in laying the groundwork for what was to follow.

Adrian was born in Hackney, east London in 1957 and raised in Clapton. His father Fred took him fishing at the local Grand Union Canal as soon as he could hold a rod. He happily fished for small perch before “poaching” the fathers who swim for the larger roaches.

The day usually ended in the local pub (with Adrian left outside). After a beer or two, his father would oblige him with a few songs on a borrowed accordion. Adrian’s mother, Kathleen from Co Mayo, also loved music and had fun playing the violin. Traditional Irish folk music was his real joy.

The seeds of a career in music were undoubtedly sown. However, his introduction to music around the age of 15 came by chance. After wandering around in his older sisters’ room, he found one of his records, Deep Purple. “What is that? He asked. The album was Machine Head and the song Highway Star with Ian Gillan’s musical scream leading the band in the blowing hymn of his teenage years. Ahhh! found his calling.

Jam jar, string and bread

In my case, living in Dublin most Sundays my dad would take me close to the Tolka River and the Royal Canal, both side by side. Equipped with a jar of jam, string tied around the neck stuffed with bread and lobed in the mainstream. It was a matter of getting up quickly when the minnows entered. Progressing towards a bamboo rod with rings tied with duct tape, catgut, a feathered float, I sat for hours on the bank of the canal catching roaches, poles and dowels. That was it, I was addicted.

After moving to London in my early teens, I lived in Balham and attended London Nautical College. Every spare moment I was fishing in Clapham and Tooting Common ponds for my favorite fish, tench, but I added roach, silver bream, perch and a few chub.

I also had permits for the Long Water behind Hampton Court Palace and the Serpentine River in Hyde Park. Magic fishing.

Throughout the book, it’s pretty clear that Adrian’s favorite species are barbel, chub, tench, and carp, though he’s fortunate enough to include bone fishing in the Bahamas, rock fishing. fly for trout, sturgeon in Canada, spinning for pike and bass, to name a few. .

Hell, was he willing to put in the hours – 72 hour shifts, no problem. Add to the bait a swim for days or even weeks before heading down to the river or lake. In most cases, he was rewarded with monster fish.

He moved away from fishing in the early 1970s to help form the Urchin Group. This particular decade has been a whirlwind of sorts. Work hard, play hard was the motto. In 1980, the group began to flounder.

That same year, while walking along Clapton High Road (penniless), he “bumped into” Dave Murray and Steve Harris of Maiden. “How are you?” they asked. “We might need a guitarist, would you like to do it? “

“Yeah, sure, I think that would be great. (This begs the question, what if he had enough money for the bus?

A more responsible attitude towards life took hold from that point on with Iron Maiden and fishing was back on the agenda. In 2006, the group released their album “A Matter of Life and Death” and went on tour with 47 concerts in 21 countries including the United States, Canada and Japan.

Adrian Smith on stage with Iron Maiden

The Thames at Windsor provided his best personal barbel. For two weeks he visited the river every other day, baiting with crab meatballs and boilies, but not fishing.

The night in question he threw in the middle of the river and didn’t have to wait long. The end of the rod squeaked and the fish loaded up and down until they were ready for the net. What price ! The scale indicated 15 lb 8 oz.

An absolute brute of a mirror carp from Lake Korda in Buckinghamshire

An absolute brute of a mirror carp from Lake Korda in Buckinghamshire

I, too, was a regular visitor from the Thames to Hampton Court. By setting up our camp by the river, we would stay on weekends catching roach, bream and grayling from the nearby Mole River during the day.

The night on the Thames brought the barbel “to play” in the middle of the current. The ledger with a worm was a safe bet for setting off bite alarms with fish weighing up to 10 lbs. Super athletic!

In 2007 Adrian moved to West Yorkshire with the River Colne nearby. But first, duty called him and he was back on the road for 12 shows on the “Matter of the Beast” tour.

Later that year he tried his local river for chub. Until late at night, he drew a creaking fish above the net. The scale indicated 7 lb 14 oz. His first thought, was it a British record? Close, but unfortunately it was not. An exceptional fish anyway.

Browsing through the 18 chapters, the reader is taken on a comprehensive tour encompassing the “ins and outs” of life on the road for this iconic rock band with Adrian, as the lead guitarist, managing to find time to s’ escape to the nearest river or lake. to accomplish his quest for tranquility of fishing.

The book is a must read for all rock fans and angling enthusiasts. Beautifully written with a constant flow of anecdotes to keep the reader enthralled. I can’t wait to see Adrian’s second book !!

Back in Ireland I first started sea fishing and now I enjoy fly fishing for trout and salmon. I would love to have the opportunity to invite Adrian to Ireland for a few days to sample our fantastic fishing and, perhaps, a visit to his mother’s ancestral roots in County Mayo.

Bone Fishing in the Bahamas

Bone Fishing in the Bahamas

Monsters of River and Rock is published by Virgin Books, a brand of Ebury Publishing, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Rd., London SW1V 2SA. penguin.fr. The book sells for € 23 (£ 20), in hardcover

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