Reel Deal: a boutique fishing trip with Mark Rae

A few weekends back, I was lucky enough to stay at Hector’s Apartments in Deal, on the Kent coast, for a boutique fishing trip (you can read all about it in my piece for The Guardian). What made it extra fun was that Mark Rae (half of soulful hip-hop duo Rae & Christian, and Mr & Mrs Smith reviewer), was the one teaching me to fish… So I thought I’d share some of his fishing tips here too to inspire other would-be anglers to take the plunge and make the most of those Great British coastal breaks.

Deal fishing trip in Kent: Hector's ApartmentsYour first fishing experience?
Five years old, Seahouses Pier, Northumberland. I caught nothing.

Essential equipment?
Unfortunately it’s all pretty essential. Even the flotation suits: you can’t do this stuff for more than 10 minutes if you’re cold – and they’ll save your life if you fall in.

How much would it cost to buy or rent, roughly?
Maybe £350, or budget versions at £100, and then you’ll need to wrap up, too.

The key to success?
Local knowledge and faith in your decisions. Luck does play a roll but if you haven’t put in the effort learning how to maximise your chances of catching, then a couple of hours without bites can upset the best of us. The easiest approach is to ring a couple of fishing shops in the area and ask what’s going on.

Your perfect fishing companion?
Anybody who shares the passion and doesn’t talk too much off the subject of silence. You must always fish with a partner for safety reasons.

We know you’re partial to stylish stays (you reviewed the Standard Downtown LA for Smith, and you’ve just got back from The House Hotel Nisantasi in Istanbul) – but what’s your typical fishing weekend like?
Casting for cod off the rocks in the Northumberland kelp beds, with my parents’ house as a base. And I’ve spent many weekends staying in Whitby B&Bs, chasing cod on offshore wrecks, 30 miles out to sea.

Where should we try next?
The spring run of bass should see a whole host of south-east coast locations come into focus.

Best bait?
This changes with the time of year. Depending on the species, lug worms are good for cod, whiting and dabs, but mackerel can reduce your chances of flatfish as it attracts the whiting. The greater the scent, the more effective. In summer, peeling crab – soft after shedding their shells – is excellent. And you need to refresh the bait every 15 minutes to keep its scent underwater.

As a side note… Record shopping! While I was poking my nose around some of Deal’s antiques shops weren’t you buying a load of old LPs?
I got loads of vinyl from the Oxfam shop at 51 St Peters Street for 99p each – I’m taking them to the Yesking studio to hunt for breaks for my forthcoming projects. And yes, I’ve written many comedy fishing songs in the past.

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TAKE THE TRIP!

Hector's Apartments in Deal, KentSTAY AT: Hector’s Apartments
Style Cool, coastal Victorian villa
Setting Deal Castle on your doorstep
Hector’s has a garden flat and ground-floor apartments: a long weekend or four-day mid-week stays are £250–£490; a week’s stay is £350–£540. Upper apartment: long weekend or four-day mid-week stays are £460–£700; a week’s stay is £570–£940 (a 10 per cent discount applies if just two people rent the apartment). More details…

KIT UP AT: Channel Angling
Steve Allmark’s bait shop is a cabin on Deal Pier (01304 373104) – it’s packed to the gills with tackle, rods, and fresh and frozen bait; he’s knowledgable and advice is free.

CH(EAT) AT: Middle Street Fish Bar
Had no luck? Buy your classic fish ‘n’ chips at a traditional Deal chippie – our favourite is at 78 Middle Street (01304 364738). Fusspots will find a gourmet version at the 81 Beach Street restaurant.

Other Mr & Mrs Smith properties around the UK that are great for fishing include…

Hotel Endsleigh in Devon – this grade I-listed fishing lodge owns a stretch of the Tamar.
Pool House
, Wester Ross – go angling for skate in the Minch, or haul in langoustines and lobster.
The Peacock at Rowsley, Peak District – a great outdoors base; ask the hotel to arrange fly-fishing for you.
The Lodge, Argyll – There’s excellent fishing on Loch Fad on the Isle of Bute, or you could simply try your luck in the loch at the end of the garden.

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