Lawrence “Lozz” Taylor

 

” If you polled UK kayak anglers asking folk to associate a name with both kayak angling and big fish, there’s little doubt that Lozz would top that poll.  Whether it be bagging over-sized Tope or Cod, or taming a giant Skate, Lozz has pretty much been there and done it when it comes to kayak fishing in the UK.  As a pioneer of the sport, he’s not just proved himself capable of producing one catch of a lifetime after another, he’s also very happy to pass on this wealth of experience.”

- Rob Appleby

What first drew you to this style of angling? When was that?

In around 2003, my daughter wanted a kayak like the one her friend had – an Ocean kayak Frenzy.  Well, my love for the water and fishing beat me, and the evening we got her the kayak, I dug out an old spinning rod and a couple of lures and I was off.  I was to spend 2 years fishing from the Frenzy when, by chance, my daughter found a picture of a fishing kayak.  It led me to AnglersNet; I really did think I was the only idiot doing this.

Do you remember the first fish that you caught from a kayak?

My first fish off the kayak was only a humble mackerel, but it was soon followed by bass.

 

 

You have admitted to being an out of place sport fisher, and, by default chase the large cartilaginous fish in the nearby saltwater.  One such species is a giant skate.  For anglers not accustomed to such an experience, describe what it is like to be seated in a kayak with said creature on the other end of the line.

At first you get a bite, (sometimes), your heart starts pounding, you sit up properly and plant your feet in the footwells.  You wind down strike.  If this is your first time, you will just feel shock and “oh f**k what have I done?”  At this point it will do 2 things:  it will either take off or clamp down.  If it takes off, hold on; there’s nothing you can do.  If it clamps down, hold on; there’s nothing you can do.  And it starts to set in the task ahead of you.  Now its a battle of wills as to who’s going to give in first.  Using 50 lb class rod, 4/0 size reel, and 65 lb braid, it’s now a tug of war.  For the first 10-20 minutes, I may gain 2ft at a time – just for it to take back 10ft.  I’m pulling as hard as I can.  With my 80 lb set, I can pull the nose of the yak under.  Eventually though, you’ll get it moving, and its a 450 ft slog with power dives that can rip you from the yak (as one poor lad found out).

What food and/or music fuels your drive to the put-in?

As I’m not that keen on fishing my local waters, I will usually be faced with a 3 -6 hour drive to my intended fishing spot – usually straight from work on a Friday night in my camper van.  So my diet will generally be poor: a burger and fries or KFC at the motor way services washed down with copious amounts of cider when i reach my venue.  At the start of the journey, I’ll be playing something loud and fast like the Prodigy to make me get in the mood and put my peddle to the metal, mid journey Punk music so foul your ears will bleed, and nearing my destination Rammstein (hard German metal).

Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?

This is a hard one for me, as I stay in my little bubble of UK kayak fishing.  I know there are people like Jim Sammons catching huge fish, but to be honest, if I can’t launch from the shore, catch the fish unassisted, and paddle back, it doesn’t interest me.  I know that sounds bad, but it’s just not my thing.  In the UK, people like Richi Oliver showing what a fishing kayak really is capable of handling; without seeing some of his offshore ventures, many would still be in the shallows.

 

 

With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you? What, if anything, can be done about them?

Safety is a big issue with me; AnglersAfloat used to do a wonderful safety course aimed at getting a basic knowledge of the water, handling a kayak, and using safety equipment.  This was stopped due to red tape.  Now to receive training, you need to join 1 association or another, which unfortunately is causing unnecessary divides.  Personally i think its criminal that in the UK you can buy any personal water craft and just go out with no training.

Barring money or logistics, what is your dream kayak angling trip?

I have always fancied going to try for a big sturgeon on the Frazer river, or the Canary Islands night fishing for a 6 gilled shark, but my real dream is to get Richi and (FFF) Simon skate fishing so I can verbally abuse them.

In a world often populated with plastic boats, you set forth upon a carbon/Kevlar craft.  Explain to us why it is that you chose such a stunning, albeit atypical, kayak.

I have owned and paddled many plastic kayaks, but the Dorado was love at first sight.  Unfortunately I’m an animal with my kayaks, and was always banging stuff and chipping the gel coat – only cosmetic stuff, but a right chore to sort out nicely.  So went to a Scupper Pro, which I modded with a rod pod.  It served me well, but I had that yearning for a Dorado, so I bit the bullet and ordered a custom one – epoxy layup with carbon and Kevlar reinforcement to the keel and around the rod holders.  I now have a kayak that can handle anything the sea can throw at it, and I can bash it around as much as I like.

 

 

What’s in your milk crate?

Not so much, nowadays; I used to carry the kitchen sink with me when I first started kayak fishing.  The kayaks I tend to use have rod pods in front of me, so most of my gear will be in there.  Usually just my anchor and reel and maybe a small cool box with my bait.

Tell us about your best day on the water.

Maybe not my best day on the water, but a special day.  I had just taken delivery of my new special layup Dorado 2, and drove 350 miles to my chosen mark.  A good friend of mine was already there, but conditions were poor and my friend was not launching.  I could take it no more. I grabbed 1 pack of mackerel from my cool box and went for it.  I got to the mark on the outer edge of the reef, and it wasn’t pleasant – 4-5 ft waves occasionally breaking and swamping me.  Over with the anchor and bait down.  Thirty seconds later line was screaming off my reel.  I wound down and beat into the fish, the kayak immediately span round then uptide, and I soon had a tope (small shark) of around 50lbs along side.  I only had 3 baits, and was to catch 4 tope and lose 1 – all 40-50lbs.  What a way to christen the yak!

What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

For me, the kayak fishing life style is: work like a dog all week hoping the weather gods will be nice to me for the weekend.  An evening or two before the weekend, I’ll troll the internet boat and shore catches to see where seems favourable, then Friday morning I’ll make the decision, load my van so I can leave straight from work, and pray the forecast doesn’t change.

 

 

Tell us a story, any story.

Maybe not the fishing story you’d all like to hear.  Back in November, I had an accident at work, and was injured quite badly and needed my leg and ankle rebuilt.  Once out of the cast, I needed to wear leg and ankle braces, and it was clear I wouldn’t fit in my kayak.  I also had a skate expedition booked with some friends.  I asked on AnglersAfloat (our UK kayak fishing web site) about suitable kayaks for my situation.  The response blew me away – there were people that didn’t even know me personally offering to lend me their pride and joy.  Now with many thanks to Andrew of Johnson Outdoors, the UK Ocean Kayak importers, I’m happily paddling an Ultra 4.3.  It was kindly loaned to me for as long as I need it. I really wouldn’t be on the water without it, and although its not as nice to paddle as my Dorado, I will be sad to see it go.

You have been angling since the age of 4, were a card carrying member of a local fishing club by age 12, and captained your own fishing boat by age 16.  This strong foundation has obviously lent itself to the crafting of your current kayak-based talent, but before you discovered the paddling way of life, you set a couple of British fishing records.  Tell us a bit about said achievements.

Things were much easier back then; GPS was not around. Nor were fast fishing boats.  Decca navigators (worked off radio signal) and 6-8knot diesel boats – not many people would motor 3-4 hours offshore.  I was given secret numbers for offshore banks where we would target blonde rays, and in all honesty, most of our club had smashed the British record for blonde ray.  We just couldn’t bring ourselves to kill them in order to claim it.  One day a member of our club decided he wanted a bit of fame, and took a sea angling mag there on his boat.  They opened the secret mark to everyone.  We decided the record was to stay in the club, and I was luckily the first to land a big one.  It only stood for a short while, though.  The other was quite an easy record – electric marbled eagle ray.  It was only the second one caught in the UK, and was only kept because we didn’t know.

What does the future hold for you?

Pain and lots of it.  I hope to get back up Scotland skate fishing, and I’d like to have a crack at a Porgie at some point.  I keep meaning to get myself to the Florida keys as well, but something always seems to come up to stop me.

3 Responses to “Lawrence “Lozz” Taylor”

  1. Rob Appleby says:

    Thanks for that Lozz, what a thoroughly enjoyable read, a great start to my Monday morning. You need to show me how to tame a giant Skate someday soon.

  2. Dizzyfish says:

    Lozz is a pioneer in so many ways, he is one of the kayak fisherman in the UK who has shown just what is possible. His common skate adventures are legendary. He is also a top bloke who goes out of his way to help people and give advice. It is a sign of his determination and will power that he refuses to let his leg injury get in the way of his kayak fishing. Look forward to having a strongbow or two with you soon mate. Ian

  3. Dan Cooke says:

    Lozz has always been so good with advice for me, being there on my first (actually second trip but i disregard my first trip as a non event) giving advice on how to safely Anchor etc.
    He also offers advice on safely opening cans of Strongbow and how to safely consume them. Always great fun to fish with Lozz and to sit around the campfire with.

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