Mark Crame

Ushered into the sport by his grandmother, Mark Crame is a lifelong fisherman best known as the source of the entertaining and educational blog, Kayaking Angler.  A gifted storyteller and video producer, Mark delivers to his audience a wealth of content that is rife with humor, fantastical imagery, and honesty.  When not traveling, writing, or taking photos, the Lowestoft, Suffolk resident can be found practicing a variety of paddling disciplines, ranging from surfing to long distance sea kayaking.  Mark is a member of the Johnson Outdoor’s UK Ocean Kayak fishing team.

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

It was back in the summer of 2006 that I discovered sit on top kayaks, having flirted briefly with an open canoe; I hated it. I’d seen people fishing from ski’s in South Africa as a kid way back in the eighties, and I’d fished from canoes and boats myself, but then I bumped into a friend who had an Ocean Kayak Frenzy, and within 30 seconds, I knew this was the kind of thing I wanted; I did my research and chose the now-discontinued Prowler 15 as being the best thing since sliced bread! I initially only wanted to catch pike – Esox lucius – from the rivers and broads near my home, and I wanted the flexibility to drop in anywhere and have a cheap time on the water. From those early days I progressed to calm moments on the sea, and so it went on until now – when my wife can’t keep me in bed on winter mornings no matter how grim it is outside.

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

Yeah, it was a perch – Perca fluviatilis. I was trolling two rods for pike, and caught it on a Rapala Jointed J-09 in Firetiger pattern. I still have the lure but rarely use it because it only ever catches me Perch! Pretty little fish they are, though. My first fish from the sea took months, but eventually I landed myself a lovely Dover Sole – Solea solea – which was under the grill within half an hour of capture. A good fight and a really tasty meal, perhaps one of our tastiest fish over here. I’ve not had a second one yet.

The first year of a kayak angler’s path is often marked by growth, challenge, and, to some degree, a good familiarity with rather steep learning curves. Though this may indeed describe your experience, the end result is a bit atypical in that you were quickly recruited to join Johnson Outdoor’s first UK kayak angling team. To what do you attribute this meteoric rise?

Nothing more than posting well-received illustrated reports on the internet about my latest kayak fishing sessions every few days. It was the early days of kayak angling over here, and I was the first person to really get stuck into the freshwater side of things; have kayak will fish! Andrew Dron, the MD of Johnson Outdoors in the UK, was already reading the internet forums, and saw the potential of supporting people who could inspire others.

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

Food? None; three spoons of instant coffee, half a spoon of Demerara sugar, a splash of milk and some hot water followed by a smoke when I leave the house. That’s what kick starts me for a session! Fixing breakfast makes me get up earlier or miss the tide. I’d like to say I roar down the road listening to original 1970’s British punk, but the truth is the shipping forecast comes on the radio at 05:20, and I’m usually tuned in to that!

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

In the UK there are a few people to mention: Andy Benham, our pet journalist, author, orator and all-round good bloke, is shaping the UK scene by getting things out there into the laps of less successful anglers and encouraging people to take the plunge. I guess Andy is probably one of the guys to nod to. Dave Morris, too, one of the original guys doing it in the UK. He runs the Anglers Afloat forum, which has done so much for kayak angling in the UK. Then there are the people who get out and push the boundaries in so many directions – people like Richi with his long distances, Lozz with his big fish, Carpyken with his skill training. The guys who share their knowledge and reports on the forums, and don’t forget the bloke who brings a mackerel home for his dinner once in a while.

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

My only issues are wind strength and direction, tide strength and direction, air temperature and what fish are about. I guess I could plead with Neptune, Triton and Poseidon, but they won’t pay heed to little old me. I try not to do politics as it just causes trouble.


When viewing the photographic portfolio within your blog, Kayaking Angler, one could quite easily deduce that you are drawn to the artful lines of boats both big and small. The photos of naval architecture are unique and soulful, and certainly highlight the beauty of the subject matter. Explain to us the creative processes behind your images.

I was working as a photographer from my early twenties, so always carried a camera and knew how to use it. I tend to be thinking of my reports all the time I’m out on the water, and I spot images that will suit them; I want my reports to be interesting, and I want to bring the experience alive for those who read them. I’ve been using Olympus waterproof compacts for a few years, and have them set to the highest quality settings. The photographs get downloaded and processed through Adobe Photoshop, tweaked for sharpness, contrast and colour, and then uploaded to Photobucket and linked in to the text. With subjects that lend themselves, such as wrecks in the harbour, it’s just a case of finding an angle that suits them best. I started shooting video with these cameras, too, and once I mounted a deck camera – an Oregon Scientific ATC9K being the current model – I was able to capture even more images that could be lifted as screenshots, which can often add a bit more life to things. I’m not that interested in boats in all honesty, but I do love history, and I think the pictures in question capture some of that.

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

I’m fortunate that I have much of what I want in my back yard, and with some good contacts made in recent months with local skippers, I have a great year coming up. I’ve kayak fished around the UK, and I’ve fished in the US and France; in a few weeks, if the weather plays ball, I’ll be doing it in South Africa, too, so it’s kind of a tricky question. I suppose it’d have to be a couple of weeks game-fishing on Protea Reef, South Africa from the kayak, though it’s not allowed as it’s too far offshore; at eighteen I fished it most days for three months from my aunt’s charter boats, and it has it all – even down to excellent surf for landing in!

You belong to a tightly knit and dedicated group that, with great fervor and passion, claims allegiance to the Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro. Though a boat with a cult-like following, the Scupper Pro is not often seen in the majority of angling fleets. What drew you to this model?

I’ve had a few kayaks now, starting with the Prowler 15, a superb fishing kayak, and then onto the Trident 15, which was a brilliant platform, but I’ve also paddled and fished from all of the Ocean Kayak models, US and New Zealand offerings, that we’ve had over here in the past six years, as well as a lot of other brand’s boats. Alongside this, I’ve had a couple of surf models – first the Yakboard and now the RRRapido and a Necky Chatham 17 for sea kayaking. There is only one boat that really crosses over with all of these and that is the faithful Scupper, forty years old and still the best; Tim Niemier got things right the first time! What I need on this coastline is a kayak that will launch through large dumping waves, will paddle against 3 knots of tide, will keep me upright in chop and swell, and can fight the wind without sapping my strength before landing me through those same dumping waves. There is no other plastic sit on top out there that is more seaworthy. I know that I have a kayak that I can rely on, and I can’t see me changing it for anything else. It’s the kayak that the hardcore guys in the UK mostly tend to end up in, sooner or later, and it generally forms at least 30% of the boats turning up at the meets around the country. It’s fast, it tracks well, it has enough rocker to manoeuvre in the surfzone, it sails well, can be edged, and with such excellent secondary stability, it will ride out pretty much anything without flipping.

What’s in your milk crate?  

I don’t have one, I don’t need much, and most of what I carry is in my PFD. Behind me in the tankwell, apart from my anchor and reel, I carry a small coolbox in winter with a few grip weights and some bait. In summer I maybe have a small box with some extra lures.

Tell us about your best day on the water.

Every session is an adventure; with my mates it’s even better. There are three that battle it out, two of which consisted of being with mates, catching the target fish, drinking long into the night, and sleeping under the stars before getting up at dawn, hungover, and hammering the fish, once in Scotland for Tope – Galeorhinus galeus – and once in North Norfolk for Mackerel – Scomber scombrus – bass – Dicentrarchus labrax – and cod – Gadus morhua . The other would be taking my nine year old daughter with me on her own kayak for her first yak fishing session, and watching her beat a small shark, a Starry Smoothound – Mustelus asterias – the target species, on a spinning rod and centrepin reel. She paddled out and she paddled in unaided. Links to these sessions below.

Scotland:

http://kayakingangler.blogspot.com/2010/05/further-afield-great-scot-230510.html

North Norfolk:

http://kayakingangler.blogspot.com/2011/09/cley-at-night03-040911.html

My daughter’s Smoothound:

http://kayakingangler.blogspot.com/2011/08/first-time-kayak-fishing-270811.html

http://kayakingangler.blogspot.com/2011/08/commoners28082011.html

What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?

Haha, I’ll tell you mine, but it’s not that typical! Wake up. Check the forums, check the forecasts, phone your mates and talk about fish, bore your wife and kids with talk about fish, check the forums and forecasts again, go to bed. Repeat this for five days, then get up way before light, pour coffee down your throat while checking the weather, then head off to fish. Come back, gut and fillet, cook fish for lunch, go back on the forums and weather sites, write up the report, edit the photographs, cut the video and then repeat the following day. Then it’s back to Monday and back to square one…waiting, planning…and going on eBay to buy a load more shiny stuff! Not that I get a break mind you, my working week involves kayaks and canoes, too. No rest for the wicked!

Tell us a story, any story.

The best yarn is probably the one of the time I paddled out at first light, five miles, solo, in a light mist to find a fairly deep wreck and had to cut my anchor trolley off when the weak link tripped:

http://kayakingangler.blogspot.com/2011/04/buggered-at-barnard16042011.html

On further consideration, I think you’d better read this one:

http://kayakingangler.blogspot.com/2007/10/shitty-day-on-nene231007.html

When added to your blog and television-related popularity, your reputation for helping newcomers has placed upon you labels of “role model” and “ambassador.” What do these titles and responsibilities mean to you?

Titles like that don’t mean as much as the actions that gain them.  In the same way, the negative terms my critics use don’t trouble me. When someone asks me to show them how to anchor, and I teach them, and they sit beside me in less than favourable conditions, and catch their first cod and outfish me, when they say thanks, call me mate and come out again the next week (I’m thinking specifically of Don here, who made the mistake of buying a kayak and meeting up with me this winter; poor bastard) that’s my reward – “mate” is better than “ambassador” any day! As to responsibilities, well, this is fraught with one big dilemma. When somebody reads a report where I’ve launched at night in the middle of winter in a force 4 , carried on into a force 6, landed through surf with a bunch of fish, and then goes and repeats it themselves without a few hundred launches of experience under their belts, and the right gear, and things go badly wrong, then I have to face the fact that I may have contributed to that. This troubles me as it does others who push their limits and post the details in the public domain.

What does the future hold for you?

Bigger winds, bigger waves and bigger fish!

You can delve further into Mark’s world by joining him on his blog and YouTube channel:

http://kayakingangler.blogspot.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/Codbotherer

 

6 Responses to “Mark Crame”

  1. Lozz Taylor says:

    Great read great pics great guy your an inspiration Mark keep it up

  2. Dan Pavitt says:

    A cracking window into the sport and one of the men shaping the way forward

  3. Ian Harris says:

    Always look forward to meeting up with you Mark, I remember speaking Andrew at a show years ago, and telling him all about your kayak fishing adventures and your writing and photography skills – look what happened ! Keep fishin’ my friend, and see you at Swanage.

    Dizzy

  4. Dan Cooke says:

    what can I say, your friendliness and sense of humour have helped me so much. You’ve given me advice and have always been frank in your answers not beating around the bush which is just the way I like it.
    plus the beers round the campfire with great stories.

    I love the write up and enjoy the blog. Thank you for the inspiration and the help so far. Hope to be paddling with you at some point this year.

    Cheers

    Dan

  5. Andrew Parry says:

    Top bloke Mark, seems to live on the water most of the time whether fishing, surfing or just paddling – can’t thank him enough for the help and encouragement he has given me and many many others.

  6. hungry fisherman says:

    what can i say well done mate :D

Leave a Reply

*