It´s Christmas time in Stockholm and i´m about to meet a legend In fishing and a found friend of Sweden and Stockholm. We are talking about Frederic Julian from Team Gunki/illex that I will meet soon actually, in the centre of Stockholm at a foodmarket. He spends the holiday here and he suggested that we should meet up for a longer talk about how he prepares for the most prestigious Perch competition in Sweden.
We met at last years final at Hardrock and i´m really interested to know more from the team member that almost took it all last year just beaten of Stockholms Fiske, so here we are eting, talking and having a nice break the last days of 2016.
The runner ups in last years Perch Pro – Team Gunki/Illex consisting of Frédéric Julian and Thomas Engert really made an impression. They arrived to Sweden with a limited local knowledge and only a few spots tested during a few days of training before the competition. Still they were able to catch both size and numbers. Of course these guys are no rookies… far from it even.
Frédéric was a successful tournament angler many years on the European tour until he quit the tour and decided to spend his full attention to his job at Sensas – home of brands such as Gunki, Illex and Pezon Mitchell – where he works as the link between the fishermen and the product development team. As Frédéric himself put it ”I am the lucky guy that gets to go fishing”. Spending more that 100 days per year fishing brings experience…Frederic lives outside Paris but spend more time on the road than home. A necessity when working in 10-12 countries. ”I work on average 6 days per week. 26 weekends per year I spend on fishing fairs. I am a workaholic”…
Thomas is as experienced as Frederic. Working for Sensas in Germany he also get to spend his days thinking about fishing. And when he’s of work… He goes fishing… Successfully… As a fisherman for more than 40 years, a lot of the that time he has competing. For many years coach of the German national youth team (U23), 2014 world champion -> predator with artificial baits from boat at Lac de Bourget / France together with Marc Ptacovsky. Good placements in predator fishing and tournaments and an impressive 4th place in the 2016 Black Bassworld championship at Alqueva Dam in Portugal, nations rankingplacements And Germany doesn’t even have bass as a species!!!
I guess we have established that these guys know their fishing. They are the real deal – but will they be able to match Swedens finest this year? Let’s see… Since Frédéric was spending christmas and celebrating new years in Sweden, Magnus was able to meet up for a face to face lunch talking about life, fishing and Perch Pro
We spent the first share talking about Sensas – a pretty un-known name in Sweden. They are more known by the brands Illex and Gunki but they also carry other brands and cover the whole range from value-for money to very high end products. ”We know the entire scale” says Frédéric. ”When you know the production technologies and how the premium products is done, it is easier for us to scale down. For a low end manufacturer it would pose more of a challenge to upgrade – they would be needing ot acquire new skills. We already know how it’s made”.
Knowing the width of your offering – do you ever try competitive products?
”I only fish our own stuff nowadays. I have moved over year. Previously, when I was fishing tournaments I felt that I needed to and wanted to test everything. And I tried it all. Everything. Now after so many year of competing I know the techniques and I know what to use when. If there should be a pocket in the market with a need I see that we cannot fulfil with our products, we can develop a product”.
”Having that said – I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time over in the US travelling with bass pro’s. When I came there I noted all the logos, all the sponsors and also the boats full of gear. They have all the baits in all the colors, sizes and sink rates. But when the pro:s travel, when the marketing is over and they just want to perform – they bring small bag of the trusted baits. And it is the same bag all the time. It rarely changes over time. They bring the baits they know and trust. They can even bring out the baits and call them by numbers. ”the 200 000 USD bait, the 50 000 USD bait. The simply calculate how much prize money each bait has won for them.
Do we then need to develop baits? Yes we do. For the very simple reason that we want to fool and catch the fish again and again. The fish learn the patterns and become difficult to fool again if you do not offer something new”
Whats your fishing philosophy?
I want to fool the fish. I want them to take a bait that is not natural. I never, with only a very selected few instances use live bait. I get my kicks from getting the fish to take the artificial bait I am offering. The best kick is to come to a place – almost internally vision the strike point, make the cast, twitch twitch, pause at the thought of strike point and BOOM. It’s such a reward:-)
I am a strong believer in education. If we explain different situations, how the fish behave and what baits that work we help the fishermen develop and they will also start being mor different situations on their water. And start catching more fish and have more fun
What are some of the points you try to educate on?
1. ”Your best memories are your worst enemies”. I strongly believe in understanding the situations, listening to what the fish tell you and adapt to that. If you strong positive memories regarding certain spot, technique or bait and you do not stay open you will tend to overuse that pink bait or whatever. When you summarise the year it’s like ”wow that pink bait is really a killer” and you don’t know about all the potential big fish you have missed
2. ”Listen to the fish” They speak to you. There was an episode the last day of perch pro last year when we had fantastic fishing up until lunch but then something stopped. We were using Nitro shads, very strong baits developed for sea bass fishing. They should easily last 50 perch but we started to get baits without tail. It should not be possible. They were just biting the tails. The fish were saying ”we are biting but what you are offering is not really what we are looking for”. For fun I used a bait without tail. And I caught a perch! Then we took a bait with small tail and they started biting the tails again. The fish we caught were spitting tails so they were active but we had not cracked it. Finally we switched to finesse baits, twin fork tails but no vibration and we started catching big numbers. If we had kept on remembering the day before lunch we would have failed miserably I use to say to people ”you are are good fisherman – you just don’t listen to the fish
3. Learn how to cast! Accurately and quickly. If you get the techniques down in a good way, it is a numbers game. if 50% of your casts are off target you only spend 50% of your time fishing where the fish are. Look at the bass guys – they are incredible but they need to be. They are competing for big sums and have that as a living…. and they spend 250 days per year fishing… I ”only” spend 100
4. Use the right tool for the right situation – like reels. Some guys want to use bait casters all the time because they think it looks cool or is hard core. I only use bait casters when I need 100% control of the line or I need full accuracy in the cast. Dont use bait caster because its cool and don’t use spinning for convenience – use right the right tool for the job
Spinning reels I use when I use for all techniques. When I need to cover water, casting length or when it’s windy. Use the right tool for the right situation.
Then we end up in a discussion where Frederic is using glasses to illustrate his idea about how to get the fish to strike. In simple terms active fish are in the sun and passive fish in the shade. You can get both to strike but you need different techniques. Let’s assume you are cranking. The fish will have two opportunities to see your bait behind the weed and the time window is very small. If you use vibration and notice you have much better chance of attracting the fish. So first you must advertise you bait – by movement. Secondly the fish will be attracted by the eyes. Only then, if the fish decides to swim up and check things like smell becomes relevant.
Just another question before we move into Perch Pro. Have you learned anything new regarding perch fishing this year?
I have learned to fish even faster. to get more reaction strikes. I have really been working in that direction. Probably I fish more than 80% for reaction strikes
Perch pro then – it’s time again. How does it feel?
Well… We got a really good Perch Pro. We are really happy with our fishing. Winning – it’s a gamble and we cannot say. All participants are really good fishermen. And they know the water but we caught some really good fish. Maybe we were a bit short on big ones but we had numbers. Anyhow – It is going to be exciting. It is really a good format.
How did you think about tactics now competing for the second time?
This year was totally different vs the first year. Going for size is really a gamble, like russian roulette. You may catch a big one and or not. And others may catch quality fish as well. You really need to go for the numbers but try and fish spots that holds some quality fish as well.
So for this year we hade a different approach. Like: we did not want go down town this year. I knew i would not get the numbers I decided to train in different directions. And also knowing that cray fish lakes normally hold the biggest fish but as mentioned – it’s a gamble going for size. So we went for numbers. And we got insane numbers. This year was really crazy
How do you train for this event?
We got 2 weeks of training. We tried some spots I got from friends and some I found out myself. We had some crazy training sessions. On one 2hour check of several spots in an area I caught 25 fish with 10 of them being bigger than 1kg!
How is fishing with Thomas?
Me and Thomas are different anglers. Thomas is more into competition. I quit competing a couple of years ago. I started to share more and also learn more from more people. When you compete like Thomas does learn really really deep from a small group of people. He is really extremely good in drop-shotting for example. Bu when it comes to experimenting and searching, I have his back. We really complement each other. He is more stubbon and stick to what works. He will keep hammering and I will test new stuff. When I have found a working formula we both will switch. I really trust him because he really masters the techniques. If he is pinpointing a brush pile and he is not catching we need to try something different
How do you prepare for Perch Pro?
I focus on 2 different things. We know the forecast potentially can play a big role I am looking for sheltered spots and exposed spots. I am always looking for a back-up. Even in down town stockholm the weather can really make in impact. Where can I fish depending on weather.
I want to find place to stay close water where I want to fish. I even book living the very last minute. I want to live 10 min from water.
What gear do you use?
I use long rods – like 2.10 ft rods. Thats the kind of length like on big fish. To fish really fast i use fairly heavy rods: medium heavy 7-28g and for more finesse style fishing I use Medium/medium light like 3-15g
I probably fish heavier rods that people would expect but I use that to be able to un-tangle the baits and not fearing I would snap the rod.
Finally – Did you have incidents where you screwed up – any funny stories?
I guess it does not qualify as screw ups but we really had some bad luck. First we had car troubles. I just lost power. I had to drive to the spots in low gear. Stopping from time to time to let the car get cool again. We did not even know if we were going to make it to the water… Afterwards it turned out my turbo was broke.
On top of that I had trouble with the trailer. I have an american trailer with a hydraulic breaking system. Something went wrong and it locked. We were destroying the tires while moving In the end I needed to something I was not really proud of: I had to create an artificial leak. But hey – thats fishing – things will happen…
Well we at FiskeFürAlle really appreciate you taking time to meet us hear in Stockholm. We are really pumped about the show and looking forward to seeing you showing of your skills! Interviews will follow with all other teams. Stay tuned. Should you want to hear more from Frederic I suggest joining the fishing cruise. He will have a seminar on bait colours: what how and when to use. It’s going to be fun
We will be back with with interviews for all the teams. Should you be interested in reading the interviews on Perch Pro from last year, you will find the here
/Mange, Peter & Daniel