Glaze & Gordon is delighted to introduce our Countryside Conversations series, in which our guest editor, racing pundit and record-breaking jockey, Liz Kelly, speaks to countryside adventurers across the world that Becs and the G&G team have been lucky enough to meet over the years.
The first adventurer we are privileged to profile is fishing aficionado, Tiggy Pettifer. As an advanced fly fishing instructor and fundraising officer for the Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST), Tiggy is passionate about putting #wildsalmonfirst, conserving the sport for future generations and inspiring new and young anglers.
Glaze & Gordon first met Tiggy last year and have since worked closely with her to design an exclusive salmon needlepoint belt and key ring from which we donate 15% of sales back to the AST. We also offer a discount to members of the AST’s Salmon Club members, which is a group of like-minded individuals from all walks of life, and from all corners of the UK, united by a shared ambition—to protect our planet and save our salmon. Find out how to join at the bottom of the article.
Over to Liz and Tiggy…
I was absolutely delighted to be able to chat to Tiggy, who has spent her lifetime pursuing country sports: she hunted with the Beaufort for 28 seasons and caught her first trout at home on the River Usk in Wales aged four. Today, she is doing an incredible job as the fundraising officer for the AST, which is an organisation established to protect and preserve wild salmon. I was lucky enough to talk to her about her dedication for saving wild salmon and ensuring future generations will be able to enjoy a sport she feels so lucky to be a part of.
You are synonymous with fishing but how did it start? -
My Mummy, Granny and Daddy loved fishing. As young as three, I would sit on Mum’s knee while she cast and I played with the ‘trouties’. It was the greatest of fun and once I could cast on my own, off I went!
What made you start ‘Tiggy's Fishy Days’ to teach women and children how to fish? -
I used to have a nursery school in London for 3-5 year olds and I missed teaching so much so since I have access to four beautiful miles of the River Usk I decided to offer fishing experiences to get any child of any age out, away from telephones and screens, and teach them to fish. So I am still doing what I love - teaching - this time it just happens to be fishing.
Regarding the Mummies - so many are ‘fishing widows’ who have loved the chance to give it a go without the pressure of being taught by their hubbies - which is a bit like teaching your children to drive, it doesn’t always go so well! My aim is to give them some confidence, teach them how to tie a fly on and be self-sufficient – then they start catching fish!
You have travelled to some beautiful places to fish, where have been your favourites? -
Iceland is just the most stunning, stunning place for so many reasons – never mind the fact that luckily, they still have lots of salmon! Norway is also breath-taking. Closer to home some of the rivers in Scotland hold precious memories for me, for example, the Helmsdale is the most enchanting and romantic river ever.
You have had a long-standing association with the Atlantic Salmon Trust, please tell me more about what they do. -
The AST’S objective is to get more adult wild salmon returning to our rivers. It is a scientific organisation looking at salmon and sea trout in all our rivers for everyone’s benefit. They inspired me so much that I volunteered to help - I wholly believe that the AST can make a difference – and they asked me to be a fund raiser. I love learning something new every day from the amazing team and scientists working to protect these amazing fishies!
What projects are the AST doing at the moment that excite you the most? -
At this moment two major projects are taking place: The Moray Firth Tracking Project and the West Coast Tracking project. They are happening right now when the smolts (baby salmon) start their mammoth journey to the feeding grounds out in the Atlantic.
We are tagging smolts from the headwaters to the sea so we can assess where the greatest losses are taking place, why and by whom. It is the second year of the Moray Firth Project, this time we are going back to study in depth where the greatest losses are happening so we can then advise the river trusts and make recommendations to the Scottish government about what they can do to stop these losses.
The West Coast Tracking Project’s goal is to find out where the migratory routes are for the smolts are so again we can learn how to enable them to have a safer journey out to sea. They have to face huge hurdles such as fish farms!
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get involved in fishing as a hobby? -
I can’t recommend it enough - it’s the most fantastic way of reducing stress and mental worries. Ring up an instructor first -you wouldn’t suddenly take up golf without going to see the local instructor and fishing is the same. You need the basics under your belt simply to make it more fun and less frustrating than being self-taught - even though a lot of people do this! Also contact your local clubs - there are hundreds - and not just fly fishing related you can try coarse fishing, trout lakes and bass fishing on the coast. Also get advice from the local ghillie, they are mines of information and most clubs and trusts will be hugely helpful and encouraging. Also take the young with you. They love it but try not to make it boot camp if you take them. If it’s cold, wet and windy you can put them off very easily especially if they don’t catch anything!
Glaze and Gordon stock some products in association with the Atlantic Salmon Trust. How important is it to spread the word of this organisation? -
It is absolutely vital! Apathy is the big word in fish conservation because salmon are not fluffy and cosy and, since they are under water, you can’t see them so a lot of people say oh it’s so and so’s job. No, its not, it is YOUR job!!! If we all work together and spread the word that we will lose this keystone species in the next 30 years if we don’t do something NOW, we might just be able to stop the appalling decline and get more salmon back into our rivers. The work and support that Glaze & Gordon is doing is hugely important and much appreciated by the AST.
How far would you agree that countryside sports are important to the continuation of sustainability in our countryside lives? -
Quite simply, they are vital. If country sports disappear, our countryside, as everyone knows it now, would disappear. Due to shooting, hunting and fishing there are copses - small groups of trees - being planted, hedgerows being put back, headlands left with belts of crops specifically for wild birds such as partridges to thrive in and ancient stonewalls being maintained. Pubs, B&B’s and sporting hotels all thrive due to incoming sportsmen and women. Never mind all the beaters, ghillies, stalkers, keepers and their families who maintain these sports that we love. Farmers work side by side with all these different sports and if we didn’t have this teamwork the countryside would turn into a barren land with ragwort, bracken and fern covering all our fields. The patchwork of our “green and pleasant land” would quite simply not be there. Conservation works hand in hand with all country sports.
And we couldn’t possibly end the interview without asking, what has been your biggest catch?! -
Ha! Very easy, Norway two years ago on the Alta, a breathtakingly beautiful bar of translucent bluey silver at 24Lbs which had the power of a DB4 Aston Martin.
Elation beyond my wildest dreams!
Thank you Tiggy!
The work of the Atlantic Salmon Trust is incredibly important and at Glaze & Gordon we are proud to support them in our own small way by giving back 15% of sales from our salmon belt and salmon key fob.