Phil became an immediate part of our Fishing for Schools family when he bowled up at an event in Norfolk and donated a mass of kit for us to use at various events – and superb stuff it was, too. Since that time, Phil has become a huge supporter and advocate for Fishing for Schools in the eastern region. And it is people like Phill Humm who really do make us work that bit harder.
His generosity of both spirit and fundraising is a real beacon that shines on all of us.
1. How long have you been an angler?
I was eight years old and for months had been badgering my father for a fishing rod (he wasn’t an angler), when he finally bought me one on our summer holiday at Burnham-on-Sea. There was a lake on site (which is still there I believe). We didn’t have a clue!
Two years later, in 1977, we went back to the same holiday park and I took my fishing tackle. It was there I managed to get myself ‘adopted’ by a very kind adult angler, who set me up with a longer rod, homemade ‘dibber’ float, and some maggots. Looking back, I owe that chap a lot.
2. What/who brought you into Angling?
I had always been attracted to water and was fascinated with both the stream that ran through the park and the pond nearby (that we knew as ‘The Cowpond’). It began with dipping nets, catching frogs, toads, and newts, so trying to catch a fish was the next logical step.
3. What was your initial attraction to the sport, and what has been the constant which has kept you engaged in the sport?
It began with this unexplainable urge to touch and see fish for myself, but from there it is an unbroken thread that has brought friendship, fun, challenge, exercise, respite, travel, and adventure - so many components! The single constant has been the sense of another domain, a beautiful, natural world that has purpose. A place where I find balance and calm. Angling has been the ‘vehicle’ that has enabled me to experience so much in my life that would otherwise be missing.
4. If you could select one style and one species, what would it be?
I have been very fortunate to have caught mahseer in India, taimen in Mongolia, and many other wonderful species across Europe and beyond. My favourite though, will always be our humble roach. To me a big roach held briefly in the palm of the hand is the ultimate prize to connect me to the underwater world.
5. Why do you think Fishing for Schools is so important?
I cannot understate how much angling, and the wonderful grown-ups in our fishing club (thank-you Colin Sinclair), supported me during my youth. I had some rough characters around, growing up in Romford. Saturday nights usually entailed the gang going off to steal cars, have a fight, or various other misdemeanours, but fishing gave me an excuse to disappear. I had purpose in my life. Before it got sticky, I would sneak off to get my tackle ready for the next day fishing trip and leave them to it. This is why Fishing for Schools is so important; we have to share what we know to be true, the gift of angling, a path for youngsters that will give them a purpose and all the other positives I mention above.
6. Why did you want to get involved and help with donations?
I managed to keep myself out of trouble as a youngster and carved out a successful career. The combination of an income, and my passion for angling, took my fishing rods all over the country (and the globe). Without ‘my’ fishing (that sense of purpose), in those tender years, goodness knows which route I would have taken. What is life without passion and purpose?
I now have two children, nineteen and seventeen, and their passion is music, which is brilliant. With the family growing up, I saw an opportunity to give a little back and, if through some discreet act this helps just one young person find the same purpose as I have (and all the adventures and fun to boot) that will complete a circle for me.
7. What difference do you think Fishing for Schools makes?
Kids need to try stuff until they find their thing. It may be art, music, sport, that doesn’t matter. But I can guarantee this; if we keep taking kids fishing (and in a safe and supportive environment), we will change lives. We will give some of those kid’s purpose for the rest of their days that they wouldn’t otherwise have had. Not everybody has a parent that can or will take them to try things out, so we have a duty to give a little back.
8. Having seen us in action, what would you change about Fishing for School?
I know how limited the resources are, and how hard you work. If I could change one thing, it would be encouraging more people to get involved and help share the load.
9. How do you see angling into the future? Will it still have the attraction and reach that it has had in the past?
Angling has changed. The growth in commercial fisheries and the commercialisation of carp fishing has been dramatic. This provides opportunity for youngsters to get involved and discover the magic of angling in a safe environment, but also a threat if we don’t protect our natural lakes and rivers which in turn retain the magic and wonder. This means looking after the environment and also protecting access. If we can keep our rivers and lakes clean, angling will always attract those looking for an antidote to otherwise challenging lives.
10. How do you think Fishing for Schools should embrace the future?
We’ve got to get the fishing tackle manufacturers involved in Fishing for Schools in all the disciplines, whether it be fly-fishing, coarse fishing (match and pleasure), and also carp fishing (which is arguably a category of its own). Funding of resource and time is the key but in the long term for the benefactors, more anglers equal more sales, so it makes good business sense as well.
11. What has been your funniest moment in the sport?
Oh there have been so many! I remember a pal promising ‘the longest cast ever’, then following through like superman, headlong through the air into South Weald Lake (be careful around water everyone). Perhaps for me though it was a day fly-fishing on the Avon. A herd of inquisitive cows had unknowingly wandered close behind. My back cast never returned, the rod hooped over, and a quick swivel round found me facing the rear of a young cow that I had hooked in the tail. The herd startled and took off, and my fly line was stripped to the backing before the leader finally snapped! Has anyone else ever hooked a cow in the backside, or is that a first?
12. If you were given just one day left to fish, where would it be, what would it be for, and what method would you chose?
The Hampshire Avon in winter, a big fluted elder pith float, and a bucket of bread mash as ground bait. I would bait all day and trot the stream with breadflake on the hook, and as the sun went down the roach would begin to bite, and I would look skywards and pray for a two pounder.