Number 1: Stuart Conroy
Stuart may be as surprised as many of our readers with my choice as number one.
He rarely if ever makes a song and dance of his angling ability. Introduced to fishing by his elder brother Steve, Stu was the top junior in the Warrington area and on his brother’s instruction, was fishing and winning senior matches by the age of 14. Selected by manager Roy Jeffery for the inaugural world junior championships in 1985, Stu went on, under Ian Moulton’s captaincy, to win a team gold and individual bronze four years later. This event was only held every four years back then.
Stu was a key part of the formidable Highfield team with numerous team and open match wins. Stu made his full world championship debut in Paris in 2001 and remained in the team for 12 consecutive years. Acknowledged as superb at sorting out the method on some of the harder to crack world championship venues, Stu was a consummate team player.
One thing that stands out for me in an era where the England team were essentially full-time as anglers or has careers in the trade, Stu held down a full-time day job as a roofer throughout his international career and only occasionally fished in the week.
What finally clinched things for me when it came to awarding Stuart my number one slot was witnessing his awesome coaching ability at the recent Angling Direct Junior Canal Championship. Generous as ever, Stuart willingly agreed to give up his day to volunteer to help the youngsters and present the prizes, all for the price of a beer. In minutes, combining clever communication with a few subtle tweaks at the business end, even seemingly lifeless pegs were soon producing fish after fish for awestruck youngsters. One kid commented to me as he proudly weighed in nearly a kilo after a biteless first two hours ‘I thought this canal was utter rubbish until Mr Conroy put me right on a few things’.
Prior to that, I had reckoned on Simon Mottram being the best technical canal coach I had seen at that time. Witnessing Stuart’s Midas touch that day, I realised that there was another level of fishing ability and Stuart was at that level. Perhaps I should arrange for Stu to give Motty a few lessons for like so many of our Let’s Fish coaches, Motty is always looking to improve his performance further.
There is more on the life and times of Stu Conroy here.
Last date edited: 14 June 2019