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Q+A – Stephen May

Q+A – Stephen May

Q+A – Stephen May 5/5 (100%) 1 vote

<strong>Not many will know, but you are the man behind OTBT (On The Beaten Track), where did the idea for the brand begin?

It all started life as a personal blog on Instagram – somewhere to store my photography and video work. Slowly, it became somewhat of a creative playground where I could experiment with ideas. I felt that with my Graphic Design background, I had something different to offer the angling world and that’s where the idea for the ‘Death Rig’ design came from – taking something completely non-fishing related (the Mexican Sugar Skull) and flipping it on its head. I actually had the design sat on my Mac for months thinking… “Is this too out there?eventually, I plucked up the courage to have a run of T-shirts and mugs produced with the design and the response truly blew me away – they sold out overnight and then things just snowballed from there, with the range growing slowly but surely.

 What is your number one tip for fishing silty meres?


I’d have to say looking for the firmer areas of silt. That’s not to say that I haven’t caught from the deeper, choddier areas, but generally, I’ve found that if you can get a firm ‘donk’ when feeling the lead down, they’re the areas I’ve had most of my bites, as it could indicate that it’s an area that’s been fed on previously and the surface debris cleared away.

 What is your favourite capture to date?

Probably my most memorable was a fish called ‘The Big Lin’ from Blakemere, which is still my PB to date. I’d had a really unfortunate run of angling during the summer, trying everything and amassing around 14 nights with only 2 lost fish to show for my efforts. Fast forward a few months and it was a damp, dreary November day. Having done 24hrs in a swim called The Channel, I was peering out onto motionless rods from under the bag at first light, contemplating what to do for the day when the left hander tore off. After a bit of a hairy battle, my good mate Dave Marvell scooped the net under what was clearly a good fish. Peering down, as the fish flanked in the net, came the words “It’s The Big Lin”…that’s a moment I’ll never forget – good times shared with good mates, which is exactly what angling should be about.

You record and photograph many of your sessions for films and blogs, but what camera equipment do you favour?


Camera wise, I use a Canon 70D. It’s continuous autofocus tracking and flip-round screen make it a god-send when you’re trying to film everything on your own. Then there’s my baby – the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens. Its wide aperture, spectacular colours and sharpness are in my mind, the best out there. I’ve used other more expensive lenses in the past and genuinely prefer my Sigma. The only other lens I use is a cheap Canon zoom – the 55-250mm. I just use this for getting closer to wildlife really and it gives me another option, should I need the extra focal length, but the Sigma very rarely leaves the camera body.

How do you boost your baits to give you an edge?


I’ve always been a massive advocate of glugging my hook baits and my go-to liquid for this is the Liquid Tuna Extract from CC Moore which I use to boost my pop-ups. I usually give them a light coating to start with, wait until that’s gone nice and sticky and then repeat the process. I’ve found the longer you can leave them the better, and I always have a tub or 2 lugging away months in advance of when I plan on using them.

You have designed packaging ranges in the angling industry, but does your day-to-day job relate to this type of work?


Yes, it’s all a bit hectic at the moment but alongside running OTBT and freelancing for my own clients 2 days a week, the other 3 days, I hold a Lead Designer position at one of Liverpools’ leading creative agencies. It keeps things fresh as I’m always working on something different and I’m lucky that as a direct result of OTBT, a lot of my work for my own clients tends to be within the fishing industry – it’s always nice to work on something that you’re truly passionate about and I’ve been lucky enough to work on some exciting projects with brands such as CC Moore.

If you had one rig to use for all of your angling, what would it be?


Without doubt, it would be the semi-stiff hinge. It’s caught me pretty much every single one of my carp over the last few years. When fishing a critically balanced pop-up, hitting the clip and feeling the lead down, I’ve got 100% confidence that the rig is presented well and will reset itself should the hook-bait be picked up and spat out. I’ve experimented with other rigs in the past and always come back to the semi-stiff hinge.

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