We welcome Giovanni Vanhooren to the Fortis Collective. Hailing from Belgium, Gio is our European member who flies the "Fortis Flag" across the Channel. Gio shares the same enthusiam as us in good design & style, which is represented in his cult carping publication, Monkey Climber. The Fortis team are looking forward to Belgian socials on the canals discussing new ideas but until then Gio tells us a little about his own angling...

"I thought it better to focus a bit on our angling over here on the continent. Before you think of rather easy commercial venues,  you’d better think of quite hard Belgian canals, lakes and syndicates. And yes, we have our ‘Meres’ too where getting a bite a year is a proper result.

Living at the Belgian coast, in Ostend, just one hundred metres from the beach, I am unfortunately not located in the best part of the country to target the Kempisch, Albert,... canal carp you’ve probably all heard of. However, my home canal is quite exciting too, there’s some smaller syndicates over here with really nice, old, English looking – or is the other way round: weren’t a lot of the English ones originating from Belgium and Holland? – characters and one reserve where that one bite means more than everything. In the past, I took Nick and Gareth to a few of these places, and as they will tell you, they were absolutely gobsmacked. However, running my own magazine, Monkey Climber, means I have to travel a lot all over the country for interviews, features and so on. So I always end up fishing somewhere or having a nice guestie. There’s always a fish to fish for, eh?

As for our scene, there is really some great, clever and inspirational anglers around (certainly not only the ones that occassionaly feature in the international pages of your mags). Our syndicates don’t differ too much I guess, but our river and canal systems are to most UK guys a whole new world. Miles long (my home canal is over 60 kilometres), often more than 100-200 yards wide and divided with sluices, fish moving in between and even moving to other canals which are connected. Highly pressured and heavily baited too. Being mobile is key, but usually you can’t drive the public path that runs along so driving your bike, looking for fish with a minimum of tackle is paying off most."