Adrian Smith: Iron Maiden's compulsive angler

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Martin Weller

Iron Maiden guitarist and avid angler Adrian Smith shares his best fishing experiences from a life spent touring the world.

For more than 40 years, Iron Maiden has toured the globe with their brand of loud and theatrical heavy metal music. Today, the band is bigger than ever filling arenas and headlining huge music festivals across almost every continent. Guitarist Adrian Smith joined the band for their second album 'Killers' in 1980 and has contributed masterful guitar playing and songwriting to many of the band's most successful albums.

Recently, Smith released a book documenting his touring with the band as well his as other passion — multispecies fishing. From fishing the canals in Miami to searching for carp in the U.K., Smith shares his motivation for writing a book about fishing and even shares a few fishing tales.

Your book’s title is Monsters of River and Rock: My Life as Iron Maiden’s Compulsive Angler. Why do you consider yourself to be a compulsive angler?

To be honest, it was the book publisher that called me that. I sort of just went with it. If compulsive means you can’t help doing it, I suppose that’s me really. I’ve been fishing since I can remember. It’s just kind of in my blood. It’s one of my passions, music being the other one.

What made you decide this was the right time to write and release the book?

It was probably a couple of years ago now. I was sitting around with my friends sharing different fishing stories, and someone said you should write a book. That was it. I had already written a little bit. Many years ago, I’d written a few articles for magazines I was going to send off — fishing magazines — and I never got around to doing it. So, I’ve always enjoyed writing. I started writing a couple of test chapters and met a few publishers. Penguin in the U.K. liked it and was very encouraging. They said, “Go ahead and write it, and we’ll put it out.”

Today, Iron Maiden performs on huge, large-scale tours. Does that make it easier or harder to sneak away for fishing trips?

Well, I get quite a bit of off times these days. We only tour for three months a year. I do get a lot of time fishing. I don’t do quite as much traveling as I used to because I live in England. I think if you can stay in touch with your local waters and keep in touch with what’s being caught, where they’re being caught and what they’re being caught on, it’s probably better than traveling 200 miles and not knowing much about the water. So, I stay local.

Although I do still do a lot of fly fishing in the Caribbean. Fly fishing for bonefish is one of my favorite types of fishing. 

I do still fish on the road a bit, especially in America. There’s always somewhere to go fishing. We did that when we very first started touring in America. I caught my first carp in America … in Wisconsin. And probably a lot of American people, especially bass anglers, don’t understand that the carp is a revered fish in England. It’s like a religion, carp fishing. It’s the equivalent of largemouth bass fishing in America. For me, to catch a carp was a big deal. It was my first one. There’s some great carp fishing in America, and it seems to be catching on a little bit there. Which is nice.