As part of our 20th birthday celebrations, we thought we’d run a feature on the fantastic team we have here at Sportquest Holidays, from those in our marketing department who produce all the content you see online to those in admin and sales who speak with you all and help organise your holidays, to those in accounts that help keep all your bookings ATOL protected. We aren’t just a one-person band; we’re a team, all working together with the same goal to ensure we offer all of you the best experience and service possible when booking and enjoying that holiday of a lifetime.
I’ve had face-to-face encounters with Grizzly Bears and Elephants, been thrown out of a boat in Kenya after hitting a sandbank, been stung by a Scorpion whilst three days into a trip on Lake Nasser chasing Nile Perch and had to land a 50lb Salmon by hand in deep water, as we’d forgotten a landing net. The list goes on and on, but the most memorable was the day my partner Tracey and Sportquest Marketing Director got hooked on fishing.
We were fishing at Bristol Bay Lodge in Alaska, chasing Kings/Chinooks, which Tracey had never fished for before. I was fishing with the guide while Tracey followed and practised everything she had been learning throughout the week. Then, all of a sudden, there was a considerable amount of cursing coming from her direction. On turning around, the guide and I could see Tracey was hooked into a big Chinook. We had to get out in the boat three times to chase the fish downriver before she landed it, but she did an excellent job, and I was so proud when she did.
After all the celebrations, the guide suggested we boated back to the same spot, and as we approached and touched the bank, Tracey was gone, marching straight out and back to the same area. The guide and I just sat in the boat laughing until eventually she turned around to see where we were – I then asked her if she was addicted to fishing, and for sure she was; she now has the bug bad.
Name: Tracey Buckeham
Job Role: Marketing Director
Years Working For Sportquest: 12 years and counting
Best Part About The Job: Working alongside an amazing team who are always pushing to do everything they possibly can to give our customers the best service in the industry and knowing that every destination we offer is the very best for our customers. I often travel on hosted trips, and to witness our customers having the trip of a lifetime and catching fish that they have dreamt about for so long is a wonderful feeling.
Favourite Fishing Type: Freshwater fly fishing
Favourite Destination: Alaska for all the fun of fishing for all five Pacific Salmon species & a wonderful place for wildlife. Argentina for when I want my fishing abilities to be tested as the fishing can become very technical and can test even the best of anglers.
Favourite Fish: Pacific Salmon & Sea Trout and a rather nice Grayling I caught in Alaska after a five-mile hike upriver.
Bucket List Fish: Trigger Fish – I spent a whole two days on Christmas Island a few years back trying to catch one and never succeeded; I was always outwitted!
Best Fish/Memorable Moment: I think I’ve already mentioned it; the beautiful Grayling I caught in Alaska last year.
My pal Peter and I decided to go for the long hike upriver at Goodnews River Lodge in Alaska to one of the tributaries where Grayling and Rainbow Trout can often be seen. We spent a good few hours following the river upstream, crossing the river time and again, walking in the soft mud amongst the fresh footprints of the local bears until we reached the upper sections where we hoped to see the fish.
I’d always wanted to catch a Grayling as I’d never caught one before and hoped to catch it on a Mouse pattern, and that day I managed to land two! Peter also landed a lovely Grayling, so we returned both tired but elated we’d ticked something else off our bucket lists.
Name: Paul Stevens
Job Role: Destination Manager
Years Working For Sportquest: 16 years
Best Part About The Job: Getting to speak to a huge variety of people from all over the world and helping them achieve their fishing goals. Then getting to speak to people when they return to hear all their fishy stories.
Favourite Fishing Type: That’s a hard question… I fish for so many different species with so many methods. I suppose my preferred method would have to be, fishing with bait. I don’t think there is anything better than offering your chosen target what they regularly eat in a wild situation.
Favourite Destination: Again, that’s a hard one, as the world is such a big place. If I was forced to pick, then I think it would be India.
Favourite Fish: I have a few fish that really get my juices going, but if I had to pick one, it would have to be the Roosterfish. The main reason for this is that you can target them on all manner of methods, and they scrap so hard.
Bucket List Destination: For a while now, I have wanted to fish the wild Amazon River. The remoteness, the raw wildness and Wildlife are what would attract me to this part of the world and, of course, the huge array of species that you can catch.
Bucket List Fish: A true wild Arapaima would be up there for me.
Best Fish/most memorable moment: As you can imagine, over 16 years of working here, I have got to fish some pretty amazing places in the world and have managed to catch so true monsters along the way, but the one that really made me emotional was last year when I managed to catch a huge Halibut of over 400lb and 226cm. I have Guided in Norway for many years and very rarely get to fish, just grabbing the odd hour here or there. But in 2022, my dream came true, and spending it with some close friends was a very special moment.
You can watch the full video of Pauls’s 400lb Halibut here: Fishing Guide Battles HUGE 400lb Norwegian Halibut.
Name: Ana Zaharia
Job Role: Office Supervisor
Years Working For Sportquest: 4 years
Best Part About The Job: Assisting all of our customers and ensuring that their booking experience is smooth and enjoyable.
Favourite Destination: It would have to be India. Having been a flight attendant in a previous job, this gave me the opportunity to travel to and visit many of the country’s different cities, including Mumbai, Jaipur, Chennai, Hyderabad and New Delhi. My favourite place has to be the Taj Mahal in Agra – one of the most famous mausoleums in history and symbols of love.
Bucket List Destination: New Zealand has been one of the countries on my bucket list ever since watching the Lord Of The Rings films. It’s famous for many things, from its breathtaking, incredibly diverse scenery to its Maori culture. Hopefully, I’ll be lucky enough to explore this beautiful country soon.
Most Memorable Moment: Watching the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis twice in Tromso in Norway and Reykjavik in Iceland has been a couple of amazing experiences I will remember forever.
Name: Laura Sudder
Job Role: Office Administrator
Years Working For Sportquest: 2 years
Best Part About The Job: Having the chance to talk to lots of our customers and being able to help them with their travel arrangements.
Favourite Destination: It would have to be Australia; it was always somewhere I wanted to visit, and when I did, it was incredible. We travelled around and visited Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Whitsunday Islands and Sydney. I ticked lots of the things I wanted to see and do off my list, including a bungee jump in Melbourne over the Yarra Valley.
Bucket List Destination: Thailand is definitely one of those at the top! I would love to visit and explore everything the country is famous for, from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok to the stunning sandy beaches for a spot of relaxation.
Most Memorable Moment: This was when I travelled to Goa on holiday; we went on a trip to see the Elephants and helped washed them. We also visited one of the country’s beautiful waterfalls, where my husband proposed to me.
Name: George Mackenzie
Job Role: Marketing Department
Years Working For Sportquest: 4 years
Best Part About The Job: Being able to be creative and create work around my most beloved hobby – also learning and understanding about different disciplines of fishing that I would have never known about.
Favourite Fishing Type: Any form of lure fishing! I have always had an enormous fascination regarding fooling a fish by using “in theory” a piece of plastic – I also enjoy the skill involved in working the lure and understanding what works in each different environment. I much prefer this to a bait-and-wait approach.
Favourite Destination: Norway, as this was the first place I ever travelled to for fishing – I was fortunate to be offered a trip on one of our Hosted Mefjord trips.
Favourite Fish: It was Pike, but in the last 2-3 years, the Perch has overtaken as my favourite. For me, it’s everything, the colours, the strength, the “pack” mentality they have, and I see them as the Alphas in the river systems just below the Pike.
Bucket List Destination: For me, its more of the environment when it comes to fishing; the lodges we offer, for example – Rio Marie Lodge – is everything I look for in a fishery, tight casts, strong watercraft, the element of surprise when approaching a pool knowing this could be the only shot you have.
Bucket List Fish: There are so many… however, targeting Peacock Bass or Golden Dorado using surface lures has to be up there.
Best Fish/Most Memorable Moment: I was fortunate last year to land a fish that I never thought I would, and that was a 20lb+ Pike from my local river here in Norfolk. Catching it on an ultralight lure setup made this capture even more special to me. I saw it as catching every Pike angler’s dream on one of the most challenging methods possible. Another huge moment for me was lifting my first Norwegian Cod from the Fjords of Mefjord – and regardless of the size, it was a huge “I’ve done it” moment.
Name: Chris Collins
Job Role: Marketing Department
Years Working For Sportquest: 2 years full time, but I used to help out when Sportquest was Angling Direct Holidays, fifteen plus years ago!
Best Part About The Job: Being creative and working with various partners and people and getting an insight into some of the most stunning fishing spots in the world. Occasionally getting to travel, visit and film some of these places too.
Favourite Fishing Type: Sea fishing from the shore or boat. However, I’d enjoy any form of saltwater or bluewater fishing. I love the unknown about fishing in the open ocean, as you just never know what could turn up.
Favourite Destination: Norway. Through the years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit several times, and it’s always special.
Favourite Fish: It always was Cod, but since I went Halibut fishing last year, they’ve now overtaken as my favourite. They’re up there with any sport or big game fish, and if you haven’t done it, you must try it, believe me!
Bucket List Destination: A tough one… but randomly, I’d love to fish for the Redfish fishing in Louisiana or Suindá Lodge, our new tour in Argentina fishing for the Golden Dorado.
Bucket List Fish: There are so many… however, randomly, I’ve never caught a Plaice and would really like to tick those off my list.
Best Fish/most memorable moment: I was lucky enough to catch a 192cm Halibut last year in Norway, which was incredibly special. However, one of the moments I remember was my first time in Norway, at Sandbakken, when we were fishing at midnight, on a glassy flat calm fjord, with the sun just slightly hidden behind the mountains – it was totally surreal. Another great memory was a trip to Thailand in 2008, fishing with Francios at the ‘Predator Lake’, a trip we still offer to this day. The Redtail Catfish are cool!
Name: Chris Allison
Job Role: Accountant
Years Working For Sportquest: 2 years
Best Part About The Job: Working within a great business with a great team.
Favourite Destination: I’ve been lucky enough to visit many different destinations worldwide, and picking my favourite is quite a hard choice; however, I’d probably say Cape Verde just about edges it ahead of Rhodes. It was everything I look for in a holiday when getting away from it all. It was quiet and relaxing, the weather was lovely, and the scenery was incredibly special.
Favourite Fish: Even though I wouldn’t classify myself as an angler (I haven’t been since I was a child), I like the look of any sort of shark or predatory fish. The Payara in Brazil look particularly cool.
Bucket List Destination: I’d love to visit anywhere in South America.
Most Memorable Moment: One thing I always remember is Salmon fishing in Scotland with my grandad when I was young. I have vivid memories of the particular river we fished, the scenery and the feeling from the day – we didn’t catch anything, but it didn’t matter; just being there was enough. Another fond memory I have was when I was in Rhodes, we found a lovely fish restaurant, and as the sun was setting, the boats came ashore and brought fish straight from the dock to the chef, who cooked them for us there and then.
If you’d like to know more about us, or if you’d like to start planning your fishing and shooting holiday of a lifetime, contact us today. You can speak to our friendly team on 01603 407596 or via email at email@example.com.