I’ve been representing several companies on stands on angling shows around the country over the years but most of them have been ‘down south’ where, for some reason, the organisers seem to think that there’s more anglers willing to visit. After working on the Angling Publications stand representing Carpword and Crafty Carper magazines for several years I’m now free to visit shows just as a customer, apart from popping along to see my friends at Skretting!
In February there’s a huge angling show at Event City, Manchester. For those of you who don’t know, this is a massive venue right next to the Trafford Centre shopping complex just off the M60. It’s on the weekend of Sat, Feb 24 and Sun, Feb 25 and the Skretting team will be attending. The show is multi-discipline so no matter what your branch of angling, coarse, sea, game, carp etc. there will be plenty to keep you interested. As usual there’ll be plenty of ‘names’ to see, both on the stands and on the stage areas so if you fancy an hour or two having a chat with the top anglers you can do so. Over the last couple of years this show has grown into one of the biggest in the UK and it’s a cracking day out.
The Skretting team will be offering some great deals on their stand with 25kg sacks and bait buckets of various pellets on offer. Last year they virtually sold out on the first day and had to arrange for a re-supply, that’s how good the deals were!
Next up is The Big One, which is on the weekend of March 24-25 at Farnborough. This is one of the southern shows which takes place at Farnborough International which is situated south west of London, close to Junction 4 of the M3. As usual there’ll be a whole host of guest ‘celebrity’ anglers on hand to chat too and, at the time of writing, there are nearly 140 stands booked so it’ll take you a full day to just walk around.
The Skretting team will be in attendance on stand 28A and, once again, they’ll be offering advice as well as some cracking deals on pellets so why not pop along and stock up on your favourite pellet? Oh, and you can also check out the barrows on the other stands to take your pellets back to the car!
NEW YEAR FISHING
I’ve been out on the bank twice up to now this year. Both times in weather that’s been very mixed, with frost, snow, rain, wind and sunshine all being in evidence during the sessions.
My first trip out was in the first week of January where John and I decided we’d had enough of watching the telly and we fancied a night on the bank. To be honest I had to coax John out as he wasn’t really keen. The weather forecast was pretty mixed but it looked like the rain was going to hold off, so off we went.
On arrival at the lake we found it completely devoid of other anglers – possibly they thought anyone would be mad to go out fishing at this time of the year – so we popped into two swims which we rarely fish because they’re usually the first to go. The fact they’re next to the car park and toilet may have something to do with it! Truthfully though, they’re cracking swims as they face several snaggy areas where the fish hold court at any time of the year, but especially in winter.
The only problem for me in fishing this area is that it’s festooned with lost rigs and line. I’m never happy with the way some anglers seem to treat losing a rig and a load of line as ‘just one of those things’. It’s not, as it’s dangerous to both the fish and a real nuisance for other anglers. With a bit of care it won’t happen but I suppose, accidents will happen, even to the best of us. On a work party at the end of last year John and I retrieved literally dozens of rigs from the trees and hundreds of yards of lost line from the area but we only scratched the surface.
Anyway, we set up in the two swims, cast out and got a brew on along with our staple breakfast of sausage butties. A quick check on the Rain Today app showed that some cloud was coming our way and we could expect rain. This was surprising as only the night before it looked like we’d get away without a soaking. It wasn’t to be though and, before long, we were back in our bivvies whilst a storm of hail, sleet and rain battered us. Not a great start!
Overnight the skies cleared and everything around us froze solid. The bivvy looked like an igloo with all the blobs of rain frozen and a white haze over everything. The water, luckily, didn’t freeze and I was very surprised when, at 1.30am, I had the first fish of the year. It turned out to be a small carp of around 9lb. It had taken my pop-up boilie from right under a tree on the far bank where I’d cast a PVA bag full of Skretting Protec pellets and just a couple of boilies.
I could believe what happened next. As I was bringing the fish in from the far side of the lake, the heavens opened and it started bucketing down. Where that came from I’ve no idea as one minute there was a clear sky, frozen banks and frost on the rods, the next it’s pouring down! Such was the force (and coldness) of the downpour that I just unhooked the carp in the net and set it free to get back to its mates. I was soaked in seconds and I just couldn’t be bothered to take a picture so back the fish went. I didn’t even bother putting the rod back out, I was so cold and wet.
The next morning John thought it was a really funny story! He’d had a quiet night with nothing to show for it but a cracking sleep. I can’t say I didn’t envy him to be honest.
The next week I was out on my own as John ‘claimed’ he’d hurt his back. I put the word claimed in quotes because, to be honest, I doubted his excuse. I got the impression he’d had enough the week before and didn’t want to appear ‘soft’ and dip out on the session, but decided his back was a good excuse.
The weather this trip was a lot kinder, almost like autumnal to be truthful. Ok, it was cold, but there was no wind and I was lovely and warm ensconced in my bivvy. Once again, I decided to fish down near the car park as there were no other anglers present. However it wasn’t long before two other anglers joined me in the next swims and I thought that having three anglers all fishing close together towards the same area was a little too much, so I moved swims.
I called John for his thoughts and we both agreed that a move further up the bank would be wise. It wasn’t that I thought there’d be fish further up the lake – I was pretty much convinced that the snag areas would still be the best place to fish – it was just that I wanted a little peace and quiet and I did think that maybe the odd fish would be in a deeper area I knew of in another part of the lake.
The move didn’t take long – partly because I’d forgotten my bivvy, my water bottle and my landing net. You may think ‘how the heck can you forget all that lot?’ You’d be right! Normally I get all my gear ready the night before a session but, in this case, I had some work to do first thing so didn’t get the gear ready until just as I was leaving. Not much of an excuse, I know, but my mind wasn’t really 100% on fishing and, for some obscure reason, I just didn’t pack up properly. My wife, Julie, kindly brought the gear round for me later in the day and I borrowed a spare landing net from another angler, just in case, before mine arrived. I was really surprised that Julie even volunteered to bring the kit too me but she did tell me she was going shopping and it wasn’t much out of her way to drop the kit off. I guess I can’t complain about the shopping!
On the bank the session went really well. I got the baits out first time, right where I wanted them, the weather was kind and the seagulls were leaving me alone long enough for me to get a few boilies out with the throwing stick. The main problem, I reckon, was that if there were any fish within a hundred yards of me, they weren’t interested in having a nibble, and the session passed without even a bleep. I did manage to ready the new book from one of my favourite novelists, Lee Child, though! I do read a lot of books, unlike John, who prefers to listen to the radio. The Midnight Line was another in the Jack Reacher series and I’m always eager to read about his adventures as soon as another book comes out. This was one of the best I’ve read recently.
So, that’s it for angling at the moment. I’m off to London to see the show Hamilton this weekend plus I’ve had a lot of work to do in my job as manager of a theatre so fishing is off the radar for a week or two. We’re on the right side of the long nights now so, hopefully, I’ll be out and about in a week or two and I’ll going to start looking at a new homemade bait, based around Skretting pellets, more of which I’ll report about soon.
TOP WINTER TIP
Regular readers will know that I do use a lot of PVA bags and I’m very careful which ones I use. I import mine in bulk from China and I sell them in my eBay shop. I hunted around for a long time before I found this company. They make them to my own specification because many of the ‘off the shelf’ stock in China is made for warmer climes so don’t dissolve completely in our cold winters, leaving a sticky glob of residue behind. So, it’s well worth checking out whether your PVA bags, string or tape does actually dissolve completely in cold water. You can check it out by putting a jug of water in the fridge for an hour or two, then placing a complete rig with PVA bag in it and watching what happens. You may well be surprised!
Secondly, when PVA dissolves it actually contracts. If you put a stringer of boilies out without a gap in between the baits you may find that the string contracts as it starts to dissolve and pulls the baits together. This can stop the water getting to the baits and so they don’t actually separate. You can easily end up with several boilies all joined together by un-dissolved PVA! The same goes for PVA tape and even bags so it’s well worth taking a bit of extra care to make sure the water can get to the PVA to dissolve it and that the PVA itself will dissolve in the water temperature.