Sunday was the first day of the two day Tackle and Guns Show for the tackle trade. That meant heading back down at Stoneleigh where I'd been for the PAC Convention a few weeks ago. It's a good day out, partly to see what's new in the tackle world and make new contacts, but as much to meet up with old friends - and Neville Fickling.
As usual there wasn't a lot setting the fishing world alight. Lots of 'new' bait and firms bringing out their version of existing products. Fex do indeed have a multiplier coming out. It's a smallish low profile reel in both left hand wind and right. The fact that they are dropping a lot of their large pike lures and introducing a range of small and medium sized hard plastic baits, some small soft plastics and a range of nice feeling light lure rods suggests to me that the European market is where their real sights are set. They'll also be able to target the lure dabbler in the UK with this sort of stuff. I guess a mass market makes more sense to a big firm than selling specialised niche products like big jerkbaits. The rods were actually quite tempting for perch. Really soft tips with a bit of steel lower down. I didn't like the handles though.
I spent some time on the Hopkins and Holloway stand and discovered there is still no sign of the trigger grip reel seats I'm waiting for. They had some interesting new handle fittings to look at, and a 50mm guide for people who like training hamsters to jump through hoops.
The new products that most impressed me were possibly the smallest on show. New fake maggots and corn! The Enterprise maggots catch fish, but they are not a very convincing imitation. The ones that Anchor are launching under the Carp Logic brand are something else. On the stand they had a couple of tubs filled with them, sneakily dusted in maize flour, and apart from them not wriggling they almost had me fooled. The corn looks like any other fake corn, but both baits are very slow sinking. I managed to blag a pack of each, so the tench will be having a look at them next spring!
The Korum stand had a few new items that I hope to be playing with soon. Their big, heavy open-end feeders look the absolute dogs. Pity they only go up to five ounces... The smaller ones should be good for chubbing too. I might have to scrounge a selection along with a tripod and some other goodies.
After a couple of hours walking round in circles, and chatting to people I was in the car park a little earlier than I'd planned where I spotted one of the saddest personalised number plates I've seen for a while. I had to snap a piccy.
Time to hit the road and head up the A38 to the Trent and the stretch where I can park by the river. The first time I fished there the river was up about four feet on what I found this time. It looked totally different. There was one guy trotting a float down a nice big crease sheltered from the strong wind, and another fishing the tip further upstream on a straight. I had a chat with the second guy and he was moaning that it was hard work because it was too windy and there were a lot of leaves coming down. When I saw he was casting downstream to the middle of the river I wasn't surprised he was struggling to hold out for long.
I droppered some pellets into the same swim I fished last time as there was a crease and some shelter from any debris coming down the main flow. Before I had my second rod rigged up I'd had a chub rattle. The leaves didn't bother my rigs, but neither did any more fish.
Out of the wind it was a really warm day. The air temperature was 14.5 and the river 11.7. Very promising. Nonetheless I only gave it a couple of hours then put my gear in the car to drive the length looking for a new spot.
Despite looking at a few swims I didn't really fancy any of them. I parked up and walked the downstream section. I kept telling myself I'd just look round the next bend and ended up a long way from the car. This wasn't good for my hip which started grumbling. There was something nagging me to go and have a try for one of my latest capture's big sisters. An hour and a half later I was loading myself up like a Sherpa for the walk to the swims I fancied. There was one car parked up, so I guessed the 'Rat Hole', a noted producer of big barbel, would be occupied. Sure enough it was. By a pike angler! I carried limping on to my second choice swim. At least I knew the piker would be gone when it went dark.
One bait went downstream and close in, the other across to a bush. The level was down about six inches on Thursday and some colour had dropped out, but I was still confident. Nothing had happend before dusk then as I was thinking it might be time for the head torch to go on my head I heard a whoosh-whooshing coming upriver. Before I could take evasive action the rod fishing across the river flew round and the baitrunner whirred madly. I managed to flick the line off the young swan with no harm done and recast.
An hour into dark and I still wasn't happy. Into the Rat Hole - which proved devoid of rats, thankfully. With one bait to the overhanging willow downstream and one on the upstream crease I settled in for the duration. Zip. Nada. Nowt. By ten the wind chill, although the wind was warm, was making me think of home. So I put the brolly up. That was more like it. An hour later and I was about to sit down after stretching my legs by walking round the brolly and the swim lit up with red flashing lights and a high pitched whine filled the air. Yes, I had put my bite alarms on as I thought I might nod off having been up and about from early doors.
I conected with an obviously not-too-big barbel which charged around the swim, including around my other line a couple of times. There was a right mess to sort out before I unhooked the fish. Such was the tangle that I managed to cut the wrong line to let me lift the net ashore. The fish (which was about ten pounds lighter than I was hoping for from the swim) was released, and fifteen minutes later I had two more baits in the water.
There was heavy cloud cover keeping the air temperature up but no sign of rain. I could happily have stopped until dawn if it hadn't been for a lack of food and drink. At midnight I turned into a pumpkin and packed up. The walk back to the car did me no favours and I was walking like a sheep with foot rot - limp for a few yards then stop, limp for a few yards then stop. You get the picture. Sheep have the advantage that they can save face by nibbling some grass each time they pause so it doesn't look like they're in pain. Sheep are sensitive about these things... The thermometer in the car read a positively balmy 14.0.