I got back home last night after another outstanding Game Fair - with this kind of huge event you have to say well done to all the people who are involved in organising this kind of thing. Where one would start with planning something like the CLA Game Fair I can only guess, but can you imagine how excited those people must feel to see so many visitors enjoying themselves over the three days. It's going to be at Blenheim Palace on the last weekend of July 2011, and I will be there if the CLA decide to ask me back to do my stuff. Hope so, I just love these shows.
I did a bunch of demonstrations with Nick Hart on the Fishing Grandstand, and on each of the three days we seemed to get a really good audience who even clapped when we finished. Huge thanks to all the people who took time out from their day out to come and see us talking about lure and fly fishing. It's great fun being on the platform and doing the demos, but the only problem is that we can never see what it's actually like to watch them. Obviously !!
Part of the fun for me is the chance to catch up with so many people who work in the recreational fishing industry. I got to talk to friends from all over the world. Lots and lots of fishing chat as you would imagine. I work in fishing, so perhaps I am a little biased, but this industry really does have a lot of very cool people working in it. For guys like me who work so much on their own, the Game Fair is a great chance to catch up and also put faces to names of people I might never get the opportunity to see.
Much as it is actually called the Game Fair, without a doubt there is more and more interest at the show in all kinds of fishing. Mick Ward was over from his Mr. Fish tackle shop in Jersey to do some demonstrations and he was outstanding. Just as I thought he would be. People were so impressed with his depth of knowledge, and also the easy, approachable way he put it across.
I have wanted to meet a fishing journo called Mike Thrussell for ages now, and over the weekend I finally got the chance. What a thoroughly nice guy. Just an outstanding bloke to yap fishing with, and I really hope that our paths cross again someday soon. Mike was there with the DHP lot, and I have to say that it was excellent to have a magazine group actually at the Game Fair. I also caught up with an old friend called Roger Mortimore. Very cool. I will never forget how he went out of his way to help me out some years ago now, and I am so pleased what he now the Deputy Editor for Total Sea Fishing magazine. Roger is also seriously getting into his photography - have a look at the current front cover of Nathan Taylor holding a bass. That's Roger's photo. Nice one !!
Great to see a bunch of guys from B.A.S.S. as well - they told me that interest levels over the three days were really good. The new chairman Ian is a serious fishing junkie, and just a really fantastic guy as well - if you ever get to meet him, ask him about bass fishing in Ireland and striped bass fishing in the US. Watch his eyes roll around his head. He's got it bad !! I am hugely proud to be a member of B.A.S.S. - if you have any interest in making the seas a better place for fish in general, please think about joining up here. And try to come along to their AGM as well, because it's blast.
The guys and girls working on the Bass Lures stand seemed to be pounding busy every time I walked past - they have a tank in which they demonstrate loads of different lures all the time, and their stand was just a great place to take a look at hard and soft lures in action. Plus yap fishing of course !! They also had some interesting rods, reels and accessories. I also found some anglers who read this blog lurking around as well, trying to imply to me that no, they did not have any kind of a problem with nice shiny lures !! You know who you are, very cool to catch up. I might have a minor problem, I admit that, but there are anglers who have it worse than me out there. At least I think so. Acceptance is half the cure.......
But the best bit about these kinds of events for me is getting the chance to meet regular anglers - people like you and me. OK, so some people come up to me to kindly say hi because they have seen my (often repeated, sorry) TV programmes, but once they have realised that I am just the same as them (fishing junkie, TV was something I fell into almost by mistake), then we get the chance to talk. I love it. People are so kind. But it is not about me one bit. Every year it seems to me that I get to meet more and more kids who are into fishing - both boys and girls, plus also female anglers.
Blokes like us will always be into fishing. But the future of this sport is the younger anglers, and fishing also so badly needs to attract more women into the sport. I can not tell you how much it means to me when I get to meet all kinds of people who are into fishing. I met a fantastic family up from Cornwall for the day for example, and their two young daughters are really into fishing. I was hugely honoured that they came over to me and spent some time talking. Simply outstanding. Makes my day like you can not believe to meet youngsters who have got the fishing bug.
Fishing can often come across as some kind of macho, almost male-only sport at times, but it is not the way forward at all. Fishing is for everybody. Look at the England Ladies Flyfishing Association for example. I even met various brave women who admitted to me that they had watched some of my programmes and looked at this website. You have my thanks and respect in a big way. One particular girl I met for example is a complete fly fishing junkie. She and her boyfriend save up and take themselves off on fly fishing adventures together - sadly I did not get to meet him because he was away flying (pilot), but hopefully I will one of these days. They just sound like such an awesome couple to me. Emma told me that her ultimate dream was to go and fish on Cosmoledo, one of the most famous outer atolls of the Seychelles. Perfect. I took her over to meet Arno Matthee on the Aardvark McLeod stand. I hope this couple get the chance to go there one day.
But I will tell you about my most favourite thing over the three days - tucked away in a corner of the lake were a bunch of professional angling coaches who had freely given up there time to come along and show kids what fishing was all about. The lake was crawling with carp, bream etc., and these fantastic people were working their socks off all day long as girls and boys came and sat down and caught fish under their watchful eyes. I watched as one young girl caught here first five fish in a row. Humbling. The smile on her face said it all. I believe they had over 90 youngsters come along and fish on Saturday alone. There was no charge to do this. All the guys involved were there on their own time, working with the youngsters to help them catch fish and perhaps help some of these kids "find" their own lifelong fascination with fishing. It's people like this who deserve a serious amount of respect and thanks. I even managed to catch my first fish on a pole, but enough said about my lack of fishing skills on that front the better !! What a great three days.