THIS year’s Chatsworth Angling Fair, held over the weekend of May 22 and 23, will be the 25th in the event’s history – and looks likely to be the biggest and best yet.
The many stars of the sport helping to celebrate the silver jubilee by demonstrating at the fair will include John Wilson, world famed for his immensely popular TV programmes on angling. In front of the crowds in the coarse fishing grandstand, he hopes to catch chub from the River Derwent, which runs through the show grounds.
Among others taking part in the fair – held on the Chatsworth House estate near Bakewell, Derbyshire – are such big names as: Bob Nudd, four times world match champion, who will demonstrate pole fishing; top carp ace Chris Ball; last year’s Pike Angler of the Year, Colin Goodge; Austrian-born Günter Feuerstein, recognised world-wide as one of Continental Europe’s most skilled and innovative fly-casters; and three outstanding European fly-tyers, Skuli Kristinsson from Iceland, Jens Pilgaard (Denmark), and Bart Reitsma (the Netherlands).
For sea anglers, it is expected that the aces offering demonstrations and tuition in surf-casting – some of them able to cast up to an awesome length of 300 metres – will include members of the England team who won the international casting championships in Italy last September.
“As shown by this wide range of interests,” said organiser Christopher Lloyd Owen, “one of the great strengths of the Chatsworth Angling Fair is that we cater for all aspects of the sport – and not only in the demonstrations. The trade exhibitors, too, display fishing tackle that meets every conceivable need; whether exclusive items or more general gear, they offer many products never seen before, as well as bargains galore, at all levels of pocket.
“We have established that Chatsworth is the largest outdoor event of its kind in the world. There are others which are bigger overall, of course, but they are either under cover or have angling as only part of their features. Ours is the only open-air fair of its size which is devoted solely to angling.
“Another of Chatsworth’s unique aspects is that, as shown by John Wilson’s hope of landing chub there, the demonstrators perform on live waters. So the spectators in the riverside grandstands always have the possibility of seeing fish caught from their natural environment.”
To mark the silver jubilee, next May’s show is being themed as an Opportunities Fair, bringing together several of the principal strands from its previous years – notably, Women and Angling, enhancing facilities for disabled anglers, and encouraging more young people to take up the sport.
This last campaign, coupled with details of programmes to coach young anglers, will be the principal subject of a stand at the fair to be run by the National Federation of Anglers, exhibiting at Chatsworth for the first time.
There will also be a return visit by teenagers from Co. Durham who have become angling all-rounders, able to catch fish in every season throughout the year, thanks to their training under PC Mick Watson’s award-winning “Get Hooked on Fishing” scheme.
In addition, a small group of outstanding young game anglers, one of them only 14, will be staging a demonstration with the amusingly cheeky title of “Showing the oldies how….”
The fair is open from 0800 to 1830 daily. Entrance is £8 on the day, but only £7 for applications received by not later than May 14.* Coach parties of 30 or more can also obtain a 20 per cent discount.
Children aged 14 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Car parking is also free – and you can go to and from your car as often as you wish, without having to pay for re-admission.
* For early applications, cheques made out to “Chatsworth Angling Fair” should be sent, with s.a.e., to: Christopher Lloyd Owen, The Country Fair Office, Litcham Farm House,
Chris Sandford, recognised as one of the world’s leading experts on vintage tackle, offers a free service to Chatsford visitors. If you bring him old pieces of fishing gear that puzzle you – perhaps some you inherited from a grandfather or other elderly relative, for instance – he will not only try to identify them but also give you an idea of their likely value to collectors when sold at auction.
With more than 100,000 readers monthly for his regular newspaper and magazine articles on the subject, Chris won’t charge you for this advice. He asks only that, if people visiting his stand at the fair are satisfied with what he has said, they should make a donation to “Sparkes” (Sport Aiding Medical Research for Kids).
Referring to the amazing collection of collectors’ items displayed on his stand, Chris jokes that the Chatsworth Angling Fair’s 25-year history is too recent for him, in tackle terms. But he promises that he will be showing plenty of rods, reels and angling ephemera that date back a hundred and twenty-five years!
FAMILY DAY OUT
As further enhancement of the silver jubilee celebrations, the organisers are putting renewed emphasis on the Chatsworth fair as a Family Day Out – with plenty to interest all members, even if they are not anglers. Besides meal tents, fish cookery demonstrations and a band stand, there is even a bouncy castle within the show grounds to enable the youngest members of the family to let off steam.
Other attractions to entertain non-anglers are only a few minutes’ walk from the fair – such as tours of Chatsworth House, the Duke & Duchess of
Speaking of fish cookery demonstrations…. Yet another unique feature of the Chatsworth Angling Fair is that visitors can not only see a top-class chef at work, but also get him to give them the details of many great fish recipes…. and there and then taste some of the mouth-watering dishes he has just cooked.
Here is the kind of delicious recipe you might experience at the show:
Gâteau of Sole and Salmon
Four fillets of sole
Two nice fillets of salmon
2 measures of vermouth
Half-pint double cream
1. Thinly slice the salmon fillets and layer them in a mould with the sole.
2. Place in a deep frying pan, add the vermouth and a little water, and cover with foil.
3. Put on the stove and bring to boil; turn down and simmer for five minutes.
4. Remove the sole and salmon, and reduce the liquid. Add the cream and reduce by half.
5. Add the prawns. Put the sole and salmon in centre of a plate, pour the sauce around them and garnish as required.
Austrian-born, Günter last demonstrated at the 1996 Chatsworth fair, when he was only 31, and aroused enormous interest in his exceptional casting ability and unusual techniques. Since then, he has become known world-wide and has created several new casting techniques which have found their way into modern fly fishing, for both one-handed and two-handed rods – for instance, High Hauling, Snap-T, and Jump Roll.
Yet, when he started at 13, he was entirely self-taught, first by trial and error and then merely by watching others. His own first technique was developed from the style originated on the River Traun by the great Hans Gebetsroither, who attracted students (including such personalities as the hotelier Charles Ritz) from all over the globe.
Now based in Switzerland, where he runs an international fly fishing school, Günter is frequently consulted by universities and fishery boards for his practical knowledge of trout and grayling.
For his return visit to Chatsworth this May, his demonstration from the game fishing platform is entitled simply as “European casting styles”, which he describes in these terms:
“Their basis is a form of oval casting – the elbow follows an oval movement – in which the shoulder does the main work and your rod ends at your elbow. The rod is held with the forefinger (instead of the thumb) on top of the handle, in a slight sideways position – there is no overhead casting. This makes it easier to perform the ‘trick’ casts that are necessary in fast-flowing Alpine rivers.”
OTHER PERSONALITIES AT THE FAIR
Colin Goodge. A legend in the Fens, from which he rarely strays for his fishing, Colin was born near the Great Ouse and had his first experience of tricky water conditions in 1947, aged three, when he and his two older brothers had to be shipped out to higher ground because of floods! He began fishing at a very early age, starting with perch and then moving on to pike. His personal best locally was just over 26lb and his ambition is to catch what he describes as “that rare beast”, a Fenland pike topping 30lb. Actively involved with the Pike Anglers’ Club since 1977, he was a founder-member of its branch for the Ely/Fenland region and last year was voted Pike Angler of the Year.
Skuli Kristinsson, Jens Pilgaard and Bart Reitsma, three top-rank specialists who will be displaying their skills in the Chatsworth fair’s Fly Tying Marquee.
Skuli, a 42-year-old Icelander, is camp manager for a big angling club on one of his country’s best salmon rivers. Most of his salmon flies are tied on small treble hooks, size 12 or 14 – which, he says, work as well in UK waters as they do in Iceland.
Jens, from Denmark, has been tying flies for 18 years and owns a company which sells fly-tying feathers all over the world. He is a familiar name to readers of Fly-Fishing & Fly-Tying magazine, particularly for articles about his “Origami Wings”.
Bart, as befits someone from the Netherlands, likes fishing for rudd, roach and other white fish as well as for trout and sea trout. He tends to concentrate on tying flies, mostly nymphs and little streamers, which are quick to make – and which he knows from experience will work effectively. Above all, he is ever-willing to learn from others…. so he will welcome any new ideas that visitors to his stand would like to suggest to him.
Enquiries: Christopher Lloyd Owen, The Country Fair Office, Litcham Farm House, King’s Lynn PE32 2PB. Tel. 01328-701133. Fax: 01328-700488. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org