Hi all, it’s good to see so many catch reports coming in, now that night fishing is back on and the days are getting longer. It’s been a busy month for me, only allowing me to get two nights in on the Pits so far this year, which I’ll come back to. It’s likely to stay that way for a bit longer with R&D meetings, and filming with both Wolf and DTbaits. I’m now doing a monthly blog both on the Wolf page and the DT Baits page as well! Trying to keep topical is always difficult for me as I do tend to wander…but I wanted to talk about the fishing industry this issue, as it does crop up occasionally as folk ask how things happened for me with this and I have been asked more than once how to make a living in fishing itself. There is another reason for this piece, a very dear friend of mine passed away last week and it had a very deep effect on me, I heard the news while I was fishing, it knocked the stuffing out of me I can tell you, I just packed up and went home. We met once a week for many years for a pint or two. During the last lockdown I would drop him off a bottle of his favourite Port and we have a quick nip and chat, I think he knew then what was coming then. We spoke about many topics over the years, he wasn’t really interested in fishing itself but we often spoke about business in its different forms. He often said I should write about business more, to help others, so this is memory of you Ronnie, RIP.
We were talking in the Wolf office this week about things in general, mainly about products that had been developed in the past and where ideas came from. How many more ‘new’ products can be developed that carp anglers need to catch carp? When you look at the amount of stuff we take with us these days. Then again how many ‘new’ products can be developed that carp anglers will buy, now that’s a different question isn’t it? I was told by some cynical people I knew when I first joined Wolf, that the industry had changed since I left Fox some 16 years ago, and it would be difficult to bring out and market new products or create a company that will sell in an already saturated market. What they were saying it was easier in the past, well, I was responsible for the sale of millions of pounds worth of fishing tackle and all the problems that went with that level of sales, so it wasn’t that easy even back then! Early indications I am seeing are that we at Wolf have products that anglers want to use, which is a step in the right direction I feel. So, maybe it’s just companies or their business that gets stale or they just bring out products that others already have and stick on their own label, relying on their ‘brand’ to make them sell. What about bringing out products that can have their own USP, some companies still do and are good at it. At Wolf we have a number of new products lined up for the next 2 years that we feel have our own USP that will make them stand out. We aren’t going to just bring out samey type products and stick our label on it, there is no point is there? It’s a long process though, if you look at the picture of the Mozzie Zappa for example, that was in idea of mine to Wolf some 9 months ago, which I had been trying out for a year before that. After about 20 samples, numerous meetings and discussions about the technical stuff, format, colour, shape etc. Now we have a product to go to market and it is due in the shops in June, how great is that? When developing any product, one of the points to look at is selling price, its important because the cost price it takes to manufacture, ship, market, add profit plus VAT, all this must be worked out so there is an RRP for the retailer, otherwise there is no point in starting with the product. I know all this gets referred to as Carp Tax by some, but it is all part of manufacturing and selling anything, not just fishing tackle. At Wolf we are already well on with tooling with the next few products, it’s an exciting thing to be involved in, although it’s not all plaining sailing, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. This all started from an off-the- cuff discussion over a year ago, it’s funny how things work out isn’t it? The thing is, and I’ll come back to this, it was sort of planned in my mind I would be involved someway and somehow with someone, I just didn’t know who.
Fishing wise, we had the first few nights of the ‘season’ (when lockdown was lifted), we had a trip to Trent View, we knew it would be busy but just wanted to be out. Ian and his team looked after us as they always do. I had a couple of bites but lost both carp, Clint had a nice carp. It was just so great to be out though with my son Alex and good friend Clint, that first morning watching the sun come up was magical. The weather was almost spring like, being 20 degrees both days, we were in shorts and sandals. 10 days later we were at James’s water-Stickney Brick Pit and it was -5! We had snow, hail, rain, if you look at the picture of the Wolf 10-foot rods and the Icons, you can see they were coated in a thick layer of ice, what was great to see was the Icons still worked. James has worked hard to create great water there, it’s a long time since I fished somewhere that has such a great atmosphere, as the bigger pits tend not to have this. We were there mainly to film the Mozzi Zappa and the Icons for the Social Media sites, but it would have been rude not to have the rods out. Though the carp didn’t play ball at all, I don’t blame them, who would want to be out in that! Only us fools! The filming proved to be really difficult due to the conditions and the results were disappointing. So, we had to reconvene at the Wolf office a couple of weeks later and do it all again, it’s a long time since I did any filming, so I had to be coached a bit by James and Liam, who were very patient with me I have to say.
The main reason for talking about the other things I am doing, is that it has eaten into my own fishing time hugely. By now I would have expected to have had several nights fishing at the Pits and have few carp under my belt. I have had two nights and one run so far! On such an expanse of water, dropping in the right swim when there are no carp showing is difficult at the best of times, its abig set of lakes to look round in detail to say the least. I did drop on them on one of the trips, the problem on that trip was I didn’t know the swim well enough to fish the features in front of me, in setting up I partially moved the carp out. I did set up the adjustable zig on one rod and had a run just after dark, which promptly came off. Normally I fish Zigs quite a lot in the spring but this year I wanted to try a slightly different set-up, having had two runs on Zigs so far and losing both I’m not sure I’m going to continue along this line of experimentation, that’s the thing with trying different things though, isn’t it? It’s like looking for that extra bit that will really make the difference, and get those alarms singing all the time. Maybe what I was doing previously was nearer to that than I realised, maybe I was just looking for too easier an option. As I am finishing this piece I will be fishing in a couple of nights and will be reverting back to my original Zig set-up I think. I will let you know how I get on with that.
Baitwise, I am really happy with how the N-Blend from DTbaits is working out, currently I am using a mixture of chopped and whole boilies mixed with Monster Baits Nutty mix and a generous dollop of DNA, the smell is out of this world. The first time I used it I had a bite, which tells me all I need to know about future fishing with this format. DT have a great range of base mixes and additives, they have this handy sample pack, so you can have a smell and taste of each to give you an idea what to order from them, if you are unsure what bait you are going to use this year, give it a try, you won’t be disappointed. What I am trying to get into the habit of doing this year, is making my bait up the day before I go fishing and not on the bank whilst setting up, and then rushing to get the right texture and effect. When mixing up the day before, taking some time and then letting the bait mix mature for 24 hours, it has a much better effect I feel. I end up with a mixture that every little grain or crumb has attraction within it, I have gotten out of this habit in recent years, but it’s something I used to do religiously. Maybe the new bait is like new brush, it’s a sweeping clean some bad habits.
Coming back to my work with Wolf and now DT, some of you will know that many years ago I worked in the tackle industry, I worked with Fox for 5 years, before that I had some small involvement with a couple of companies, one of them been a new up and coming company called Korda…who I had to leave when I joined Fox… I left the tackle industry after what seemed like a bad business decision at that time went sour, I felt it had ruined my life and left fishing and the industry for some years. From there I went back to school and worked at setting up what is now my current business as a Financial Planner and Adviser. This has worked very well and in a couple of years I will retire and hand over the business to my daughter whom I have been training for the last four years to do just this. The thing is, I have missed been involved in the industry, not just fishing but working and being involved with all things to do with it, even the sales side, which I do happen to be good at. The reason for mentioning this is to talk about earning a living in fishing, for those who might want to aim for this, especially the younger anglers, this is quite difficult if you just want to get paid to go fishing, only a handful of anglers reach that pinnacle, though a lot think they should be there. By earning a living, I don’t just mean earning enough to go fishing, I mean earning a proper living, buying a house, car, bringing up a family etc. So, if you can’t fish well enough, or don’t get recognized for what you do catch! That doesn’t mean you can’t earn a good living within the fishing industry, there are jobs in retail, marketing, sales, I.T, Social Media etc. many years ago, I used to do the occasional lesson at places Like Sparsholt, I used to take some new products along and talk about tackle development, marketing, sales etc. Social Media wasn’t around then! The idea was to show the youngsters there that a good living could be earned and still be involved in their favourite sport. Just maybe differently to how they thought it might be. The thing is, we are all good at different things, its no-good trying to earn a living at something you are not good at whatever it is you do, that’s why there are so many unhappy people working at a job they resent in many industries, it’s just a job, they have no passion for it. So, only a select few are good enough at catching fish to get paid properly for it. So, if you are not good enough but want to work in the industry, work at something else and make your mark that way. I remember when I first start writing articles in the late nineties, Jules saying to me, ‘find your niche and work at it’, which is what I did, back then it was writing and photography, we were lucky enough to win a few big matches when they first cropped up. First BCAC winner, Fishabil Carp Match World Record Holders, being the main two. Now, I would be the first to admit that I can’t fish like that anymore, it took some real intensity to achieve those things. Maybe that’s why I enjoy all the other stuff that goes with being involved with fishing, I’m better at that now.
Coming back to how I became involved with Wolf and then DT. over the last few years, after starting to write regularly again and after visiting several shows, it was then I realised I was missing the fishing business side of things, it wasn’t really about money, it was wanting to be involved again. As I was attending shows, I started talking to some of the guys on stands, some who I knew from the past. What I did in every conversation was I asked, and I mean specifically asked if they were looking for someone or anyone to get involved in some way. I didn’t know what or how I could help, I sent messages to people I knew, I just kept asking, some answered, some didn’t, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get, that’s how I built my Financial planning business, I learned that in the early days, ask for the order, after all, it’s just business whatever you are selling. Anyway, the upshot being that I ended up talking to the guys at Wolf last year, who I knew from my Fox days. Becoming involved with Wolf, indirectly led to me joining DT, it can seem really weird how things come about. But, if I hadn’t taken those first steps by looking, then asking. I would still be attending shows and hoping to just be asked out of the blue, that’s not likely to happen to anyone is it? You have to do something to get noticed or get in front of someone. If you keep trying, it will happen, suddenly, the right time, the right place and the right fit all come together. I have mentioned in the past about having a goal or a dream and pursuing it come hell or highwater, until it is achieved. Very little is achieved simply by wishing and dreaming for things, whatever it is in life you want. You must start with a desire and then take the first step towards that desire, it doesn’t have to be a big step, but it must be a forward movement from where you are, otherwise nothing will happen. If this piece helps just one junior get the life they want, then it will have been worth writing. As usual I have gone on for far too long. Sorry for the lack of fishing talk to some of you.
May looks like been as busy as April, we have a trip to Berners Hall with DT to get to know the team and for some filming, a social trip to Trent View with Clint and a few others, then maybe get down to Horseshoe for the 40th Anniversary, where we may possibly open a few nice bottles of red wine and talk about the good old days through Rose tinted glasses. We also have more meetings and trips filming with Wolf. I only just told the wife all this! It’s costing me some major retail therapy for her to get over it! It will be worth it though I guess. I’m hoping by the time we get to the end of May; things will have settled down a bit and normal fishing will have resumed by then. Then it won’t be long until we can get across the water to France for our first foreign trip. Isn’t it great to have lots of things to look forward to?
Catch you next time and I’ll try to just talk about fishing.