Anyone who tried to acquire a beach tripod last summer will know too well that they were, at times, rarer than a double figure cod. With our restrictions being lifted again over the coming weeks, we explore the pending outlook for kit and bait as we all prepare to get back out there to indulge in the passion we love.
Here at Essex Anglers we are blessed with our very kind sponsors The Tacklebox, and now welcome Colchester Bait and Tackle as new local sponsors alongside The Tacklebox specifically for those local anglers who are seeking a traditional, drop in experience when seeking advice, bait and equipment right in the middle of our county. I spoke with Kevan, the owner today about the life of a tackle shop owner and his excitement and fears about the past, current and future outlook for the industry.
Kev’s background was as a serious coarse match angler with over 40-years experience, whilst earning a living in IT. A decade ago the shop came up for sale and Kev made the leap to live his dream as the owner of the shop.
So Kevan; tell me about the shop evolution over the past decade?
There has been an explosion in carp fishing – people have gone crazy for equipment and variants of all types of tackle and baits – we could fill the shop with carp baits alone. The old days of a waggler, peacock quill and maggots are gone. Now, coarse fishing and especially carp fishing is all about complexity, carrying a lot of equipment and seeking venues that make carp catching almost inevitable rather than a rarity. We have had to adapt the shop to cater for this
And what has this meant for fishing more broadly?
There has been a decline in match fishing, less people seeking to catch fish on natural waterways. Almost all younger anglers coming into the fresh water sport are focusing on the commercial carp lakes, seeking bigger fish and bigger volumes. We are seeing the old style coarse fishermen gravitating towards sea fishing now where the sport is more aligned to natures twists and turns
So what about reels and rods, has much changed there?
Reel technology is mostly cosmetic with smaller changes in the mechanics. Rods however have changed massively in terms of improved quality and reduced price. A rod which would cost over £200 a few years ago now costs £30 for similar quality. Yes the top end rods are still very expensive and amazing in quality, using top notch carbon wraps, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get what would a few years ago to have been seen as very good equipment indeed.
Turning to sea fishing, how has this changed?
Certainly not so much revolution in terms of baits, as the natural worm, crab and fish still dominate the demand. Squid has become a mainstream option for essex anglers whereas a few years back it was a side bait.
Rods have hardly changed at all at the high-end of the market, however the cheaper and especially the mid-range rods and reels have improved massively and deliver great value for money
The problem with sea fishermen is that they all want to catch cod. We are not sure in truth why the cod have gone away and so few are catch these days. What we are seeing is the summer months being much more productive now with decent bass and we hope more of the sharks turning the summer months into a recreational bonanza. We are seeing virtually zero sea fishermen turning to course angling and a very solid growth in younger anglers being introduced to sea fishing by their parents, and sea fishing being as popular now as it has been for decades.
So taking that further, last summer saw shortages of tackle and bait stocks, will it be different in 2021?
Both the on-line tackle shops and the traditional physical shops have done extremely well on the back of the boom in fishing due to Covid. At our shop we see our customers looking for advice and guidance wether they are new to the sport or seeking to upgrade their equipment. Our ability to supply high quality fresh baits draws people to the shop regularly so we build up an intimate relationship and can of course provide current knowledge of where and how fish are being caught.
We have been busy investing in significant volumes of stock over the winter to try to prevent shortages of equipment like we saw last year; but with container costs increasing 500% we are seeing far less equipment being imported to the extent that we see maybe 40% of stocks in place in the supply chain compared to a normal year. Compound this up with increased demand, 2021 will again sadly be a year where stocks will inevitably run low.
For the carp guys, boileys will be in short supply as will pellets, and for both sea and fresh water we expect to see big shortages of terminal tackle, rods, reels and tripods. Thankfully the shop was very nicely stocked but for those thinking about and significant purchases this year; get in quick.
So there you have it – as the country wakes up when lockdown restrictions ease the frenzy of demand for fishing equipment and baits is going to squeeze supply as it did last year, or more likely to an even greater degree. I bought another boat rod just in case…