CHATSWORTH ANGLING FAIR: CAN YOU BEAT THE STARS?
A CHANCE for ordinary anglers to pit their casting skills against several of the biggest names in the sport, on equal terms, will be among the unique features of this year's Chatsworth Angling Fair - to be held over the weekend of May 21-22 on the Chatsworth House estate near Bakewell, Derbyshire.
The challenge is being staged in the surf-casting section, where demonstrators from the UK team, the current world champions, will also be offering tuition to help improve each visitor's casting ability - coarse and fly fishermen as well as sea anglers. Among their "pupils" will be other ace demonstrators at the fair, who will be introduced to the art of achieving long distances in casting a plug weighing only 18 grammes - 5/8ths oz. (The world record, set in Switzerland last year by Peter Thain, from Northumberland, is 114 metres.)
Afterwards, spectators can have a try at casting even farther than the stars, with valuable tackle prizes awaiting the man, woman and Under-16 entrants who notch up the best distances. Another innovation at next May's fair will be the installation of a large screen in the Forum tent, with closed-circuit TV showing every stage of tying an artificial fly - and with the audiences able to see the expert fly-dresser's hands at work in perfect close-up detail.
There will also be a Master Class, at which individual spectators will be called up, out of the blue, and shown how to tie their own fly for the first time, from start to finish. It's all in line with a key theme at the show, which is setting out to be a "Have-A-Go" fair, with strong emphasis on encouraging audience participation.
The big-name demonstrators at Chatsworth will include world-famed TV star John Wilson, who was so enthusiastic about last year's Silver Jubilee of the annual fair that he has found time to take part in the event for the second year running. Among other great personalities present will be Bob Nudd, four times world match champion, and the much-loved "Heapsy" - Ian Heaps, also a former world title-holder.
Representatives of the "young idea" include: game star Charle Jardine's son Alex, 15, who already has a casting ability that most adult lifelong adults would envy; a team from PC Mick Watson's award-winning "Get Hooked on Fishing" scheme; and 16-year-old Lisa Isles, from Poulton-le-Fylde, one of the only girls to be enrolled in the England Youth fly fishing team, who so enchanted the crowds at last year's fair that she has been invited back by popular request.
The team ensuring non-stop demonstrations in the fly-tying marquee will have a wide international flavour. In addition to many of Britain's best-known exponents, the overseas contingent includes top-ranking fly-dressers from the Netherlands, Iceland and Denmark, as well as three from the USA. Benefiting from slightly later dates than in its early years, the fair will be open from 8.00 a.m. to 6.30p.m. daily. Entrance is £8 on the day, but only £7 for applications received by May 13.* Coach parties of 30 or more can also obtain a 20 per cent discount.
Children aged 14 and under are admitted free if accompanied by an adult. Car parking is also free, and spectators are allowed to go back and forth to their vehicles as often as they wish, without charge - particularly handy for people carrying tackle bargains they have found in the trade stands, which cater for all branches of the sport and for all levels of pocket.