Angling: Carp specialist’s venture is bucking national trend

Ben Horner
Ben Horner
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THE golden era of fishing was, to me, just after the 1939-45 conflict when the Leeds club could boast of over 8,000 members and there seemed to be a shop selling fishing tackle on almost every street corner.

In these days anglers flocked to our local rivers – the Wharfe, Nidd and Swale – every weekend, and they needed to be catered for.

Shops sprang up all over the place, but few of them were specialist as the majority were sports shops which sold a few accessories and a bit of bait as a sideline.

A typical example of this was Wainwrights, next to Leeds bridge.

I wrote an article about this many years ago and my research showed that in the post-war period there were around 60 shops in Leeds to cater for the angler.

In the city centre there were quite a few and older readers will remember shops such as Jack King, Harry Thomas, Sid Sheldon and Harold Sherman – all situated a few minutes’ walk from my home on Woodhouse Lane.

But over the years most of these have closed down.

At the last count I could find only about eight within the city boundaries.

And the main complaint from the few smaller ones that have survived is that they cannot compete with the ‘big boys’ on price as the large companies buy in bulk, which means they can command bigger discounts from tackle suppliers. Gear can then be sold on to anglers the length and breadth of the country at much-reduced prices

Another big reason for the demise as far as I can see is mail order and the internet where prospective buyers can search for the best terms.

When you think that 60 or so years ago the average shop was a one-man business who stocked just a few essentials compared to today’s businesses. Take the Leeds Bobco set-up, for instance, which caters for every aspect of our sport be it coarse, sea or game.

The place is huge and covers more space than my local supermarket and employs around 10 specialists full-time to cope with the trade.

So I got a big surprise recently when a friend told me that a new business had opened up not far from my home; the other day I paid them a visit. It is situated on Crossgates Road close to the bingo hall.

Now, this shop does have a slight difference. It is aptly named The Carp Bait Shop and that is the only product that is for sale – no tackle at all apart from a few floats. The shop has been open for only a few weeks and the owner is a young man named Michael Hardner.

After introducing himself, he told me that he was a life-long devoted carp angler and to finance the business he had sold his lucrative window-cleaning round and added this to his life savings which raised enough capital to stock the new shop with every bait imaginable.

The shelves groan with the weight of ground baits, pellets and boilies. He also sells worms, maggots and casters at very competitive prices.

The new enterprise is open seven days a week.

I wish him well in his new venture – he deserves it for the effort that he is putting in.

Yarnbury Angling Club fished the last of their River Trent match series on the famous roadside length at Burton Joyce.

The river was running low and clear but that didn’t stop the Leeds match groups’ impressive returns. Keighley’s Ben Horner fished the 13-metre pole with caster off peg 31. Catching steady all day he lifted the 2014 President’s Cup in style with an outstanding 23lb 10oz net of redfins. Horsforth’s roach guru Aidy Addy had to settle for second this year off peg 26. He fished the stick and mag, putting 17lb of silvers on the scales. Third was another Horsforth rod. Off the noted overflow peg 41, Gerry Hopkinson put a nice bag of roach together on the stick for 15lb. Fourth was Tinshill’s Mick Bellhouse with another double-figure net off peg 34. He put an 11lb mixed bag together.

Showing off the potential of the Aire & Calder Canal, York's Mick Potter with part of his 36-12 catch ' an impressive haul but good enough only for second place on this occasion.

Angling: Canal turns up unusual approach from Clark