I wished I was a bit more organised at times! I knew that the CLA was coming up, but as usual I left the final details and preparations until the last minuet. Instead of getting ready for the weekend away, the journey, and the packing, I decided to have a couple of days fishing on Dartmoor instead. I suppose this is what you call prioritising things. It was the first time in a week or two that the streams were back in condition and I wanted to have a last breath of freedom before a weekend of crowds.
I was looking forward to the weekend, but I wasn't looking forward to the journey though! It doesn't matter wherever you live, things are always somewhere else. I'd spoken to a couple of the guys the night before, and everyone seemed fired up for the weekend and fancied a bit of a blow-out during the evening. It is these get-together's that takes the edge off things such as the journey, queuing on the motorway, queuing to get into the show, queuing for the showers, and queuing to buy food. Again, prioritising things, I decided to clean a few lines and sort a rod out for the 'after hours' casting party. Maybe I should of been sorting my tent and sleeping bag out. They were still wet from the previous fishing trip, and I'd got to spend the next few days in them again. I just screwed everything up and stuffed it all into my bag. Job done.
I thought an early start would be the best thing. Get there early, set up, get into things and perhaps meet up with a few people who I hadn't seen for a while. 10:30am, and I'm just crawling out of bed. That was that plan scuppered! I phoned Tony Riley to see what the plan was. I expected him to say that they were all at the show and were wondering where I was? I should of known really. They were still in Cumbria and weren't ready either. The planning that some people put into such occasions, and then there's us. You wouldn't think that we do this kind of thing for a living.
We all got on the road at the same time and tried to arrive at the same time. It was one of those drives. Thirty miles into it, and I'd had enough. Only another 270 to go. I broke the journey up with a couple of latte's and munchies, and we somehow managed to arrive within fifteen minuets of each other. Madness. We couldn't of done it if we had planned it. That's the sign of a true pro. Luck! After the usual interrogation from the security staff we were in. All that we had to do now was find somewhere to camp and get the tents set up before it went dark. First things first, prioritising things again, dusk was drawing in, so we got the rod out for a cast. The tents could wait!
Casting as the sun goes down- Lee, Tony, Jim, and Clive.
After all the travelling and early starts, it wasn't long before everybody was hungry, and it was now 1:30am. I'd heard about what was about to happen. "Tony's speciality", "Cheese and Spam burgers". I though it was only troops living in trenches that ate that stuff! But how wrong I was!Theses were nicer than the things we would be charged £6.50 for in the morning inside the show. We had proper dropped on with the camping area. Casting and camping room, tunes pumping from the Astra CD player, fly lines pinging back and fourth, and Clive dancing like an uncle at a wedding. He was showing us some top of his moves from the decades. Brilliant!! I think he must of been the choreographer for the original Batman series in the 60's.
After a late night and good laugh we decided to crawl into the tents and get ready for tomorrow's grueler. I slept quite well considering my tent and bags were still wet from the previous days on the boggy moorlands. At least the weather had warmed up by morning and the sun had decided to pop out. The wake up call was from my phone. I woke up with one of those usual camping heads. You always seem to wake up half dead. Puffy faced, squinted eyes, bosting for a pee, and dying for a brew. First thing first, fire up the stove. Sort everything else out after you've finished tripping up over things such as guide-ropes, reel bags, rod tubes, boots, crates of beer and Fearnsy has he crawls out if his tent! Lee opted for the comfort of a solid, indoor apartment- (his car). And Tony!!!! The tough Northern lad. "I thought his misses had packed his furniture and fittings. Double air mattress, 2 quilts, selection of pillows, and hanging light fittings. "I'm sure there was even a chocolate on his pillow when I looked it". There were people staying in worse hotels than T's luxury travel tent. I rocked up looking like I should of been at Everest base camp. Lets just say I payed the price for comfort. It would of been OK if we had to hike in 20k to find the pitch first, But we didn't! Don't believe the hype when the salesman in the shop says "they're used by all the top mountaineers". Yeah, when they have to! I bet you don't see them at their local camp sites sleeping in a coffin and eating dried food with a plastic spoon. I bet the comfy stuff comes out for that.
The following morning the weather was good and the show was started. The show seemed quiet to start off with, but soon began to get busy. By 11am I was ready for a snooze. It's always good to play out till late at night, but I'm realising the older I'm getting the more I pay the next day! It was good to meet up with a few old faces, and catch up with them. The day drifted by, and before we knew it, it was teatime and the rods came out for another session. These show weekends can be relentless. Non stop casting and fishing chat. I couldn't of asked to be in better company than the guys from Rio. Not only are they some of the best anglers and fly casters around, there is also the friendship element. We are all longstanding mates, and would do anything for each other. Like any other show that I've attended with the guys, I came home with a head full of new thoughts and ideas to play around with. I also managed to come home with a new 5 weight Sage TCX which was a bonus. That should keep me busy for a while, along with a few new Rio lines to string through it.
I've got a few days up on the moors again next week. But when I return, I will put the rod through its paces and let you know the outcome. I think I already know what it is, but I think its only fair that I spend a few weeks casting with it. The weather is picking up again and who wouldn't want to?
AAPGAI & Rio crew chilling after a hard day!