Why is it that we are hell bent on making the job easier?
It seems to me that the fun in fishing lies in the time that we spend out there, a fight from any fish in-between being just reward. Ironically and possibly also crazy, but too many fish will surely spoil the experience…not that I’m averse to a blue moon session, but expectations need to be curtailed, if we are to regularly enjoy the day. After all that’s what keeps us coming back. Yet, the desire to outwit fish is only outstripped by a man’s carnal infatuations and it has spawned more outlandish inventions than can or should be patented.
This is what you’ll experience if you attend the extravaganza of fishing that is ICAST.
Overwhelming it most certainly is, here the competition is for the anglers attention, rather than anything with fins and it’s guaranteed to keep you enthralled. Fittingly it is hosted in a city designed to entertain and it certainly is the veritable Disney World for adult anglers. The suffocating humidity of Orlando is relieved by the crisp air-conditioning of the Orange County convention centre, being the sprawling complex that houses the hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of retailers looking for the next best seller.
The choice is stupefying and anyone who suffers from any kind of indecision, is going to find themselves in an absolute flat spin. It’s not a show for vacillators. There is a range of clothing that literally has it’s own climate control (no bullshit, the latest Columbia gear defies the elements completely) sunglasses that practically spot fish for you…..hail Costa, rods and reels for every occasion and more baits, lures and flies than species left to catch them on. And, the accessories would have your better half laughing in contempt at your assertion that the fashion industry is the one built on trinkets.
A hook is a hook you might assume, but let me tell you Peter Pan would have met a grisly end, had the pirate captain used these options on display, for his appendage. Think of a fishing problem and here you will find multiple dazzling solutions, in fact at this gathering there are mind boggling answers to fishing questions you didn’t even know existed.
Personalities abound, not that you’d recognise too many of them, as many of these renowned anglers are kings of the American fishing realm, real celebrities on this continent, adorned in all the regalia that big tournament fishing is famous for. This trade show can be loosely devided into 3 categories-: The Large Mouth Bass brigade, and I’m referring to the species here, replete in full colour, larger and in some cases louder than life. The too cool fly fishing fraternity, who condescendingly beggar belief that there is any other way to catch a fish, and the hard core salt dogs that personify big game fishing in both well nourished physique and temperament. In reality there’s a whole range of anglers and their specialities, but you would have to dig down to garnish these details and I think it’s important to take the piss out of our own stereotypes.
The organisation in typical yankee fashion is smooth, it’s all laid on, and the southern hospitality sets a benchmark that every nation should learn from…everyone seems genuinely interested in how your day and stay is…and fine is not a good enough answer. Take a bow Florida, as you make the sunshine look positively grumpy. I found myself thanking everyone at any chance meeting and breaking into simple minded broad grins when approaching a shop assistant or waitress. A habit I fear might be met with, at best suspicion and in some regions of our country, merciless predation.
It was a stark contrast to my European excursion the week before to Efftex, the poorer cousin of tackle trade shows understandably, due to market size, yet the analogy speaks to the lack of energy accompanying this event hosted in the beautiful city of Budapest. I had made the mistake of routing via Paris, where regardless of your cheery disposition, you will soon fall prey to the this cultures disdain of anything not French. You're forced to repeat any question three times to anyone in the service industry, as they retort rapid fire in their mother tongue, until in feigned recognition, they finally acknowledge your request and answer in perfect English. Clearly, Napoleon is not forgotten and the humility deserved from being liberated by the West is.
I took a train via Zurich, without opening an account, and through Austria to Budapest, experiencing both the military efficiency and reserved politeness of the Swiss. I don’t think they dislike any other nation as much as they recognise the need to tolerate second rate citizens. Whatever you do, never ask an Austrian stewardess for a cork screw as the number of “Nein’s "might take you back and remind you of a less than glorious figure in this nations’ history.
But Budapest is worth the journey, it’s a great destination to lure the angling industry to and it’ s an event for the bait feeders, lovers of coarse fishing, of which Carp is King. The balance of exhibitors cater to the game fishing addicts, of which the lure segment justifiably dominates the fly. Little fanfare accompanies this show, it’s as practical as fishing can be, not to take anything away from the professional manner in which everything is conducted. I suppose it’s indicative of the comparatively reserved nature of the participants, but then again a Las Vegas hooker could be accused of being conservative next to the average red necked angler. Us 'Rooi
Quaint restaurants on cobbled streets, with accomplished live musicians, catering to all tastes, complement good food and exceptional beer, in prices that aren’t hard to swallow. Which I can’t be said for the American cat piss that they pass off…or possibly actually pass… as beer. Transport is free, not that any Hungarian taxi driver will tell you this. In their defence most can’t tell you, as the Queen’s english hasn’t exactly been embraced following the country’s release from Russia’s iron grip. Trams, which are legitimately free, work as well as the underground, on which you can board without the nuisance of turnstiles, that should require a ticket, however the lacklustre conductors do seem content to treat everyone as honest. Be warned, the train doors have a no nonsense approach to commuters and will announce your departure with a resounding crack, to which I’m sure, a few sluggish amputees bear testament.
All things considered, I certainly could’ve stayed longer in Hungary and thought I was going to, when boarding my flight. Call me old fashioned, but when your armrest contains an ashtray, you do start to question the air worthiness of your craft, especially when on an airline that doesn’t have a web site. You then view the ground technicians ambling around the runway in an altogether different light. Do they even have Hungarian instruction manuals for Boeings?
The pace of the two shows are worlds apart and like fishing facets, shouldn’t be compared. Horses for courses or rather tackle for temperaments. Both represent their markets admirably and drive our fishing industry on all fronts.
If I was forced to choose, then ICAST would pip the post, as I seem to have sprung out of the closet in my new found adoration of country music, which just epitomises the atmosphere surrounding this festive occasion. Also, the fly fishing component of ICAST, known as IFTD, is moving back to Colorado in 2019, presenting an irresistible opportunity to tick this iconic Trout country off the bucket list.
Yet I do feel a calling to revisit Efttex next year for so many reasons, not least of which is it’s location…Amsterdam.