What it was like on June 16th in a tackle shop in the 90s
Was there a better place to boost the June 16th buzz than in a tackle shop? Probably not! Antony Johnson from Johnson Ross, one of the country’s leading independent tackle shops, remembers the atmosphere well…
CARPOLOGY: Do you still have vivid memories of what the atmosphere was like in the shop on the build up to June 16th in the early 90s, before the close season was abolished?
ANTHONY JOHNSON: “The build up to June 16th used to be almost electric; the closer you got, you the bigger the buzz became. People used to gradually start coming in a month or so before the start, but it was that last week when it really went crazy. I will always remember the Saturday before ‘the off’, men being men - leaving everything until the last minute, meant the shop was heaving, with everyone stocking up and talking about where they were going for the opening night, who had been baiting where, how big so and so would come out at etc. - there was so much anticipation. From our point of view, the start of the season was more than just being busy, it meant we used to catch up with everyone again after the layoff.”
CARPOLOGY: How did that change after 1995, when the close season was abolished?
ANTHONY JOHNSON: “It changed a lot really; that initial buzz disappeared but it just meant it was spread out over a longer period as a lot of places initiated their own close seasons; some kept to the 16th, others made it March until May. This just meant there were lots of ‘mini’ starts to the season, and that hasn’t really changed since as we obviously have a lot of waters open all year, but loads around us still have a close season, but just at their own times.”
CARPOLOGY: How does that differ to 2019 - do you get periods of the year when there’s a big influx of anglers and the excitement level goes up? In the summer when groups of lads are going to France maybe?
ANTHONY JOHNSON: “As mentioned, we still get busy periods when fisheries open, but we have really noticed busy times based around other factors… Easter is a crazy time, as it’s the first long holiday after the winter and generally sees the arrival of some decent weather, so people either use it for their first outing or just as an opportunity to sort their gear for the season.
“Foreign fishing also has a huge impact. April sees the big start as a lot of the fisheries open at the start of the month so we see a lot of anglers getting ready for trips and that continues through until the end of May. September and October are also very busy for overseas trips, as it’s the prime time of the year over there so it seems everyone wants to get a piece of the action when the fish are starting to feed up ready for the winter months.
“It’s not quite the same, but when we get the first snow warnings there is a mini rush for those that want to get a ‘snow shot’, but only the hardiest ones are in for that one though!”
CARPOLOGY: Can you remember what were the most common purchases back in the early 90s close season? Bait making equipment/ingredients? Line? Bivvy repairs?
ANTHONY JOHNSON: “Bait making was definitely up there, and our line loading service was always busy with everyone spooling up for the season. It wasn’t uncommon for one of us to be on the machine almost the entire day on a Saturday! To be honest, we could never tell what was going to be asked for next, as the start of the season was generally an excuse to buy new toys… not that carp anglers need much of an excuse!”