Usually, I make a rambling introduction. Not this time. No need.
The Tackle Box is a shrine to fishers. When I lived in Kent, you went there for advice, for sanctuary, to come away poor but richer for the entire experience. If ever one needed a reason to still have working, specialist shops that you can physically walk in and roam (when we are allowed) the Tackle Box is the glittering example.
Here we go. Over to Warren and Kevin Peet...
Picture: Kevin Peet
I had a chat with Kevin Peet at The tackle box recently and asked him for a seasonal Tip and Blog for the Fishing for Schools website, there have been some interesting stories written about this shop over the years and is probably the most well- known shop in the UK, and World renowned, especially for Carp Fishing.
My Local fishing tackle shop is The Tackle Box in Dartford, is justifiably famed worldwide for Carp Fishing and other areas in the specialist angling community.
The Tackle Box, originated as a small shop based in Sutton-on-Hone village, created in the 1980’s. As a lad I remember it fondly and visited probably more frequently than I should. As the store grew it basically outgrew the original premises and took up bigger location along Watling Street in Dartford, where it now has a massive retail outlet that not only caters for Carp fishing but all other branches of fishing as well.
The Darent valley is steeped in Carp fishing history, and in earlier times was producing bigger carp than anywhere else in the region, if not the UK. Also, the area pioneered so many of the methods that are now commonplace in carp and other forms of fishing. The first hair rigs were designed in the valley and ‘boilies’ and exotic flavours were developed by the growing band of innovative anglers who fished there. Justifiably, it was the crucible of modern carping.
One of the reasons the Tackle Box has become successful is because it lies near to the Darent Valley, waters, which includes the famous waters; Dartford complex and Brookland’s Lake. The Sutton lakes at Sutton-on-Hone and Horton Kirby are also noted carp venues which feed into the growing reputation of the Tackle Box.
But as an all-round angler and one that is not really a specialised carp angler, the main reason I use the Tackle Box is because of its excellent customer service, which it is renowned for.
A important point to make is that it is the only fishing tackle shop left in the Dartford area, which is worrying. I know there is a massive presence these days of online shopping, one which the Tackle Box also caters for; but without an actual tackle shop, where for instance, does an angler get their maggots from?
I think it is also worth pointing out that lot of people prefer to physically handle a product before purchasing. But arguably, the main thing you lose, is a chance to talk to fishing people. I know when you walk into the Tackle Box, the staff are always friendly and willing to give advice on any fishing related subject, which is a special commodity these days.
Some years ago, as a newly qualified Angling coach, I met up with Kevin Peet - one of the owners of The Tackle Box. I told him about my idea for trying to get more local youngsters into fishing (this was some 13 years ago) when coarse fishing coaching was in its infancy and I can assure you, not all people in the angling industry ‘got it’. Kevin Peet did. Then he went on to ask me what he could do to help. We then came to an agreement that he would donate some tackle and a hoard of Bait, Pellets, ground-bait – all of which was a huge help.
This confidence boost resulted in me, as a Dartford club member, and another coach Phil Wilkinson, to volunteer to run a free angling course at Brooklands lakes in Dartford, to try and get more youngsters fishing. In turn we hoped this would push up the Junior membership at the club. The rest is they say history.
So now the present day and the involvement of the Tackle Box with Fishing for Schools…
Picture: Students at the Tackle Box
Part of our educational course - the Aims Award qualification - which involves angling skills and learning about fishing tackle, bait and all the other attributed areas, I have always thought it important that the students taking the course should visit a local fishing tackle shop and learn more about what a tackle shop does. The shop has always been very accommodating for the work we do with youngsters and has hopefully inspired some in the process.
On any given trip, the students get to have a good look around the shop, which is a real eye opener for them, as the place really is an Aladdin’s Cave of Fishing gear. As part of the educational course, the students are then asked to complete a worksheet. Initially, they are instructed to go off in pairs and find items of tackle from the shop and tick off their worksheet. It could be anything from finding a carp rod, a waggler float, to finding a bag of tutti-frutti boilies, amongst the thousands of different flavours of other boilies in the shop.
Picture: Students with their purchases from the Tackle Box
Although this visit to the shop does play a part in the student’s Fishing Qualification, it is also as meant to be fun and informative, not just educational. Hopefully, visiting the local tackle shop, our students will also now know where it is - and what wonderful angling “goodies” it has inside. Also, hopefully the Tackle Box will have a new customer for life.
On our last trip to the Tackle shop earlier in the year, two of our students raided the piggy bank and came out of the shop with Rods, reels, and Whips etc. I must admit, I was expecting a call from their parents!
Top Tip from Kevin: Use Smaller and more digestible bait
One of the things that I learned from fishing alongside the Late Alan Smith, was that during the winter you should drastically reduce your bait input. Alan had it down to single hook-baits, and nobody could argue as he caught more than his share of cold weather carp.
My fishing usually starts September time so I am used to the habits of the fish in the venue I fish, and have found that small boilies of 10 or 8mm as hook-baits over a bed of particle. The fish are not so active in the winter so food intake is reduced compared to summer months, so when they do feed it is usually just a top up of small amounts. The less you put in as freebies the more chance you have of the fish picking up your hook-bait. The reason I use particle during this time of year is that if the carp do go on a cold weather munch then it is easily digested as apposed to a fishmeal boilie which is not so digestible, when their activity is reduced, which causes discomfort and stops any feeding activity that may occur.
There are exceptions to this these days especially on highly stocked commercial fisheries where competition for food is high and feeding can continue through winter at a higher than normal level.