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02/07/2022 - Junior Pairs Match - Harbourbridge Lakes


Just six juniors to turn out for, what I feel, is the best event on our calendar. That and the Senior/Junior pairs match. There is something about fishing as a pair that makes the event that much more special than a normal match. Last year I fished the Senior Pairs Match at Harbourbridge with Sgt Bracey. The Wookie had pulled rank on me and ‘Bagsied’ the silvers lake for himself, leaving me with the unpredictable match lake. This was a decision that was to bite him on the tooshie because the fish in Lavender said ‘NAH!’, and he all but blanked. Similarly, I faired not much better with 17lbs and some change on the match lake. Rubbish considering the lake was topped by the Revels wunderkind, Richard Butler, with a staggering 85lbs. But it was still a fun day looking back on it because you were in it with a mate.

The build up to the event had not gone as silky smooth as I normally like it to be. I had got the times wrong on the pre-event report which was picked up by Lydia (Mrs Guru) late on Wednesday night. Since she excitedly directed my attention to her brand-new Guru drop bucket and said, ‘Look at my shiny new thing!’ and I replied, ‘No thanks, I have just been’, I think she has been looking for an excuse to get one back on me for a while. I can only imagine the inner elation as I admitted to and thanked her for pointing out my mistake. I hope the celebrations didn’t last too long. All this led to me having to correct the mistake and all sorts of confusion and stress. But by Friday night, everyone coming had confirmed they had got the message. The last thing I wanted was a phone call Saturday morning asking where the heck I was, when the event was due to begin fours later. I’m getting too old for this!

To say that the coaching team was diminished would be an understatement. But, since my solo coaching day for a lovely family at Revels a few weeks ago, my confidence was high. There were only six shrimps coming. Surely, I could manage?

Mr Bass was off conquering Scotland (Or something like that), Si Wag (Master of corrections) was welcoming YET ANOTHER member of his vast clan into the world in Plymouth, The Red Fox was spending his final hours with the beautiful Alex (Alex is off to the other side of the planet to work in Australia for two years. I’m sure I can speak for us all when I wish her the very best of luck in her new venture, and that she returns home safely to us in 2024. Stay safe my love, we’ll make sure that Tom washed and polished for your return home), Jerry was busy screaming at the international rugby matches on Tv, Captain Chris had said that his camel was lame and couldn’t make the three-day camel ride from Blandford, and Nice Bloke Tim was preparing to tempt some large French ladies to have a nibble.... To be fair to them, those that could had offered assistance if I got desperate. But I am the lead coach, and I could manage… I could manage, right?

Read on to find out more…

The weather forecast has not been looking quite so favourable which had triggered a ‘You had better bring the sunshine’ comment from Annamama. The almighty and myself have not been on speaking terms since 1996, and I knew there would be no ‘Attaboy’ points this week as the drizzle thrashed my face driven by a stiff breeze in the Southwest.

I set out two signs to direct Agent Maps (Amy Scott) safely to the gate, despite it being her third or fourth visit to Harbourbridge. To say her sense of direction sucks is an understatement in the extreme. There are Deaf/mute bats in Indochina with a better sense of direction than Amy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are not Post-it notes dotted around their house to let her know where she is at any given moment. I think I may start referring to her as ‘Sat Nav’ from here on in…

When I got to the lake it was looking quite gloomy. The wind was whipping down, rippling the water to the point of real waves, and raising the potential for tangled gear exponentially. In conditions like this, my mind thinks only of one task…

Fans of the ‘Bog Tent’ might be dismayed to read that, not only is the old girl in diminishing health (Probably scars from the ‘Todbergate incident’ with the Captain), but it has lost its normal ally due to the protection of the trees and the direction of the wind. For the first time I am going to report that, apart from an uncooperative tent peg, the tent went up without incident. I know, I can’t believe it either!

A small boy appeared, seemingly from nowhere, in the shape of Jack Copp. Jack had recently celebrated his birthday, so Dave and Jack were having a sleep over with fishing rods on Merry Lake. Even Jack was surprised that the saga of the bog tent was not being unveiled before his very eyes, when he was called to help his dad with the bivvy. I say bivvy. It was more of a marquee. It’s the only fishing tent I’ve ever seen with an echo! Jack mentioned that they could use Mikes digger to level the ground, but I just think he was thinking of digging basement and wine cellar. I took the chance to go through Tom’s brilliant ‘Mr Soil’ acronym with Jack, thus completing level three for him.

Pegging done (Six doesn’t take long), it was a case of waiting for everyone to arrive. I had taken the decision to change the draw for this year’s pairs match from the usual, and delightfully cruel way of doing it. Normally we send them off as usual and secretly draw their names out to form the teams without telling them until the end. (It is as every bit as much fun as it sounds too!) This year, with three more experienced juniors and three not so much, we did a blind draw with numbers one to three being paired with four to six. Team one would fish on pegs one and four, team two on two and five, and finally team three on pegs three and six.

The teams looked like this.

Team One: Jack ‘Twiglet’ Copp and James ‘Baby Longus’ Oram.

Team Two: Ollie ‘Aquaboy’ Smith and Austin ‘Camouflage’ Scott-Kennedy

Team Three: Faith ‘Jibber Jabber’ Stone and Josiah ‘His Lordship’ Wells-Parkes

Your Coaches for today were: Playing all other parts: Graham Howard.

With the stage now set and everyone heading off to their positions, I took a moment to relax.

Team One: Peg One: Jack Copp: Being end peg Charlie is always an advantage usually because of the amount of extra water you have over those in the middle pegs. Although very young, Jack has a lot of experience under his belt and would be a good bet for a result. This was definitely the case as news spread down the lake that he was putting some fish in the net with the feeder. Like most of the participants, Jack suffered with bites drying up after a while, and he started to explore his peg with the feeder. But with only two fish coming from the far end reeds, it was time to do something a little different. The far end of the lake was a little more sheltered from the wind, which should have made fishing the pole a little easier. But Jack picked up his waggler rod and simply fished it just off his rod tip with pellets and maggots to great effect. Jack finished the match with 27lbs 12ozs

Peg Three: James Oram: The quiet one had a good chance of a gold medal today partnering last years winner, but he was under threat of serious personal injury from the lead coach. James was drawn in the swim that I had in the senior pairs match last year, and so was told not to go over 17lbs otherwise there would be trouble. I would normally expect a shy laugh or may be a look of nervousness. But James just pulled his sleeves up and said ‘right then’…. Being so new to the sport, James is finding feet with things like casting, playing fish, and just about everything else. James is quietly working his way through all of the things to learn one at a time, and it is showing. He played and landed some reasonable fish today, and with very little coaching. We will continue to work on ironing out the little wrinkles, and once we have, James will be a very capable angler. James weighed in a hard fished 11lbs 12ozs.

Team Two: Peg Two: Ollie Smith: The middle pegs were always going to be the less desirable ones, but also unavoidable. One of the teams was going to have to be drawn next to the other two teams, both of whom will have and end peg advantage. So, Ollie and his partner were arguably up against it today. It is fair to say that Oliver is a very good angler for a boy of his age. I would go as far as to outstanding. But the one thing he needs to work on is what happens when things do not go to plan. Ollie’s chin had definitely dropped when Jack started catching from the next peg and I believe that two lessons were learned. Firstly, bring everything. Including all of your pole, not just what you’ll think you will need. Secondly, try not to let your head drop. If all else fails, look at what seems to be working for others, and copy it… Ollie did struggle tonight but, as I have said to others, you learn more from a bad session than you do from an easy one. Ollie weighed in a very hard fished for 5lbs 3ozs.

Peg Five: Austin Scott-Kennedy: If Austin’s nickname wasn’t Camouflage, it would have to be something like slingshot or sniper. He has a casting style that can only be described as ‘Strong’. The fact that his first cast buried itself so deep into the far bank that only future archaeologists will be able to find his feeder. A small family of Coots is going to need a fairly lengthy series of counselling sessions after running the gauntlet of feeding on the mud line, and they look pretty shocked most of the time anyway. Once Austin has managed to curb his enthusiasm and loosened up his casting style, I think he will be a hot contender for the Coaches trophy for this year. It is definitely worth mentioning ‘Amy’s igloo’ where apparently, she was offering to read peoples palms for cash. She was thinking of going to visit people at their pegs, but I’m not altogether sure that she would have been able to find her way outside the bivvy. The lake is deceptively straight, with absolutely nowhere to get lost. But, I would put good money on getting a phone call from Sat Nav saying she was lost! Once Austin had pinned back his lug holes and actually listened to the first class advice that was being poured upon him, and once he had stopped trying cast 3kg of feed per cast, he did start to catch consistently enough to weigh in a very good 21lbs 9ozs.

Team Three: Peg Three: Josiah Wells-Parkes: Being next to Ollie, Jo was destined to suffer similar anguish to his neighbour. Which was surprising seeing as he was on the peg from which Jim feeds the fish and is known to have form because of this. But I saw it with my own eyes, the lad was struggling. But he stuck to the task of just trying to catch as many fish as he could to for his team. He did weigh a fairly hefty Rudd of 11ozs and a Roach/Bream hybrid pushing a pound and a half. You will find no evidence of them here because, during the rush to get the Rudd weighed, the rest of his silverfish was returned without photography. My suggestion that Lydia should get in after them to get some shots of them exiting the area was met with a look of contempt that it deserved. So, the pictures look like he had a proper crap day, but he did catch more than is shown here. Jo weighed in another hard fought for weight of 8lbs 2ozs.

Peg Six: Faith Stone: Faith being an increasingly good angler and being on probably the most favoured peg of the day, Mike clearly thought that she had an unfair advantage and tried to even things up by smashing poles into the ground as part of the construction of ‘Fort Millington’. With the wind breaker up and the Guru umbrella completing the build, the narrow slots from which the rest of the venue could be observed, gave it an impression more of a bunker than weather protection. The windward end of the lake was going to be an advantage, particularly with all the reeds growing there. Faith wasted no time in extracting the lakes inhabitants and depositing quite a few of them in her keepnet. However, I can’t help thinking that there could have been considerably more if she had been paying more attention to the job in hand. But she did enough to chuck 28lbs 5ozs on the scales at the end.

There’s more to tell about Jibber Jabber though, and her cheekiness shined through. Evidence of how much she has grown in character and confidence was made clear on how she beckoned me towards her, barely able to talk for giggling, and when I was within range, threw a small stick at me. “I’m going to follow you for the rest of the night” she promised. She did too, throwing grass and anything else that she could find. I’m only human and, once I had overcome the rather lame effort from the Bog Tent to break free, I used it to cocoon her on the ground and tickled her until she couldn’t breathe. Unperturbed by this, continued to cover me in grass so I used the tent this time rolled up to ‘bop’ her on the head. Naturally I was ‘grassed up’ (literally!) upon our return to the now dismantled Fort Millington which was only met with laughter. Fun times, but I am getting too old for this japery.

With only six anglers present, everyone got a prize. Which was nice. The results of the 2022 junior pairs match are, in third place with a total of 27lbs 6ozs was Team Two, Ollie and Austin. Second place went to Team Three, Faith and Josiah with 36lbs 7ozs. The winners with 39lbs 8ozs were James Oram and defending pairs champion, Jack Copp.

I want to thank everyone for their patience tonight and I tried to be in as many places as I could. It was relatively straight forward in the end, but I realised how integral my team of coaches are. I managed, by they were missed.

Big thanks as always to Jim Roper for the use of his lakes at Harbourbridge.

The next event for me is on Tuesday night where the club will entertaining Atlantic Academy back at Harbourbridge.

The next Junior event is on Friday the 8th July for the final qualifying round of our knock out competition. There are places left if you want to fish. The draw is at 5:30pm and we fish from 6:00pm until 8:00pm. Fees are £5.00 as usual.

The next Junior Match is at Luckfield on the 16th of July. Draw is at 2:30pm. Fish from 3:30pm until 7:30pm. Fees are £5.00.


I will appeal to you all to please write a review of DDAS Juniors on our Facebook page. It will help to show what outstanding human beings we are and encourage more people to join in.

Many thanks… Juniors Sec…

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