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06/07/24 - Special Coaching with Richard Chave - Silverfish Special - Woodlanders/Canal Lakes, Revels.

With Carp dominating all our fishing lives these days it is easy to dismiss fishing for silverfish as easy or uninteresting. Anyone with half a brain cell well tell you that is far from the truth and that there is great skill in speed fishing for small silverfish.

Today’s coaching session was to be focussed on catching the smaller species with special guest coach, Colmic’s Richard Chave.

As well as being a thoroughly nice chap, Richard has become a very renowned angler in the silverfish world, cutting his teeth as many of us did on canals and rivers.

Back then, Carp were seen as a nuisance. Wrecking rigs and ruining swims as they charged about like idiots. When you reported to your friends in the car park after a match that you had ‘Hooked a Carp and not had a bite after’, you were given sympathetic looks as if a bomb had been detonated unwater, killing every fish within half a mile! Hooking a Carp was the next best excuse for having a crappy day after having a boat turn around in your peg…

Back in the day, it wasn’t only the Carp that were outsiders. Carp anglers were seen as floppy hatted weirdo’s who found it hard to integrate in society, and who chose to use small potatoes as bait instead of ‘proper baits’ like maggots, hemp, and casters.

There were your hero anglers like Dick Walker and Fred J. Taylor, who we all looked up to as legends. But, overall, specimen fishing was a fringe activity at best and only really pursued by the bearded unwashed.

My how things have changed…

The ‘Weirdo’s’ have made Carp fishing a multimillion-pound industry, and made themselves into household celebrities. Good days are only measured by how many Carp you catch, how big the Carp are, and how many keep nets you use. Carp are the new Roach or Bream, and the dedicated fishing of silvers has been pushed aside by many.

Don’t get me wrong, I like catching Carp, and the people that were seen as weirdo’s are now viewed as pioneers of our sport. In many ways they have saved the sport from oblivion. The Carp themselves, or the descendants thereof, have injected a new passion for fishing that over the last 30 years or so has introduced many more anglers to a sport that was in decline. Rivers and canals were left to rot, abuse that continues today.

Then you may have needed to walk 2-miles across a freshly ploughed field to get to ‘a flyer’ to catch 14lbs of hand sized Roach. Cheese and pickle sandwiches kept Britain’s economy alive, and you had to carry all your tackle too because fishing had not yet invented the wheel!

Now, you can park at your peg. Get lunch at the shop. Catch 300lbs and still go home disappointed because you needed 800lbs to win…

Fishing has changed for sure. But I feel a renaissance in the wind.

The more decrepit amongst us find it hard to keep up with the younger pups and their top kit hauling. Fisheries are beginning to focus on the fine art of catching silverfish again with many fisheries like Todber Manor hearing the call for less Carp driven fishing. Viaduct is riding particularly high right now with some very large weights of Bream being recorded.

Back to our session then and Rich set about talking to our juniors about how he approaches his fishing. You don’t get to be a canal champion or qualify for the prestigious ‘Riverfest’ final if you don’t know your apples. Rich has done all that and much more. He articulately showed the nine juniors present the importance of using the right tackle for the smaller species.

Boxes of tied hooks were passed around containing small size 26 hooks that I hadn’t seen for over 30 years!

Jerry said that the day was like a nostalgia trip for the coaches as we reminisced about the golden days on rivers and canals that I personally love and miss so very much.

Richard spoke about how vital it was to get you bait falling at the same speed as the hook bait to fool the fish into eating the right maggot. Long fine wired hooks to make unhooking easier and quicker. Fine lines, not only to create the right hook bait characteristics, but also to combat the windy conditions that we were experiencing on the day.

After talking about ground baits, hook baits, and equipment, I sensed the shrimps were starting to get restless. It was time for action.

Starting on the short pole, Rich fed just a few maggots regularly to get the fish interested, and boy were they interested! A change to a shallower rig and a whip with a solid tip changed the whole scenario. (I particularly enjoyed the reaction to Richard’s case that contained 8 or 9 whips, all with rig winders attached, ready to go. The word ‘wow’ was heard a lot! )

Fish that were being swung to hand probably 3 or 4 times a minute on the elasticated pole, were now being extracted much faster at a rate of 6 or even 7 a minute. It was mind blowing stuff to watch.

Speed was everything to Richard and he showed the juniors some clever ways to make the process that little bit quicker. As is usually the case, a master of their craft makes what they do look effortless and oh so easy. It probably isn’t but, I will certainly be looking forward to trying out some of the things I’d seen.

After a while it was time to send the shrimps of to practice the preaching. Sadly, the fish didn’t attend the briefing and were absent from most of the pegs, particularly on the canal lake.

A potential new junior, another Harry, turned up for a taster session (which Richard kindly hosted for us too), so I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked to due to chatting to Harry’s parents. But I will quickly run through the juniors attending with the pictures that I did take where I can.

George was catching some small Perch at the beginning of the session and was happy to do so. But, as the day progressed, the bites died away and eventually ceased altogether. May be because the fish had moved off. Maybe because the rain during the previous few days had made the water surprisingly clear for the middle of the summer. Maybe because larger Carp had moved into the area. Whatever the reason, George was left with nothing to other than eat sandwiches and consol is little sister who got herself stung by a nettle causing tears…

A grumbling Kenzie was next supported by his dad, Alex. You don’t know how happy I am to be writing that because of a recent health scare that left us all wondering if I would ever write that again! But he was here, and I can…

There was grumbling because Kenzie was suffering the same fate as George, only without all the Perch…

I made a rig especially for him to try and kick start his peg. But that didn’t work either. I asked Richard if he could show Kenzie the ropes at his peg, whilst I administered CPR to Kenzie’s.

Kenzie’s happily caught fish on Rich’s box until I caught a little Carp on Kenzie’s. Alex rubbed salt into the wound by catching another.

Shed loads of silverfish on Richard’s peg clearly could not compete with a Carp in his own, so Kenzie abandoned Richard’s teachings to sit at his own spot.

I don’t think he caught anything else.

Jack and Harry Cryer, Leo, Jack Copp, and Austin were all next in a line and not necessarily in that order. I’ve bunched them all together because Leo started an exodus.

Leo was the first to think that the grass was greener around a different lake, and defected to Woodlanders Lake where Richard was fishing. Sadly, for our silverfish session he managed to catch a nice little Carp of about 3.5lbs.

I say sadly, not for Leo. He did well to land it on lighter lines and smaller hooks. Sadly because when the other’s smelled a Carp, they all wanted in on it and the ‘Silverfish’ session was effectively over. Leo, Harry and, eventually, Austin all moved to the other lake, and I can’t say I can altogether blame them.

Jack (Copp) and Jack (Cryer) stuck it out on Canal with Jack (Copp) giving Jack (Cryer) some useful coaching on the long pole. Jack (Cryer) and Jack (Copp) did well to sit it out for silvers, or maybe it was just because there was no room for Jack (Copp) and Jack (Cryer) on Woodlanders now! I really must split them up in future!!!!

Mia was the only other junior that stuck it out for silvers and did catch a few. It might have been easier for her if there weren’t some annoying reeds growing annoyingly in a place where fishing would be annoying. But she caught and had a nice day…

Richard Chave was an exceptional coach today and full of enthusiasm for catching smaller species. He had lots of time for our juniors and answered all their questions, and ours, brilliantly. I would like to thank him for spending the day with us, and I hope we can do it again soon…

Big thanks to Jerry, Chris, and Jon for their coaching help today…

Thank you to Jason and Dean for their continued support at Revels.

Our next event is this coming Saturday (13th) at Sharnhill for a points match.

Take care all and see you soon…

Juniors Sec…

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