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07/10/23 - Junior Points Match #9 - Charlottes Lake - Harbourbridge.

It seems like an eternity since we last fished a junior match. But, in reality, it has only been a few weeks. Anticipation was high for a return to Harbourbridge. With rumours of fish growing much larger since being stocked a number of years ago. Not just the Carp either. The silverfish had reportedly been growing to a sizable standard too.

The first job at ‘Wild’ venues like Harbourbridge, is to put up the ladies’ conveniences. Following the demise of the original Bog Tent, the son of Bog Tent or ‘Thunder Tent’, was fairly easily at erected at a breezy Silverlake. Harbourbridge on a windy day can be right up there with Silverlake or Todber Manor, and today there was a risky brisk breeze that may cause a problem for an inexperienced tent erector. Fortunately, I am an old hand with these ‘Ballon Octopussy’s’, so I was confident of a swift execution. Things started well apart from the odd detaching support pole that was soon reassembled with angry hands and much swearing. The job would have been easier had I have not threaded the poles through incorrectly yet again! Try as it might, the Thunder Tent was unable to use the wind to overcome me because I had the foresight to position its final location behind some protective trees. Once pegged out and clipped in, the monolith strikes an impressive silhouette in a muddy field in Dorset.

My other job, other than the usual pegging out and highway robbery (Match fees), was to set up for todays pre-match tutorial. These tutorials are so popular with the Shrimps because they are all too willing to supress their enthusiasm to go fishing, in favour of listening to a fat guy drone on about line diameters and ground bait for an event that would not take place for another two weeks… The eyes of the last junior glazed over with desperation just as I finished and I congratulated myself for some perfect timing, yet again… They helped themselves to some Mole Hill Soil that I had lovingly prepared for them the week before, and we got on with the draw.

The draw went as follows: Peg 1: Jack Cryer (T’other Jack) Peg 2: Kit Freeman (Knight Rider/King of the North/Fishboy (on account of all the swimming he does)…I haven’t decided which yet) Peg 3: Josiah Wells-Parkes (His Lordship) Peg 4: Austin Scott-Kennedy (Camouflage/Rambo) Peg 5: Jack Copp (Twiglet) Peg 6: Harry Cryer (Carnage) Peg 7: Oliver Smith (Aquaboy) Non-competitive juniors today were: Jack Davis Jack Grassby Your cast of coaches today were: Graham Howard – Taylor Swift Jerry Bracey – Ariana Grande Tim Broughton – Doja Kat

Peg one: Jack Cryer: With the relocation of the Thunder Tent and the need to provide space for two early leaving non-competitors, the pegging was forced further down the lake than usual. This meant that, for a junior event, Jack found himself in virgin water and in a bit of an unknown area. The far end of the lake is narrower than the other. Even if Jack owned a 16 -metre pole, it would not have been enough to get where he needed to be. Right up close to the opposite reeds where the fish were hiding. Peg one was the only one without access to a mudline where the inhabitants of Charlottes Lake like to feed. Mudlines make them vulnerable and easier to catch. Reeds give them cover and sanctuary. With bottom weed and brambles preventing him from fishing to the corner or far end with his feeder, Jack had to endure a match where he could see the fish he wanted to catch but could not make them come out of their hidey hole. It was frustrating to watch, and without other options, his fate was sealed from quite early on. To his credit though he stuck it out to the end, even if his chin dropped a little towards the final whistle. Jack weighed in one solitary Carp and a sprinkling of silvers for 4lbs 14ozs.

Peg Two: Kit Freeman: Like Jack to his left, Kit had drawn at the flat calm end of the lake and although it made for a warmer, more comfortable day, it seemed that the fish preferred to sit in the more rippled water. Unlike Jack, Kit had an expansive mudline which I thought would benefit him. Kit is a fairly new junior and is working out his casting technique. He struggled at first but from what I witnessed had improved as the match progressed. Both Jack Cryer and Kit had made the decision to only fish with a feeder and to leave their poles in the holdall. This does help you focus on a simpler approach, but what happens when this approach doesn’t work? I don’t know how many times I have set up equipment and packed it away again without using it. But it does give me more options with which to fish. Every session is an opportunity for learning. Maybe a short pole line would not have worked. But, without trying it, you will never know. Kit weighed in two Carp and some silvers for 6lbs 3ozs.

Peg Three: Josiah Wells-Parkes: Jo came to match nine on a two-match wave of success and was looking forward to trying to make it three. Jo is having a much-improved year in ’23 and the recent wins are a result of the amount of effort he is putting into to his fishing. It’s paying off too because his casting since the day with Callum Dicks has come on leaps and bounds. Jo hit the ground running as the whistle blew for the start of the match and he was soon sliding the landing net under some decent fish. It took me a while to get him and by then he’d got four good Carp in the net. The midday lull kicked in and Jo just wasn’t able to keep the bites coming often enough to seal the deal today and he had to be content with third place on the day weighing in 30lbs 14ozs.

Peg Four: Austin Scott-Kennedy: The ninth match of the year saw Austin looking up at Jack from second place in the championship for the first time. Harbourbridge presented him with a chance to claw some points back lost at Whitemoor. He is another junior still trying to find a rhythm in his casting but, like Josiah, is improving with every session. Arguably the keenest in the group, Austin is constantly sending me questions to answer (Which I love by the way) and always looking to advance his skills whether fishing or during tutorials. Even having his little brother. Luther, climbing all over him during the match didn’t put him off too much. There was an occasional respite as each time Jerry passed by because I get the impression that the Wookie might have found a new pup?...Kitten?...Calf? Whatever Wookie babies are called!?!

Because we do not allow bad language at junior events (really?) or even rude gestures, Austin had brought his 'swearing stick with him to show the coaches what he thought of some of their comments...Some said it was a wooden bankstick. But the editor still maintains that it is a swearing stick... Austin found himself in the purple patch as far as the fish were concerned. His 33lbs 10ozs was enough to secure 2nd place on the day and 20 vital championship points.

Peg Five: Jack Copp: The man with a plan was back to do battle to fight for his second junior title. Sneaking the lead from under Austins’ nose was a great chance to do so, but a small slip at Whitemoor allowed Austin to get back on terms with the championship leader. Jack wears his heart on his sleeve (something of which I have a huge amount of experience) and is occasionally quick to dismiss his own chances. But even I was surprised to hear that he’d resigned himself to catching silvers after only forty-five minutes… As it would turn out, he might have wished that he’d have made that decision earlier. I watched Jack as he battled with what, for him, was a bit of off day for casting. The wind was making it tricky at best to get the feeder to land where you want it to, and Jack was struggling a little. I got worried when he was chopping and changing so often between the feeder and pole with out settling on either. It is often a sign that an angler is struggling with confidence. Not something that you would usually pin on Jack. In the end though he found the sweet spot, which was short pole, shallow, with maggots catching some very nice Roach. Sadly, with the commotion of the weigh in, I tipped his very impressive silverfish catch back without photographing it. For this, I apologise… A silvers weight of close to 10lbs was offset by a lack of Carp to back it up. Never-the-less Jack finished in fourth place and gained 15 points with 16lbs 5ozs.

Peg Six: Harry Cryer: A quiet day for Carnage. Mainly because he had the sound turned down on his mobile phone! Yes, the devices were out in force again today, and it still makes my blood boil. Not because it annoys me, but because when you’re out in the world, next to a lake and fishing, it’s a crying shame to not be a part of it instead of burying your face in a tiny screen of effluent. But I’m old and old school. I never had such distractions when I was their age. Would I have used them if they were? Probably… Like his brother, Harry is still finding his feet with his fishing. If rats collect feeders and sold them on to other anglers, they would be on their second Rolls Royce by now. If there is an inter brother championship going on, Harry squeaked a win over his brother by weighing 9lbs 5ozs. I have to add that Harry even fished in an unusually tidy manner today too, making a mockery of his given nickname of ‘Carnage’.

Peg seven: Oliver Smith: Ollies new pole got tested at Revels the previous week and got a different test at this event. Last week it was catching some wobbly Carp with light elastics. This week it had to survive the doughnut test. The test is simple. Give it to a doughnut to use for that day and then compare how many pieces you had at the start, to what you have at the finish. Test one. How much pole can you lift with the last 40cm of the cupping kit? Test result. About four metres. Test two. Which way round do the section go together when you put the pole away? Test result. Not narrower end to narrower end. They get jammed. Fortunately for Master Smith and Annamama’s bank account, The Tay-Tay and Ariana were close at hand to unjam it… The whole experience was truly eye watering… Once we had rounded up the wayward sheep of common sense, and returned them to Use Your Head farm, Ollie actually fished a blinder of a match. The two anglers to his right were non-competitive and were leaving at 2pm. This left a large portion of the lake open to plunder. Plunder he did and did it well. Ollie put together a stunning performance with some pinpoint casting that left even me shaking my head with a smile. He caught some very big fish too. I know they were big because I had to lift them out of the water! A great performance from a very good junior angler and a very well-deserved win with 47lbs 7ozs, including a 10lb Carp. Proper job young man…

Jack D and Jack G: End peg Charlies:

I made room for our ‘non-comp’ juniors on the end of the lake because both needed to leave at 2pm. J. Grassby substituted the Dorset Everyman (David) for dad Nick, who totally bemused by it all. We talked about how much Jack loved fishing and how important it was that he did. You cannot buy enthusiasm, and Jack has it by the bucket full. He spent his few hours catching lots of varied species and seemed to enjoy his day.

J. Davis had brought mum Serina along and she also looked bemused… But she went one up in the ‘I don’t what the hell is going on’ parents’ championship by catching a tiny Roach. I don’t think she had realised that anyone had witnessed the momentous occasion, but your lead coach sees all/most. Jack had to go to a bag of wind (Football) presentation for his teams’ sponsors. Even so, he literally had to be dragged from the water because they were already late! Jack loves his fishing and caught a few nice Carp today too. Well done both…

Today’s result has made the championship even tighter than ever. Austin Scott-Kennedy 151 pts Jack Copp 149 pts Josiah Wells-Parkes 144 pts

The Silvers championship has been revitalised with Jack’s nice bag of Roach. Jack Copp 16lbs 6ozs Austin Scott Kennedy 14lbs 2ozs

The next instalment of the Austin, Jack ‘n’ Jo Show should be a Carp free zone being as it is on the river at Sturminster Newton, weather permitting. (Saturday 21st Oct)

A tough day, but an enjoyable one for most. Big thanks to Jim Roper for allowing us to come and play with his fish today.

Thank you to Jerry and Tim for the usual excellent coaching.

Take care and tight lines…

Juniors Sec…

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