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10/09/2022 - Senior/Junior Pairs Match - Ash Lake - Todber Manor

I’m sure, like me, everyone was excited for the Senior/Junior Pairs match at Todber Manor today. But I, the coaching team, and the parents and juniors stood to show our respects to Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. My words were as follows.

Over the last few days, the world has changed. You do not have to be a royalist to have felt it or be touched by it. After over seventy years of service to her country, I feel it is only right to give her one minute of our day to show our respect for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

A light has gone out in the world. God save the King…

Apart from the events of the wider world, the stress and turmoil of organising and competing in a junior event was beginning to show. We had seniors that couldn’t now fish, Juniors that didn’t have partners, and more nets than a Trawlerman’s convention (TrawlerCon 2022). The junior on their own was Austin Scott-Kennedy, boy with a thousand questions. (Usually asked whilst you’re still trying to answer the previous question!) The only way to get around this would be to get his mum to fish with him. When proposition was put to him, apparently, he dropped to his knees, put his head on the ground and was heard to mutter the words “No, no, no, no” over and over again… I felt that this was a slight over reaction because I’ve seen Amy (Agent Maps) fish, and she’s not half bad at it… Maybe Austin was thinking of the hours and hours he would have to endure, roaming around the Dorset countryside try to actually FIND Todber Manor in the first place…

During this phase of the operation, I had received ‘Comms’ that Faith may have come into contact with the Pox of the Chicken variety, leaving me without a partner… If Faith didn’t come, surely that was the Austin problem solved? The following day, Faith was feeling much better and did go into school. The Austin/Agent Maps problem was yet to be solved…

The day of the match arrived much earlier than was desired. 2:45am is not the best way to prepare for a match of any kind. I dozed a bit but, by 5:30am I thought it was time to get up because if I fell asleep now, I would feel like the bottom of a budgies cage… Dress code followed the weather forecast for overcast, but mild weather. So, I pulled on my freshly mowed green polo shirt and my faithful tracky-bottoms. Happy days…

Gear sorted, M’Lady mucked out, fed, and watered, I set off north through the leafy lanes of Dorset. I arrived forty minutes later at a bustling Todber Manor carpark. I drove straight through, avoiding the bacon sandwiches with anglers attached to them, and on up to Ash Lake. The rain through the week had not put much water in it. Possibly an inch or so. More importantly it had not seemed to dampen the spirits of the lakes inhabitants who were leaping around like a Labrador that’s pleased to see you. Flag up and pegs in, I wandered around watching the hundreds of showing Carp. I wondered if they would be kind to us today, or if this was a false impression…

As everyone started to arrive, the Austin problem rose again. Agent Maps couldn’t partake because of red tape… Glenn Taylor (Slinky) said he would fish with the mud monster, freeing Mr Jon Bass to go and fish with Camouflage. Jake, having fished with his dad on a few occasions stamped on this with a firm and resounding “NO!”. He was fishing with the Bassman, and not with his dad…End of! Our only option was to have Austin fish on his own and award him an average score from everyone else present. I don’t like doing that, but we had no choice. I think Amy was quite relieved in a way. The lass is determined, but it was a steep mountain to climb.

Teams sorted and words said, we got down to the task of the draw. It was as follows.

Pegs 1 & 2: Dave & Jack Copp Pegs 3 & 4: Oliver Smith & Jerry Bracey Pegs 5 & 6: Graham Howard & Faith Stone Pegs 7 & 8: Josiah Wells-Parkes & Si Wagner Pegs 9 & 10: Jon Bass & Jake Taylor Pegs 11 & 12: James Oram & Chris Ward Peg 14: Austin Scott-Kennedy

The pegs were organised so that no junior is fishing next to a senior angler that wasn’t his partner and the match would be decided on points rather than weight so that one senior angler could not win the match by themselves. Also, this would be a Carp only match. Silverfish did not count.

This is not going to be an in-depth report on each angler because, of course, I was fishing myself and was unable to give you a full run down. I probably missed loads of funny stuff, or at least occurrences that I could embellish to make funny. What I can tell you is that no matter how hard you practice, how many times you practice, or how well you think know a venue, fishing always knows best. To be fair, there was a week of heavy rain between us practicing and the match itself, but it didn’t fish as well as we had hoped it would. By no means did it fish badly, however.

With all the gear set up, nets in, and the pellets primed, we were ready to go. I blew the whistle and immediately asked Jerry how many he’d had? “I’ve got one on”, he said… My reply was unsavoury for a junior event, because my float just sat there. In fact, it sat there whilst Ollie caught fish, Jack caught fish, Faith caught fish, and Dave caught loads of Silvers. Which was very funny…

Ok, don’t panic… Think… Go deeper… I pushed out a little further and went deep and BANG! We were away. By now I was five fish behind Jerry, two behind Faith, and more behind ‘The talky twins’ but I had found them, and it was time to get to work.

Fishing near Ollie and Jack is…an experience. Picture two Mina Birds in adjacent cages. The only words these two birds have been taught are “How many have you got now?” and, “I’ve got (insert number of fish caught) fish now”. This would be something that would haunt Sgt Bracey later in the day. I mused that spending the 48-hour Carp match with these two donuts twittering on all day AND night would be more than anyone should be expected to endure. Annamama, who I swear wears earplugs, said that “This was nothing” and that “I didn’t know Ollie very well, did I?”… Simple answer was, no… Thank goodness. It didn’t stop! It was like letting a hyperactive child loose in a Skittles factory. The only way the noise would be dampened would be to completely destroy them in the match!!! MWAAhahaha!!!!

It’s junior match Gra, let’s keep perspective here… I had visions of the Fast Show sketches where the dad smashes the cricket ball hundreds of yards for his small son to go and fetch, whilst he scores hundreds of runs on a half-sized pitch!

It’s fair to say that I did catch everyone up and pass their numbers after a short while. The frequency of the “How many have you got now, Graham?” diminished as I got to thirty, then forty, and onwards. But it didn’t stop them talking at all…

Then ‘Wasp-gate’ happened. Wasps are horrible things. Only ever good for figs and killing spiders. One of said species had decided settle on Ollie. Even the insects were fed up with the constant jabbering, because it let Ollie have it on both barrels… I didn’t have anything in the First Aid kit to offer him relief from the apparent agony of the sting. As I drove home, I thought I could have made a gag from bandages? Jerry offered to relieve his pain, particularly if he heard the phrase ‘Stung by a Wasp’ one more time. But it may have involved getting a slightly wet, and a little bit drowny… It sounds like The Mud-Slinger is picking on Ollie in this edition, but there is nothing I am writhing that isn’t true. Ask Jerry… Man you should have been there… Even Jack’s Covid jab got put on the back burner…

Back to the match then and Jerry had decided that fishing was boring and stopped catching anything at all. There’s nothing quite so sad looking like a downcast Jerry. He did a great job of not swearing extremely loudly on a number of occasions. Kudos to him for that. But he was getting annihilated from both sides, and one of them was a junior! It’s a horrible feeling and we’ve all been there.

I got up with an hour to go to get my fifth net. We had advised everyone to keep the number of fish in each net to 16 so that it would be easier on the scales -people at the end and kinder to the fish during the day. It would also keep the inexperienced shrimps from over filling their nets. I had put two 2.5 metre nets as well as two 3-metre nets at the start. But the water level was so low that I felt the shorter nets were not deep enough to comfortably hold any more fish, so I stopped at ten in each.

30 minutes later, I was up for my sixth, and final net of the day. Then disaster stuck. I foul hooked one and it tore off like a missile, stretching my elastic to the max. I gained some ground on it just as the hook gave way. The shock of the recoil broke the pole in my hand just where the side puller was… Nuts… I still had one tip left, so I swapped the rigs and carried on fishing and catching.

With ten minutes to go, I was catching some of the larger lumps that live down the margins when the top section of my second and last top kit for that pole gave way too. I landed the fish, but it was game over for me… A couple of casts on the feeder in the dying minutes yielded nothing…

Remember the tracky bottoms? Well, underneath an essential set of waterproofs, things were heating up nicely because the overcast weather had blossomed into a glorious late summers' day. "I bet you're hot Gra?" asked Dave... I made a kind of gurgling sound and left it at that...

Damn you Met Office!

Fast pack away before the weigh in started. The weights went as follows.

Peg 14: Austin Scott-Kennedy – 63lbs 7ozs – 5 points Plus 3 from averaged points score – 8 points

Peg 12: Chris Ward – 56lbs 10ozs – 6 points Peg 11: James Oram – 22lbs 11ozs – 7 points Team score: 13 points

Peg 10: Jake Taylor – 49lbs 12ozs – 6 points Peg 9: Jon Bass – 65lbs 14ozs – 5 points Team score: 11 points

Peg 8: Si Wagner: 85lbs 14ozs – 3 points Peg 7: Josiah Wells-Parkes 71lbs 4ozs – 4points Team score: 7 points

Peg 6: Faith Stone – 108lbs 7ozs – 3 points Peg 5: Graham Howard – 184lbs 14ozs – 1 point Team score: 4 points

Peg 4: Jerry Bracey – 73lbs 10ozs – 4 points Peg 3: Oliver Smith – 140lbs 13ozs – 2 points Team score: 6 points

Peg 2: Jack Copp – 150lbs 8ozs – 1 point Peg 1: Dave Copp – 140lbs 9ozs – 2 points Team score: 3 points

Big congratulations for all those that broke their personal best match weights. Particularly Faith Stone who became the first junior to break the 100lb barrier today. She did not hold the record for long though because Ollie broke it again with 140lbs. He held the record for an even shorter time as Jack weighed his 150lbs in the next peg. Three juniors breaking 100lbs against only two seniors… Food for thought…

Your top three today were,

1st Team Copp - 3 points (Team weight 291lbs 1oz) 2nd Team Quietly Confident -4 points (Team weight 293lbs 5ozs) 3rd Team Puddletown Contingent – 6 points (Team weight 214lbs 7ozs)

Congratulations to Dave and Jack for a well-deserved win…

Huge thank you, as always, to John Candy and all the staff at Todber Manor who made feel so very welcome today, and for providing the country’s number one fishery (Official)

Thank you to all our coaches for contributing to such a great day and also to parents that mucked in and helped the juniors in the absence of roving coaches.

Well done to all our juniors today, I hope you don’t feel too sore in the morning! I know I will!

The next event is on Saturday the 24th of September for Coaching at Revels.

Juniors Sec.

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