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11/05/24 - Junior Coaching - Harbourbridge Lakes.

New Harry said, ‘I’ll bet that Carp is 20lbs!’

‘If you don’t catch it, it could be 30lbs or bigger!’ I said, ‘A bit like Schrodinger’s Carp’…

Blank faces stared back at me…

‘What?’ said Amy and Anna in unison.

‘Schrodinger’s Carp, like Schrodinger’s Cat, only it’s a fish', I said, waiting for the giggles.

Anna and Amy looked at each other and shrugged.

‘Are you feeling ok? Do you need a sit down with a drink? I think the sun has got to him’, said Anna, offering me her chair. Amy and Dave agreed.

I turned to Neil who also looked at me like I’d just turned blue. As did Tim, and Chris.

I drew a blank with Jerry and Ross, and by now the mickey taking was merciless, despite my protestations about the validity of the facts.

I turned to google and read out the following:

Schrodinger’s Cat is a quantum theory that if you place a live cat in a box with something that could kill it, it remains both alive and/or dead at the same time until you open the box to find out.

Schrodinger’s Carp can exponentially grow or shrink until you actually catch it to find out its true weight.

Like this blog, the conversation had long left the original statement from New Harry way behind and was no longer amusing, other than to the ever-increasing crowd that was gathering to see an Angling Coach’s brain going into catastrophic meltdown.

I was genuinely questioning my own sanity before John Bass came to my rescue saying that he knew about Schrodinger’s cat too. I wasn’t mad and the others have a little more culture than they woke up with! Not enough to really make any significant difference to their lives but, a little all the same…

Upon arrival at the lake, I was faced with a small dilemma. To fish, or not to fish…

The time of year is such that the air and water temperature reach the perfect level for the Carp start to do the funky dance of love. They create such a disturbance that the whole lake can the literally can be a foaming hot bed of procreation.

Fortunately, today’s ‘activity’ was tempered by comparison. I decided that, as long as we gave the fish some room to 'do their thing', then it would be acceptable to go ahead with the session.

Once all were assembled, I began the day with a casting tutorial using both my original 8 step guide and one shown to us last year by Callum Dicks. The latter version is much more fluid than the first but may rely on a little more experience. Either way they were given two examples of how to get their feeders/bombs into the water.

We also revisited the ‘Foyle Acronym’, Mr Soil, to help the juniors remember the basic areas where they may look to locate the fish they wish to catch.

M = Margins.

R = Reeds.

S = Surface.

O = Overhangs.

I = Islands.

L = Lillies.

Juniors were allowed to choose their own pegs so we will start at one end and make our way to the other.

At the far end was Liam Serkis who, I regret to say, I never got the chance to talk to because of the Taster session that I had to begin at the other end of the lake. Liam is one of our juniors who like to feed his fishing fix in short bite sized sessions. This is probably another reason why I only got speak to him as he left the lake. Hopefully I’ll be able to speak more when we see him next.

Next up was Micro George Ellis, a junior who has, not only stolen the hearts of nearly everyone he meets, but also has captured the attention of the coaches. For someone so young George has frightening potential when it comes to fishing. Potential that is backed up by bottomless enthusiasm. As a coach, sometimes you are so focused on the task of improving the skills of the junior in your charge, that you forget to appreciate the journey. George made his first tentative casts with a waggler rod today and, as I watched, I wondered how long it would be before I plucked this memory from my crumbling mind as he destroys the opposition in future matches. Indeed, within the first few minutes, George had banked himself a rouge Carp that sent a mumbled ripple of interest along the bank that reached most ears. We’re all watching his journey with interest.

Next up was the noise fest that is Alec Campbell.

As the day progressed, assessing Alec’s fishing skills became slightly secondary to my growing concern that he was transforming himself into a human lobster. The sun was strong today and Alec couldn’t resist the sun cream for much longer and, backed up by vocal concerns from your lead coach, He reluctantly consented to the slapping on of some skin saver. What I witnessed was something I can only compare to someone trying to grease up and angry weasel with cold custard on a wet bouncy castle.

Ian finally got enough cream on to make it effective and the fishing again took centre stage. Interestingly, Alec had stumbled across an innovation in fishing. The development of a ‘Pillion seat’ whereby a passenger was able to sit directly behind the angler whilst they were fishing or, as Ian pointed out, a new way of hosting the pairs match whilst simultaneously saving pegs. Either way it was food for thought…

There were not many moments that I did not witness a whip caught fish being swung to the waiting hand of Alec. I wonder what his weight would have been had it been a match? I’m willing to bet he would have been right up there in a silverfish event.

Kenzie had found himself the muddiest peg on the whole venue and was close to earning himself the nickname of the new Mud-Monster. Jake Taylor still holds the record for the amount of mud taken home from a venue on a single day, and it was Harbourbridge where he did it. It seemed that Kenzie’s cool ‘street-wear’ was not to exposed to that kind of treatment. To me, Kenzie had a quiet day and by that, I mean that he didn’t do anything daft enough to pique the Mud-Slinger’s attention. Except for the almost water skiing incident. 'Kenz' was fishing well and catching as many fish as most of the other juniors. He had been practicing his casting and I couldn’t see anything wrong with what he was doing at all. Casting a float around all day is tiring work, and Kenzie found himself fishing under his rod tip catching as many fish short as he did long, and that’s when it happened…

It was almost idyllic. Drop the float in. Feed some bait. Enjoy the sunshine and pull out a Rudd.

The rod bounced, Kenzie jumped, and nearly fell of his seat box as Mr Carp decided to take Kenzie’s float for a little tour of the lake. His reel was like one from ‘Jaws’, whirring and spewing line as it chased the speeding fish. Trying to adjust the tension on the spool at the front of your reel is tricky at best when you have hooked an angry fish.

It is made even worse when you have a rear drag reel and there is no drag adjustment at the front!

Sadly, it was all too much for Kenzie’s hook link which was cleft in twain from the pressure. It was a good fish too. Maybe a Schrodinger’s Carp?

There was a fishing rod protruding from a large mop of hair and, once we had hacked our way into it, we realised it was Austin. This was taking camouflage to a whole new level, but surely one that would only really be effective within a heard of Aberdeen Angus cattle. Maybe the thick pelt kept the suns strong rays from his eyes? It had to really, because no cap would adjust to go around the thicket of hair and we are fresh out of woolly Rastafarian hats at the moment.

Regardless of the mane, Austin was doing a great job of emptying the lake of its’ inhabitants or at least giving them a temporary piercing. Austin is becoming quite the feeder angler and gone are the days when he was burying feeder deep into the far bank mud at this very venue. There was a bit of ‘Squirrel Fishing’ now and then, there always is with ‘unreliable trees’ festooning the far bank. Trees that make you think they are nice and compact. But the reality is that they have extended a branch right over the spot where feeders dare to tread and you find it with annoying regularity…

The sound of Austin’s rod ripping the air in two in its effort to launch a light float into the lake, did urge me to suggest a slightly heavier float, but I just didn’t get round to doing it.

Your rod should make a gentle whispering sound as it glides through the air. Not that of a large dog trying to hack up wet wipe that it’s been told not to eat….Another step heavier on the float will help this.

Jack Copp was fresh from his almost win at Todber last week. Analysis of that match brought the conclusion that hog tying Dave to a tree would exponentially help Jack’s fishing career. I won’t go into painful detail but, let’s just say that Dave now makes the sound of a fish clicker every time he farts…

Jack and Ollie had joined the coaching team for today’s coaching session and they have my gratitude for doing so. It helps me get the number of coaches for the increasing number of juniors we are getting now, and gains for them vital experience of people skills and, hopefully, one day they will want to coach anglers in the future themselves. Either way it’s a win-win situation and I am grateful for their help.

Ollie may have surpassed me on the Ellis family’s Christmas card list today because he helped George brilliantly well. They were full of songs of gratitude for ‘El Capitano’, and George has found a new friend.

Jack took on the task of coaching three new taster session juniors without even flinching. I wanted to push him to see what he could handle, and he looked at me as if to say, ‘Is that all you’ve got?’

I did notice that the competitive side of Jack was glad when it was over so he could get on with some fishing himself. They are both young and I don’t blame them. Now they know how the coaches feel on a regular basis!

New Harry had set up his stall shaded by a large umbrella out from which came a now familiar juggernaut of questions. Everything from what time do we finish? To what’s the inside leg measurement of a low Aardvark…

It is refreshing to see inquisitiveness on this scale and, once you have filtered out the irrelevant stuff, he does ask some brilliantly good questions.

The coaches patience may get strained when you’ve done what you felt was a reasonably effective casting tutorial at the start of the session, and then a junior stands with his back to the lake and flings the feeder (on a clip) over his shoulder into the lake with gay abandonment announcing that, ‘I’ve found a much better way of casting’, as it lands ‘somewhere’ in the water.

All I can say to that is ‘Mm-Hmm’…

New Harry caught some nice fish today including, I think, a Carp. Even our biggest junior, Ross, had some good-sized Roach and Rudd…

Leo was in only his second session with us, and this one went much better than the first. Maybe a lake with shed loads of huge fish like Todber, isn’t every bodies bag? Silvers are fun to catch, and far easier to handle!

Leo seemed happier at Harbourbridge. Perhaps because it’s a little more intimate with the pegs closer together so he could see everyone else. Perhaps it was because it was warmer and more comfortable without a northerly wind trying to rip the skin from your eyeballs on a notoriously exposed venue.

I sorted out Leo’s pole at the start and he caught a few fish with it too as he played with the lakes silver inhabitants.

Leo’s most endearing habit is that he seems to be painfully polite. If you’ve ever experienced those clouds of tiny flies that you get in the summer months I’m sure that, if you were able to zoom in really close, they would all be teeny-tiny Leo’s just hovering around quietly and patiently in front of you waiting for your attention, to ask you a question, or even just to say thank you and good-bye.

It's very sweet…

Mia Evans has almost as much Preston gear as me now, which is good. I need someone to hand the batten over to that will keep Preston Innovations going. They would struggle otherwise being such a small, cottage industry as they are.

What isn’t good is being called closer only have a slimy hand wiped on your brand new and very clean polo shirt! Some harsh retribution will be delivered at a time when it is the least expected! Cheeky little….

I’m letting her get to grips with her new gear before starting to organise her ‘tackle efficiency’. By that I mean how she uses the pole sections and arranges herself on her seat box. Being ambidextrous complicates things as far as tackle organisation is concerned. Being totally reliant on my right side (I only use my left side for standing, waving, and ‘YMCA-ing’), organising my equipment around me is simple. Being able to use both sides presents a dilemma of where is best to be the most efficient. We will get there, but not from a position that is within ‘Sliming range’…

Josh Roe turned up with his broken wing and it was great to see him. We all wish him speedy recovery…

It was a glorious day, and the wet winter seemed a distant memory. Each junior session goes by so fast. I drove home in somewhat of a daze wondering where the day had gone.

My feet hurt, my arm hurt, and I was drained. I even drove the full length of the lake with a rod on the roof of my car and certainly would have lost it if I hadn’t needed to stop to take down the sign!

Doctors for me on Monday to sort myself out because I’m struggling as I am and it’s taking away some of the fun. I told the receptionist of my ailments, and she asked what I wanted her to put as my main problem? I said just put old and crumbling and that I wasn’t sure if I needed a doctor or a vet!

Big thank you to guest coaches Ollie and Jack for their help today, also to the team of Jerry, Neil, Chris, Tim, and Jon. Priceless as always…

Thanks to Jim Roper for allowing us to play with his pets today…

The next event is a new one for the juniors.

Held at Todber Manor on the 25th of May, this points match is slightly different than any we have held before.

The Two Methods Match is two restricted matches in one.

Phase One from 10 until 12:30, juniors will only be allowed to fish with any type of feeder at no closer than halfway across the lake. The far bank to the middle is all you will be allowed to use. You can feed and prepare you near side for the second half, but you may not fish it until told you can do so.

Duff casts will be required to reel in. Persistent offenders (without good reason) will be asked to sit out phase one until the beginning of phase two! You have been warned.

Phase Two, from 12:30 until 3pm, will be strictly float only, anywhere on the lake within the boundaries of your peg. (Poles, Wagglers, or Pellet Wagglers with suspended baits only).

You can set everything up at the start. You can feed from the start. But you can only fish the methods and at times outlined above.

Anyone purposely fishing the wrong method in the wrong phase faces disqualification.

Be aware, Many, if not most, of the Carp have been removed from Ash Lake.

Any Carp caught WILL COUNT towards your end result.

That’s it then and another tab is pulled from the year planner as we march towards the Christmas Match!

Take care all,

Juniors Sec…

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