It was an odd day… We all know air and wind do strange things sometimes, but I nor the coaches present, had ever seen as bizarre a situation as we all found ourselves in today at Harbourbridge.
Let’s start at the beginning…
I couldn’t help thinking that it was a bit disappointing to have, yet again, just three pairs to participate in the Pairs Match. But it would make the prize giving easier at the end…or would it?
It is my favourite match of the year along with the Senior/Junior Pairs match and the Christmas match. Maybe because there are no points pressures involved and the Shrimps seem to be more relaxed.
I let the little darlings choose their own partners for the first time this year too. That gentle release of control is good for the soul, despite how much fun it is to leave them hanging until the end to find out who their partner is and if they had won or not. I would love to put an evil cackle here in word form. I’m just going to assume that you have just heard one in your head…
The weather people at the Met Office couldn’t make their minds up between heatwave, Tornado, or lightning storm earlier in the week. We would have to decide what we were going to do nearer to the time. The threat of scary bangs and trouser filling electrical sky death ribbons did not materialise in the end, so we were good to go. Anna did message me to ask if it was worth filling her new car with fishing clutter? I told her she was to proceed with the loading…. Maybe she was hung over and wanted an extra lay in? But we don’t abandon fishing matches unless for a good reason like death, a global pandemic, or Rickets.
I awoke on the morning of the match and, a bit like a Disney woodland creature, cautiously peered through bleary eyes, and the kitchen window. What met me was a scene from every natural disaster movie you have ever seen all mixed into one mind blowing clip. The trees were dancing around as if in time lapse, and a plastic bag (not mine) was spiralling and spinning around like it was partnered by the ghost of Fred Astaire himself. The bag, along with next doors cat, a Lilo, two crisp packets (one cheese and onion, the other beef Monster Munch), and a wing mirror from a Ford Fiesta, were also joining in with the windy carnival.
It was windy. Very windy. Then, to prove some kind of point, someone switched the rain on. It came down so hard that it made me wonder just who had upset the weather to make it so angry? Two minutes later it stopped just as suddenly. A bit like stabbing at the trigger on a jet washer. It was starting to look like an odd day…
I arrived at Harbourbridge after a thoroughly uneventful journey, and placed the signs on the roadside that would hopefully capture any lost ‘Amy’s’ should they decide to turn up. I also hoped that they would still be in their chosen position at the end instead of in the adjacent field. As I did so, I noticed that Hyundai’s patented self-drive system had activated again. The car wasn’t as keen to go fishing as I was because it was making its way home under its own steam. I really must make sure the handbrake is on before I get out of the car in future…
I made my way to the lake and parked in a bush.
It wasn’t that bad really…
A bit breezy? Perhaps.
A heavy skim? definitely.
Nothing that our super shrimps could not handle. The lake had more water in it than I can ever remember seeing at this time of year before. It was claggy and needed a haircut, but it looked quite nice.
I put out the peg numbers and noticed some of Jim’s ‘pets’ tearing up the bottom at the point from which he feeds them. Someone was going to kill it if they worked that secret out.
When everyone had arrived, I went to look for the ladies present. I couldn't find any, but i did find Anna and Donna. We spoke about the temporary toilet facilities that we usually provide. I had not attempted to erect the bog tent (Apologies to the fans of the Bog Tent, and I know you are many) because, in this wind it would be a massacre. It would have far too much advantage over me to be safe. Not only that but, I did not want to recreate the scene from Jurassic Park when the T-Rex blows the toilet building down around the terrified guy sitting on 'God's Big White Telephone'. Having the tent exit stage left whilst one of our finest English roses was 'exposé au monde' whilst sat on the pot, is not a risk I am willing to take. Not mention it would take up most of the blog post to tell you about it...
Your diminished number of Shrimps today were,
Team Gone fishing – Oliver (Aquaboy) Smith & Austin (Rambo) Scott-Kennedy Team Gone flushing – Josiah (His Lordship) Wells-Parkes & Jack (Twiglet) Copp
Team Gone flashing – Harry (Carnage) Cryer & Jack (T’other Jack) Cryer
Your cast of fruit loops today were,
Graham Howard – Commander James Tiberius Kirk Jon Bass – First Officer Spock Si Wagner – Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott
Pegs 1 & 4:
Jack & Harry Cryer:
I had warned Paul and Jack that they may have drawn the short straw when it came to peg one. With the wind ripping up towards the far end for the last few days, the fish might desire to be in the oxygen rich water at the other end, and so it proved to be. There didn’t seem to be as much fish activity as was evident in some of the other pegs. It also quickly became evident to me that the ‘Mud line’ was the place to be (Nothing changes there then), and that Jack was going to have to be brave with his casting. The wind, however had other ideas. The wind was as erratic as a house fly on acid. Gusting, as it was, this way and that. This made casting somewhat of task for the lad.
Jacks peg had an added disadvantage because of the water levels. The water was so high that the foliage which was usually way above the water line was touching the water. The fish love being on the mud line at Harbourbridge and Jacks only mud lines were up wind and in between two bushes. 50 mph gusts made this virtually impossible without Pauls help. The lad turned in a good effort by weighing 25lbs 3ozs by the end.
Harry on peg four was having a different day altogether. The wind where Harry was fishing had changed from an inconsistent nuisance to a demon baring all its teeth. It was hacking across the surface giving Harry a damned good battering for his troubles. Catching a lower weight of 13lbs 11ozs gave Harry plenty of time to spread his equipment around his fishing area to back up his title of Carnage. I know it was windy but, Harry’s swim was resembling a scene from news reports about the aftermath of hurricane Katrina at the start of the match. Heaven knows what it would be like by the end! Gentle Jon and I watched Harry as he demonstrated the effectiveness of his sticky method mix by perfectly rendering the inside of his ground bait bucket. Quite impressive for such a smooth surface. I can see it now. Cryer’s rendering and pebble-dashing services. He may have quite a future ahead of him. Harry did cause a stomach-churning incident at the end of the day after he found that the removal of his wellie boot was proving more difficult than normal. Several dads had a go at the boot without success, fearing that they may rip his foot off. It was sexy dad that finally removed the item of footwear to reveal the reason for its stubbornness. Harry had, not only coated the inside of his bucket, but managed to fill the foot area of his boot with ground bait. He had additionally thought it prudent to pop some water in there too making a kind of fishmeal slurry that proved very effective as a non-setting cement. The suction was immense, and the sight of a boy’s skinny foot shrouded in a soggy sock being released from the boot coated with what I can only describe as ground bait ‘soup’, was a sight to behold. He then tipped up the boot to empty the remains of the mix. The torrent of ‘effluent’ that poured out would have half filled a pint glass. It was at this point that I had to look away…I can’t begin to describe how uncomfortable that must have been.
Harry just thought it was funny as he ‘washed’ his foot in the dirtiest puddle he could find… Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Carnage…
Pegs two and five:
Oliver Smith & Austin Scott-Kennedy:
Ollie was going through a rough patch with his fishing and, I for one, was looking forward to seeing him get his mojo back. Ollie’s peg seemed to be a little more sheltered from the wind seeing as the earth bank behind him was closer to the water. This made casting easier for Ollie with only the last half of the cast being affected by the strong gusts. I have written this before and, at the risk of repeating myself, Ollies casting never ceases to impress me and, today he was on form. The mojo had returned, and he could have taken the wings from a fly with a feeder at 35 metres today. The distance was equal to anything I have ever seen, only the direction waivered slightly from left to right. But in that wind, who could blame him for that? He was happy, mum was happy, and there nothing more radiant than a happy Anna. It was my duty to take the edge from that a little by getting a few good mickey takes in to her during the day like, not allowing her to get passed me when she was running to get her coat when it was raining and, offering to see her back when reversing her car out of the car park, only to shout ‘Whoa!’ for no legitimate reason. Being a nervous soul when driving this caused her to slam on her brakes. You could argue that it did not help her nervousness, but I thought it was funny and, deep, deep down somewhere I think she did too. She blew me a kiss after she flipped me off, so I’m guessing it was all good.
Ollie would have won on the day with his 54lbs 12ozs, and deservedly so. Welcome back son, we have missed you…
Partnering Ollie today was Austin, a surprise for me because I would have put money on it being Twiglet. But Austin got in first, and so it was. Mr consistent Austin has not finished outside of the top three in any event he has fished this year so far, and today would be no different. He is developing into a very competent angler and will be the real deal when his casting becomes a little more controlled. Casting to a mud line in horrific winds is tough enough for a seasoned angler, let alone for one who is only in his second year. But bar a few mean missiles and wayward volleys, he was improving as he got his head around the conditions. Long term readers of this rubbish will remember it was Austin that went ‘Fracking with a feeder’ last year. Burying a feeder so deep into the far bank that we left it there for future archaeologists to find. This year most were landing like a feather on a bed of marshmallows, if they were fired from a high velocity cannon. Austin would back up his partner’s already impressive weight with a further 52lbs 6ozs. A great effort today from a junior that we know can perform well and who has found his form again, and from another who is going to be challenging for trophies and titles for a few years to come if he keeps going like this.
Your lead coach has been extremely impressed today, well done.
Pegs three & six:
Jack Copp & Josiah Wells-Parkes:
Jack was buoyant drawing, as he did, close to the area of the lake where Jim’s feeds his pets. Indeed, when I was pegging the lake at 08:15 that morning, some lumpy Carp were churning around in the margins for whatever scraps they could find there. This was strange seeing Jim hadn’t fed them yet today?
There is a track that leads down to the lake from the main roadway that causes a gap in the bank. The wind used this to dip down and come at Jack hard from the left, causing him all sorts of problems with casting. There was only twenty metres between Jack and Ollie, but the conditions in each swim was vastly different. The same wind would be giving Harry a good thrashing to Jack’s right too. Jack’s brand new multi-million-pound pole was nowhere to be seen in this wind, and I don’t blame him either. I don’t expect Donna wanted the responsibility for being there when the priceless item wrapped itself in two either. Amusingly (for me at least), it did not matter where Donna sat behind Jack, the wind made sure that something fell off Jack’s feeder in her direction, or she got splashed or dripped on by something. It made me chuckle anyway but then again, apparently, I’m cruel… When Donna had to leave, uttering some filthy words like ‘housework’ as she did so, I asked her to bring some better weather next time please. Anna had brought the sunshine and, if she could bring less wind, it would be appreciated. The words left my mouth before I realised what I’d said, and not for the first time either. But it seemed to go over her head and, if she reads this, I apologise…
Jack struggled on but, you could feel the deflation surrounding him because he was realising that the win was slipping away. No one likes being battered from either side, but it happens. As Dave said when he arrived, you can’t win them all. Jack weighed a creditable 18lbs 2ozs at the finish. He was beaten by some good angling, but I can’t help but think that the wind did Jack no favours today.
Josiah was pegged in what I thought should have been the hot seat today. Being the summer-windward end peg Charlie is always the favoured position. Carp usually like to follow a warm wind. Success at places like Todber Manor depend on having the skin ripped from your eyeballs by a facing wind. I thought today would be similar. Jo’s end of the lake is covered with reeds and the wind just blew any easily led Carp straight amongst them. They were not going to come out in any great hurry either. Like Jack at the other end of the lake, Jo’s only mud line was up-wind, making the cast tricky in a gusting wind. By the end, the waves (yes, waves!) were so big that you could see the erosion of the banks taking place behind the reeds! I get the feeling that all wasn’t right with Jo today. I have mentioned before that he is Trudie’s champion because of their Asthma connection, and I wondered if he may have been under the weather due to the conditions? The lad doesn’t make a huge fuss at the best of times (that I have seen anyway), but he was even more quiet today. Maybe we can iron out any of his wrinkles at the summer Tuesday clubs through the holidays… Jo did almost equal his partners weight with 16lbs 11ozs, so he should be pleased with that… Good job…
The results were: New 2023 DDAS Junior Pairs Champions Oliver Smith & Austin Scott-Kennedy - 107lbs 2ozs 2nd place - Josiah Wells-Parkes & Jack Copp – 34lbs 13ozs 3rd place – Harry & Jack Cryer – 28lbs 14ozs
Or was it?
Gentle Jon Bass is one of life’s treasures. We are so lucky to have him on our coaching team. Softly spoken but straight talking when he needs to be, Jon amazed us all with just how at one with nature he truly is. Whilst the rest of us were looking towards the ever-clouding skies wondering if it was going to rain or not, I turned round to see Jon pulling on his waterproof trousers. I was still wondering if I should be doing the same when it started to rain. I jokingly blamed Jon for breaking the weather! But I stood in awe at how well he had read the situation. Plus, it gave me the chance to wind Anna up a bit too!
During the weigh -in, Anna panicked when faced with more the three figures to add together, threw the clipboard at Jon, and ran off screaming terrible things shedding clothes as she went… (This may or may not have happened). Either way, Jon was in charge. I barked out the numbers and Jon wrote them down. He added multiple weights together to give us the final tally for each angler, and for each team at the end. Now, I am literate, but by no means numerate. I am a mathematical oaf. Anyone that can take away the chore of adding numbers together, particularly in a sixteen times table, is a hero to me.
Jon had done just that, and I had no reason to doubt him at all.
I read out results as they were written, and everyone accepted it as being gospel.
We gave out prizes, we took pictures, we shook hands, and we all said our goodbyes and left.
Except the Cryers.
They had stopped only a few yards down the lane and walked back. “Can the boys see their weights please?” asked Paul. Not a problem… Oh wait! Oh no… I looked at them.
They looked at me.
A spherical part of the male anatomy had been dropped from a great height, and it was time for the big boy pants and the apology socks…
Any way you shape it, 13lbs 11ozs and 23lbs 3ozs does not equate to 28lbs 14ozs. It is, of course, 38lbs 14ozs… The Cryers had come second, and the two ‘J’s had come third.
I called Sexy Dad first.
Even a professional driver like James (<singing> Jaaaaames, he drives the fastest dust cart in the west, ah ooooooo) couldn’t have gotten that far. He answered and I told him the news.
Dave was next, and he said he would see Paul to sort it out as he knew him anyway. No address needed.
I wish it ended there. But it just doesn’t!
Sexy Dad said that he was close to Paul’s address and that he would drop Jo’s £10 voucher through the letter box on his way by. He was picking up some takeout and would swing by later in the day to collect the £5 voucher from the Cryer household.
When Paul got home, no voucher on the mat. Had James dumped a voucher for £10 credit at Alan’s Angling through the wrong door?
I messaged James…
James’s belly had over-ridden his heads decision and made him put food as the priority over store credit, and he hadn’t dropped it off causing a second (or third, I don’t remember where we are at?) ripple of mild panic.
A relieving message that evening confirmed that the voucher exchange had taken place, and no one had died… I could sleep tonight…
I sent Jon a (hopefully) humorous email to tell him about what had occurred, to which he replied asking me to offer his most humble apologies for what was ‘Lazy Mathematics’ or a ‘Senior Moment’. I apologise too for not checking the results before reading them out!
The revised results then, and still the new 2023 DDAS Junior Pairs Champions Oliver Smith & Austin Scott-Kennedy - 107lbs 2ozs 2nd place – Harry & Jack Cryer – 38lbs 14ozs 3rd place - Josiah Wells-Parkes & Jack Copp – 34lbs 13ozs
I hope you all appreciate the seamless editing to the picture... A challenging day then battling the conditions as they did. Some good lessons learned about compensating on the cast for windy weather. Also, that poles are expensive and too valuable to use when the wind is strong. Other lessons were, don’t frighten nervous drivers (however funny it may seem at the time). Look to Gentle Jon when it looks like rain and copy what he does, when he does it. Don’t give Jon your accounts. Don’t give me your accounts to check.
Our next event is next Friday evening for round two of the evening knockout series at Revels. The booking has just gone live as I am writing this!
The next points match is on Saturday the 29th of July (already! Where is the year going?) at a venue to be confirmed. I will try to get Todber or Whitemoor. If either of those are unavailable, then it will have to be Luckfield or the like.
Big thanks to Jim Roper for allowing us to host the event today. Thank you to my wonderful and mostly numerate coaches, Si Wagner and Jon Bass, for their unwavering support.
Thanks to Mr Richard Butler for paying us a visit armed with jam donuts! Those who had some appreciated it, none more so than M'Lady when I brought home what was left. She now wants to marry you not me. It doesn't take much, does it? Should I be worried?
Thanks to the sun for turning up.
Thanks to the rain for mostly staying away.
Lastly, up yours to the wind for making it difficult!
Until next time, take care and tight lines…