18/06/22 - Coaching #5 - Harbourbridge Lakes


Septem Horribilis….


That’s the best way to describe the last seven days. I needed some fishing therapy with my fishing family and today we were at Harbourbridge lakes in Chickerell. Well, most of us were….

I had it all planned out perfectly until a dookie was lobbed into the air conditioning and resulted in a last-minute change of venue. Fortunately, Jim Roper was there to save the day and prevent the cancellation of the event. It’s fair to say that panic was the chefs special as I desperately tried to get in touch with everyone involved, particularly as we had a taster session booked prior to the coaching session and they were coming all the way from Yeovil!

The croucher family of Mum Philippa, lad Joseph, and young lady Bethany, were facing a longer journey now for their one-hour session. So, with being at Mr Ropers lakes, I made an executive decision and offered them an extended taster session free of charge. The one-hour session turned into three and, from the excited smiles and laughter coming from that end of the lake, I think they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Captain Chris and Si Wag, Master of Corrections, were the coaches making the magic happen, with silverfish of all sizes flying through the air. Sometimes quite literally. Big thanks to those two for showing our latest (Potential) newbies a great day. I realise that Yeovil is quite a way to come particularly with fuel prices as they are. But they are a delightful family and I truly hope we see them again very soon.


But let’s take a step back for a moment because I think we need to acknowledge the efforts of Mike Millington-Stevenson and Lydia Stone in making the Match Lake at Harbourbridge so much better to fish. It is still a work in progress but, you can see the improvements in the carpark area and to the ongoing construction of the swims along the lake. Paved and levelled swims from which to fish will make the lake much more comfortable and well as being a whole lot safer too. Not that it was dangerous, but now you can see where the edge is, and the undercut banks are voided. The amount of brush clearance is phenomenal and already the atmosphere of the lake has been greatly enhanced. I thought they deserved a paragraph of gratitude seeing as they had been working hard there for some time, but especially hard since the last second change of venue. I think they put in a 12-hour shift on Friday only finishing at 9pm. On behalf of the juniors, thank you for your effort’s guys. Greatly appreciated…



Fans and followers of the Loo tent will be pleased to know that it is fine and fit after the fight with The Captain at Todber Manor. (Upon re-reading I realise there are an awful lot of ‘F’s in that sentence) If you remember, it sustained a minor injury after throwing itself at Chris who, like a Ninja, gave it a roundhouse kick to the upper strut (nasty) and cast it to the trees. I know that isn’t strictly how it happened but why start using facts this late in the game? I gave it talking to as the injury was repaired at home with some Gaffer tape. It was whimpering trying get some sympathy from me. But I wasn’t falling for it. That tent is a liar! As I unzipped the bag at the lake, it asked me ‘Who’s there? Who is it?’ 'It’s ok, it’s me. Daddy’s here….' (sad) ‘It’s not Chris, is it?’ 'No, no, it’s me. Now behave or I’ll send Chris up to sort you out…' Just the mere threat of dealing with the Captain seemed to do the trick because, even with a brisk breeze as a potential ally, the tent was erected with no fuss at all. It looked a bit wonky but, if you annoy a snake, you’ll end up bitten. I doubt Chris will have much trouble in the future. Or is the tent saving its animosity for someone else? Read on to find out more…

Signs out. Flag up (Soon to be very down). Gear set up. The fish were briefed on what was expected from them today and the scene was set for another epic junior event!


The cast for today’s thriller were as follows. Luke Skywalker/Princess Leia – Graham Howard Han Solo – Tim Broughton Chewbacca – Jerry Bracey (One of his many nicknames from his days in the force. Pardon the pun) Obi Wan Kenobi – Chris Ward Master Yoda – Si Wagner (The wise one) Juniors cast members. Faith Stone (Jibber Jabber) Austin Scott-Kennedy (Camouflage) Josiah Wells-Parkes (His Lordship) James Oram – (Baby Longus) Carter Lynock (Low Tone (Because of his now deep voice)) Jack Copp – (Twiglet) – They decided to clear off to Ash Ponds instead and Dave forgot his phone and couldn’t tell me… He rang me later and explained. I didn’t mind because they had a good day (200lbs+) and got some good info about the place.



I have already talked a bit about our guests so I will move straight on to Austin Scott-Kennedy. It’s not often that someone suggests a nickname for themselves, at least one that I can type here. But Amy called herself ‘Agent Maps’. I like it and will use it frequently in conversation from now on. Agent Maps because of her complete lack of a sense of direction and global positioning. I’m tempted to get her a T-shirt with ‘You are here’ printed on it… This very slight imperfection in no way inhibits her from giving directional advice to hubby when they are driving, however. Hence the term ‘Oh, here we go. Here comes Agent Maps.’ Chapeau my good man, Chapeau… Austin had a blinding start by immediately, I assume, trying to hit a water rat between the eyes on the far bank with a method feeder. It was a firm cast too and took some pulling out. But it gave me a chance to demonstrate the safe and correct procedure for such a situation. Keep the rod low and pull straight from the reel. We don’t want a repeat of the unfortunate chap who lost an eye to a pellet waggler. A gruesomely true story. I gave Austin a little casting lesson and very quickly actually, he was able to take the wings off a fly without it knowing.



Next up was James Oram and first time with us, his mum whose name I have completely forgotten. I’m sorry… It isn’t for notoriety or prestige that I have my name on my clothing you know. It is so I know who the heck I most of the time am. I realised from reminding myself in the mirror that I have an extraordinarily strange name… I mean, who calls their son Drawoh Maharg. That’s just insane! James, as usual went about his day in a quiet way. He is so softly spoken for a tall lad. He is coming along very nicely indeed and improving all the time. James caught some really nice Roach today. It’s a shame they look so small in his impressive hands. James did his last couple of elements from level One of the coaching program to earn congratulations from me, progression to level 2, and a certificate and badge next time we see him. Well done young man, good job!


Next in the firing line was Faith Stone. I’ve been talking with many people lately about this little lady and everyone has been impressed with her progress. But it is not just in fishing that we see the changes. It is hard to believe that this is the same little girl that wouldn’t or couldn’t speak to anyone when we first met her. When she asked me to partner her for the pairs match, she had to have each word separately dictated to her by Lydia for her to repeat. However, now you just can’t keep her quiet! She’s not called Jibber Jabber for nothing! You know what? I love it! I love that we can hear her twitterings all along the lake. I love even more that she is a roll model for other girls that might like to try fishing. She’s good at it too, getting less and less help from either Mike or Lydia. Faith helped me to try out a fun new exercise of dropping bean bags into a bucket with a 5-metre pole. We shortened it to 5 because 6 metres was a little too much in small hands. Faith practiced a while before the real deal of not letting the cup hit the ground or the bucket. Doing so would mean starting again…

Take one. Slowly but surely the pole edged forward, waved a bit. Wobbled a bit. Then touched the bucket! Take two. One beanbag. Two beanbags. Three, Four, touched the bucket on five. Take three. Touched the bucket on three. Take four. One. Two. Three. Four. Five, come on, this time! SIX! SUCCESS! Much fist bumping, high fiving, and air punching later. I noticed an interested Agent Maps looking on.

‘That looks fun’ said she. ‘Want to have a go?’ says I. She upped and skipped across the grass like a kid chasing an ice cream van… Now, I am going to have to exercise extreme tact for this next part because Amy’s sense of humour clearly lives in very muddy places and was a shock for such an innocent soul such as mine. If you suffer from overly sensitive nature, then I suggest you skip this part of the blog. But knowing most of you as I do, the fact that there is a warning will encourage you to read on with gusto. You weirdos!


After delicately getting Amy to correctly position herself on the seat box, we set about the task of decanting the beanbags to the bucket. She was doing well and, with confidence came speed. Pushing and pulling the pole across her lap like Jamie Hughes with ten minutes to go. It was at this point that my totally innocent faux pas happened. I made the comment that her technique with a pole was actually very good. To which she smiled, raised her eyebrows, and made the motion with the pole similar to that of a snooker player cueing up their next shot and making a low ‘Mmmm’ sound. I stared at her for a second and, in the same amount of time that it takes a coin to bounce down a penny drop game, it suddenly dawned on me from when this filthy woman was getting her thoughts. I stumbled backwards, covered my mouth with my hand, and gasped. I’m not adverse to a little light innuendo, but I didn’t see that…..Stop it! There was much giggling and mirth. When composed we shook hands and vowed never to mention it again… I need to remind them, Drennan Feeder Beads (Small)


At this point I think I need to mention that the wind was now starting to pick up a little. More than that actually, it was blowing Hooley! The Wookie (Jerry) had commented on what a waste of time it had been to cover himself with factor fifty, so much so that he honestly resembled a cross channel swimmer covered in goose fat. He was a fellow shorts wearer today and was determined to get some colour to his legs so that they didn’t blend in with every white van that passed. We laughed at the time, but a white van did pass us, and Jerry did indeed look like he was floating for a second. Remarkable. The wind would play a significant part later…



Next up, Carter Lynock. Logistics are a problem currently for the Lynock family for reasons I won’t go in to. Suffice to say that we are doing our best to help them as best we can. Jerry asked me to contact Becky to offer them a lift. She said getting there was no problem but getting home might need assistance. No worries said I. I’m glad they decided to come along because I’ve been carrying Carters medal from Revels for ages in my bag (The medals were late in the post, and I haven’t seen them since). If only it was that simple… I got a call from a distressed Becky saying time was running short because of other commitments and could we pick them up from Sharnhill business park? Distress turned to frustration when I told them we had been forced to change the venue at the last minute… I felt terrible when they did arrive at Chickerell, much closer to where they live than Sharnhill, if nothing else because of fuel prices. I fully explained why we had to move, and they soon settled into the day. I made a big fuss of Carter and presented him with his medal in front of a gathered crowd. Well done Low Tone! He didn't remove it all day by the way!!! I think we all chipped in with helping Carter, but Chris spent quite a bit of time with him… Carter is doing things at his own pace and enjoys the fishing as much as he wants to. There is definitely a cut off point to his concentration, but he busies himself with other things when the fishing has slowed, or his attention has moved on. M’Lady has also formed a soft spot for Carter, even though they have never met. The lad takes in far more than you think, and I am satisfied and pleased to see them all whenever they can make it to a junior event.



Lastly, Josiah Wells-Parkes. James and his lordship were getting on board with my feeble attempts at trying to get more into shape. (The shape I am modelling myself on presently is quite simply ‘Round’). They positioned themselves right at the far end of the lake prompting light-hearted comments like, ‘Do we smell?’ ‘Aren’t we talking?’ Etc. These were all in jest of course. I just believe that they were helping me get my steps in! The windward end of the lake paid off for them though because they bagged the largest fish at nearly six pounds and would have won if it had been a match. Jo is showing signs of rapid learning and I often feel like I am teaching him stuff he clearly already knows because he is progressing well. He and James are a formidable team, and it was heart warming to witness Jo ask his dad to partner him in the S/J pairs match. Unlike Faith who cast her dad aside like an empty crisp packet in favour of the fat lad she won with last year. She did so without a thought I might add. Shocking… Good job today, Jo, I just hope we can spend the next coaching session in the same post code…


That’s your lot for this week…

Or is it?

I mentioned the increasing wind strength which was now enough for coats to be grabbed and umbrellas to be tied down. We had a little rain early on for which I totally blame Annamama for doing something else today. Clearly a break in the cloud follows her everywhere, and we are not worthy without her presence. The session had concluded and the packing away exercise was well underway. Having limited gear himself, Jerry asked if there was anything he could do to help? Nice bloke Tim had, I think, seen the question coming and was helping me to carry my gear to the car one float at a time. Si had baled early with family commitments (Wife nominated Taxi driver. His fault for owning a bus!). Chris suggested we have a rota for the loo tent and smiled broadly as Jerry made his way to his fate. For an event organiser, the feeling of sending personnel to dismantle the loo tent must be similar to how officers felt sending scouts into no man’s land during WW1. I’m sure a code brown had a different meaning during conflict, but the mental stress of taking that ruddy tent down in a strong wind is comparable. No code brown for the friendly Wookie this time, but the tent sensed a new adversary. Jerry was gone for a very long time, and I started to fear the worse. Not only had the tent used its long-time ally, but the wind was blowing hard a gesture of extreme support for its vanguard. I did not witness the event, but apparently there was much gnashing of teeth and terrible threats made towards a tent that I know from experience could not care less. The tent had not only used the wind to wrap itself around Jerry’s still whiter than white legs but had used the factor 50 to stick to him like a form of nylon napalm, disabling poor Mongo where he stood. Jerry said that it nearly ended up in the lake at least three times and that we should not be sent alone to deal with this monstrosity again on safety grounds. Never turn your back on the tent or let it cover your face. I swear I heard the tent chuckling to itself as Jerry walked past…


I cannot give enough thanks to Jim Roper for saving the day yet again. Where would we be without you?


I want to give special thanks to my team of coaches. They, like me, are volunteers and they, like me, play down their roll in the running of the juniors. But let me tell you, nothing would happen without them. I could organise all the events I wanted to, but without the coaches, it simply could not happen. The juniors think you are heroes, and so do I…. Thank you.


Well done and thank you to the intrepid juniors and their parents for coming out in, at times, uncomfortable conditions to help me pursue my love of teaching shrimps to fish…


The next event is in two weeks-time, back here at Harbourbridge Lakes for the Junior Pairs match on the 2nd of July. Please get booked in for this event on the website or by email to juniors.sec@d-das.com


The following week on Friday the 8th of July is the last chance to qualify for the final of the junior knockout to join Faith, Ollie, and currently, Josiah in the final on the 2nd of September at the Revels Stock Pond. If you haven’t fished there yet, come. It’s so much fun.


Don’t forget juniors need to get asking Parents, Helpers, or Coaches to partner them for the Senior/Junior Pairs Match on the 10th of September at the brilliant Ash Lake at Todber Manor. M’Lady did actually suggest that any helpers or coaches who wish to fish and have not yet been asked, should film a short video clip explaining why the juniors should pick you for the match. A great idea and I look forward watching (and heavily editing) your videos very soon…


See you next time…


Graham…


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