2021 Junior Season Review
Here we are at the end of the year and it’s time to look back just one more time before consigning this season to the history books… The many shutdowns had given me an opportunity to put some more thoughts to paper and add to the two existing booklets that I had written in 2020. I wrote some basic guides on river fishing with help from Jon Bass, Carp fishing with help from Tom Foyle, and Pike fishing with help from Dan Hollins and Tim Glass. We now have nearly all aspects of coarse fishing covered at a basic level for our Juniors to access via our brand-new website. The website was fun to create, and I spent many hours, days and weeks gathering information and creating the pages that you can find there. Everything from dates and venues, maps and directions, to information about the coaches and the many ways you can learn about fishing with DDAS Juniors. The most fun part for so many reasons was the Coaches Blog. Originally created so that I could offer ideas, thoughts, and tips to our Juniors, it soon descended into ribbing, hopefully funny stories, and bare faced lies about our Junior events. My Dad wrote a column for the newsletter at the hospital that he worked at. Called ‘The A Team’, the column was responsible for raising lots of money for the hospital and even persuaded (through foul means) 6 people to do a sky dive for charity! I don’t claim to be the wordsmith that my father was but, watch this space! I felt like we had emerged quite tentatively from the teeth of the pandemic. So much so that even whispering about go fishing might cause it to return. We had managed 3 events during 2020, but it always felt a little uncomfortable. But we did get a chance to say hello to some new faces which was encouraging.
Our first event at Sharnhill fell victim to the social distancing rules and we were one coaching session down before we even started. But, on the 10th of April and in the Spring sunshine, we got the year rolling at Luckfield and it was great to be back. I felt a huge rush of satisfaction seeing everyone back again, many of whom I had not seen for a very long time. I remember some nice fish being caught that day particularly some good Roach.
On to out first match of the year and the first opportunity to be proven wrong on my fixture locations. Sharnhill is a great venue for Juniors but not, as it would turn out, on a sunny but chilly Spring Day. The little Carp species that live there put a bit of a show with Ollie, Max and Jack setting their stalls out early in the season.
Next was coaching at Harbourbridge in early May which was just a tad windy. We had already moved the date because of threatening thunderstorms the week before and the storm had not really let up 7 days later either. Flying umbrellas and questioning looks of sanity were common amongst the 4 brave (stupid!) Juniors that did turn up, and the insane coaches that were barely hanging on at times. These conditions are character forming however and only one sat diligently out in the teeth of it all day. I won’t mention the name of this Junior (Faith Stone) in case it embarrasses the other 3 sheltering in the car because it was raining too hard (Ollie, Jack, and Jake). Jake earned his nick name of ‘The Mud Monster’ on this day because of his wish to be muddier than is normally socially acceptable.
22nd of May we headed to a difficult Middle Lake at Revels which was again won by Ollie for a perfect 50 points from two matches. But there was a Mud Monster in his wake. Painfully low weights made our Juniors realise that it wasn’t just huge nets of Carp that won matches and Championships. Sometimes smaller species are just as valuable.
5th June and another wet day at Harbourbridge from some more coaching. The Mud Monster was happy though, continuing to test his parents washing machine to the max. Not much to say about this one other than the fact that it was wetter than a wet thing on a very wet day…
Whitemoor on the 26th of June and a sunny day at last! With no Jack or Ollie present, it was time for Jake step up. He took the win from other newbie, Faith. In fact, the only Junior who had fished with us before was Joseph ‘The Meat’ Altuzarra. The other 5 were all new signings. Shades of things to come I hoped…
A brand-new venue on 10th July and one that I personally had been looking forward to. Mangerton had opened my eyes during practice with every visit being over 100lbs and one close to 500! Rory Greenings venue did not disappoint either with all Juniors catching some lovely fish. I look forward to going back there again next year…
From one great venue to another because it was time for a trip to the Manor. Todber Manor in July was always going to be good and for Faith Stone it truly was. Winning her first match with a weight of 53lbs, only 3lbs off of our Junior match record. But she wasn’t finished chasing that yet either.
Unbelievably, it was actually dry at Harbourbridge on the 7th of August! I was wondering if it would ever be dry there again. Faces new and old turned out in the sunshine and writing this only a few days before Christmas Day, it seems like a dream. Sun cream was most definitely required as conditions were completely the opposite of those that we had experienced there earlier in the year. On the 28th of August, we were back to Luckfield for an evening match. The summer was with us and the temps were up as indeed the humidity. Fish were munching hard and newbie, Tommy Rees, had Tom Foyle to thank for his first ever win with over 32lbs of wobbly Carp.
The Pairs match at Harbourbridge was again dry and warm. With an odd number of Juniors present we had the strange result of the one on their own, Thomas, coming third…But way out in front with a weight of 27lbs was the two ‘J’s, Jack and Jake. Jack catching a fine bag of fish too…
Back to Whitemoor again on the 25th of September for a match that had to be moved due to work being carried out at Mangerton. But the Top Lake didn’t let us down either with some good weights coming out. Jack won again with a good 47lbs with Jake and Ollie in hot pursuit. Yet another newbie, Josh, had a fine first match weight of over 11lbs. My first ever match weight was nowhere near that!
More coaching at Revels on the 9th of October on Trendals Lake. Although it was misty at first, the weather was very warm towards the end and the fishing was good. More new anglers joined us to swell our family even more.
A modicum of narcissism will creep in for the next match because I helped Faith to win it! The Senior/Junior Pairs match was something that I had been wanting to do for a while now. We were lucky enough to get a quality venue for it too. Ash Lake at Todber Manor is prolific to say the least. Practice had yielded a weight well over 600lbs for me a few weeks earlier. But the weather was different then compared to how it was on the day. Faith and I won with just over 150lbs of fish and 61lbs of that was a new Junior match record for Faith! Go Team Quietly Confident!
Back to Revels again for a match on Trendals Lake and down to earth with a bump. Back after missing out on the last match due to Covid, Ollie won with a hard earned 7lbs from newbie Josiah on a very difficult day…
The Martin Vine Memorial Trophy match was always going to be an emotional affair for me. Losing my best mate only two years previously still felt very raw to talk about. But I wobbled through and held myself together. Worth remembering is Jack Copp and his refusal to put the pole down to switch to the much more productive feeder purely because he was using Martins old pole and wanted to honour his memory by using it all day regardless of the effect on his result. Tears in my eyes just writing this… On form Ollie won our last points match of the year with 7lbs and 25 points. With only 3 points separating Ollie and Jake at the start and Jake finishing 3rd, this was enough to dislodge Jake from the lead at the last hurdle and make Ollie our new Champion. Ollie also took the Silverfish Championship too with just over 13lbs, a low weight for the year because of the venues we went to.
The results for 2021 are as follows: 2021 Junior Club Champion – 173 points - Oliver Smith. 2021 Junior Club Championship Runner Up – 158 points – Jake Taylor 2021 Junior Club Silverfish Champion – The Brian Copp Cup – 13lbs 6ozs 4drms – Oliver Smith 2021 Junior Specimen Award – The Jerry Bracey Trophy – Roach 1lbs 5ozs 4drms – Thomas Millard 2021 Junior Club Pairs Champions – 27lbs 2ozs 8drms - Jack Copp & Jake Taylor 2021 Senior/Junior Pairs Champions = 155lbs 8ozs – Faith Stone & Graham Howard 2021 Martin Vine Memorial Match – Oliver Smith 2021 Most Improved Newcomer Award – The Revels Trophy – To be announced at the AGM. One more match to review and that, of course, is the first Junior Christmas match. Held at Todber Manor on the prestigious Hillview Lake, the weather was going to play a vital roll in the conditions. With temps of just 2 degrees due a stiff North Westerly wind it was always going to be hard. With 16 booked in it was going to equal our biggest ever attendance, but with a no show and poor Jake unable to come, we were ‘down’ to 14. That became 13 when Jack Grassby took ill and had to go home. Home seemed the more sensible place to be to be honest. But most of our juniors stuck at it to the end and we celebrated Max Faulkner and his winning weight of nearly 38lbs. Max will pick up the Christmas Match Trophy at the presentation evening next year (Date to be confirmed)
So, there you have it in all it’s glory. The 2021 DDAS Junior season.
I am busy re-arranging the coaching program right now to make it more effective and efficient. There wasn’t too much to change and there were always going to be teething problem which have been identified…I think… Coaching the Juniors and being around them is a vocation for me. They say that if you find a job doing something you love, you will never work a day in your life. I have found that job and I love it. The pay is rubbish, but I get my wages from the smiles and enjoyment of the Juniors I coach. I have met many new people too, many of whom I am happy to call good and close friends. I know I always say this but, without the dedication and drive of my coaching team, nothing like this would ever have happened. Without the generosity of those that have donated equipment, we would not have been able to help over 25 Juniors experience their first fishing trip. Without the constant support of the committee, we would be much worse off than we are. Without the parents and guardians who willingly give their time, energy, and money to help their anglers pursue the sport they love, we would be nothing. Most important are the Juniors themselves who make every session a new challenge for us. They help to make ourselves better and deliver great coaching sessions or matches. Together DDAS Juniors will only get stronger, and I am already excited for the new year.
It only remains for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy, and prosperous new year…
See you all in ’22.