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26/05/23 - Prince of Wales School - Revels Fishery



Our latest school trip was held on Friday the 26th of May at Revels fishery, and it is going to be a (Mercifully) short report simply because I actually had to do some coaching myself! I know! The lead coach gets his hands dirty at last! There are photos, so I can prove it!

The drama started earlier in the week. An already depleted coaching team took a hit when Paul Wyatt had to go to South Africa. I have been given some pretty spectacular excuses for not wanting to coach the juniors, but South Africa? Paul does a lot of work with animals, so it was legit. Sir Jon of Broadmayne and the Lady Lin had turned their conquest plans to Ireland in a change of scenery from Scotland. What they have against the Celtic people is a mystery but, they did come back with a Shamrock, a toy Leprechaun, a Shillelagh, and Covid. We wish them both a speedy recovery for their next crusade. Jerry was off watching men playing with odd-shaped balls in London (Rugby before anyone complains), Si Wag was on Pirate duties playing with his grandson, Nice Bloke Tim used some terrible language when I asked him to help. ‘Work’ is an inappropriate four lettered word and I apologise for using it here!

I did manage to commandeer the assistance of one Mr Adrian Hayes, Dorset’s finest beer connoisseur and one of the richest men I know. Adi brought Oscar the dog along too. One of Dorset’s finest sleepers and more of a tripping hazard than a danger.

Uncle Geoff Smalley, West Dorset’s best Santa impersonator and a great monologuist, also answered the call of desperation on the Club grape vine. Geoff turned out to be a huge hit with the kids too, with cries of ‘Bye Geoff!’ ringing out from the minibus as they left. They either loved him or were glad to be away from the endless rambling about Sherbourne Lake. Whatever the reason, he seemed to be a big hit with the shrimps.

The last saviour of the day was Terry ‘Niblet’ Green, one of the best anglers I know. I know he is because he tells me so every time I see him… In all seriousness though, Terry was in great pain because of a dodgy hip and did a great job of enduring the event to help out. The hip might have been due to a life of hard work (There’s that word again, sorry), his age (Terry is at least 140 years old), or due to dragging around one of the fattest wallets the writer has ever seen. I am the lucky one too. Most people who have seen Terry’s wallet were found dead soon afterwards…

Of the usual team of coaches only Captain Chris and I were present. Chris did an amazing job, even managing to fix some tangled equipment as he coached three excited students. (We call it ‘Spinning the Plates’).

Steve Crowford, ghosted in halfway through the event to help out, even though I didn’t know he was coming. He had not been sure if he could come, and his presence was welcome. There wasn’t really time to send him round to relieve the pressure on Chris and Adi, or even Geoff and I apologise for that. I always say this, and it was more evident today that at any other event. My job is easy. All I do is organise the events and make sure I have the staff we need to execute the sessions. It is the coaches that make the events work. They are the heroes and the ones that should take most of the accolades. Any praise or congratulations I get is taken with thanks on behalf of my priceless team of coaches and their commitment to making angling popular with all our new juniors.


The minibus arrived at around 1pm and was soon spewing forth many excited students all over the car park at Revels. I was going to ask Oscar the dog to shepherd them through the gate and onto to the grass by the main lake, but he was already asleep… Lead teacher, Mr MacBean, waffled on for a while, and then I waffled on some more. Waffle is important because it is a reminder to those who were pretending to listen that they should enjoy the day, and they should in no way injure, hurt, or kill themselves or anyone else! We started the session by going for a wander around the main lake and looking for places where fish might hang out. Watercraft is an important part of fishing and teaching it is made easier by Tom Foyles brilliant acronym, Mr Soil. M – Margins. R - Reeds. S - Surface. O – Overhangs. I – Islands. L – Lilies. It works great once the lead coach has internally scratched his brain trying to remember what they are. We were discussing spawning Carp and a big ol’ lump decided to leap clean out of the water right on cue to gasps of amazement and, from a couple, a little fear. The shrimp were distributed as evenly as possible amongst our waiting coaches and we were away.

My two guests for the day were two sisters (who I won’t name) who were as cute as buttons, and lots of fun to coach. Being twins, one took distinct pleasure in repeatedly telling me that she was ‘one minute older than my sister’. The eyerolls from her sister told me that she may have heard all this before. They took a little time to warm to the fact that we use maggots as bait but, once we had spent some time looking at the little wrigglers and they had experienced the ‘wriggle tickle’, they were fine. It was not long before the lakes inhabitants were being carefully plucked from the water, admired, and returned safely after saying theirs good-byes, and thanking each fish for allowing themselves to be caught. I loved the fact that the two girls had concerns about the welfare of, not only the fish, but the bait too. Questions like, ‘Does it hurt’, and ‘Do they die?’, were answered as frankly and honestly as I could. I think that honestly is the best policy for questions like this and was offset by the use of barbless hooks and safe nets, antiseptics, and modern fish care. At DDAS Juniors, we teach our participants to be sensitive to the fact that we are handling vulnerable creatures, and that we all have a responsibility to safeguard the welfare of the fish that we catch. The girls did all of this brilliantly well and both underlined the fact that girls are far easier to teach than boys most of the time!

On the next peg (Terry and friends) we had a running tally of numbers of fish caught being screamed across the lake every few minutes. I warned Terry about this, and he promised not to do it again! Of course, I jest. I think the only screaming that poor Terry was concerned about was that coming from his painful hip.


Similar cries were coming from all around the lake. A sign that all was going extremely well, even with a reduced coaching team.


Mr MacBean had brought his own rod with some floating baits and was soon snapping up a few Carp off the surface, much to the delight of those with him. Lots of small fish are fun, but even I have to admit that there is nothing like a wobbly Carp to stir the senses.

Towards the end of the session, my two girls had cast aside the rods and whips and were most interested in catching some of the millions of ‘Motherless Minnows’ that seem to have exploded in the Main Lake with a landing net. 50 tiny fish in one scoop with a net was far easier than one at a time with a hook!


All too soon the session was at an end. We gathered them all together and there was lots of chatter about what a great time they had had. I thanked them and their teaching staff for making our day so much fun. Coaches Chris and Geoff were still on the lake, so I got the students to shout their thanks across the water, which they did with extreme enthusiasm. Geoff, in particular, was a big hit. High fives from my two little ladies as they boarded the minibus told me that they had enjoyed themselves.


You can feel the stress drain from you as you wave your students good-bye knowing that we had executed another worthwhile session. This ‘good time feeling’ is tempered when you remember that you still have two hours of packing away to do yet… But it is worth it. It always is. We all felt drained. There were painful hips, backs, feet, and maybe a couple of headaches. But it was worth it.

I sent Terry away early because he was visibly hurting, but the other lads helped pack away the junior equipment. I sent them home when it was just my own gear to pack away.

I haven’t written about this before but, like the start, at the end it’s just me and the lake. I’m usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. It’s time to reflect on what we have done as I pack away, load the car, and de-stress from the day. It is only now that you realise how much the weight of responsibility and expectation weighs. I fully admire teachers having to do stuff like this every day.

Thank you to Jason Fricker for allowing us to invade his fishery with eager students once again, and for use of the facilities there. Heart felt thanks and admiration goes out to Terry Green, Geoff Smalley, Chris Ward, Adrian Hayes, and Steve Crowford. A job very well done. Thanks finally to Duncan MacBean and the 12 students and helping staff from The Prince of Wales school (their names have escaped my memory but, I’m sure there must have been a ‘Dave’ in there somewhere. There always is!). The students showed exemplary behaviour. All the coaches after the event said how much fun they had all been, and how well behaved they were. A real pleasure to coach and fantastic ambassadors for their school. They are always welcome back for more fun in the future. Apparently, there was lots of talk about ‘the best trip ever!’ on the way home.


On a final note, one of the students liked it so much that they applied for a junior membership that very evening. I look forward to seeing them at our upcoming junior events.


Until the next time…


Juniors Sec…


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