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26/11/22 - Season Finale - Junior Christmas Match - Homeground - Todber Manor

As much as I love being the Junior Secretary, sometimes the end of the season is welcome. None more so than this year. I will go into more details in the end of season revue in a few weeks’ time.

The effects of what I suspect to be seasonal effective disorder (S.A.D) had truly kicked in as my alarm shook me from my usual sleep state of dreaming of unicorns and ice cream. The comfort and warmth seemed to grip me even tighter as I peeled myself out from under the duvet. It had been three weeks since the last points match at Whitemoor, but it may as well have been three months. I had to make a list of the equipment that I would need in case I forgot anything and, even then, I missed loads from the list. So, that was a waste of time to a large degree. But the car was packed, and we went round a friend’s house to watch a less than inspiring game of football.

The (hopefully) inevitable first rays of sunshine were beginning to sweep away the darkness as dawn broke and someone, somewhere, was throwing an alarm clock at an annoying Cockerel.

With the car packed with ‘everything that I would need’ for the day (except banksticks, spare keepnets, inspiration, etc), there was not much to do to get myself ready. A quick wander down to the shop to replace a mouldy loaf of bread and I was away.

The journey was largely uneventful apart from a fine display of antlery by a boastful Stag in the estate park just passed Kings Stag (Funnily enough). It was truly a fine head piece and by far ‘out antlered’ anything else around it. I turned my wide-eyed gaze back to the road wondering how it was that I could allow myself to feel inadequate compared to Deer Mr Boastful, and where I could get some antlers like that? I’m sure M’Lady will find something on Amazon…

I received the usual welcoming arrival at Todber Manor shop, got a few last-minute tips, and made my way to Homeground Lake. Our venue for today's event. It was a cloudy day as forecast for once and it was not going get any better. But, for now at least the water only had a slight ripple on it.

With Todber being voted the best fishery in the country for 2022 and with pegs 90 & 91 being the best on the venue, I therefore had placed our middle two pegs on arguably the two best pegs in the country!

Our juniors are so spoilt!

I had received a phone call from Lydia (Mrs Guru) earlier in the week saying that Faith’s attendance was under threat because Mike (Pantsman) and herself had tested positive for the dreaded C-19. With Faith missing that last points match and now potentially the Christmas match, her amazing year had fizzled out without the fanfare that I feel she deserves. But, having said that, Todber Manor on a wet and windy day is no place to recover from an ingrowing toenail, let alone Covid. Sadly, they would not attend, and I wish them a speedy recovery. We have kept back a gift for her from the table. Before the majority started to arrive, I got another message saying that Jake and His family may have the same affliction and it would be best for them to skip this one too. Again, a shame and, again we have held back a prize for Jake. From all at DDAS Juniors we wish Faith, Jake, and their respective families a very merry Christmas and a happy new year…

So, twelve was down to ten so two pegs were removed to take the match further away from the less desirable ‘Shallower end’.

The draw for this year's Christmas match went as follows,

Peg 2: James Oram (Baby Longus) Peg 3: Jack Copp (Twiglet) Peg 4: Liam Serkis (Splish Splash) Peg 5: Theo Cox (The O.G. Champ) Peg 6: Austin Scott-Kennedy (Camouflage) Peg 7: Oliver Smith (Aquaboy) Peg 8: Josiah Wells-Parkes (His Lordship) Peg 9: Jack Grassby (T’other Jack) Peg 10: Jack Cryer (Thing #1) Peg 11: Harry Cryer (Thing #2)

Your magnificent six today were,

Graham Howard - Charles Bronson/Bernardo O’Reilly – The professional in need of money. Si Wagner – Yul Brynner/Chris Adams – Cajun Gunslinger. Jerry Bracey – Horst Buchholz/Chico – The hot headed shootist. Chris Ward – Robert Vaughan/Lee – The traumatised veteran Tim Broughton – Steve McQueen/Vin Tanner – The drifter. Jon Bass – James Coburn/Britt – The knife expert **Disclaimer** Any likeness to the true character of the above listed individuals is purely coincidental. Character descriptions stolen from Google!

Peg Two: James Oram: James was end peg Charlie on the windward bank, and so would have more water to shoot at. This, in theory could be an advantage on a difficult day. This turned out not to be a difficult day, but it still helps to have some extra wet bits to fish in. Even from the far side of the lake, I could see that James was starting to fall behind some of the other anglers and, with the above-mentioned advantage, it was looking a bit worrying. I trotted round to see what pearls of wisdom I could dig out of my decrepit memory that may assist him. The first thing I noticed was that he was using soaked 4mm pellets on the feeder. Technically this isn’t wrong as such, but there are better ways to achieve results. Jack Copp (Who has got an extremely generous head on his shoulders for one so young) on the next peg kindly donated some micro pellets to James, and we soaked them up. Before long, James was slipping the net under some pretty hefty mud pigs proving that the right bait on the right gear, really pays off. James has been a joy to get to know this season and has thrown some pretty deep questions at me that has caused me to think carefully before answering them. He has come on well considering that he doesn’t really fish outside of the junior events, and I look forward to seeing him improve further next year. James weighed a reasonable 31lbs 15ozs at the end. Good job!

Peg Three: Jack Copp: 2022 has been 'the year of the Copp' for sure. Even Jack himself commented on how he ‘Let Ollie win a couple of trophies this year so as to not be seen to be greedy’.

His words, not mine… With Dave working and Donna not willing to sit in wind driven, face on, horizontal late November rain (for the life of me I can’t see why?), it was down to Jason Cox (with assistance from the match sec) to get the Copplet to the match. Jack was using reduced gear, but it didn’t seem to bother him that much because he was slipping wobbly Carp into his net from the start. Like Theo and Ollie, Jack is one of the O.G. Juniors and his experience shows. Jack always turns up ‘with a plan’. These plans may or may not work but at least he is applying himself to his fishing to give him the best chance to win. Winning is something that he has become well used to, and the engraver is going to get bored with etching ‘J. Copp’ on trophies in April next year. Jack is a worthy Champion, and it is good that he and Master Smith still get on despite the fierce rivalry on the bank. They even play ‘Rock, paper, scissors’ from at least 60 metres from each other.

The only time that cheating is allowed at a junior event… Jack weighed in an impressive 71lbs 3ozs to finish in third place on the day. Well done Champ, good job!

Peg Four: Liam Serkis: - I failed to get a picture of Liam for some reason today. I can't explain why, the lad is quite photogenic. But anyway, here's a picture of a Carp feeding off the surface in late November! ....and the juniors said it was a 'cold wind'... What do they know? - Juniors Sec... After a traumatic coaching event at Sharnhill, I was a little worried about putting Captain Chris with Liam as his coach for the day. Chris wasted no time in telling the newly titled ‘Splish Splash’ (because I found him up to his neck (Exaggeration) in water at Sharnhill) that he had not bought his own rods with him this time. Incidentally, the lost rod of Sharnhill Green worked out well for Chris in the end. Thinking that he would not see his prized rod again, he had bought one from FleaBay. So, from not having one, he now has two! I love a happy ending…. Mum, Hazel, had turned up with a laptop to do some work, or at least look busy… This was blinding evidence that they had not been Todber before, and never experienced the weather that can sometimes live there. The laptop wasn’t out for long, and I hope the bag was waterproof! Liam was not partaking in the match today and had dragged his mum along to Homeground for an extra fishing session. From what I observed, he would not have done too badly if he had have weighed in because he was catching reasonably well. Liam’s uncle had contacted me for advice on what tackle items he needed. I must have mentioned the word ‘Carp’ once too often because he turned up with a 3lb Carp rod, a landing net handle, and a landing net that, had it been waterproof, would have protected Hazel and her laptop in perfect dryness… Liam is keen and has enthusiasm for fishing. We will harness that next year to ensure that he enjoys his fishing even more than he does now. Well done, Liam…

Peg Five: Theo Cox: Theo was super keen to return for what was going to be his last junior event. I must confess that I thought he was already a senior! This caused a little confusion to start with but, on the day, I had a chance to explain things from my side and I think all was well. Some of our newer juniors wondered who the heck this six foot plus, moustachioed bloke was who was suddenly hanging around. I explained that this was our O.G. Champ, our Covid Champ (The video of a baby Theo is still on the DDAS Juniors You Tube page if you want to see it). Work and something called ‘Basket Ball’ has kept Theo busy and away from junior events, but it nice to see him and flattering that he wanted to fish this last event with us. I watched Theo from a distance and there were times that I regretted the time we had lost with him. The boy has a style and flare that is a missing influence on the other shrimps. They could have learned a lot from him, I’m sure. But life gets in the way of even fishing sometimes but, I’m glad he came because it was great chatting with him again. Theo turned the experience button up to eleven to put 73lbs 6ozs into his nets by the end. It is the first time that we have had the chance to say a farewell to an out going junior, and I’m sure that on behalf of the DDAS Juniors we wish Theo the very best for his future…

:INTERMISSION: If you want to make a beverage of your choice before the next bit, please do so now. This is going to take some time….

Peg Six: Austin Scott-Kennedy: Right then… There’s always a risk of Austin not actually making to a junior match, particularly when Amy has the reigns. To be honest, it’s a miracle that he has weighed in at any event year from what we now know about ‘Agent Maps’. As adorable as she is, Amy is lucky to locate her own nose to pick it, let alone find her way to a fishery that she been to on TWO different occasions previously… You are not allowed to drive on the phone, so all of the SOS calls are made by young Austin on speaker phone and, on this occasion, I got the impression that they may not even be in Dorset anymore… It is not ironic that the term GPS sprung into my mind, something that may live in the phone with which they were using to ask for directions… I told them head for a big place called Sturminster Newton and go from there. I was told that they had seen a signpost for Salisbury and was that the right way? The simple and only answer was a resounding no… The second phone call was to say that would be abandoning their attempt and to go on without them. I was like the bit in a corny old film where someone says, ‘I’m doomed, leave me, go on without me, save yourselves!’… ‘Don’t be ridiculous Sergeant, we don’t leave a man behind…etc...’ I had managed to talk them down from quitting and they were going to push on until the fuel ran out… My third call to them was much more positive. We had done the draw and we had drawn Austin his peg. He just had to get there. The news came that they were close. Very close. So close they could smell it and that they would see me 'in a minute'… 40 minutes later, they trundled along the road towards the lake. Jerry and I sprang into action like arthritic sloths and started to unload the gear from the car before it had even stopped! Fifteen minutes after arriving, Austin was slipping the net under his first fish. Unfortunately, this was an hour and fifteen minutes into the three-and-a-half-hour match… Austin was on the back foot, but he fished his little heart out to weigh 30lbs 10ozs from a swim that had been plundered heavily by Theo and Ollie on either side. As the wind picked up throughout the day, Austin found his casts drifting to the right towards Theo. I would wager that Theo’s best bite of the day came when Austin reeled in his feeder that had accidentally landed across the former champ’s line. I looked on great amusement as the rods both bent towards each other, and the lines went tight in mid-air before the tension was released as the respective end tackles became up tangled. Much to the disappointment of both anglers. Austin has already been chosen as the Most Improved Newcomer for this year and he thoroughly deserves it too. Let’s see how much he improves next season. Well done, Austin… Dear Santa, Please buy Amy a Sat Nav…Yours, Juniors Sec...

Peg Seven: Oliver Smith: I mentioned at the start that pegs 90 and 91 were the best on the venue and Oliver had drawn one of them. A junior of noted talent on a noted peg should have been a done deal. But, although Ollie had a reasonable day, the fish just wouldn’t settle for him to get the consistency flowing. Maybe it was the larking around with Twiglet that did it or may be Austin turning up late. Either way, his weight at the end may not have reflected the expected combination of good angler and a good peg. You certainly couldn’t blame it on a lack of support from Annamama who cheered his every move… I’m not saying that ollie dropped the ball, far from it. Just that expectancy was higher than the result. It should be seen as a measure of Oliver’s reputation as one our best juniors that everyone looks to him to win at every match. Fishing isn’t like that, however, and it gives no consideration for reputation. The fish don’t care much either. 55lbs 8ozs is a tidy days fishing for a lot of people, but Ollie is an angler of high achievement. This trophy is going to have to wait another year before he attempts to stamp his name on it. A good year for Ollie and one to be proud of. Well done…

Peg Eight; Josiah Wells-Parkes: Dad James said that young Jo was feeling a little shaky this morning despite testing negative for Covid. It’s strange to think that you can still have cold symptoms without it being Covid, but there we are. Being the little trooper that he is, Jo fished well despite a slower start than some. He suffered a bit of fish induced indecision today. Every time he thought about a change of tactics he would get a bite, thus throwing him back to square one. That’s the way fishing can be in short matches like these where positive decisions can make or break your day. Weighing a respectable 49lbs, Jo could not have made that many bad choices however, and he should be pleased with his efforts. Josiah is one of the anglers who could make a significant step-up next season. He has proven that he is a match winner this year. Hopefully, once we knock a few of his rougher edges off, he will join the championship contenders list soon. Good job Jo, well done…

Peg Nine: Jack Grassby: Victim of circumstances this year, Jack has missed a few sessions because of illness and family days. For this reason, Jack turned up a little rustier than he may have been. Having said that, Jack enjoys his fishing so much that perhaps results are secondary to fun for him. He certainly seemed to enjoy the day and, unlike last year, managed to get through the day without leaving early. Perhaps this was made easier by the fact that Jack had the first of the more comfortable pegs with the wind at his back, and not in his face like the others. Newer anglers like jack are not so hampered on days like today, Usually accurate casting can pay off. But casting around your peg in colder conditions can be the best option, so the greener casters have a more level playing field to fish on. Under the watchful gaze of nice bloke Tim, Jack fished a tidy match from what I observed and a weight of 33lbs 9ozs is a good effort from his day. Well done, T’other Jack…

Peg 10: Jack Cryer: The two Cryer clones really impressed me today. Both were not on the windward side. Both were not at the favoured end of the lake. Both proved me and everyone else wrong. I actually don’t mind being proved wrong in this way, but not too often please…. I felt sorry for dad Paul who, at the end of the match, looked quite drained. Having two boys who were both catching well and who both needed help, plus a little shrimp to look after too, meant that he had his work cut out for him. Let’s just say he was glad it was only three-and-a-half hours because he looked a bit pale at the end. He’s a fit lad though. He coped well… Like T’other Jack and Liam, Thing #1 and Thing #2 are quite new to the sport. Their skills aren’t quite formed yet. But Jack did not give two hoots about that as he caught Carp after Carp, all match long. The others on the far side may have caught more fish (marginally), but Jack’s were bigger. This resulted in him weighing in 80lbs 7ozs and nearly giving me a hernia getting them there! This was Jacks first match win and his first trophy to take home to look after. It didn’t surprise me though. The way Jack played his fish, considering his experience, was impressive and he deserved the win. Congratulations, Thing #1….

Peg 11: Harry Cryer: In the first half of the match, Harry and his brother were going fish for fish, and I thought this was going to be close between them. As the match progressed, harry seemed to drift away from his brothers lead. This may have been because he was playing with his little brother sometimes, or that he was getting shot virtually with an iPhone. Like James opposite him, Harry should have had the advantage with an end peg, in theory. But, as we all should know by now, fish don’t follow rules… Harry had a cracking weight though, weighing in a fine 60lbs 15ozs at the final whistle.

Congratulations to Jack Cryer on his first win, and to all the other winners through the year.

I will give a full list of thanks in the end of year revue, but for this match thanks must go to Todber Manor for allowing us to fish at their first-class venue and for their continued support throughout the year.

Thank you to Alan’s Angling for the kind voucher donation for the prizes.

Thank you to the club for financial help with costs.

The group of anglers that help me can never get enough praise or recognition. They don’t only sacrifice their time, but they sacrifice their bait stock and their equipment. They give their opinions and advice to help make the juniors the best it can be and tell me when it isn’t. They give me council when it is needed and make my job so much easier. Their participation can and will never be underestimated, and they deserve all the thanks they get from all of us… Jerry, Si, Tim, Tom, Chris, Jon & Andy… Thank you all….

Thank you to the parents and Juniors that endured the wind and rain…

I will be writing a full review of the year in a few weeks’ time.

I feel very tired now and I am glad and sad in equal measure that it has come to an end for 2022. It's been a tough year for so many reasons. Reasons that have made me question whether or not to continue for another year. But so many people have spoken to me about the value to the club and fishing in this area. With Gillingham apparently not having a junior section anymore (rumours?), ours maybe the only fishing club to host a significant junior section in the southwest of England.

So many kind and supportive words, in fact, that I found myself stating that this will not, as far as I know right now, be my last year.

I look forward to planning for next year’s events after Christmas.

So, for now, take care everyone and have a great Christmas and a happy new year…

Juniors Sec…


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