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27/04/24 - Coaching Session/Junior Points Match #4 - Homeground Lake, Todber Manor.

At the time of writing this M’Lady has just forced me to ‘walk’ to the shop for some vital provisions. I say ‘walk’ because, the way my ever-decrepit body is, my version of walking after a junior event is akin to a chimp wearing shoes a size too small, carrying a large backpack, and who may or may not have soiled themselves…

It is a memorable sight. Once I had an offer from a young lady to ‘see me across the road’… I’m only 54 for goodness sake!


Keep feeding…

About halfway through the match I thought to myself, was this the right advice?

I decided that, seeing as newbie Leo was having a break from landing Carp after Carp, I would sit and try to work out why the shop-ward side of the lake was struggling so much.

On went the meat and in went the rig. Bit of feed and…nothing.

Just nibbles from silverfish.

Oh dear…

A change to pellets and it was a different story. Five minutes later, and with 12lbs of fish ‘in the net’, I knew the advice was solid.

It was all about the feed…

I arrived at the lake at stupid o’clock because the shrimps would have to endure me droning on for the tutorial because guest coach, Richie Butler, had been struck down with a spectacular case of Rotten Luck. So much so that, if he had a pet Goldfish, it would probably drown!

It was down to me then and with flags up and pegs in, I set up my gear. A few of the coaches arrived. Neil with his dicky ticker, Chris with his healing hernia, and Nigel with a severe dose of Carp fishing. Jezza was next with his rotten feet and soon after Si with a knackered back and gluey lungs. Combining all this with my tennis elbow, pained feet, and a knee and spine that clearly belonged to a ninety-year-old, we were a right bunch. Our most senior coach, Jon, was probably the healthiest amongst us! Either that or he didn’t whinge like the rest of us…

The tutorial went well with six obliging fish that made the newer anglers gasp at their size. For the others it was same old-same old, and I had that horrible feeling that I was losing the interest of a few of them. I wish I had the confidence of some other coaches. Maybe it is familiarity that goes against me and/or the fact that they have probably seen it all before. Chatting in front of the assembled ranks does nothing for the confidence and I was glad that Jack the Champ fired a couple of intelligent questions at me that brought me back from my personal gloom.

By now the juniors, like baying dogs, were straining at the leash. It was time to release the hounds. The sound of rubber wellies making the grass hiss was deafening and they couldn’t wait to get away.

Today was a first for the juniors because we were hosting a coaching session before starting a match, so the draw had taken place at the start of the day. If they were clever, they would feed their swim to keep the fish interested during a short break to let the lake rest before the whistle. Who would pick up that? Let’s find out…

The draw went as follows:

Peg 2: Finley ‘Where’s me legs?’ Kew.

Peg 3: Harry ‘Carnage’ Cryer.

Peg 4: Kit ‘Fishboy’ Freeman

Peg 5: Jack ‘The Twiglet’ Copp.

Peg 6: Austin ‘Rambo’ Scott-Kennedy.

Peg 7: Harry ‘New Harry’ Wilmer.

Peg 8: George ‘The Carp Machine’ Ellis.

Peg 9: Jack ‘T’other Jack’ Cryer.

Peg 10: Leo ‘Gameboy’ Tarrant.

Peg 11: Kenzie ‘Death by Jerry’ Toulson.

Peg 12: Ollie ‘Aquaboy’ Smith.

Peg 13: Mia ‘The Casting Queen’ Evans.

Peg 14: Alec ‘Bleh, Bleh, Bleh’ Campbell

Your ‘Sicknote’ of coaches (The correct collective noun for a group of seven or more Angling Coaches) today were:

Dopey – Graham Howard

Grumpy – Jerry Bracey

Happy – Nigel Kemp

Doc – Jon Bass

Bashful – Chris Ward

Sneezy – Si Wagner

Sleepy – Neil Haine

Three no-shows for today were, Josiah Wells-Parkes, Josh Roe (Martin Roe), and Liam Serkis. We wish them all a speedy recovery…

Peg Two:

Finley Kew:

We hadn’t seen Fin for a while, and I get the feeling that his mum Candy had been standing him in a grow bag! I’m slightly vertically challenged and the sight of juniors taller than myself is un-nerving. It was great to see Finley again and even better seeing his ‘cute as a button’ baby sister, Charlotte, at her first event.

Being on the end peg is always an advantage and Finley used this to great effect. Having all the legs on your seat box is also a great advantage. Thankfully, Finley had sourced replacements for the ones that had 'gone for a walk'. (Legs, Walk, get it? Laugh it up, that's as good as it gets!). He had a cracking day to open his 2024 account by catching plenty of margin Carp over the four-hour match. One more fish would have seen Fin break into triple figures, but the door was slammed in his face at 99lbs 12ozs. We loved seeing him back, we loved Charlotte, and we particularly loved the bucket hat! Flobber dob dob! (Ask your granny!)

Well done Finley…

Peg Three:

Harry Cryer:

Harry Cryer:

Not a mistake. I completely missed him out last time, so I wrote him in twice this week!

No mistakes this time…

The human wind chime was in a chatty mood today, and he laughed when I asked him not to look at the camera in case it broke… Harry was busy making his feeder rod do all the work, and to great effect too. Sadly, not enough to make him competitive in the match, but Harry was playing the fish well and landing all his own fish. All the juniors up to peg eight were on the warmer side of the lake. Something that would have a huge effect on the results on the day. I’ve have personally seen some very good and experienced anglers blank from these pegs before, so for Harry to put together nearly 84lbs was to his credit. He put 83lbs 15ozs on to the scales and had to be satisfied on a good day’s fishing. How many of us older anglers would have put 83lbs down as ‘just a good day’s fishing’?

Well done Harry…


Peg Four:

Kit Freeman:

The Fish-boy returneth…

Chlorine Kit was fresh out of a season of competitive swimming, something that I am told that he’s not too shabby at. Mind you, there’s nowt of him and he must have a hydrodynamic advantage over everyone else. It made me very happy to see him back. I spent a bit of time with Kit last year when I showed him how to finish last in a match whilst still maintaining self esteem and credibility. Naturally Kit felt a bit rusty having not been out for a while. But, if you’re going to go anywhere to blow off the cobwebs, then Homeground is the place to do it. Despite being on the ‘warmer bank’, I think Kit struggled to find a rhythm today which saw him weigh a lower than he might have

expected weight of 35lbs 3ozs. Kit seems to be on the cusp of returning now and I am sure that he will find some form with practice.


Peg Five:

Jack Copp:

The reigning champ had to be the firm favourite for the win today, and I think that he was sure that his 162lbs 4ozs was enough to seal the deal. I know this because of the little dance of joy/victory that he did when his total weight was called out. The boy has some moves but moves that would only last one more peg as we will see shortly.

I like watching Jack fish. He does everything well and with good precision. This is tinged with a feeling of sadness that there may not be much more I can teach him. Looking a doughnut after you have celebrated a bit early might be one of the pearls of wisdom that I might offer today, however. I normally save punching the air for the drive home, but I do not condone dancing whilst driving. I only tried it once and it was costly.

A good practice on a cold day for that big event next week, where Jack will take on much older kids than himself in a qualifying match on Homeground for a final later in the year.

Jack did enough for second place on the day and twenty sweet points and a five point bonus for the DDAS clothing that he was wearing.

Well done Jack…


Peg Six:

Austin Scott-Kennedy:

I set myself a challenge in the week to write a pre-match report that Austin couldn’t find questions about. Not that I mind questions, I never do. It’s just that Austin seems to find questions to ask me about stuff that I should have included in the first place! (Hook size, float size, and where we’re fishing. Stuff like that…) Posting the report late because of a technical glitch on the website helped, but apparently some people got it twice?

I hate technology…

The pole wasn’t working for Austin as well as it was for Jack in the next peg. So, it was feeder time. Austin’s peg was that which holds the junior match record from last year (J. Cryer with 200lbs 7ozs), and it was the feeder down the edge that worked then. It worked today too, and Austin was able to let his ‘freaky feeding flag fly’ today, measuring his bait input in sacks rather than kilos.

Austin claimed the spoils by winning with 167lbs 9ozs, 30 points including a 5-point clothing bonus, and by ‘spraying the yellow’ on the fire of dancing Jack on the previous peg.

Great to see Austin back on form after the whoopsie last time out.

Good Job mate!


Peg Seven:

Harry Wilmer:

New anglers like Harry need a lot of help. This was only his third event and the amount assistance that a new junior needs, is sometimes unfair in a competitive situation. Jerry and I had talked about new junior experience and agreed that, in most cases, they need a few sessions to gain vital experience to reach a level where they can start to climb the ladder.

Harry must have asked me 20 times with pleading eyes if he could enter. But, given the choice of appearing like a tyrant in the eyes of a junior and facing an angry Wookie with sore feet at the end of a match, the juniors will lose out every time.

It is our job to get all the juniors to a level where they can be competitive without compromising the rules, and we will in time…

Harry did ok though and caught some decent fish throughout the day. He needs to earn some ‘Good Boy Points’ at both home and school so he can use the new Preston Edge Monster that Ross bought him. I keep trying to convince M’Lady that I have accrued enough ‘GB points’ for a new pole. But she keeps muttering something about some wedding to pay for… There’s always an excuse…

Well done today Harry…


Peg Eight:

George Ellis:

Not only is George our youngest junior but, arguably the most excited. He has been vibrating faster than an atom in Chernobyl for the last two weeks, and I doubt that even Christmas could match the euphoria of a DDAS Juniors day at Todber Manor.

I’ve been fuelling the fire with the Ellis family for a few years now whilst George has been waiting to be six. Now he is and looked resplendent in his new Juniors hoodie.

A white pole of Coach Wagner’s and a bright yellow elastic made Georges catch rate easy to notice from quite a way away. If he had entered the match, he would have been miles ahead after the first 90-minutes. Even against juniors with more years of fishing experience than George had spent being alive!

The fish were big fish, and the pole was unfamiliar. But George was having a whale of a time. 26 fish with an average weight of 3 to 4lbs would have given Geroge more than just a few points but, like New Harry, he needs to get some experience behind him first.

George has the fizz, there can be no doubt. It’s that fizz that’s keeps us all out in silly weather pursuing the sport that we love.

Well done George!


Peg Nine:

Jack Cryer:

I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that Jack had drawn one of the best peg in Europe! Permanent pegs 90 and 91 are absolute fliers and are responsible for countless match wins.

That’s why I chose 90 to do the demo from! I’m not daft….

Jack himself has won junior matches from this peg, so his confidence must have been high.

The demo showed that, if you get the feeding right and fish in the best areas, fish can be caught in great numbers.

Jack was having some trouble keeping in touch with the fish on the pole, so he switched to a margin feeder which he used to win before. 151lbs 5ozs was three or four fish from a match winning weight but good enough to give him third place on the day.

Well done Jack!


Peg Ten:

Leo Tarrant:

Mike (Leo’s dad) told me that Leo thought that the demo at the start of the day would be how everyone would be catching. He had not taken into account the 40 years of experience that was the difference between him and I. The type of fishing demonstrated was relatively new to Leo as he and Mike usually pursue Carp in the traditional manner. The match lakes at Todber require a different approach however, and the pole was rather tricky to use. At the break before the match began, I moved my equipment to Leo’s peg so he could use my pole for the afternoon. I plumbed, showed him how to feed, and even caught a few fish to show him it was working. Indeed, he did catch a few Carp. But it wasn’t enough to hold his attention for the duration of the afternoon. Because Leo was new to the juniors, he was not aware of my hatred of ‘devices’ and through grinding teeth I let it slide when he plugged himself in to a Wii Wii Gameboy Pad Xbox Station thing.

Leo is a nice lad, and it will be interesting to see how we can develop ways to hold his attention for longer periods of time in the future. I’m happy that they came, and I look forward to seeing them again soon.


Peg Eleven:

Kenzie Toulson:

I thought it might Kenzie’s last day on earth when shouted at Jerry to ‘Not take all day’ at the weigh in. The Wookie was moulting and feeling all tired and cross. Jerry’s circulatory lap rate was less than the usual 65 laps mainly down to a morning on the pull with me at Sharnhill earlier in the week. (Just for the record, we were pulling up reeds and nothing else!) I’m happy to report that Kenzie survived the sudden rush of cheekiness.

Kenzie was one of five juniors that had been given pegs on the colder bank from which to fish and was finding the going tough. The northerly wind was not where the fish wanted to be which was evident by the comparison between the two sides of the lake.

At one point I sat on my now vacant box and tried to work out what could be done to make things better. Kenzie benefitted from this and the switch to pellets from meat proved the right thing to do, something which he thanked me loudly for with every additional fish he caught! Kenzie weighed a rather lowly 35lbs 11ozs, but I think he enjoyed his day anyway.

Well done Kenz…


Peg Twelve:

Oliver Smith:

El Capitano (may be one day he’ll actually wear the badge he was presented with!!) was smack in the middle of ‘the cold bit’ and Annamama was glaring daggers at me. I’m thinking of getting some different tokens for the draw so the little darlings can start drawing their own pegs again. That way it can be the little princes’ fault again and not mine! Her eyes follow you round the lake and by the end you just want to hide.

Like Kenzie, Ollie was trying to alienate himself from the coaching team. This time by guessing my age exactly right, which no way to endear yourself to anyone. Always take off at least five years, and never guess the age of a lady.

Experience had told Ollie that the sheltered areas against the island might be where the fish were hiding. He had caught on the pole, but he could see a podium slipping away with the fish being caught opposite and had to do something.

Ollie was the only junior to break into triple figures on his bank with a finishing weight of 114lbs 3ozs and fourth on the day. Helpful to his championship campaign.

Well done Ollie…


Peg Thirteen:

Mia Evans:

Mia was yet another to suffer on the cold bank. The pole had caught her a few, but it would her inexperience with a rod and line that would be her Achilles heel today. We will address this very soon and she’ll be taking the wings off a Wasp in flight with a feeder before you know it.

Mia has slotted into the junior family extremely well and it’s like she’s always been here. She absorbs information like a sponge, something that my coaches and I are still coming to terms with.

Mia suffered some tackle malfunctions too and her elastic was fitted so tight (not by John) that I’m surprised the top kit did not crumble under the pressure! They were charged for the privilege too… Even a four-pound fish was stopped dead like a lassoed Calf by the pressure. Pressure that led to hook pulls. Not good for Mia or the fish.

None of this was her fault though and she battled on to the end.

35lbs 15ozs seemed scant reward for her effort today but let’s see the improvement over the coming weeks.

Well done Mia…


Peg Fourteen:

Alec Campbell:

If you were wondering about the strange nickname this week, there is a watertight reason for it. Quite simply Alec suffers with potty mouth. During a chat at Luckfield with him a few weeks ago, he made me blush and caused my ears to bleed!

Now I don’t want you thinking that he is wayward and out of control, because that is far from the truth. In fact I would go as far as to say that, since a little chat (and lots of giggles) about it, Alec has been more chatty than ever because of the use of the ‘Bleh, bleh, bleh’ contingency bypass which replaces $$£*&, and #}(^$, and not forgetting !!??*&%%, phrases that we definitely do not condone at junior events, mines, or the roughest of pubs in the depths of the Black country…

When Alec tipped 78lbs 3ozs onto the scales at the end, I looked at him with surprise.

‘Where were you hiding that lot then?’ I asked… Apparently the fish ‘hid’ whenever I came around and he caught everything when I wasn’t. Now that’s either bad coaching or my reputation within the fish community goes before me…

Either way, well done Alec!


Another great day at Todber Manor then and my thanks as always goes out to John and the staff at the fishery for making us always feel so warmly welcomed.

Thank you to my ever faithful and ever crumbling team of coaches for the efforts today. We made it through!

A quick thank you to all those that read this rubbish. I am no great writer. I only do it for fun and apologise for the poor grammar, etc..

Congrats to the winners, Austin and both Jack's...

The Championship standings are:

(including added 5-point bonuses for those in team clothing marked with *)

79 pts - Austin Scott-Kennedy*.

68 pts – Oliver Smith.

=67 pts – Jack Copp* & Jack Cryer.

61 pts – Alec Campbell.

51 pts – Harry Cryer.

36 pts – Josh Roe.

35 pts – Kenzie Toulson.

27 pts – Josiah Wells-Parkes.

26 pts – Mia Evans*.

14 pts – Finley Kew.

12 pts – Harry Wilmer.

9 pts – Kit Freeman.

5 pts – George Ellis*

No change in the Silverfish championship.

The next event is on Friday the 3rd of May for the first round of the Stock Pond Knockout Series at Revels.

The next weekend event is on the 11th of May at Harbourbridge Lakes in Chickerell for a coaching session.

See you there!

Juniors Sec…

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