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8/4/23 - Junior Match #1 - Sharnhill Green

The Junior match at Sharnhill topped off an unusually busy week for me. It all kicked off with M’Lady’s birthday on Monday. 21 again (+6) work it out... She’s almost as old as me now… Do something nice for her they said… It’ll be easy they said… Three weeks of clandestine messaging, secret rendezvous, and deleting more messages than a 70’s icons laptop going in for a service at PC World. It all came to nothing when the planets wouldn’t align for me and I had to ‘Fess up’ to my secret plans… All was not lost however because it seems that all I needed to do was get M’Lady to ask everyone to come to a dinner invitation and they fell all over themselves to say yes… Epic… All that was important though was that she had a great evening and got spoiled rotten. Deservedly so…

In other news, we have decided that 14 years is plenty long enough to be engaged and we will be tying the knot in the spring next year. The sound of her shuffling around on her knees as she begs me to marry her every single day is getting more than tiresome and a little embarrassing when we’re out. So, I caved in and said yes. (98.4% of the previous two sentences are false). More news on that another time unless the drugs wear off and she changes her mind…

A practice session at Sharnhill on Tuesday that only showed me just how rusty I am when it comes to practical fishing. The post-it notes on my pole saying ‘Hold the fat end’ helped a lot, as did the directional arrows on my seat box saying ‘This side facing the water’. But there is much that needs improvement. It’s a good job I can still talk a big match to save face a little.

Wednesday was a trip to a physio Salisbury with dear friend Anne with a dodgy back. The afternoon was spent watching Alice in Boarderland with my offspring. I am now fluent in Japanese with English subtitles…

Thursday was our 437th trip to Salisbury in the last 6 weeks with Anne and her misfiring spine, and then, in the afternoon, my most favourite evening of the year. The AGM/presentation evening. I’ve written that with only 50% sarcasm because, as much as I love dishing out the silverware to excited juniors, I hate addressing the assembled club members for the juniors report. I say I hate it, but I don’t really. I just get so flippin’ nervous waiting for my turn. I could easily be employed behind the bar as a cocktail shaker so bad are my nerves. Once I get going though, I’m ok. It was lovely to be able to present a cheque for £500 to Cathy Gilpin and the Mosaic charity for bereaved children. I'm looking forward to doing more fishing with these very deserving children in the future. The night was the first time we had had chance to come together since the lockdowns and it was good to see so many turn out.

Friday was prep day for Saturday, with M’Lady’s party in the evening.

Insomnia was prowling through the house which left me with only three hours sleep before the alarm was supposed to go off. I’m glad I was driving the night before and had nothing to drink. Although this would have given me an excuse for the vacuum the occupied the space between my ears where my brain used to live. So tired was I that I fell into one of the habitual hazards that lurk in a house where someone with a chronic illness lives. Eczema and Psoriasis live hand in hand with Asthma suffers and the treatments like

Betnovate are very much like tubes of Vaseline in nature. To a very tired person, these tubes can be easily mistaken for toothpaste when placed in proximity to the real thing. It doesn’t look like toothpaste and it certainly doesn’t taste like toothpaste either. But, what I can tell you is that it can leave your teeth with a very satisfying sheen to them once you have stopped gagging… I made a mental note to get a new toothbrush.

A mild lecture was given to M’Lady whose only response was hearty laughter and advice to be more observant in future.

I loaded the car and headed to the den of wonderous treasures that is Alan’s Angling and verbal abuse distribution centre to pick up the vouchers for today’s eventual winners.

After a winter of cold rain, the Spring sunshine is nourishing for the soul and it feels good to have the warm sun on your skin again. I was privileged to witness, as I travelled along the lanes, the fastest Pheasant on the planet on a number of occasions. One minute it was challenging me to a race on the road in front of me, and then it was 2 miles up the road challenging me again! I thought I had the measure of him until, to my amazement, he was already waiting at the gate to the lake when I arrived. How fast does that thing run????

Boots on, flags up and pegs in, it was time to reacquaint myself with an old rival. The Bog Tent had been laying in wait for me for the whole winter. Was it going to behave? I thought I’d try to talk to it gently as I pushed the poles through the pockets and clipped the tent to the poles. It seemed to work because it didn’t put up any fight at all apart from the hard stoney ground that just laughed as I attempted to push the pegs into the ground.

Before I start the report, the first match of the season from now on will be a trophy match. Something that I may have neglected to say on the day. I promised my Auntie Joyce and her son, Robert, that I would honour their late husband/dad with a memorial trophy bearing the name of Alan Hilton. Alan showed me the passion for angling and taught me names of passed heroes that helped to build the foundations of angling. He is the reason why I try to pass on this same enthusiasm for fishing to our juniors today.

Everyone arrived well in time, including Jerry whose sole purposed seemed to be to remember everything that I had forgotten. The participants of todays event were as follows.

Peg 1: Jack ‘The Champ’ Copp Peg 2: Jack ‘Thing #1’ Cryer Peg 3: Josiah ‘His Lordship’ Wells-Parkes Peg 4: Harry ‘Thing #2’ Cryer Peg 5: Austin ‘Camouflage’ Scott-Kennedy Peg 6: Oliver ‘Aquaboy’ Smith

Your cast of coaches today were,

Orinoco – Graham Howard Madame Cholat – Jerry Bracey Tobermory – Chris Ward Tomsk – Tim Broughton Great Uncle Bulgaria – Jon Bass

Peg One: Jack Copp: Brimming with confidence is the only way to describe Twiglets demeanour today. He’d been to Sharnhill a couple of days previously for a practice with his dad. Dave had been sampling the water quality of several lakes during the school holidays by throwing himself in and screaming at the fish. He slipped up at Todber though. Forgetting a change of clothing was a costly mistake. £46 costly to be precise after a new t-shirt and shorts from the shop. He managed to draw the peg that he’d practiced on just two days before which just fuelled the determination. Jack is working on his pole skills and using them well but, sadly for him and one or two others, the wind had other ideas. All week the wind had been mostly in the south/south-east direction, blowing straight down the lake to the far end. Drawing the near end proved to be a fate accompli for him and those at that end. Jack finished a tough match with an uncharacteristic 1lb 2ozs. 4ozs of that was a Tench, the only silverfish caught all day, and which catapults Jack to leader in the Silverfish championship.

Peg Two: Jack Cryer: I used tell a story to encourage our juniors to keep going until the last seconds of every match they fish by telling them about my old mate, Martin. Martin endured freezing conditions for 5 hours and 54 minutes before he had his first bite of the day at Revels. In that last six minutes he caught two Carp for 22lbs to finish 2nd in the match on the day. But I have a new story to tell now. It is a story of a young boy who tried everything he knew from his limited knowledge of fishing to catch his second fish of the day. He had assistance from all the coaches, including myself, to help him get something to take his bait. I told him that sometimes fishing decides that an angler will go home with little to show for his efforts. That’s fishing and that’s just the way it is sometimes. But Jack didn’t give up and it paid off for him because, with just 3 minutes left on the clock, he quietly announced that he’d got one! He landed the fish with just 90 seconds to go but, the fish had broken is hooklink and there was no time left for that final cast. Jack showed focus and an admirable level of concentration to finish fourth overall with 7lbs 6ozs.

Peg Three: Josiah Wells-Parkes: Jo had drawn a bit further down the lake and despite it being a little colder, was fishing the same spot that Jerry had fished just 4 days earlier. Jo is determined to fish his pole much more this year, so I took the time to point him in the right direction. Little things like dotting down his float to maximise the sensitivity and backshotting the lash in breezy conditions. Jo learned that even the way that you lay your rig into the water can make a big difference in certain conditions. We will talk more about things like roller position and shotting as we go through the year. Like most juniors, Jo has some growing to do before pole fishing becomes easier with his increased strength. But, he can practice the various techniques whilst he waits. Jo is doing well though and his progress is good. As the day warmed the water, carp became present on the far side of the lake. Jo’s switch to the feeder proved fruitful after I had seen some Carp moving around in the margin opposite. I even managed to teach Sexy Dad the sign language for ‘Wobbly Carp’ which is a slight shimmying of the arms. James shimmied his arms in response but used his hips too which, as we all know, is sign language for Tench. It’s these little things that can make all the difference. Josiah finished the match in second place with Carp and Crucians weighing 12lbs 12ozs.

Peg Four: Harry Cryer: I was beginning to get a little concerned about Harry. I had spoken to the other coaches about concentrating our focus a little more on him to help him to keep pace with the others. Harry was lucky enough to have nice bloke Tim coaching him almost exclusively today, and Tim’s experience paid off in spades. During the match, it had become apparent that the wind was playing a vital part in the outcome of the result by blowing the fish down to the shallower end of the lake. But you still must catch them to make them count. Harry had a little assistance from Tim on occasions, but nothing that stepped outside of the spirit of the event. I do like to see juniors doing most things for themselves but, there are times when a little intervention is necessary for the less experienced participants. If brother Jack has ever waved his Christmas Match trophy in Harry’s face, Harry can now return the favour next year when he walks up to collect his first award, winning as he did today, the Alan Hilton Memorial trophy. Harry carefully weighed five decent carp for a winning weight of 26lbs 4ozs. Congratulations Harry.

Peg Five: Austin Scott-Kennedy: Camouflage was accompanied by granddad, Brian, today and Brian had brought out his shorts and summer legs specially for the occasion. Somewhere there was a Pidgeon that was regretting the day that he challenged Brian to a game of swap body parts poker. Austin had sent me an encyclopaedia’s worth of questions previous to the event that I hope that I answered as fully as I could in the pre-event report. He had drawn what I think is probably one of the better pegs on the lake, positioned as it is next to a large tree. The fish have always used the tree to shelter beneath, even when it has had a severe haircut. Austin hit the ground running early in the match with a small Carp that gave me hope that we were going to have a decent day. But Springtime is a fickle period of the calendar, and this has given us food for thought about when we host events at Sharnhill in the future. The trouble with fishing close to trees is that the hazards are not always obvious. Austin found this out when he hooked into some of the trees root system on a number of occasions. Austin has a reputation for having soft hands when playing a large fish, but today he took that to extremes. He hooked into a fish at about 2 o’clock, and was till playing it 30 minutes later! With the exception of Jon, the coaches tagged in and out, doing shifts as the day wore on. Jon stood his ground with the landing net probably hoping that Austin would land it before he got too weak to hold the handle for him, and before Austin started college. I wandered round to try to help, and something occurred to me upon my arrival at Austin’s side. He was using one of Martin’s old Maver rods, a rod that I knew to be quite soft in the action. When he uses it, it looks like Austin is applying lots of pressure on the fish, but he could/can afford to put more pressure on than looks possible. A little gentle help from me and expert targeting from Jon got the fish safely in the net. Austin weighed in a respectable 8lbs 10zs, good enough for 3rd place on the day.

Peg Six: Oliver Smith: Annamama had clearly instructed (threatened) Ollie to drawn a peg in the sunshine so that she may kickstart her summer of tanning early. The only problem with that that I could see was that Ollie was directly opposite good friend and fierce rival, Jack. Would we be deafened by constant chatter? Would we have to pull them apart at the end? Who knew? Early negotiations about swim boundaries were entered into and borders were agreed. Of course, this gives them limits to push with regards to how close is too close? There was a bit of squawking on occasions but, overall, they behaved themselves. I would however like to see less casting feeders at one another after the whistle has blown please, even if they are clipped up… Ollie started well, netting a little Carp within minutes of the start. Sadly, that would develop into a false dawn for the former champion. Very little else would grace his keepnet other than a sprinkling of Crucian Carp. 11ozs is not what we are used to from Ollie, and he had to be pushed into having a photo taken with a number of fish that is so beneath him. But it would be a brave person that would bet against a resurgence of form in the coming matches.

Results: 25 points – Harry Cryer 20 points – Josiah Wells-Parkes 17 points – Austin Scott-Kennedy 15 points – Jack Cryer 14 points – Jack Copp 13 points – Oliver Smith

Silverfish: Jack Copp – 4ozs.

It feels good to have finally got this season underway. We will look at having a different venue early in the year in future, but Sharnhill has shaped the championship in a way that we would not have expected, which makes it more interesting for the next few matches, at least.

As always, we have to say a big thank you to Jerry, Jon, Chris, and Tim for some outstanding coaching.

We will be at Luckfield in two weeks-time for the second match of the year, please book early to get a space because only the first 10 will get in. Proceedings will start at 10 o’clock for this event.

For the event which has now been moved to Todber Manor on the 13th of May, I ask that you get there early at around 9am, so you can see and speak to some of the stars that will be demonstrating some of the latest poles on Hillview and Ash lakes. I am hoping that we can encourage anglers like Des Shipp and Will Raison to get a picture with all of you and maybe even come and coach you if they have time. Opportunities like this are rare, so let’s 0make the most of it.

Take care all,

Juniors Sec…

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