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Coaching #10 - Sharnhill Lake - 22/10/22

I had really hoped for a better turn out for the last coaching session of the year. But, for a variety of reasons, numbers were whittled down to just four brave/foolish individuals and their respective support teams.

In the days leading up to the event, Chateaux Howard has gone through a transformation of sorts. This has meant that my usual regime for mundane chores and keeping M’Lady on the mortal coil, was disturbed by the dreaded acronym of D.I.Y. The task was to remove Trudie’s vast collection of crafting equipment from what should be our dining area and shoehorning it into the spare bedroom. Think of trying to pass a wildly angry Polar Bear through a hole pricked into the top of a mince pie… The only way to complete this task was to move stuff around our flat a bit like one of those tile puzzles. The only difference being that you can’t scuff your shins on a tile puzzle, no matter how hard you try. Believe me… In my old and increasingly decrepit state, I did manage to pick up an injury. Something went ‘Ping’ and quickly became very hot in my right calf muscle.

The activity?

Prizing apart two large pieces of work top… No, I can’t work it out either…

Thanks to Sgt Bracey, Trudie and I no longer have to eat from our laps (or the floor and walls if she has a coughing fit halfway through a Chilli Con Carne). Instead, we have candle lit meals from a table and chairs, we ask for the salt in posh voices, and we stick out our ‘Pinky Fingers’ at all times… Thank you, Bracey's…

The phones in the booking office had already received a few communications advising me that our three topper most juniors, Faith, Ollie, and Jack would not be attending. Leo and Lisa had a form of lurgy, and Agent Maps said she did not have a car. I can only assume that Amy had lost it somewhere. Every bone in my body wanted to ask if she’d looked in the driveway? Jake was at a two-night sleepover, and Josiah had woken up not feeling well. I had started to wonder if the coaches were going to outnumber the participants again. I rang Captain Chris on the morning to say that if he didn’t want to, he need not come all the way from Blandford and that Mr Bass and I would manage. Chris kindly said that was packed and ready go, and he didn’t mind anyway.

By the end of the day, Chris may have wished that he had taken me up on my offer.

The brave souls that did attend were Jack and Harry Cryer Jack Grassby Liam Serkis

Your coaches were Graham Howard Chris Ward Jon Bass

I must apologise for the lack of photos again... I was busy doing a half marathon with the weighing sling and scales for most of the day. The path around the car park end of the lake is four inches lower than it was...and so am I!

Many weeks had passed since we were graced with the company of the Grassby’s, and it was good to see them back. Jack, like the other three, is a relatively new angler. So, today’s coaching was going to be a simple, grass roots affair.

This year I have been trying to incorporate some tutorials about various aspects of fishing and, originally, I had planned to talk about making pole rigs from scratch. When I realised that we had 4 virtual newbies, I initially abandoned that idea in favour of basic coaching. But Jack G had turned up with a pole so I thought, why not… Now, I am no teacher. I have not been trained on how to connect with Shrimps professionally, and that soon became obvious. I do kind of rehearse what I want to say to them, but that all goes out of the window when four pairs of eyes stare back at you as if you are addressing them in purest Mandarin. Even worse when the eyes are accompanied with the facial expression of someone who has caught a whiff of some else that has just dropped their guts after an enthusiastic Vindaloo… In my head it was simple. Why don’t they get it? To them, I had all the articulate properties of Jar Jar Binks after a heavy night on the Jawa juice… I looked over the shoulders of the four extremely confused juniors stood before me to see exactly the same expression on the faces of Hazel and David. I think Hazel even feel asleep at one point. The last nail in the lid was when the now familiar expression was etched across the faces of experienced anglers Jon and Chris. The look on Jon's face said one of four things.

1. What ARE you doing?

2. I'd give up Gra, if I were you.

3. Spontaneously combust.

4. Pity.

Even the maggots had stopped crawling to stare at me. Master Grassby must have taken pity on me because he told me that he had understood the cloud of numbers that I had launched into the air like a cluster bomb of gibberish, and I appreciated the sympathy… I had turned them all into puppies. All tilting their heads, trying to understand the strange man saying things like, “Blah, blah, blah, split shot” “Blah, blah, blah, float sleeves” “Blah, blah, blah, damaged line” Etc…

The awkward agony of the tutorial now mercifully over, they all scurried back to their swims to tempt the lakes inhabitants to have a chew… Chew they did, but it was a strange day. The Carp were more than willing to present themselves as targets, but the vast community of Goldfish and Crucians were conspicuous by their absence. I don’t think I saw a Roach all day. Even Mr Bass, a formidable silverfish maestro, was having a hard time wading through 7lb Carp to get to the smaller fish behind them. The Cryers were smashing it up on the north bank with Carp following Carp that were all around the five to seven pound mark. Jack G caught the occasion Common Carp throughout the day. (Is an occasional Common now called an Uncommon? Food for thought…)

I tested Harry and Jack on their fish species and there was evidence of learning, so they both passed. Jack did get hung up on the fact that he thought there was a fish called a Silverfish. Bless him. We use the term ‘Silverfish’ a lot so he can be forgiven for getting confused. It's worth noting that many of the fish we catch are, indeed, silver. So, he’s kind of right in a way…

Liam also passed the species challenge with flying colours, and Jack G would have done too if I had not already gone through the fish species earlier on in the year. Jack gave the same ‘Vindaloo expression’ as earlier on and, if I had a tail, it would have been between my legs at this point… Bloomin’ kids!

The day had been a good one on the whole. Everyone had caught their new personal best fish. Some had repeatedly broken their record throughout the day. Then disaster struck.

I’m not going to labour the point too much because I know how terrible those involved felt and probably still feel about what happened. But suffice to say, some painful lessons were learned.

With the fish seeming to be hugging the side of the lake where team Cryer were fishing, Jack G and Liam took themselves and a whip/pole off to a swim a bit further down the lake. This swim is heavily overgrown with reeds and trees. Reeds and trees hold big wobbly Carp. Somehow, the Captains prize feeder rod ended up down there too, away from things like rod rests and gripper butt rests, and the like. It only takes a second for your attention to be distracted, particularly when you have made a new friend and you are having a great time, despite the rain. A second was all it took for the rod to be wrenched from where it lay on the ground, to being dragged into the murky water. A mortified Liam was desperate to get the rod back for Chris, so much so that he plunged in after it! Much searching with a landing net drew a blank and operation rod search had to be abandoned due to the amount of light we had left in the day.

I’m not going to lie, it did put a bit of a dampener on a good day, but it was an accident. Yes, things could have been done differently to prevent it from happening, but it wasn’t on purpose and the lad was gutted… I’m not sure that I would have conducted myself with same grace and composure that Chris displayed, but no amount of shouting or kicking would have changed anything. Maybe drowning a junior or two may have helped, but we do not condone that kind of behaviour at DDAS Juniors.

I met with Chris back at the lake on Sunday morning after the thunder and rain had stopped to see if we could find anything. But two and a half hours of chest wading, and raking yielded no rod. So, we said a few solemn words and departed.

If anyone actually reads this rubbish and if you should find an 11ft Drennan DRX feeder rod with a Shimano reel at Sharnhill, please contact the Junior Secretary…

The curtain closes on another year of coaching for DDAS Juniors. Was it successful? I guess so… I always look to improve what we deliver with regards to coaching, and I still don’t think we have it right yet. There those that think that they are beyond coaching because they find it boring. Others because they just like the matches. Some are happy with how it is. I know you can’t please everyone all of the time, but I want to get the balance better than it seems to be at the moment. I and the other coaches will get together over the winter to see how we can make it better… I know we still have two events left, but I want to say a huge thank you to the following people: Jerry Bracey Chris Ward Tom Foyle Tim Broughton Jon Bass Si Wagner Andy Hawkins

On behalf of myself and all the juniors you have coached this year, thank you for your time, your patience, and your commitment through the coaching sessions of 2022…

Our next event is on the 5th November is the last, and very exciting points match at Whitemoor for 2022. With seven juniors able to claim the crown, it’s wide open. £10 match fees…

Don’t forget to download Spond to book in for the DDAS Junior Christmas match at Todber Manor on the 26th November. Please be sure to book in early so we can get the prizes sorted out… £15 match fees…

Juniors Sec…

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