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Do juniors float? 24/02/24 - Revels - Coaching

The freezing conditions of last years Christmas match and the rather emotional farewell to a successful season seemed a long way away from the less than comfortable conditions we found at Revels for the first event of 2024.


It’s been raining for so long now that I had seriously considered buying some blueprints for an Arc. I know most of the hardcore match anglers are getting a bit ‘mossy’ because of the rain but, at the same time, all have fantastic complexions because of the mud!


Bookings for this season opener had set new records for DDAS Juniors and by the close of play on Thursday morning, we had thirteen Shrimps ready to take the plunge.

A vast increase on excited participants had caused a slight panic because of the numbers of coaches available, but I had managed to enlist the help of seasoned and well marinaded match bloke, Steve Crowford as well as Junior Capitano, Ollie Smith.

Seven should do it…


At 18:00 on Friday we had thirteen juniors.

By 18:20 we were down to nine.

22:00 saw the figure fall to seven.

Even Ollie had contracted a multicoloured throat disorder that forced Anna to recreate the scene from Game of Thrones when mama Stark made strange things from sticks to ward off evil spirits and overenthusiastic girlfriends…

A further one more would fall by the wayside before the event started, so now we down to six.


Six coaches for six juniors. Sounds perfect.


Jason and I had mulled over the various choices of lakes, and which would be the least likely to swallow a small child whole in a bottomless swamp. Trendals was the overall winner by a fair margin and so equipment was decanted from the chariot.


All the coaches arrived looking resplendent in the new clothing except Nice Bloke Tim. When challenged about this Tim reminded me that he’d only purchased a Polo shirt and that there was no way in Norway that he was going down to and Airtex Polo in anything less than 20 degrees!

Fair point…


First arrivals were newbie George and dad Ed. I’ve known George for a couple of years now, and I know how excited he has been to come fishing with the juniors. Alec followed, along with Kenzie.

But where were the others?


Jerry pointed out to me that it was 10:15 already and we couldn’t wait any longer. We were down to just three and I was feeling a little disappointed. I had expected to have to project my welcome over a small crowd. Instead, I could have whispered it in a small box room…

We were two coaches to one junior, and I was left feeling like I’d led my guys on a wild goose chase. There were a few jokes about concentrated coaching and tagging in and out over the course of the day, but my head was down, and my enthusiasm waning. I gave the guys a chance to bail out early, but they all stood firm and said they would see out the day. When you get ‘no shows’, it is no one’s fault. But you feel responsible being the organiser.


Of course I mean no disrespect to those that were there, but the season takes a lot of organising. You play chess with days, moving dates around to fit everything in. I travelled to fisheries to book dates in so I wouldn’t have to endure waiting for replies from emails and messages. I’m not very patient when it comes to that kind of thing. I just want it done and dusted as fast as possible. But it seemed to have come down to just three willing juniors. Was all that worth it?


Well of course it was!

We kicked off the season with a chat about maggots, ground bait, and pellets. The usual start for newbies, even though two of the three had heard it all before!!!That done we settled into some fishing on a very muddy, and very full Trendals Lake.


Captain Chris said he might slip off if not needed. We said our goodbyes and I thanked him for his time.

Less than fifteen minutes later, Liam arrived with Hazel, closely followed by more newbies Thomas and Ethan with mum Alex. Was it too late to recall Chris?

Probably…

Neil and Tim tackled the newbies and Jerry sorted out Liam who come with some new gear he’d been given… Sadly a sea rod with the tip section missing was a tad overpowered for the small Carp, Roach, and Gudgeon that inhabit Trendals, So Jerry sorted him out with a whip, and he was away…




Thomas and Ethan were quite possibly experiencing fishing in February for the first time. In fact, I would put Jerry’s money on it! There was a bit of warmth from the sun when it came out. But when it found a cloud to hide behind, you knew it was still winter to a large degree!

At one point, Ethan was shaking so much I thought he was dancing! Alex wrapped him up as best she could, and Ethan wandered around a bit to generate some heat. He was soon back on the box chasing Gudgeon which seemed to make him happy.



Thomas on the other hand hit the ground running. Within minutes, and to everyone’s surprise, he had netted a Chub with Tim. After this great start, St Thomas of Sherborne (Because he thinks he can walk on water. It’s rare to be given a nickname this early), struggled to catch anything for a while, so when he did it was with great excitement.

Normal procedure when landing a fish is guide the fish to the net, pull in the handle and net to your lap, and unhook it. Smiling Thomas however thought he would go out to meet the fish halfway.

A quick thinking Tim grabbed the lad’s coat as he slowly descended into the (very cold) water, but not before the lake had enveloped Thomas’s Spiderman wellies! I’m glad the coat was fastened up because Tim extracted Thomas before he got much further than having wet knees. The Spiderman wellies were toast even if Thomas’s feet were now ice, but it could have been much worse.

Well done, Tim!


Alec was having a quiet day. Busily catching lots of fish of all sizes with dad Ian. All the juniors should feel safe and comfortable at DDAS Junior events. When they ask to be given some quiet time without coaching interruptions, then we will honour that. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from keeping an eye on what they are doing.

They were using a set up that I felt could be improved. So, I gave them a rod that was set up in the coaches’ bag. They had caught plenty of fish already, so I did wonder about trying to fix something that wasn’t that broken. But any OCD that I have got the better of me and I thrust a new set up in their direction.

I don’t know if it set the lake on fire, but the nod of approval from Alec at the end seemed to suggest that he was happier with it.

They caught some nice fish and, had it had been a match, he would have won. But coaching is about improvement and learning. So, really, everyone wins.


Kenzie was demonstrating his learning from last year by setting out his equipment in a very organised matter. My aforementioned OCD was placated to a very satisfactory level indeed. Tina has worked with us to buy him the right gear to make his fishing more efficient and it showed. Everything was to hand. Everything had its place. Everything was where it needed to be. Some older, more experienced juniors could take note of this!Kenzie was the first junior to test drive one of our new coaching poles. Some nice new Preston Edge Monsters from Alan’s Angling. He was soon making the new rollers (purchased, with thanks from Revels) spin at great speed as fish after fish made their way to his landing net. Kenzie was netting everything, which looks daft when you’re doing it, but is in fact good practice for when it really matters during a match.

Tina, who doesn’t go out that often, was telling Neil, Tim, and I about how she ‘went out last night’. She was also in a pub the night before. But that was a very rare occasion.

She was also in a pub the night before that for a ‘one off night out with the girls’ but who’s counting?

She certainly doesn’t go out as much as she’d like to. So rarely does she get to go out in fact, that she was really looking forward to going out to the local for a karaoke night that very evening and I, for one, think she deserves it.

I swear I saw Navy man Tim break out into a lager sweat just listening to Tina’s low level of social activity, and Neil and I just looked like two shrivelled prunes with extreme dehydration.

But, Tina has such a hermit-like social life that I promised I wouldn’t mention it…


Screaming George was having a whale of a time with gentle Jon Bass and was the first to catch a fish in 2024. As I mentioned earlier, I have known George and his family for a while, and he has always been excited to go fishing. But George had taken excitement to whole new level and each fish was greeted to crescendo of shouts and excited screams that would make the most miserable anglers heart melt. Juniors like George remind us of what fishing really means to anglers. I truly believe that the only reason anglers go fishing for years is that deep down they are trying to rekindle inside what George was feeling today.

It was joyous to watch. Every fish, no matter how small, was received with such happiness that you just have to smile.


Liam did his usual ‘Splash and dash’ by catching a few fish and calling it a day. I’m surprised that Hazel knows whether she is coming or going sometimes. Liam’s fishing trips are over so fast that I swear Hazel is going to pass Liam going home as she makes her way TO the lake. But fishing is whatever you want it to be for as long as it takes to satisfy the urge to catch fish. It’s always nice to see them both and they provided my highlight of the day.

Apparently, Liam thinks he can get away with saying whatever he wants as long as he hangs the phrase ‘Only joking’ on the end of it.

Liam had not banked on a Wookie that can see through such japery.

‘There you go mum’ said Liam as he pointed at the pile of tackle sat patiently waiting.

‘Only joking’, he said smiling.

Jerry put the coat that Liam was carrying on his back. The bag Liam was carrying in the other hand was tucked under his arm. A seat box over one shoulder, and a bag over the other. Two other items in each hand and the pony was packed. Jerry set Liam in the general direction of the car park and away he went…

Never mess with a Wookie!


The day which had promised so much, could have ended badly. But as usual coaching juniors with a great bunch of mates provided a high level of satisfaction.

Kenzie is showing levels of angling passion that I recognise from when I was his age. Alec had found some solace amongst friends after the anxiety of school. Liam had filled his personal quota of fishing for a week or two, and our three newbies Thomas, Ethan and George had brought with them a reminder of what it is to love fishing.


Our new clothing range is fantastic! Excellent quality with a snappy new look. I would love for everyone to purchase at least one item from the range so we can really look part of something special on the bank. Please go to www.ddasjuniors.co.uk/clothing for more details.


I’m pleased to say that Callum Dicks (Former World Champion) has agreed to return to see us again after the success of last year at Whitemoor. This year’s event will be held at Revels on the 1st of June. So please add that to your diaries.


Our next event is a match which will more than likely be held at Luckfield on the 2nd of March. With seven already booked in, there will be only three places left so book soon to avoid missing out. If you have booked in already (because we were supposed to be on the river), then you need not book in again.


Big thanks to Jason Fricker at Revels for hosting our coaching session at late notice.


Thank you to Jerry, Tim, Chris, Neil, and Jon for another great day of coaching.


Thank you to our juniors and their dedicated parents for sticking it out in the cold!


See you next week!


Juniors Sec…


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