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Fishing Tackle, Loop Knots and Screaming Maggots

Being the Australian Grand Prix weekend, Early mornings are as common as the unrepeatable mutterings from ’Mrs H’ that go along the lines of the following:

“Good gracious, it is far too early to be awake at this time of day” “You really a silly sausage to get up again this early” “You really are going to be awfully tired later on” and, my personal favourite, “I am not paying it any mind as you how much fatigue you are experiencing presently, I would like you to make me a hot beverage please”.

Add to that the ‘fizz’ of preparing for a junior event, and the mental overload is exponentially increased.

I popped along to Revels on Tuesday to chat to the gathering of angling talent that attend the Tuesday matches there, just to get an idea of how the fishing could be on Saturday. It didn’t look good.

Even regular experienced anglers were struggling for bites, especially on the main lake. Couple that with cold night temps for the week and the picture did not look rosy for the Shrimps. But it is what it is, and anglers must learn to cope with all conditions. Adaptation is a key skill to learn and one that is learned most on harder days.

As previously mentioned, I was up to kick the Cockerel (early) and I winced when I looked out of the window as the sun eventually peeped over the horizon to reveal the sparkling crust of frost on the roof of my shed. I closed my eyes and blew out my cheeks. It really wasn’t looking good.

As I loaded the car, I questioned my sanity and how much gear I really need to take for a group of kids to go fishing? Some donated gear, my own equipment, flags, banners, donated bait, two pole holdalls, coaches kit, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a flaming pear tree! So stuffed was the car that I couldn’t even get my own rods in or even some dried spaghetti if I wanted to. I really need a van…

Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning to be out and about. The crisp sunlight paints everything with sharp colours that feels so welcome after the greyness of winter and makes being alive so much sweeter. Upon my arrival at Revels, I spoke with Jason and Dean about where the best place would be to hold the event? I had initially decided on the main lake but having walked down there and felt the cold north-westly wind on my face as it galloped up the vale, I changed my mind and opted to use the Middle lake and Dead Tree Lake instead. Both lakes have a degree of protection from north facing winds by the large mound of material, which I am reliably informed contains the bones of every shop lifter and those of anglers that tried to fish without buying a day ticket. But it is mostly made of the excuses of thousands of anglers about why they didn’t have a good day and how it was the fault of someone/something else other than themselves.

I managed to get everything as I wanted it by the time the coaches and participants started to arrive. I kind of like this period of the day because, once everything is in position, I can relax a little bit and take in the surroundings. I’ve been trying to familiarise myself on birdsong lately to help enhance my own experience of being outdoors. We all know sparrows and the joyful summer twittering of the Robin whose song in the winter turns melancholy as it starts to get cold. One song that has vexed me the most is ‘The Squeaky Wheel Bird’ because it sounds a bit like a squeaky wheel funnily enough. I have recently learned that it is a Great Tit that is responsible for the Squeaky Wheel sound and now that’s the only damned bird I can ever hear! It is driving me nuts!

A new face fishing with us for the first time today was James Oram and his dad, Tim. Now, I am 5’ 8” and it is fair to that compared to some I can be politely referred to as ‘Vertically Challenged’. I am certain that I am vertically challenged when I look into the eyes of a child without having to bend and he tells me that he is twelve years old…Mind you his dad is huge! I met them in Alan’s Angling and they both looked tall indoors. Outdoors they can stand to their full height which forced me to constantly search for high ground from which to talk to them. In all seriousness though James did exceptionally well for his first session and even battled with a 3lb Carp on the feeder with a cool and calm manner which impressed me a lot. I have explained to them the handing out of nicknames so I must select one for these guys that is kind of cool, but not insulting (too much). I have consulted the grand oracle (Google) and come up with ‘Daddy Longus’ and ‘Puppy Longus’. Longus, as we all know, is Latin for tall. The Oracle is kind. The Oracle has spoken, Long live the Oracle…

New for this year are the tutorials that I try to deliver in the best (least boring) way that I can. The subjects for today were setting out your equipment to make yourself as efficient as you can and looking after maggots! A subject that I had more to talk about than I initially thought that I would.

I don’t know how well received these tutorials are, maybe you could let know with comments on Facebook? But I believe that I can get information across to the kids in a way that we were not able to do previously. If there are any subjects that you can think of that you would like me to try and cover then please let me know.

As I stated last time, I am trying to keep on top of the coaching program much more this year in an effort to help juniors progress through the various levels without too any false awards. This means trying to remember who is where and who’s done what? Considering that I still have trouble remembering my own name and which bins go out on bin day, this is no mean feat.

For the level one juniors today was all about loop knots, fish species, and KHV.

For the Level threes (There are no L2 juniors at the moment) it was fish internals….and here’s where the fun started.

Fish internals with Ollie and Jack C was ably supported be mummy Anna (Cheerleader) and Dave (Coppy Coppy Coppidy Copp). With the two leading juniors rattling off names of organs left right and centre, they clearly hadn’t looked that long or that closely at the booklets because they stumbled upon just two body parts. There was much head scratching, and it was becoming a little painful to be honest. I provided them with some clues. “It begins with ‘G’ and the slang name is ‘Nads’” I suggested. This only caused deepening of already furrowed brows. As I remember it as Anna who whispered ‘Gonads’ into Ollies ear, who then proceeded to shout the answer triumphantly across the lake. In my mind this stopped every conversation this side of Buckland Newton and I swear I heard it echo off the trees around the lake and dogs started barking everywhere... So, there’s just one name to get on the list and a bit of caution is needed at this part of the blog. The furrowed brows reappeared on the faces of the juniors and on those of the adults too. “Ok, it begins with ‘V’, I said. “V?” said Anna, looking slightly horrified. I could see an unwanted conversation rippling across her face of a subject she was not ready to cover at this moment in time. Obviously anxious, Anna leant in close to me and whispered “It isn’t Va- (At this point I must use extreme caution because this broaches a subject that shrimps should not be concerned with at a tender age… Let’s just call it ‘Downstairs baby mechanics’ and leave it there) – is it?” she asked, "I haven't had 'the chat' with him yet"... I looked at her with horror and blurted “Good grief no woman, what is wrong with you!?” Anna has dissolved into fits of giggles that I hadn’t seen before, and it was apparent that it wasn’t going to stop for a while either. Dave and I tried to ease the situation by making it far worse than it needed to be, thus increasing Anna’s giggle time. Personally, I was innocently talking about how the stiffness of a fishing pole can affect its performance. But she took down avenues that I’m far too innocent to comprehend. I was shocked when I consulted the Oracle though. For the rest of the day, I gave her a wide birth (Stop it!) and gave her some filthy looks too… The part was VENT by the way.

We’ll go round clockwise:

Middle Lake:

Peg 1: James Oram (Puppy Longus):

I have already spoken about Daddy and Puppy Longus but I will add that James comes across as a thoroughly nice lad and I hope he will fit in with our little fishing family. I’m going to grab him a seat box from the Re-Gen and we can go from there. Good work on a tricky day. James finished with a 3lb Carp and some Roach and Perch for his efforts.

Peg 2: Faith Stone (The Dormouse):

Faith and her support team always turn up with half a tackle shop of gear. Bizarrely, the blame for which is placed upon my head somehow? Somewhere in the mountain of tackle there was a little girl fishing her heart out. Faith struggled for a long time, but she never gives up. like ever! Even Tim in the next peg commented on how she had not budged from her seat other than to answer the call of nature. I know she finally caught at least two fish, although what they were I don’t know. Netters both. After everyone else had left for home, Faith and I engaged in a game of ‘Chuck the soft ground bait bowl on to each other’s head. The full title of this game is as follows: Ok, you throw the bowl and I will try to catch it but if I don’t then I lose but if you catch it then you don’t win because you can’t move but I can move and if I catch it with my hand then you lose but you can move a bit if you want throw it high throw it high how do you throw it that high? The rules are ever changing and I found it hard to get a handle on them. There seems to be at least 37 ‘just one more throw’s’ to end the game. Complicated, but fun never-the-less. There was some sort of talk about revenge? Something about tattoos and photographs of people sleeping. I am innocent of all such slander and would never post pictures like that…. Like ever!

Peg 3: Jack Copp (Twiglet):

Jack answered the question he needed to today, despite the giggling mess we used to call Anna. I think I mentioned last time that there seemed to be at least eight different ‘Jacks’ dotted randomly around the lake. Today was not much different although I think there were only five present. Jack is obsessed with the humble Gudgeon, and I don’t blame him. They are one of my favourites too. He had grabbed a whip together with Ollie and later, James to try to ‘snare a fat one’. I often wish I could feel that fizz from just catching anything that children possess. I think that’s something that match fishing, or the pursuit of specimen Carp takes away from you as you get older. The pure love of fishing… Jack did indeed bag a fat one too!

Peg 4: Ollie Smith (Aquaboy/Inspector Gadget):

Did you see what I did? Yes, a new nickname is born to the world. Can you guess why? Like Jack, Ollie made progress in his coaching today despite his mother having a gutter filled mind. Ollie had a few fish, I’m not sure what? A few fish were all that anyone seemed to get today. Who is inspector Gadget I hear you scream? If you already know, then you are as old or older than I. For those that do not know, Inspector Gadget was a half human, half cyborg American Police inspector who used his telescopic arms and legs to fight criminals. The guy was well handy too! Helicopter blades out of his head, man! The guy was tooled up to the max. None of that has anything to do with Ollie however, other than his extending arms that he operates when holding a fish to the camera to make it look bigger. You want a picture of you holding a big fish? Catch bigger fish…. Don’t do it kids… Go-go-gadget arms!

Peg 5: Jake Taylor (Mudmonster):

Jake had quite a quiet day really. Not much happened for him other than he enjoyed his day messing around with fat Gudgeon. His dad, Glenn, made me grin though. He is the most ungainly creature when he is pushing Jakes oil rig of a seat box (Maver series 5) because Glenn is so tall. I suggested buying a harness and yoke for Jake to pull his own seat box. But someone mentioned that it might be too cruel to do that. I don’t see it myself… Jake needs to brush on his fish internals (Don’t start) and check out the other things on L3 he needs to do to complete it. Mr Taylor is responsible for clothing our juniors, and quality stuff it is too! If you want to become one of the ‘in crowd’ then get in touch with Glenn at QWIKFAST and place your order TODAY! (Details on the website).

Dead Tree Lake:

Peg 1: Noah Holding:

Under the eagle eye of Nice Bloke Tim, It was great to see Noah and dad, Chris, for their first run out this season. Noah was ill for the Luckfield event but looks like his old self today. I’ve started to realise that Noah just happy to just come fishing. I don’t think he is chasing awards or certificates, but it would be nice to see him gain his level 1 certificate soon. I sat down with him quietly and we practiced a few knots and talked about some fish species. I see a lot of my younger self in Noah. I could be wrong but, I get the impression that he lacks a bit of self-confidence, and it is easier for him to say no to trying something than fail doing it. He said he couldn’t tie a loop knot but as it turns out he can! With practice he won’t need me to help him very much longer. Like anything in life, you gain experiences by doing things. When you’re doing things, you might fail. That’s perfectly ok. You will fail, you will get it wrong. It’s ok to not know something. You might fail more than once too. The trick is to practice and not fail so much the second time or the third, fourth, or fifth. In the end you will do it right…. He still wears short though, even in a cold wind! It blows my mind…..

Peg 2: Jack Grassby:

Young Jack turned up looking bright eyed along with his granddad, David. It took a while for David to get into the car park because everyone wanted to speak to him. As I have written before, he knows everyone! I swear I saw him high five three Squirrels as he walked around the lake. Jack had Captain Chris Ward to keep him company today. The Captain is still recovering from his aggravated arm injury sustained in the 2nd round of the British Pidgeon wrestling championships a few months ago. But I’m pleased that he is on the mend. Watching David talking to one of his many friends, I realised something quite strange. Watch his eyes… They seem to scan the person in front of him from head to toe. One could even assume that old habits die hard and, as a retired undertaker, he could be optically measuring them up. I for one will keep moving when I’m conversing with him in the future… Jack, like the others, tied some knots and recognised some fishes and did so with aplomb. Chris said that Jack covered quite a few skills including fishing tight to the far bank. Next time we will see what Jack has remembered…

Peg 3: Josiah Parkes-Wells (His Lordship)

Another junior having a fairly quiet day but lucky enough to be under the watchful gaze of our very own Sgt Bracey. Like his fellow compatriots in L1, Jo answered everything I threw at him correctly apart from if he knew where my main set of shed keys have gone… Jo has the one commodity that money cannot buy and that is enthusiasm. After last time when he was found sleeping in the car by the end of the session, Jo had been threatened with no fishing if he didn’t eat and drink properly today. Rightly so too. I am happy to report that he did indeed make it to the end and looked fresh as a daisy when he left. Jo moved to Dead Tree Lake and managed a few fishes with, and I quote, ‘Some very smooth casting’, once Jerry had sorted the line out on Jo’s reels.

Peg 4: Austin Scott-Kennedy (Camouflage):

Another good report for old Camo, catching fish on the whip and float. Getting to grips with his disgorger and even landing everything he caught and on his own too. Austin was said to be ‘very proficient’ for a new starter. He is the latest junior to acquire some Re-Gen tackle and now has a full kit to fish with. There are somethings that we do that really make up for the stress and back/foot ache that certainly I get from doing these junior events. When you give someone a mountain of tackle for free, just so they can get a start on their own fishing career, makes it all worthwhile. My part in it all ends at the asking of the common question ‘Where the hell is this lot going to go?’ Not my problem, Madam…. Austin’s little brother came along with his dad, Tom, halfway through so Amy could swap over duties. Young Luther had bought his own rod with him, a small plastic toy rod with a small blue fish on the end of a bit of string which was being whipped around frantically and could almost be classed as an offensive weapon. Unfortunately, Luther was unable to stay and, judging by the heart-breaking screams, he really wanted to! I turned to the others and pointed out that, this is what happens when you get caught running at one of my junior events!

During the talk about maggots, a figure hobbled into view. That figure belonged to a Mr Paul Wyatt, one of our coaches/helpers that come along from time to time. Paul is recovering from a rather nasty leg injury, so I was surprised to see him. Paul had bought a trophy for the Martin Vine memorial match at the end of last year and, with AGM being cancelled/postponed, he suggested that we present the trophy to its recipient while we had a group of his peers gathered. Mrs Wyatt very kindly bought the trophy to the venue, and we presented the award to Oliver Smith and a lovely cup it is too.

As a mark of the kind of man Martin was, there is a bench next to the main lake in his memory. Paul and Ollie had their picture taken on the bench and it was quite a moment. I can’t talk about Martin for long before the emotion gets to me, and I had to take myself away for a minute or two to gather myself. Donated trophies are a wonderful gesture, but this one is very special. Particularly to me. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Paul for generously donating this award today.

This got us all thinking about the presentation day and, if we wait until the summer, recipients will not have the trophies for very long before they must give them back. We are going to see if we can present trophies within the next month or two at one of our junior events. Watch this space….

So that’s it for this time… Our event is at Whitemoor near Wimborne in two weeks-time. Bookings are open on the website if you haven’t already booked in. Bookings are also open for more events right into early July. I don’t know what’s happening with the bookings at the moment, I am trying to sort it out with the site host. I am seeing lots of multiple bookings coming through. Until I get it sorted, please try to book in for the event that you clicked on and nothing else. Please bear with me on this….

My thanks go to:

Jerry Bracey Chris Ward Tim Broughton

All the parents and Juniors

Special thanks go to Paul Wyatt, Jason Fricker, Dean Hodder, and all at Revels fishery…

See you next time!

Juniors Sec…

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