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Friends, Romans, Juniors, Lend me your ears! 16/03/24 - Junior Coaching #2 - Chester's Lake, Whitemoor.

Gentle Jon Bass turned to me and remarked, "We've been lucky with the weather again..." I looked to the skies. It was chilly, beginning to rain, and the smallest of breezes made you shudder with cold. But he was right, we had been lucky. The session had been blessed with dryness from the sky, if not from the earth. The rain has been incessant this year, turning every piece of ground that is not covered into soup. Any rain that falls just tops up that which is already in the ground and, despite what the flowers say, Spring still feels a way off yet.

It was ten past six as I peered through sleepy eyes at the frost covering my shed. Clear skies had ensured that the temperature stayed lower than desired, meaning that the fishing may be difficult today. But it did mean that the sun was out which brought the late winter colours to life.

I arrived at Whitemoor and wandered around the little lake. The normally pale green water was hideous light brown. There were fish moving, but I didn't fancy it much. Today was demo day for me and the subject was setting up. I positioned my seat box and kudos to Tom for his level platforms as the bubble settled smack in the centre of its circle. I would leave the rest of the gear for the demo.

Both the coaching sessions so far this year have had a common theme. Cancellations. Twelve juniors were booked in for this one but, for half of them, Psychedelic Yawns and the Whirly Splats were the order of the day. We wish them all a swift recovery.

Juniors for today were: Liam Serkis. Harry Willmer. Sholto O'Neil. Austin Scott-Kennedy Jack and Harry Cryer.

Your cast of coaches today were: Oliver Smith - Oliver Graham Howard - The Artful Dodger Jon Bass - Fagin Jerry Bracey - Bill Sikes Neil Haine - Mr Bumble Chris Ward - Nancy

'Peg One': Liam Serkis: Liam was a luck bunny today. Hazel had bought him a new feeder rod and reel because we had managed to convince them that bite indication on a 3lb test curve Carp rod, could not match that from a 9ft feeder rod with a 1.5oz quiver tip. I think he realised that we do know our apples because it didn't take him long to actually see a bite as the rod hooped round into one of a few fish that he caught today.

Liam had asked me to show him how to set up a method feeder rod last time out, so that's what we did. We were accompanied by the new Harry and Sholto for this micro demo. Liam seems to have taken a shine to our Neil, and Neil is happy to coach him. It's great when these little connections form, and it is probably one of the reasons that Liam and Hazel stayed until almost the end. (Although, maybe Hazel wouldn't have minded going home a little earlier when the breeze got up!). It's great to see Liam enjoying his fishing again, and it's good to see his smile back. Long may it continue...

'Peg Two': Harry Willmer: First timer Harry (New Harry) came with dad Ross to a chilly Whitemoor to meet us all and was chucked straight into the feeder rod demo. Liam seemed to have passed his 'thick rod torch' to Harry because that's the only rod he had with him. But we can soon remedy that in time. The breeze did cause Harry a few problems with his casting today, but that's only to be expected from a new junior. Ross phoned his bank to see if he could get a second mortgage to replace the amount of tackle that may be lost over the coming months, but I think we may be able to rectify that with a casting session or two. Keep your eyes on Spond for details for those. Harry arrived in time for the second demo of the day by yours truly, and I hope he was able to keep up with fishing babble that spewed from his Lead Coach. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of New Harry in the future. I'm not sure if he caught anything today but, that didn't seem to matter that much because he enjoyed his day.

'Peg Three': Sholto O'Neil: Sholto has been out fishing with me in the past and arrived in time for the feeder rod demo. Like New Harry, Sholto is a shiny new angler to the juniors, but has been fishing before with his family. Dad Leon had a similar look of a confused parent that was painted on Ross's face at times. But the more they fish with us, the more they will learn about it. Sholto was keen, dare I even say eager, to fish. So much so that Ollie experienced his first frustrating situation with him. Ollie is the master of the under-arm-cast and showed our newbie how it's done. What Ollie didn't tell Sholto was, that a perfect cast to the island needed to be left in place for more than 15 seconds before being reeled in again... Welcome to coaching Oliver! For some, patience when fishing is something that is learned over time. Not just picked up after a few hours of coaching on difficult lake in late winter! Sholto will get there and I look forward to seeing them again soon...

'Peg Four': Austin Scott-Kennedy': Where to begin? Firstly, they arrived early! Mainly because Brian was driving and not the human homing Pidgeon... Austin started the cement mixer in the car park and commenced shovelling of endless ground bait in to it. Ok, so there wasn't a mixer. Thank goodness there wasn't because he would have mixed even more bait if it had! But, half a bucket of 'Big Fish' ground bait with half boilies in it wasn't on the list of recommended baits for a muddy Chester's Lake in the middle of March. Nor was the 3 pints of micros, the 'fours', 'Sixes' and 'eights' that came out of the bag either. (Maybe the fours..). When challenged about it, Austin said he'd bought the bait himself and there's no coming back from that... What ever bait wasn't hurled at the small Carp of Chester's, was going to be used to 'Dam up' the small river that runs close to his home. Beavers were not deemed to be welcome in Dorset after a vote. I wonder if they ever took a vote on 'Austin's'... Rambo did manage a few fish today, although I think it was despite all the bait rather than because of it.

'Peg Five': Lead Coach and all-round-good-egg, Graham Howard: Yep, you read that right. I can finally say that I have fished on Chester's Lake. Well, sort of... I think that Graham did particularly well today, despite having to ignore irritating giggling when trying to impart some valuable knowledge about using a plummet and trying to catch fish that didn't really want to feed. He showed the juniors how to develop a mental picture of the lake bed by careful use of the plummet to find both depth and structure. The shorter line was most productive and, to be honest, he was told it would be by more regular anglers (Thanks Rich!) Despite only fishing for, probably 90-minutes all told, Graham managed twenty-three fish from a few ounces to a couple of pounds. He was far too modest to guess a weight. In all seriousness, it was fun to 'have a go' at a coaching session with the juniors. I'm not totally convinced that some of them took as much notice as I might have liked, but I think the point was proved that careful feeding and learning about how your peg is working is vital to a good days fishing be it for a competition or just for fun.

My coaches and I work hard to deliver informative coaching in a fun way both at and away from the water. I confess to wishing that, just occasionally, our efforts were made worth while by the proof of learning from the juniors. Particularly some of those that have been with us for a while now. If there is a change needed in the way we deliver the information, then we need to know because none of us are trained teachers. Just a group of guys that are committed to helping youngsters enjoy the sport that we love. I am open to any and all suggestions so talk to me, any of the coaches or, if the juniors don't want to speak to us 'old blokes', then talk to the junior captain, Ollie... I had fun. I hope it wasn't boring. I'd like to do it again sometime...

No one took a picture of me fishing, so the picture is of Ollie who had a go on the Air pole. No Anna, he didn't break anything...

Peg Six & Seven: Harry and Jack Cryer:

Because Paul hasn't got round to cloning himself yet, invariably the Cryer boys end up next to each other at coaching sessions. Obviously they do because it's easier that way. Either that or Paul has already 'got his steps in' earlier in the day...

Jon had commandeered one of our new poles for 'Older Harry' to use and stayed with him for a lot of the day to help him. But even having the sagely wisdom of a finely tuned fish catching machine like Jon was not enough to temp more fish to feed today. Jack had either won the toss, pulled rank, or just simply won the race to the hot spot, because he was in the swim that had won the last two junior matches at Whitemoor. Jack did have the better day for this very reason leaving Harry to struggle a bit more for bites. I spoke to Jack about using his puller bung which cost him a potential match win at Luckfield.

In the end they a had a few fish between them and it was good practice for the match on Chester's in a few weeks time.

Another session ticked off then and, hopefully, one more step towards better weather so we can all moan about how hot it is (Brian is the exception to that last comment). It was suggested that we host the early part of next season in Tenerife, Malaga, or in Cuba fishing for Marlin. But we will probably be back here again, griping about chilly breezes and muddy water.

Not that I mind. Chester's Lake is usually a reliable venue for us and it shows just how 'out of sorts' a lot of fisheries are at the moment due to the weather. But the sun and good times are coming I'm sure of it.

A quick word for Oliver in his first session as a coach. I think he did rather well. He probably did more fishing than the coaches are used to but, all in all, he did a fair job today, well done.

A couple of notices before I finish, the session on the 6th of July due to be at Sharnhill, will now take place at Revels with guest coach, Richard Chave. Rich is going to show us why he is a wizard at catching Silverfish species, and why they can be so important as well as being lots of fun to catch.

Callum Dicks is coming back to visit us again on the 1st of June at Revels. I would humbly ask you to make sure that you have purchased at least one item of junior clothing for that event please? All the clothing info is on the website and, to be quite honest, it's that good I don't why you haven't bought some already! Image is not only important as club representatives, but also to look like a proper team and not like 'Team Compost'...

The club AGM is coming up on the 6th of April at the Weymouth Angling Clubhouse on the quay. It starts at 7:30pm, so please be in time to get a seat if you wish to come. Obviously the trophy winners will be expected to attend.

Big thanks to Tom at Whitemoor allowing us to fish at this firm favourite venue for the juniors.

Thank you to Ollie, Jerry, Jon, Chris, and Neil for their commitment, patience and expertise today. Your help is never lost on me.

That's all for this one. The next is a Silvers only match at Luckfield on the 30th of March. Only ten places, so book in early when it becomes available on Spond (9am, 21st March).

Juniors Sec...

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