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Before we get stuck into the day’s events, I want to bring up a couple of items of concern.

At the last match, I witnessed and had reported to me, occurrences of verbal and physical abuse between juniors. I also was able to hear some words that I deem unsavoury for a junior event.

Now, let me be clear about this. I know that ’banter’ amongst a group of people is part and parcel of being in a group of friends, heaven knows I like a bit of banter myself.

Banter turns into bullying when the person to whom it is being directed has their day spoiled by the words of others, when the banter goes on for an unnecessary length of time, or when a group of people ‘gang up’ on an individual unfairly to make them feel disliked or segregated.

This bullying is made even more unacceptable when an individual is subjected to physical abuse like being sprayed in the face with a fizzy drink. This would not have been so much of a problem if this action was not carried out with malicious intent.

The other subject I want to address is language. We all use language from time to time. Be it from anger, frustration, or from a life background.

There has been increasing amounts of unsavoury language coming from, not only the juniors, but from some of the parents too. My coaching team comes from varied backgrounds. I from building, others from backgrounds like the Police and Navy. We have the most stressful jobs at any of the events and we are expected to, and do, conduct ourselves with measured decorum 99% of the time (no one is perfect!). It is not unreasonable to ask that the juniors and their parents do the same.

At the bottom of this blog is the DDAS Juniors Code of Conduct. This code is to be adhered to by EVERYONE, including myself. I insist that you all, juniors, parents, and coaches, familiarise yourselves with this code from here on in.

Any further instances of ‘bullying’ will be recorded as an ‘incident’ and will be reported to the committee. After that, it is down to them whether the membership of those reported will be permanently terminated or not.

Junior events should be fun. On the whole they are. But I want to nip this all in the bud before it gets out of hand. Let’s create an atmosphere that is not only fun to be in, but that invites others to want to be involved too. I don’t want a Disney-like atmosphere where everyone is artificially happy all the time because that’s not real life.

Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself and we will all get along fine.

Junior Points Match #3 – 13/04/24 - Canal Lake, Whitemoor.

A poem. The Guns, by Baldrick - Blackadder goes forth.

Boom boom Boom boom Boom boom boom BOOM BOOM

BOOM BOOM Boom boom boom... Dedicated to all the Clay Pigeons that lost their lives today.

Despite the chill in the air and overcast skies, the temperature is definitely on the rise. But not quite enough for bare arms first thing just yet.

I put my hoodie back on and thoughts of a pack of juniors with similar clothing on flooded my mind. My five-point ruse had worked and quite a few items of clothing have been ordered already. A smart looking team of shrimps is on the horizon.

The creamy green colour of the Canal Lake never gets old for me. It’s like fishing in a vegetable soup that I remember consuming in a hotel holiday during the seventies.

Despite the colour, there were plenty of fish moving around and ‘puffs’ of cloudy mud were everywhere signifying that the fish were on the munch.

With a slavering, growling, group of juniors straining at their leashes impatiently waiting to get the draw started, I thought this was good time to discuss why poles don’t last long when they are thrown into the holdall with seemingly gay abandonment. There are things like caps and tubes that give extended longevity to poles, particularly those that are less than six months old!

What none of us knew was that fact that we would effectively be in the middle of some kind of re-enactment of the battle of Nasby, with 22,000-gun salute from the shooting grounds very close by. I estimate that more shells were released at spinning clay disks than in the entirety of the battle of the Somme. It certainly frayed tempers and caused some adverse effects in some as we will discover.

The draw went as follows:

Peg 9: Jack (T’other Jack) Cryer

Peg 10: Josh (New Jamie Hughes) Roe

Peg 11: Josiah (His Lordship) Wells-Parkes

Peg 12 Harry (Carnage) Cryer

Peg 13: Austin (Rambo) Scott-Kennedy

Peg 14: Oliver (Aquaboy) Smith

Peg 16: Jack (Twiglet) Copp

Peg 18: Alec (The Noisy One) Campbell

Peg 19: Harry (Mr Velcro) Wilmer

Peg 20: Mia (OMG a junior that listens!) Evans

Your ’Pouch’ of coaches (The correct collective noun for three coaches) today are:

Graham Howard – Shrek

Chris Ward – Fiona

Jerry Bracey – Donkey

Peg Nine:

Jack Cryer:

T’Other Jack was ‘End Peg Charlie’ today, but would it pay off in terms of fish?

Being asked to help plumb the depth in three different places with 5 minutes to go before blowing the whistle was a challenge, but I think we scraped in with seconds to spare. Just!

A lot of the time the pre-match report is created from advice from those that fish the venues more regularly than we do, but this can cause a few problems. The ‘in the moment’ problem solving abilities of juniors cannot measure to that of senior anglers. So, juniors faced with changing conditions and situations struggle on changeable days like today.

The pole lines we set up for Jack at the start did not really work for him, so he decided to go on the feeder to the far bank. On reflection this was a smart move because I believe the added disturbance caused by the junior event had pushed most of the fish to the far bank anyway.

This showed that Jack’s casting has improved a great deal since last year. One or two of the casts that I witnessed caused the grasses to breathe in as the feeder brushed passed and into the water. Young Jack is a bit of a marksman now!

A couple of lumpy fish down the edge gave him 23lbs 8ozs and 3rd place on the day. But surely, he wouldn’t have to share that 3rd place, would he?

Peg 10:

Josh Roe:

Still fresh and buzzing from his success at Luckfield, Josh was probably straining on his leash harder than most. There is definitely an air of renewed vigour about Josh since we last saw him, and a steely determination to succeed.

Like Jack next-door, Josh worked hard to make the pole work for him but suffered a similar fate in facing some crucial decisions whilst trying to maintain concentration in a fishing match. The full-on frontal attack being launched at innocent clay in the next field did nothing to help Josh’s thought process and by mid-afternoon he was beginning to feel sick and dizzy. Josh lay himself on the grass for the last thirty or forty minutes because he felt poorly. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I thought it was a small pile of clothes and nearly stood on him!

It was a tricky day, and you can’t win them all. Josh tipped 4lbs 9ozs onto the scales by the end of his shortened day. Get well soon Josh…

Peg 11:

Josiah Wells-Parkes:

Jo started well by nailing a few early fish on the feeder, and was looking odds on for a competitive weight. Then the shooting started. As a migraine sufferer, Jo was not well equipped to deal with the barrage of noise (It was really loud!) and soon began to feel unwell. Jo disposed of his breakfast and went to sit in the car where he was unwell again. It was not looking good. James decided enough was enough, and it was time to call it a day. With nets being residential, we were able to weigh the fish that Jo had caught before being overcome. It was a shame because Jo’s fish went 6lbs 8ozs and, for just a couple of hours fishing, meant that Jo was well on course for a tidy result.

Get well soon Jo….

Peg 13;

Austin Scott-Kennedy:

Austin had set his stall out early doors and had a fool proof match plan.

I don’t know exactly what his match plan was, but I can give you an expert interpretation of his match plan using years of expertise and experience.

I believe the plan was to fool the Carp into thinking that the casts were coming from ‘the wrong bank’ by repeatedly casting onto the far side of the lake, and plopping the feeder in. The downside of this tactic was that he lost many, many hooklinks and one or two feeders in the process.

Once he had adjusted the line clip, each cast got wet much earlier than the others because he was hitting water instead of grass.

I can jest all I want because many of us thought he had the day sewn up by lunchtime.

But it was not just Jack Copp renaissance during the last half of the match that cost Austin the match today.

It is paramount that only one voice is heard during the weigh in because it could lead to confusion, particularly when working out multiple nets. With excited shrimps shouting out numbers as I am waiting for the scales to settle and Jerry is waiting for the call from me, it gets confusing and more than a little frustrating. So much so that a threat was offered to the juniors that I would disqualify the next shout of numbers that I heard.

(Don’t think that I was ‘just in a bad mood’ on the day either, this has been happening for years!).

Austin predicted his weight to himself out loud when we were weighing him in which caused me to pause with the fish hanging in the weigh sling to ask him what he was thinking after the previous threat, and if he thought I was joking?

The scale initially went 31lbs 5ozs, equalling Jack Copp’s weight. But by the time I had finished talking to Austin, an ounce of water had drained out and the call to Jerry was for 31lbs 4ozs…

I was a tough call, but hopefully a lesson learned for all. It cost Austin 5 points, Five-pounds, and dropped him to 2nd place on the day.

But he fished well and deserved more.

Peg 14:

Oliver Smith:

Ollie had an outstanding feature in his peg (other than Anna!) in the shaped of a large over-hanging tree. This would he his salvation in the face of changeable fishing. Bushes mean fishes, and there were plenty of such within. One of these within fishes was a large brutish thing that had Ollie run ragged around his peg. I would even say it nearly gave him the ‘Whirly-Splats’ as it charged around his peg and even in other pegs too. Dave offered to net it for him at one point, and he was two pegs away! But with constant pressure and a mostly level head, Ollie managed to land the lump with a bit of expert netting from yours truly. It really is amazing how far pole elastic will stretch!

With ‘old lumpy’ (Still not talking about Anna) in the net, it was ‘Skimmer time’ for El Captaino. I have a saying that ‘Every ounce counts’ and this would be so for Oliver…

It's not often that we have a tie for any of the positions in fishing, but today we did because Ollie weighed the exact same weight as Jack Cryer with 23lbs 8ozs for a joint third place, and a share of the voucher for Alan’s Angling.

Peg 16:

Jack Copp:

Put a good angler on a good peg and you might be able to predict the result. Put a good angler on a good peg with two free pegs either side of him and it could be a forgone conclusion!

With no one being drawn in peg fifteen and seventeen being left out because of a slightly weak platform, Jack already had an arguable advantage before he even put his seat box down.

Fresh from a day with friend of the juniors, Callum Dicks, at Viaduct the day before, Jack was more fired up than ever, and had match plans running into double figures so I believe. Realistically, Jack is probably the only junior that can fish a very long pole with any degree of purpose, and this would be a distinct advantage on a day like today.

Chopping and changing, chasing the bites up and down in the water, Jack was able to put a pretty decent weight in the net of 31lbs 5ozs. The last open match held on Canal was won with 56lbs and they fished an hour longer, so it was a good showing.

Jack would take the win on the day by an ounce, but only because a mouth was opened when shouldn’t have been…

Peg 18:

Alec Campbell:

Alec was having a quiet day by not really troubling that many fish. A skimmer had yawned near his hook and ended up in the keep net, but that was all there was to show for his efforts today.

That was until there was a flash of light, a cloud of smoke and ‘Super Coach’ arrived with a tablecloth round his neck and his underpants on the outside of his ‘trakkie-bottoms’.

Once I managed to lever myself up from the ‘Super-hero landing pose’ (With my knees, that takes a while) I grabbed a spare top kit, shallowed the rig right up as far as it would go, and instructed them to ‘keep chuckin’ a few pellets in’ near the aerator. It was going to be the best chance for Alec to avoid the wooden spoon today.

I hadn’t got far when I noticed an extremely bent pole with miles of elastic pouring from the end of it. Alec was in…

It had been on for a while when I slithered in to observe, about 20 minutes to be exact.

The problem was the size 12 hybrid elastic and no puller, side or bung. I’m going to say that, for the first ten minutes, the fish didn’t even know it was hooked!

It was ‘Back to the Eighties’ again when we used to ADD SECTIONS OF POLE to land fish because of the stretchy elastics.

After a lot of giggling, mickey-taking, and pressure, Alec finally could be bothered to lift himself from his box to walk backwards up the bank so Ian could stick a net under it.

The Carp went 8lbs 3ozs and, with it’s accompanying Skimmer, Alec weighed a ‘Get out jail’ weight of 8lbs 8ozs. A fine display of retro pole fishing and lots of laughs along the way… Good job…

Peg 19:

Harry Wilmer:

Mr Velcro…So called because I feel we’re going to need to sew some in the seat of his trousers to stick him to his seat!

Juniors like Harry are a challenge because they have endless enthusiasm with no idea how to direct it. Enthusiasm is not a great bed mate of patience sometimes, and Harry is still learning that patience is a key part of fishing.

I confess that the day had already drained me of much of my patience when Harry asked me to set up a pole for him at one o’clock. Explaining the importance of why the ‘lash’ should be as short as you can effectively use it to someone who is having a conversation with someone else about a different subject entirely, doesn’t make Graham a happy man. Especially when you get asked why you’re shortening the rig once you have fished.

That aside, I felt that Harry would benefit from practicing with a pole even if he didn’t catch much. After showing how and where to feed, I got up (eventually) and let Chris take over. I hadn’t got far when the comments “Graham said we wouldn’t catch anything” echoed across the lake as Harry slipped the net under a Carp for his first pole caught fish…

Shows what I know…

In all seriousness, I’d like to see Harry partake in a few more coaching sessions before fishing another match. He will benefit from a little more practice and a little more patience going forward.

Having said that, Harry did weigh 5lbs 7ozs which was far from last on the day. Well done Mr Velcro…

Peg 20:

Mia Evans:

Jerry and I looked at each other with amazement. This had never happened like this before, and it was difficult to take in. I asked Jerry if he wanted to have a photo to mark this momentous moment in time for prosperity. Jerry couldn’t force a reply through the emotion. I always had faith that it would happen eventually but, now it was here, I didn’t know what to do…

For the first time in years, we had a junior that listened and actioned what they were told instantly…

I’m getting choked up writing about it…

Uncle John had made sure that Mia had all she needed to give her a good start in DDAS Juniors career. She certainly had all the equipment she’d need for a while. She was so keen that she’d even made her own DDAS Juniors Hoodie!!

It was not only Mia’s first event with us, but also her first session with a rod and reel.

She was casting to a clip within twenty-minutes...I’m going to write that again for you.

She was casting to a clip within twenty-minutes…

There were lots of fish in her peg, and maybe inexperience meant that she couldn’t catch them. But John had made it clear not to expect too much, and we had told her that she was not letting anyone down if she had tried her best. She said she had, and I don’t doubt it for a minute. Three little Carp for 3lbs 9ozs may not have been the start that she wanted. But I think she’s going to look back on today and realise how far she’s come by the end of the year. Every journey starts with a single step and Mia is well on the way to a long journey in fishing… Well done Mia!

So, today could have been better. I don’t expect to be enthralled by every junior event. I had a mixed feeling of mild disappointment and the usual satisfaction that the juniors give to me. Hopefully we can think about the events of today and try to make it better going forward.

The points standing after match 3 are:

53 - O. Smith

50 – J. Cryer

49 = A. Campbell

= A. Scott-Kennedy

42 - J. Copp

38 – H. Cryer

36 – J. Roe

27 – J. Wells-Parkes

25 – K. Toulson

12 – H. Wilmer (One Match)

10 – M. Evans (One Match)

The Silvers Championship:

O. Smith 20-4

A. Campbell 18-8

H. Cryer 16-9

J. Roe 16-6

A. Scott-Kennedy 14-15

J. Cryer 13-13

J. Wells-Parkes 11-8

K. Toulson 7-12

J. Copp 4-14

H. Wilmer 1-11

Big Thanks to Jerry Bracey and Chris Ward for their help today…

Thank you to Tom at Whitemoor.

Our next event is on the 27th April at Todber Manor on Homeground Lake for a 2/3 hour coaching session is followed by a 4 hour points match.

See you next time…

Juniors Sec…

Participants Code of Conduct.

1. Be on time.

2. Respect your fellow anglers.

3. Respect the coaching staff.

4. Respect the environment.

5. Know and follow the rules of the club.

6. Maintain good communication.

7. Maintain respectful sportsmanship.

8. No coarse language.

9. Do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, colour, disability, sexual identity, age, or religious beliefs.

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