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Junior Match #1 - Revels - Main Lake

Well, what a week it has been…

M’Lady and I have endured a rather turbulent few days and, from my point of view at least, I needed the calm and stress-free feeling of running a junior fishing event to smooth down the lumps and bumps of life.

The junior events take place on Saturdays for a few good reasons. With many fishing matches taking place on Sundays, it is far easier to get venues booked on Saturdays. Basically, we have the pick of the bunch without clashing with senior matches. Talking of senior events, our coaches often fish the senior club matches that nearly all take place on Sundays. Along with other opens and team events, it is easier to ask them to give their time up when it doesn’t impact their own fishing. Many football events take place on Sundays and those that partake in chasing a bag of wind around a field would miss out on one or the other. So, Saturdays it is for the foreseeable future, but I may make some changes to the time of day we hold the events as we go further into the warmer weather…

The chaos started with the bittersweet news that Lewis Softley had gone and got himself a Saturday job and would not be able to attend, maybe for the foreseeable future. I mean, who gets themselves a job on fishing day? In all seriousness though, good for him. We wish him all the best with his new job.

Next was Noah. Again, the Saturday gremlin struck with dad Chris having to work. Transportation was left to Mrs Holding who promptly booked something else to do instead… No fishing for Noah. Incidentally, The Mud-Slinger received this info from a reliable source. So, don’t shoot the messenger!

Josh had apparently been a little monster at school, and you can’t reward bad behaviour. M’Lady is always telling me that unless I behave myself in the two weeks between junior events that even I would not be allowed out to play with my friends. Behave yourselves kids, otherwise you’ll pay dearly and rightly so… More about behaviour later…

The Mud Monster’s day was under threat because, despite Glenn being one of five richest men in Charminster, he was wrestling with conscience as to weather or not to open the doors of his printing and hardware empire, or take the day off to bring Jake fishing. Even if they did come along, Jake was going to have to bale out at 2pm to go a get some silverware from his football teams presentation afternoon. Will they? Won’t they? Who knew?

Camouflage was the next victim of what was fast becoming a jinxed event. Amy messaged me saying that poor Austin wasn’t feeling well when he woke up and, with no toilet within reasonable shuffling distance and with an inevitable ‘Code Brown’ event a distinct threat, discretion was the better part of valour and they decided not to attend*. *Disclaimer* The Mud-Slinger has taken a wild swing at the nature of Austin’s condition and some details may be slightly inaccurate.

Twelve was now seven and my enthusiasm was waning. When the coaches start to outnumber the participants, you know something is wrong.

One saving grace from all this was that I had heard from the Puddletown Massive at last. Carlos is genuinely one of my favourite people and his Shrimps underline why we are doing this. For fun. Of course, there was no guarantee that Princess Sofia would actually make it if there was the slightest chance of taking her dads credit card out for a test drive on a shopping trip somewhere. We would have to wait and see….

There were whispers that James Oram may turn up out of the blue. But whispers blow away in the wind and you can’t reply on them.

How many are coming today? I was being asked. Six, seven, or eight? Who knows? Don’t ask me I’m only running the event!

The day itself looked like it was going to be a peach on paper. Lots of sun forecast which prevent me from getting the back of my legs slapped by Annamama. Anna had warned me that if there wasn’t a sunny peg waiting for her, there would be consequences.

M'Lady was going try and make it out to meet everyone today (finally). But we had a friend visit for dinner and the booze flowed freely. Nursing a mighty hangover, she has promised to limit the amount of alcohol to an amount that only make a Rhino pass out rather than actually kill it... To be honest, the amount of pollen in the air during the day would have made her very ill. So, we'll see about a royal visit later in the year...

Weather wise, there had been rain during the night which may affect the day a bit. On top of that, there were scattered clouds about and a bit of north westerly breeze to cool things down when the sun went in. All these things were going to affect the fishing. As we were to find out.

Officials on duty today were: Yours truly. Sgt Bracey. Captain Chris Ward. Nice bloke Tim. The Red Fox. and the sage of Broadmayne, Mr J Bass.

Let’s go clockwise around the lake to tell some lies and stories with the permanent numbers in brackets.

Peg #1 (16) Josiah Parkes-Wells (His Lordship) Now, when you draw for your peg or in like today get one drawn for you, you may be told that you have ‘a really good peg’. A potential winner perhaps. The thing is that, sometimes no one tells the fish. P16 is a good peg and has some recent form too. Jo must have felt confident of doing something special. In a way, he did. He sat in a peg that was not being kind to him from whistle to whistle and really fished his heart out. By the end though, his nets were unfortunately empty, and the fish were six nil up. Equipment failure was responsible for the loss of six Carp during the day which left Jo and James scratching their heads by the end. All anglers have rubbish days, even some extremely good ones. I think you learn more from bad days than you do from good ones. We will have a look at Jo’s set up at the next coaching session and try to work out what happened. The bad days make the good days feel so much better…

Peg #2 (14) Carter Lynock (The Black Hood) I can’t tell you how nice it is to see Carter and Becky back to our events again and today was going to be Carter’s day. Twenty-one degrees of heat did not stop him from hiding under his hoodie for most of the day though I would love to wax lyrical about how well Carter fished and how pleased I am with his efforts, and of course he did and I am. But it would be remiss of me to not tell you about the highlight of the event in extreme detail. Strap yourself in, here we go… At the beginning of all the events I take time to tell all present about any hazards that may be at the venues we visit. Slippery bits. Trippy bits. Wet bits, and electricy bits. For those who don’t know Revels that well, like many fisheries, the lakes are protected from Otter predation by an electrified fence. In the past, the fence has been turned off. But that led to the fence not being turned back on exposing the site to the furry fiends. The operational point of the fence has been moved to a secret bunker that only the inner circle know of its whereabouts. This must be the case because no one seems to know where it is anymore… The area along the back edge of the Main lake is quite narrow, thus bringing the fence closer to the anglers. This was covered in the H&S chat at the start so surely no one would be that daft to allow a highly conductive material such as Carbon fibre to come into contact with the wire, particularly with wet hands? My first indication of some kind of problem was occurring happened whilst I was trying to help Jo on P16. Scanning the lake as anglers do, I notice Sgt Bracey acting in what I can only describe as a higher state of animation than is expected from a laidback Jerry. I can only compare his posture to that of someone doing a strange variation of the Kiwi ‘Haka’, with arms flapping and hopping from one foot to the other all in a bent forward position. The spectacle was made even better by the reversed baseball cap and the fact that he seemed to be trying to synchronise his motion to that of a small angry Carp that was flapping around on an unhooking mat. I was probably twenty-five to thirty metres away and I remember feeling slightly puzzled by all this unusualness. I wandered round to see a vaguely smoking Jerry wringing out his hands and look of mild amusement mixed with extreme discomfort. The fish had been decanted safely to a keepnet as Jerry nursed hands by tucking them into his armpits. The long landing net handles that are necessary in modern coarse fishing of this kind do not mix well in the close proximity of an electrified fence. Add to that the wet banana sized fingers of a retired policeman and you have the recipe for something very exciting to happen. Apparently, Jerry had jumped higher into the air than even he had thought possible, witnessed by a bemused Becky, and an unimpressed Carter. The Carp had laid on the mat with its fins folded waiting for the strange man to finish leaping around like an over stimulated Chimp. The best part for me was finding out that the whole episode had been carried out in total silence…I asked him to recreate the event for the camera, but I can't spell the answer... After a couple of close calls, it is great to see Carter finally getting a podium place with a very creditable 3rd place with 9lbs 12ozs. Well done…

Peg #3 (11) Faith Stone (Jibber jabber) The Stone/Millington Stevenson entourage is definitely the most equipped group that currently attends the junior events. Café Stone is reasonably priced, particularly if you give Mike ‘a little goose’ from time to time, and compliment Lydia on her vast collection of Guru items. I did think that Lyd was going to disown Mike when he triumphantly appeared with a MAP tackle trolley. She seemed to find a compromise after finding out that powder coating would turn it orange for a price. It seems so long ago now. The little girl that wouldn’t say boo to a goose. The little girl who used to hide behind her mum’s legs if you spoke to her. Now you just can’t get a word in edgewise! I can’t help thinking that if the effort of chatting about beetles, speaking fluent French (Counting to ten quickly, sped up by not using the numbers four, six, seven, and nine), and calling my name over and over and over and over and over again, that she may be able to increase her catch rate exponentially. Having said all that, she fishes with an elevated level of skill. She certainly has all the gear she could ever need, and I believe she has more ability than she has confidence. With more practice she will be fishing more independently, giving Mike more time to relax. With little direction she managed to put together some nice Carp for a total weight of 17lbs exactly. This was enough to secure the win and twenty-five points for her championship challenge.

Peg #4 (10) Sofia Altuzarra (Princess Sofia) As I have already mentioned, I was glad to see the Puddletown Massive back on the bank again. The kids seem to have shot up over the winter. However, some things never change. Carlos ages visibly over the duration of a junior event. Probably because of the immense strain put upon him from the endless demands of Princess Sofia. Do this Papa! Do that Papa! I swear I saw him turn inside out at least three times throughout the day. I made the mistake of helping the Princess to set up at the start. Carlos, ever the opportunist, seized the opportunity to escape to the tackle shop to buy some method feeders. He was gone for what seemed like three hours and I had aged about 12 years. He was only gone about 15 minutes and after I’d remembered Dean was serving in the shop, I understood completely. I can talk a lot, but Dean makes me look like an amateur! Gotta love the guy though, a solid chap indeed. Sofia fishes the events with a laid back indifference to how many she is catching, and that’s fine. I’m glad she enjoys herself enough to want to return each time. She makes me smile and is an important member of our juniors. Not that it really matters, but she only weighed in 10ozs between several extended lunch breaks and finding new ways to make her dad do more stuff for her.

Peg #5 (8) Joseph Altuzarra (The Meat) Peg 8 is a flier. I know that from recent experience. (Rumour has it that I only draw the best pegs at matches. I refute that and put it down to everyone else being rubbish at it. Except Mr R Butler. The man is a drawing machine!) But I digress… It is a good peg and Joseph was in with a good shout if he got it right. Like his sister, we haven’t seen them for a while and anyone who has stepped away from a sport or hobby for a while can tell you, it is sometimes difficult to get back in the swing of it. Joseph looked a little rusty and casts were often directed by the gods rather the angler. The Captain was over seeing The Meat today and they did manage a few mud pigs. The swim has gained quite a bit of weed since the sun has made its presence felt which adds more obstacles to avoid. A few good tips were learned though and I’m sure that Joseph will pick it all up soon with practice. Joseph weighed 2lbs 5ozs.

Peg #6 (6) Thomas Millard (Peaky Blinder/Lightning) It wasn’t too long before the insults started flowing from a junior who is too skinny to call me ‘Tubby’, even if it is true! Thomas took great pleasure in occasionally tweaking the handle of his reel to make his alarms go off, thus triggering my natural instinct to spring into action. So much so that, at one point, I was gripping the ground with my rear end… It would be easy to scoff at young Thomas for fishing a match with traditional Carp gear and baits. But he got everyone worried when he landed ‘a proper one’. Many more of them and he would have walked it. Unfortunately, there were no more for the Peaky Blinder. Why the new nickname? Just take a look at the new headwear. Like Carter, it is good to see him back at the junior events and I look forward to helping him progress a bit further through the coaching programme. Thomas finished the day with 4lbs 13ozs.

Peg #7 (4) Jack Copp (Twiglet) Jack under the careful gaze of dad, Dave, fished a reasonably tidy match. Pegs one to six are the deeper pegs at Revels and can sometimes be difficult to fish. Having depth added to the equation can also make tackle choice and methods awkward because you might have to work out where the fish are in the water depth as well location around the lake. Add to that the fact that fish can back off to the other side of the island to feel safe, once a couple of fish have been caught in the deeper swims. Despite all these good and valid excuses, Jack seemed happy enough to play ‘Chase the Gudgeon’ and even tolerate the odd perch that turned up to spoil the party. Jack finish the match with an all silvers net of 2lbs 9ozs

Peg 8 (2) Ollie Smith (Aquaboy/Inspector Gadget) The penultimate peg was home to Aquaboy and Annamama. I think she was happy with the peg. I came away with all my teeth, so I assume there was enough sunshine. She does love a bit sun shining on her. The painful thing for Ollie was that he could see the fish waving at him from the back of the island. You could cast between the islands to them, but the risk of losing a fish is too great. Also, because of all the trees that surround that end of the lake, it can be very snaggy making fishing difficult. Even the wearing of dead fish on his feet did not tempt the fish over to see why this small boy was wearing their deceased cousins on his feet... Ollie persevered on the feeder and the whip to put together almost enough fish to challenge for the win. Unfortunately for him, he was a few fish short and finished with 16lb 6ozs, just 10ozs off Faiths weight.

Peg 9 (20) Jake Taylor (Mudmonster) After carefully setting out the match for just eight juniors, the arrival team Mudmonster was a nice surprise. Glenn may find that an odd thing for me to say seeing as we usually have a bit of merciless banter between us. Jake borrowed some nets from me because he would still need to leave early. Jake had lots of help from the Red Fox which is why I am not surprised to tell you that Jake did not finish last despite fishing only half a match. I’m glad that Glenn and Jake made it. They have become such a vital part of our junior events, even if it is just so that Glenn and I can take a friendly swipe at one another! Jakes two nets weighed in 2lbs 14ozs. Imagine what he’d have done with a whole match? **Editorial note** Because Jake was only at the match for a limited time, the only pictures I got also happened to include the 'Rear of the Fox'. Ladies if you want a copy of these images, email me with an offer. (All donations will go to the Juniors fund)...

Revels has always been a challenging fishery. It isn’t one of those places where you can just rock up to and empty. Revels does not stroke your ego. It is a venue that has secrets that only experience will unlock. Even experience is not enough sometimes however, and it can leave you scratching your head in frustration. I and other very experienced anglers have had surprises at Revels when you were not expecting them and have sometimes walked away wondering what went wrong. Imminent spawning time, on and off cloud conditions, a cool north westerly breeze all had their part to play today.

They say that the best laid plans can go to waste, and today was no exception. I ordered the medals for this event two weeks prior to allow plenty of time for them to arrive. They did not arrive and the mickey taking was merciless particularly seeing as Carter had managed to get his first podium after two near misses. No feels worse than I about that and I will get them to you as soon as I can…

I can not finish this first edition of The Mud-Slinger without echoing a more serious note that Tom had to address to all those present. Everyone, seniors, and juniors alike, must take responsibility for their behaviour and their actions wherever they are fishing. Being younger, juniors are under more of a spotlight than their senior piers because they are probably more likely to be expected to make noise and run around the venues they fish. We can have a thousand good reports from people about how well behaved our juniors are. Believe me when I tell you that none of them will matter if we get one bad report. The old saying goes that you can do something right and no one remembers. Do something wrong and no one forgets. When away from junior events when you are all watched like a hawk, it is down to individual juniors and their parents to make sure that you are all ambassadors of the club. If you tarnish yourself, you tarnish us all. Be polite. Be considerate. Be responsible. You are representing us all when you are fishing.

One further thing that came to my attention from this event was the fact that, those that fished on later than 4pm, started to catch Carp after the whistle had gone. We may change the timings of some of the matches for future fixtures to compensate for this and see if it makes a difference. You will be given plenty of notice of any changes as and when they occur.

So that’s your lot for this time. As usual I have a list of people to thank.

First of those people must be Jason Fricker and all the staff at Revels Fishery for accommodating us once again.

As usual, a big thank you to my intrepid team of coaches that offer their time so generously.

Thank you to the dedicated parents whose part in every junior session is often undervalued.

Thank you to our juniors who took the more serious words to heart and behaved impeccably during the junior session today.

Our next junior event is the sold out first round of the knockout series on the Stock Pond at Revels. If you wish to fish any of these rounds, there are still some spaces to book at later dates in the year. Go to the fixtures page on the website to find out more.

The next coaching fixture is on the 21st of May at Harbourbridge Lakes in Chickerell.

Thank you and take care everyone,

See you next time… Juniors Sec.

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