Demos, Ground Bait, and Stressful Angling...
I don’t know why but this junior match felt more stressful than usual because of several reasons none more so than the continuing saga of everyday life. I won’t bore you with the gory details but suffice to say that the road of late has not been smooth for M’Lady and myself. There was a brief moment when I thought that the event this weekend was going to have to postponed or even cancelled. Indeed, at times, I questioned the sense of continuing with the juniors because of home commitments. But these moments were few and even further between during periods of clarity. The juniors are a part of me, and I can’t really contemplate not having any of them around for quite some time yet.
Stress levels were slightly more compounded by the fact that my zip broke on my trousers. My favourite, zip the legs off and expose the white spindly excuses for legs that exist to keep my bottom a measured distance from the ground, trousers. The lying toerags at the Met office had promised rain, so shorts were a big no-no. It was going to have to be jeans. No sun for you today spindly legs.
A while ago, Sgt Bracey had mentioned that it may be a good idea to offer the Shrimps some sort of demo to show them a high level of expertise and angling prowess. That or show them comprehensively how NOT to do it. Added to this was the fact that we had chosen the Todber match to present the special few with the trophies they had won from last year. Because of the above, M’Lady’s new brum brum was stuffed with everything that I could think of that I may need. So much so that I made M’Lady very proud by writing out a list. She does love a list. She always makes a loud decree when there is a new list on the horizon. Overly theatrical arm gestures and flamboyant body language. I just scribbled out my list with a pencil gripped in my oaf like fist, with low grunting noises as I completed each task.
The night passed uneventfully aside from a light attack of shooty bum. (Google it…On second thoughts, no don’t!)
With the car packed the night before, there was very little to do in the morning other than putting the rods in the car, getting lunch from the fridge, and checking that I had vital parts of my anatomy still connected.
The journey to ‘The Manor’ was pleasant enough with only one stubborn pigeon to avoid with extremely heavy braking, and one suicidal Peahen. (I didn’t hit it, but it was close). As I drove along, I scanned the skies for the rain that had been promised. Even more so for the storms that were apparently yellow in colour…
I arrived at two minutes passed eight and, with a quick ‘in and out’ of the tackle shop to pay the pegging fees and to avoid making eye contact with any of the goodies in the shop, I made my way to the lake.
I set out some signs at each junction to help guide lost parents to the venue. I do this because I hate the thought of parents getting evermore desperate as the needle creeps towards empty and they are still roaming without hope around the hills and vales of darkest Dorset.
I put out the peg numbers and tried to send a photograph on FB which wouldn’t send because of the lack of signal (More about this later), I knew I should have bought some homing Pigeons with me.
Time to set up my gear for the demo, keeping in mind to make it ‘Shrimp-safe’ for when the crowds turned up. Precious carbon had to be kept well away from the pitter-patter of excited Shrimp sized hooves at all costs. Once ready I started to fish praying that the fish would know why I was here and prayed that they might feel kind enough to make me look better than I tell everyone I am!
It took me a while to realise that I needed to go out further than just a top kit, although there was one 4lb idiot that yawned near the hook so the elastic was well out when the Copps arrived.
Captain Chris had kindly agreed slip of the bunk early to come and help set up whilst I set about showing the Shrimps how to/how not to do it, but that is a whole new paragraph! The crowds started to arrive in dribs and drabs, as did the Carp. Disappointingly, I don’t think I was able to show them much that would be relevant in the match. I ended the session at 10:15 with nine Carp in forty-five minutes. I’ll try again another time, I guess. My back would later tell me how much carrying the extra equipment had been less than helpful later in the evening.
Hello everyone, my name is Graham, and I am a control freak. It has been two weeks since I let anyone help me with anything. I figure that if I do something myself, it’s done how I want and no one else can be blamed if it doesn’t work out. My coaches and friends, however, are constantly telling me to let them help because it can be quite a high load on me otherwise. So, I asked Chris to pop along and set flags out etcetera. Mud-Slinger regulars will be familiar with the exploits of the dreaded bog tent. The Captain soon found out that at least some of it was absolutely true. The tent is a complete git! It's fair to say it was a breezy day and I did wonder about allowing a ‘tent novice’ to erect this monstrosity would be wise. But allow it I did, and Chris was gone quite some time. He wandered down the grass looking slightly battered and I feared the worst. “Everything alright?”, I asked. Chris bluntly replied, “No. That thing is a b*****d!”. He's not wrong. Apparently, the tent had used its faithful ally, the wind, to greater effect that it had even had on me in the past. But this time it had gone a step further. It had used the breezy conditions to wrench itself from the Captains grasp and made a bit for freedom. It leapt skyward like a Gazelle, only to be thwarted by the bushes and trees in the surrounding area. It’s a good job they were there because, looking at the direction of its flight path, it was heading straight for me anyway! That thing hates everyone! I did not witness the event but, I can imagine that it looked like an outtake from the film ‘Rambo’ when the fight scene between a ladies modesty tent and a bespectacled retired gentleman was cruelly and unnecessarily edited out of the final cut. But the bushes were the tents undoing because it had finally winged itself. A broken tent pole was the diagnosis, and this was going to be a problem. My mind went instantly to the tear-filled eyes of the ladies of the juniors as they writhed in agony because of a lack of toilet facilities. Ok so, I may have exaggerated that one a little, but they need not have feared anyway because, The Captain is here! With a firm “leave it to me”, the Captain said he would sort it and I felt that he had a score to settle with the tent, so I left him alone with it, a roll of tape, some tools, and determined look on his face. Chris later returned, unbloodied, and announced that he had sorted it and that there would be no ‘yellow eyes’ today. Happy days… I have since promoted Chris to a second nickname of Captain Fix-it. Congratulations. (It was going to be ‘Chris’ll Fixit’, but obviously that is now so wildly inappropriate that I don’t know where to start!)
Unhelpful demos and tent wrestling completed it was time to release the drooling juniors off to their pegs for the day.
Your coaches for today were, Lead Monkey – Boil-in-the-bag Graham Howard Banana Chucker – Gentle Jon Bass Poo Thrower – Captain Chris Ward
I’m sure I can speak for us all when I wish Jerry Bracey a swift recovery from Covid. Get well soon mate.
In recent events, I have been drawing the peg number out for the Shrimps due to restrictions. This has led to some rather hurtful and downright mean comments about ‘rubbish pegs’, and ‘It’s your fault, Fatty!’. After a brief consultation with the other coaches, we decided that it was time for the blame to be returned to the shoulders of the juniors themselves by letting them draw their own flaming numbers out! Fatty indeed….
The draw went as follows.
Peg #1 - Jack ‘Twiglet’ Copp Peg #2 – Jake ‘Mudmonster’ Taylor Peg #3 – Ollie ‘Aquaboy/Inspector Gadget’ Smith Peg #4 – Josiah ‘His Lordship’ Wells-Parkes Peg #5 – Empty Peg #6 – Austin ‘Camouflage’ Scott-Kennedy Peg #7 – Faith ‘Gibber Jabber’ Stone Peg #8 – Josh ‘The Face’ Roe Peg #9 – James ‘Longus Minor’ Oram
Let’s go down to our reporter on the ground to see how things progressed through the day.
Peg #9 James Oram James and Tim (Daddy Longus) were the team arriving in the car park on fire today. Captain Fix-it was dispatched to help organise the lad into shape which was made easier by the fact that they had forty-minutes to set up, not the ten-minutes that initially thought they had. I was stressed, ok?! I like James. He laughs at my rubbish jokes. I’m tempted to give him extra ‘laughing at the coach’s poor attempt at humour points’, but that wouldn’t be fair. Plus, the fact that from then on, the Shrimps would literally be wetting themselves every time I coughed in order to gain championship points. So, I will have to bin that idea. James is progressing nicely and has the one commodity that cannot be bought, stolen, or borrowed, enthusiasm. Chris helped James with a little bit of casting practice at the start, and this started to pay off as the day went on. Casting is very much a feeling. It’s not like Golf where body position can be manipulated into place to improve your shot. It is very much down to the individual as to when the right time is to release the line. This was James’s first competitive event, and he completed the day very well. I’m sure James will continue to improve, particularly if he keeps laughing at rubbish jokes… James finished the day with a respectable 15lbs 6ozs 8drms. His biggest weight ever and included a new personal best fish of around 5lbs. Well done!
Peg #8 Josh Roe Like many Shrimps, Josh battles with a condition that reduces his attention span considerably. But I was very pleased with him today. Josh had one of our brightest stars in the next peg and, believe me, I am fully aware of just how soul destroying it can be to get your behind handed to you on a plate. This had a negative effect on Josh and made him quite frustrated with an hour to go. It may have been the first time that this had happened to him, but it won’t be the last. My advice to any juniors, and indeed anyone that fishes matches, is to congratulate the anglers beating you, find out why you were out fished, and learn from the experience so that it maybe you doing the catching in the future. You learn far more from a bad day than you will from a good one, although I admit the good ones feel much better. It is the bad days that make the good ones feel like they do. Martin walked up to me and said that they might shoot off early and I thought that it would be a shame if they did, particularly at Todber. Time for the lead monkey to don his cape and put his pants on the outside! I got josh to feed feeder sized balls of ground bait (once I had argued with Josh that a quantity of bait squeezed in the fist can called a ball even if it is not actually round!) down the margin of his swim to the right hand side. Feeding like this can not only bring the fish in, but also fool them into thinking that it is just another ‘ball’ of ground bait, when actually it is your feeder with a hook bait in it! This worked almost instantly, and he not only bagged the biggest fish of the day but also his new Pb of around 7 to 8lbs. Josh finished up with 24lb 10ozs 4drms (his biggest weight), and hopefully learned that there is almost always something you can do, and that you should never give up until you hear a lady who is comfortable with how her body shape looks thank you very much, sings. Good job Josh!
Peg #7 Faith Stone
First things first and I want to wish the very lovely Lydia very happy birthday today! I only mentioned her birthday about four thousand times today and didn’t make reference to her age once. Well, not until they were leaving, when I ‘Mistook’ the squeaky suspension on their car for Lydia’s ‘Old Bones’.
I hope you had a lovely day from all at DDAS Juniors.
On to the main event and Team Stone had created a wall of umbrellas that any German tourist would be proud of. It was later commented upon that they had and unfair advantage by cooking bacon sandwiches, putting everyone off within a two-mile radius. As we have come to expect from the rising star, Faith fished a tidy match and I witnessed some impressive casting throughout the day. Mostly… Using feeders can be an expensive job when you get snags in your swim. All along Whitepost lake there are trees, lilypads, and reeds that constantly tempt the odd wayward cast. Team Stone won the ’Feeders lost’ competition today with an impressive five feeders down, closely followed by Team Roe on three or four. Martin did cheat by retrieving his own lost tackle from the lake at one point which knocked his tally back a little. Faith came close to her former (first) Junior record (53lbs) set at the same lake last year, with a very impressive 51lbs 12ozs 8drms. This was enough to give her second place on the day and a good twenty-points for her championship challenge. Well done Gibber Jabber!
Peg #6 Austin Scott-Kennedy Although Austin had the fish catching machine that is Miss Stone in the next peg, he did have an empty peg to the left. He also had the large bay that obviously held a lot of fish. Had the next peg been in use, then Austin would not have been able to cast into it. But it wasn’t. I tried to encourage Austin to try a ‘poaching cast’ into the empty peg, but he seemed to be content to fish to the pads in front of him. I have absolutely no problem with that at all but, as an experienced angler that (supposedly) knows his stuff, I was chewing my fist down to the elbow with frustration at seeing so many Carp that were clearly desperate to be placed in a keep net for a few hours! Short of battering them both to unconsciousness and taking command of their gear, I was going to have to keep my trap firmly shut and let the lad get on with it. And get on with it he did! Austin did enough to weigh in a new personal best match weight of 29lbs 2ozs 4drms. One more fish and he would have been in the medals! I’m taking quite a shine to the S-K family, they are lovely to be around. Well done Austin, you did really well despite frustrating the living bejesus out of me! Good job!
Peg #5 Max Faulkner Max was unable to make it today unfortunately. I hope see him again very soon… I have a trophy for you!
Peg #4 Josiah Wells-Parkes I liked the look of peg 4 today. With an empty peg to his left and TWO empty pegs to his right, Jo had plenty of room to draw fish from. Like many of the others Jo and James suffered a few snap offs and lost tackle. Indeed, I arrived at their peg just as they lost what they said was a really good fish. Sometimes this can be exaggerated by the exasperation of losing a fish. But, by the look on both their faces, it was a much better fish than they had already been catching. Frustrating, but it was a common story up and down the lake. These fish are warriors and are used to being caught. They give no quarter during the fight as I found out during the ‘demo’. At one point I thought I was going to hear the sickening sound of expensive carbon shattering on one fish. But I managed to control the little blighter by gripping my box seat with my butt cheeks! Being newbies, James and Austin are learning together and it is lovely to see. I think sometimes the pressure is eased on juniors when they have parents with no, or little fishing knowledge because the expectations are far lower. Jo goes about his day quietly and sometimes under the radar. But I noticed some good casting skills on show that were rewarded by another podium position. Jo finished in a fine third place with a finishing weight of 30lbs 1oz. Good job!
Peg #3 Oliver Smith With success, comes great expectation. Ollie was in for what turned out to be what is known as ‘a bit of a grueller’. I spent a bit of time with Ollie because everyone else was catching reasonably well. There were fish everywhere, but every time Ollie cast a bait to one or committed to fishing in an area, the fish decided otherwise. It is not like he was doing anything visibly wrong either. His casting was on point as usual, and he was feeding the same amounts and with a regularity that I would have been happy with. The fish were flipping him ‘V’s’ from the shallow mud line and, like most of the others, he had lost a couple of battles. I coached him during one fight, going through the motions with him. Kit position, elastic tension, etc. The fight was going on a bit and I told him to pile on the pressure a bit more, thinking he was using similar gear to that which I would use. When he told me he was fishing next to lilypads with just 4lb line, I nearly vomited! After the fish was landed, I gave Ollie one of my more ‘no nonsense rigs’ to let the Carp know who is the boss. If you want to see someone going through ALL of the emotions of watching their child compete in a competition, then get some popcorn, pull up a chair, and watch Annamama. It’s quite spectacle. From the moment the rods bends, or the elastic is pulled, she is pacing the bank, rolling around on the floor, looking but not looking. I’ve seen less stress from someone watching England during a penalty shootout, or an expectant father during the birth of their first child… There is fist pumping when the fish is in the net, and total deflation if it is lost. Quite remarkable. M'Lady called me while I was at 'the Smiths' and I realised something remarkable. Anna is a perfect receiver for 4G mobile signal! As soon as I walked away from her, M'Lady said that I was breaking up. I stood close to Mrs Smith again and, four bars! Fascinating... The other thing that surprised me was, and I realise this is normally a taboo subject, is her weight. Or lack thereof. I will explain. In the interest of fair play, parents have been instructed (not necessarily adhered to, you know who you are!) to be far more hands-off during match events. Particularly those on or above level four in the program. Imagine my horror as, whilst stood right there next to her, Annamama popped some pellets into Ollies margin swim… The conversation went something like this. “Are you kidding me?” “what? (Coy look) “After all the emails and messages, you still fed for him?” “Did I? (More coy looks)” “You do know I’m right here?” “Well I’m sure others have done the same (cute smile and probably fluttering eyelashes beneath sunglasses)” At this point I thought it would be fun to pretend to throw her in the lake and took her wrist and went to pick her up on my shoulder. I did not actually mean to lift her off the ground but, before I knew what had happened, she was airborne and on my shoulder!
I panicked. Now what do I do? Fortunately, she took it as it was meant and just squeaked happily and so I put her down. The funny thing SHE apologised to me for being heavy! My rod holdall weighs more than she does! I accepted her apology and legged it. Tough day for Ollie then with a finishing weight of 21lb 4ozs 12drms. A good days fishing for some, but when you’re the chosen one, expectations are high. Points in the bag though and onto the next one. Well done, Ollie…
Peg #2 Jake Taylor Jake was in a similar position to Ollie. Fish were there but he could not get them to hook up. The biggest problem with Jake is that he must bring his dad with him! I’m joking of course. Even if Glenn did bring a twenty-pound note instead of the correct money, just to spite me. Jake also suffered a bit of tree bother and was another to suffer some tackle losses today. Glenn and Jake are another team that are learning together and has to be my favourite way to learn anything. Glenn is ever present with Jake, even if he sometimes nods off in his foldable green throne that he carts to every session. Twice I scared the brown out of him, such was the blistering pace of the sport at times. Jake needs only a little work on his casting to make a big step in his fishing. Something that we can work on. Jake managed to get the squeak on his great mate Ollie today with a finishing weight of 22lbs 5ozs 8drms. But everyone was overshadowed by peg one.
Peg #1 Jack Copp Peg one has form for the juniors. Faith won her first match from there last year with a new junior match record of 53lbs, which she went on to beat on Ash Lake later that same year with 61lbs. Jack blitzed this today with a fine performance and a finishing weight of 83lbs 6ozs 8drms. I’m pleased to see Jack doing far more for himself today, proving that he has the natural talent to do it for himself. Dave even directed my attention to the fact that he was sitting on his hands, quite literally in fact! With the water level so low and the platforms so high, acceptable levels of help were given on most pegs today which is important for us to see how well the shrimps are doing and in the interests of fairness. So well done all. A masterful performance from Jack today gave him the win overall and the full 25 points towards the championship. Well done Jack, proper job!
With the weigh in complete, we all made our way back to the car park. I remarked to Annamama that I needed to get my waterproof bib and braces off. Without thinking she asked me if I was hot? The look of fear crossed her face as the words tumbled out of her mouth, and I asked if she really wanted a full description of my predicament? With her usual grace she declined.
I remember thinking that, apart from the demo, the day had gone rather well considering the stress levels inside me. I spoke (thought) too soon. I handed out the medals to our winners and completely forgot about the normal banner podium. Too late for that now…
25 pts Jack Copp 83-6-8 20 pts Faith Stone 51-12- 8 17 pts Josiah Wells-Parkes 30-1-0
Well done to them and to everyone that fished today.
Coaching certificates were awarded today too. Level One passes for, Josh Roe Josiah Wells-Parkes Austin Scott-Kennedy
Level Three passes for, Faith Stone Oliver Smith
Congratulations to you all.
We handed out the Trophies to our Juniors for their achievements in 2021, here is the list of our winners,
Christmas Match winner – Max Faulkner (Not present)
Martin Vine Memorial Match winner – Oliver Smith
Junior Specimen Award (Jerry Bracey Trophy) – Thomas Millard (Not present)
Junior Pairs Match winners – Jack Copp & Jake Taylor
Senior/Junior Pairs Match Winners – Faith Stone & Graham Howard
Most Promising Newcomer Award (Revels Trophy) – Faith Stone & Jake Taylor
Junior Silverfish Champion – Oliver Smith
Junior Championship Runner-Up – Jake Taylor
2021 Junior Champion – Oliver Smith
Huge congratulations to all our winners.
That’s another successful junior session in the bag.
All that is left to say is a big thank you to John Candy and all the staff at Todber Manor for letting us use Whitepost lake today, and what a wonderful lake it is too.
Thank you to Jon and Chris for all their help and support.
Thank you and congratulations to all our juniors and parents for such a memorable event.
Our next event is on 10th June at Revels for the 2nd round of the evening knock out series.
The next coaching session is on the 18th of June at Sharnhill