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Junior Match #3 - 13/5/23 - Homeground - Todber Manor

HEADLINES: Juniors wowed by pro anglers. A quiet lad steals the show. Retired Police Sergeant sacks alarm clock.

I am writing this with very sore feet soaking in a bowl of water. I’m tired and my back hurts. Would I do it all again tomorrow? Oh yes! Oh very very yes!!!

A WhatsApp message from Sgt Bracey to make me aware of an event at Todber Manor was what started the ball rolling. His suggestion was to move the junior calendar around a bit so that we could coincide the dates. I got Whitemoor swapped with the Todber date, and the stage was set.

DDAS Juniors would spend the day with some of the great and good of our wonderful sport.

I want to briefly take you back a bit further in time to last week. I’m not sure what came over me, but I had the urge to go cycling. I used to ride quite often but, for the last four years, not so much. I dug the silver dream machine out and dusted off the cobwebs, cleaned the dirty bits, and oiled the oily bits. I even found my old cycling computer and bought some new drinking bottle cages. Tomorrow, I shall ride again. Tomorrow soon came around, and I switched into full M.A.M.I.L mode. (Middle Aged Man In Lycra). Some guys look the part in tight fitting clothing. I, however, do not. I am quite sure that I resemble an over inflated inner tube, an overstuffed sausage, or a snake that has swallowed a Water Buffalo…I offer my apologies to any suffering a bout of nausea at this point... The bike groaned has heaved a leg over it and I suddenly realised how uncompromising bicycle saddles can be. I clipped in and wobbled down my street. Everywhere from my house is up hill, so the challenge started immediately. Dear lord… How unfit am I??? I think the phrase is something like ‘Blowing out of my rear end’. I managed a difficult 10 miles before collapsing back at home and thinking that the job of getting fitter was going to be tougher than I had previously thought… I scraped myself from the floor and poured what was left of me into the shower. Once abluted and rested. I noticed that it was looking like rain and I had better put my bike away. That was strange? Lots of resistance and a strange rubbing sound… Upon inspection I noticed that the rear brake had locked on to the disc. As if a mist had cleared from my eyes, the reason for my almost obscene level of hyperventilating and a pulse rate faster than a Formula one driver was due to poor bicycle maintenance. Picture someone on a bike in full cardiac arrest, interpretive dance version. I can assure you I won’t be doing that again in a hurry…

On to the fishing day then and it was going to be a nice day. A trifle breezy for complete comfort at Todber. As many of you will know that Todber Manor is a by-product of the butterfly effect. Someone coughs in Weymouth and you get blown off of your seat box on Hillview… I had packed the car the day before and so headed off nice and early to ‘The Manor’.

There was definitely something in the air this morning because every avian creature on Gods green earth was trying to either throw themselves under the wheels of my car or join me inside by hurling themselves through the windscreen. It felt like a cross between Mad Max and Hitchcock’s ‘Birds’…

I made it to my destination in one piece and picked up today’s prizes from John in the shop. There was an air of anticipation, like something special was going to happen today.

As I set up the flags and pegged out the match, vans were starting to roll in bringing with them some proper angling champions. I must confess to not knowing them all, but I did recognise anglers like Jack Stamp, Nick Speed, Paul Holland, Adam Rooney, Steve Tucker, Pemb Wrighting, Andy Neal, Will Raison, and Des Shipp.

I thought I’d offer a greeting to those that I did know of and ask, if at all possible, if they could spend some time with our juniors at some point. The responses were varied (it was a busy day), but on the whole very good. Nick Speed came down before our match to offer some sage advice and offered some Shimano caps around which he duly signed. We wandered up to see Andy Neal (Milo) and Des Shipp (Preston Innovations). Twiglet wasted no time in jumping onto Mr Shipps’ seat box and having a go with his pole. After a couple of fish, Jack jump ship (did you see what I did there?) and demanded a go on Will Raison pole. This was duly granted, and Jack was soon impressing Will and Pemb with his pole handling skills. Dave, meanwhile, was trying to decide which kidney to sell in order to buy Jack a Daiwa Air pole that he was getting on so well with. One of the highlights of the day happened when, after sliding the landing net under a fish on Will’s seat box, Jack leaned forward and asked Des Shipp how many he’d caught now? Cheeky little……

All the Shrimps had a great time with these stars of our sport, and it was a great opportunity to see, meet, and talk to some of them. But it was soon time to get down to business of our own.

Old mister sleepy head, Sgt Bracey, had managed to sleep through his alarm. Not just for a short while either. Forty-five minutes of torture for poor Scrumpy the dog probably had him thinking, for the love of all things beautiful, will you please wake up you old git! I have no doubt that Jerry enjoyed that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realise that you’re later than you wanted to be…

We had some new shrimps today too. Kit and Finley had come to fish with us for the first time today. There was a short delay to the draw because Kit had to be surgically detached from Des Shipp. Once he had been dragged away like a sentenced prisoner, the draw went something like this.

Peg One: Kit Freeman (Velcro) Peg Two: Ollie Smith (Aquaboy) Peg Three: Finley Kew Peg Four: A duck! (See photos) Peg Five: Josiah Wells-Parkes (His Lordship) Peg Six: Harry Cryer (Thing #2) Peg Seven: Jack Copp (Twiglet) Peg Eight: Jack Cryer (Thing #1) Peg Nine: Austin Scott-Kennedy (Rambo) Peg Ten: Caoimhim D’Errico (Mr Tangle)

Your cast of coaches for today were, Kermit the Frog – Graham Howard Big Bird – Jerry Bracey The Count – Richard Butler Mr Snuffleupagus – Jon Bass Additional help was given by Mike Millington- Stevenson – Oscar the Grouch…

Peg One: Kit Freeman: Once Kit had got over the fact that he had to leave Des Shipp alone, he arrived at his peg to find one Richard Butler waiting for him. Mr B is only a few steps away from being in the pole demo as a sponsored angler himself, and a wizard at places like Todber Manor. With the ‘Golden Boy’ by his side and Des Shipp’s pole in his hands, Kit was off to a good start before he even started to set up his gear! Neither of our new boys have been fishing that long and Kit’s dad, Mark, is a self-confessed novice. But Kit had a busy old day battling Carp right from the off. Fisheries like Todber hone fish playing skills quickly. All the fish are reasonably large to a novice angler and there are plenty of them. By the end of the day, despite a quiet spell in the middle of the match, Kit was playing the fish like a champ and was probably demanding a pole from his dad who was thinking about one for himself anyway. Kit had a great debut match finishing in forth place with an impressive 85lbs 9ozs. Good job Kit and welcome to DDAS Juniors!

Peg Two: Oliver Smith: There was an air of frustration in the Smith camp today. I sensed that Ollie was a bit out of sorts with himself. I’m going to offer both Anna and Ollie an apology here because, as much as I would like to, I cannot always guarantee a coach for every junior. Coaching resources are eaten up by the more demanding juniors, and when you are spread a little thin on the ground, as we were today, something has to give. Juniors like Ollie who have a lot of experience for their age are often left to their own devices. Unavoidable and unfair as it may seem, that’s the way it goes sometimes. Having said all that, when you get the all the coaches and his own mother telling him to do something that he ignores and then it finally is proved to be the one thing that he should have done all along, there’s not a lot you can do about that! Ollie is an impressive young angler, and one that we are immensely proud of. I am going to personally help him organise himself a little better to make him fish more efficiently and take away some of the confusion that seemed to surround him today. I might even bring some drain rods to unblock his ears when he is being given some solid advice… If you had told me back when I was 12 years old that you could catch 61lbs 6ozs and have ‘a frustrating day’ I would have taken the frustrating days every time. But that’s how it is now-a-days, and how it was for Master Smith today. Time to press the reset button and get the former champ back to winning ways again.

Peg Three: Finley Kew: Gentle Jon Bass was young Finley’s coach today to show the lad how to go about his first match. I found Fin to be a very approachable young man with a vast amount of enthusiasm for fishing. Couple that with Jon’s vast amount of experience and the boy is going to learn loads very quickly. Finley fished with a waggler float close in and a feeder rod cast to the islands, but he was quick to realise that the method to be on to catch him more fish was always going to be the pole. Hopefully we can sort him one out from our Re-Gen stock. Finley fished a steady match and he and neighbour Ollie had similar weights. It may have been just that this small area was not the place to be on the day. What ever excuses you want to use I have a theory about today that I will share at the end. Finley did well today, finishing the match with 64lbs 3ozs. Good job!

Peg Four: Mr Mallard: The duck was comfortable in his peg although, I am not sure about his commitment to junior fishing. He had fallen asleep, not brought any of his own equipment and, sadly for him, left before the end of the match. We were not able to weigh him in and will therefore be a DNW. (Duck not worried).

Peg Five: Josiah Wells-Parkes. Jo has been determined to advance his skills with a pole this year and Homeground lake was going to be an ideal place to do that. He started well catching a few fish from the whistle. But things went a little weird for him after a while and he was striking at ghosts. One of the issues that Jo may have suffered from was a pole rig that was too short for the depth of water he was trying to fish. Having the float 7cm from the pole tip is great for fishing for F1’s when you are a pro, but for a young angler trying to learn the ropes? Not so much. What it did do was give Jo some epic bites when the fish just pulls the pole tip under the water before you can react to the bite. Having a short length of line or ‘Lash’ like this is designed to hit those fast, troublesome bites. But it isn’t an easy way to fish a pole when you first start fishing. I am going to address this at the next event this coming Saturday at Revels and do a demonstration on how to make a pole rig. (Weather permitting). Jo had a good match, catching some better fish for a weight of 72lbs 6ozs. Well done…

Peg Six: Harry Cryer: Harry has a way of fishing that means he almost goes unnoticed. He flies under the radar to sneak up on the opposition, and the fish. On a lake that is usually dominated by poles, Harry casually lobbed a feeder up his right-hand margin. He did it all day. He caught all day. Helped by daddy Copp, Harry quietly went about the small task of winning his second match of the season despite having the reigning junior champion sitting, quite literally, next to him. Unfazed and totally cool (Cool as in demeanour because he kept his hoodie up all day in the sunshine with his new Shimano cap perched on top) Harry just kept plugging away relentlessly putting fish after fish into his many keepnets. One thing that some anglers do struggle with is counting your nets. Keeping an eye on how much weight you are loading your nets with can catch many people out. But not Harry. The Shrimps were told to only put 16 fish in each of their nets to keep them way below the net limit of 66lbs. Harry developed a system... Stones.

Harry did it by lining up a stone for each fish he caught until he got to 16 stones. Then started a new net. Harry weighed 97lbs 6ozs to take the win and a £15 voucher for the shop at Todber. Congratulations Harry, Well done.

Peg Seven: Jack Copp: “Peg Seven, Jack” said dad Dave has jack hand slid into the bag of dreams at the draw. Out came peg seven. There was a bit of air punching and hissing of the word “yes!” as Jack made his way to permanent peg 91, the best peg in Europe so I’m reliably told. I know for a fact that pegs 90 & 91 are solid with fish and absolute fliers. Jack, armed with a wheelbarrow of confidence, a bulletproof plan, and two rigs from the seat box of Mr Shipp himself, set himself up for what could be a new junior match record. But, and there’s always a ‘but’, the fish and Harry next door had other ideas. Jack is making good progress with his long pole work and, while he is doing his learning I don’t mind a little feeding help from Dave. Jack was lifting, dropping, dipping, dapping, swinging, and slapping all over the place. But the fish had not read the script and were being downright ruddy awkward. Jack always comes with a plan. That’s great when the plan works. Jack is learning that it is ok to rip up the plan and to chase something that is presenting itself on the day. Fish do not adhere to plans, only anglers do that. I know jack well enough to know that he may have been a little disappointed with 74lbs 2ozs, but I think he knows this is a marathon, not a sprint. Are you going to bet against the champ?

Peg Eight: Jack Cryer: Like his brother, Jack is not all fanfares and noise. He is quiet and stealthy. He sneaks up on you when you take your eyes of off him. Not much gets passed your lead coach with regards to who’s catching what, but I freely admit I did not see Jack catching as much as he did. This report is following the peg numbers, but we did the weigh in the opposite way round. Jake weighed in his 96lbs 6ozs on the scales before his brother, only be bettered by one solitary pound! The Cryers are new to fishing and new to the club. But they are both turning round to be a formidable team and seem to be gathering championship points like a vacuum cleaner. They are both operating on limited gear at the moment, and I look forward to them getting more tooled up with more experience. Dad, Paul, is looking forward to early retirement off their winnings, but not to the large van he will need to purchase to transport the two lots of gear!! Good job Jack…

Peg Nine: Austin Scott-Kennedy: Like Josiah, Austin is determined to improve his pole skills this year and is well on his way to doing so. Short pole Carp fishing is a great way to learn how your elastic works and how to tame fish using it. Austin is coming on leaps and bounds this year. He is also Mr Consistent too because I believe he is the only junior not to finish outside of the top three so far. It’s too early to ask if this year is Austin’s year, but you have to think it might be… Austin fished a strong match to finish with 93lbs 1oz for a creditable third place on the day. Good job Rambo!

Peg Ten: Caoimhin D’Errico: There are not many juniors that turn up to a junior event as excited as Mr Tangle. He needed a new nickname quickly because I was starting to have way too much fun hearing and asking people to pronounce his name. (This is the last time I will mention it). The name Mr Tangle comes from Keef’s first brush with a facing wind. It plays havoc with inexperienced anglers because it will blow your line everywhere you don’t want it to be. We’ve all been there, and all had to use extreme patience when it does happen. Dad, Eric, clearly has more than most. At one point he was so covered with wind swept line that I thought he’d been attacked by a giant spider! Teamwork and patience won the day at the end, and I shared a well-earned high five with Eric for our efforts. Caoimhin should not be to disheartened with his weight today because he was happy doing it and that is what matters. It’s got to be fun or else why do it? He ended the match with 42lbs 6ozs.

Liam Serkis made a brief visit to have a little fish with us halfway through. We hope he continues to find the strength to come fishing with us again.

It was a close-run thing at the end with the top three being separated by just a few pounds. 1st 97lbs 6ozs – 25pts – Harry Cryer 2nd 96lbs 6ozs – 20pts – Jack Cryer 3rd 93lbs 1oz – 17pts – Austin Scott-Kennedy Championship standings are: 1st Harry Cryer – 65pts 2nd Austin Scott-Kennedy – 54pts 3rd Jack Copp – 53pts

The rest of the points list is now available on the website.

My theory. The wind played a big part today. A north westerly wind is cold, and fish do not really like being in a cold wind. When you looked at the water, the areas along the far bank and on the shop side of the islands were flat with no ripple. These were sheltered areas, out of the wind and therefore warmer. The shop bank was also considerably colder than the far side. At the start, more fish were caught on the pole close in, and not so many on the feeder. On the near side at the start, more fish were caught on the feeder than the pole, particularly to the islands where the water was more sheltered. Halfway through the match the sun came out which seemed to level out conditions a bit and everyone caught on all methods. The only exception to this was Harry and Jack who were side on to the wind all day, they were able to catch on both methods from the start. Harry caught on the feeder a method he is confident and familiar with, whereas Jack chased himself a bit too much and, he will admit, maybe got it a bit wrong today. You learn nothing from good days because it is easy. It's the hard days that you learn most from because the lessons are stood up in front of you.

What an overwhelming day… The cherry on the top of the cake was the fact that Des Shipp came down to give out the prizes to the winners and stay to sign autographs and photos. He was indeed a special guest and a nice guy too. I received a message from Des the following morning saying how great it was to see the kids out enjoying their fishing. He promised that he would try to come back to see us again soon and spend some more quality time with our juniors. How privileged are we? To top that off, so many of the pro’s were amazed at all the things we do and have offered to sent equipment and goodies down for our juniors. Anglers like Andy Neal who wandered down from his commitments to the main event for a chat. Andy said he would help promote our juniors through his media channels. Pemb Wrighting from Daiwa has said has ‘loads of stuff’ that he will bring down for us to pick up from Todber Manor. Will Raison said that he was impressed to see our juniors fishing their match today. Simon Poynter said all the same things and also promised to get some Milo tackle items for us to use in the future. I realise these are just normal people who are good at what they do, but they are amongst the cream of their sport and are as important to our juniors as our juniors are to the sport.

I actioned the day and made it happen, but full credit must go to Jerry who had the idea in the first place. It would not have happened had it not been for his suggestion.

Special thanks go out to Simon Poynter and Andy Neal from Milo, Mark Harper and Des Shipp from Preston Innovations, Nick Speed from Shimano, Will Raison and Pemb Wrighting from Daiwa, and to anyone else that helped and influenced our juniors today.

Big thanks to John Candy and all the staff at Todber Manor for their huge effort on the open day and for making us feel so welcome. Thank you. I spent some time with them before I went home, and I witnessed the amount of effort that it took to do it. They were knackered! Thank you to my team of coaches, Jerry Bracey and Jon Bass, with special thanks to Richard Butler and Mike Millington Stevenson for their help today…

We must thank our parents and juniors for bringing them to Todber and for being such superb ambassadors for our club and sport.

Our next event is next Saturday the 20th of May at Revels fishery.

One happy Juniors Sec.

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