Junior Match #5 - Luckfield Lake

Updated: Aug 30

Big Fish, Wet nets and the Wayward cast...

The day of the 'Orphan match', so called because it didn't have a home for a while, started at a quarter past mid day for me. I arrived at the lake to find a car in the car park. A CAR! After my explicit request for people to clear off by 12pm... Society officials badge in hand, I stomped off to see who had committed this cardinal of all sins. The transgressor turned out to be Dale Beadnell Smith, son of one of our most esteemed committee members, Dave. Upon reflection, I should have realised who it was from the personalised number plate on 'the bus of a Mercedes' (His words, not mine)... After a short chat of a mere 30 minutes, which is quite short for me, He managed to negotiate a further 30 minutes of fishing on the condition that he helped out with some coaching at the start of our match. He agreed and I set about erecting the 'Thunder Tent'.

The Ladies loo tent was surprisingly placid without it's ally of some extreme wind and caused me to release only one or two expletives. But, for once, I didn't flip it off as I walked away.

Time for a quick flag... Which I positioned at the end of the lake track. Amusingly, the very slight breath of wind decided to aim the flag straight up the track so you could only really see it edge on. I shrugged and decided it was the thought that counts, and went off the borrow some heavy things from the building works next door to anchor the base down. Having spotted a couple of likely heavy things, I had my first butt clench of the day, as I disturbed a large house spider. I am severely Arachnophobic, and the sight of the big old Boris made me clench up tighter than a ducks wallet. I'm not saying it was massive, but I swear it had a saddle and a jockey! I recomposed myself, swept out my trousers and finished the flag I'd started earlier.

Next was the banner and, by now, the Copps had arrived. Dave helped me get things organised and Jack made shudder by saying my name for the first of what would turn out to be 4 million times that evening...

The coaches started to arrive and headache number one was to get people parked as sensibly as possible so we didn't encroach on the main track at the bottom. Much waving of arm, gesticulating and grinding of teeth later, we were all in.

We welcomed two special guests in the shape of Tommy Rees, our newest starter and his little amped up brother, who had clearly been on the re-charger far too long and moved at the speed of a greased weasel most of the night. The other was a returning Aiden Woodgate and mum, Jenni. Jenni had clearly stood Aiden in a grow bag for the two years they had been away. The lad had grown!

I used my best booming voice to calm the shrimps and got things underway... The draw was as follows;

Peg 1, Sofia with the lovely Alex as coach.

2 was Tommy Rees and the Red Fox with reattached digit.

Faith on 3 with Pantsman and Mrs Guru.

4 was the Police force (The Copps, see what I did there?)

Aiden was on 5 with the ever smiling Jenni and a blackmailed Dale.

6 was a very serious Noah coached by the bush man of Broadmayne, Mr Jon Bass.

Precariously balanced in 7 was Aquaboy Ollie and his personal assistant, Anna.

Tommy 'Lightning' Millard was in 8 with Top Bloke Tim and mum Teresa (Tom's mum, not Tim's)

Joseph was in 9 with Columbia's finest engineer and all round good laugh guy, dad, Carlos.

The flyer peg went to the Mud Monster, Jake and every printers favourite pin up, Glenn.

I was left to do several laps of the lake to try make sure that everyone behaved and was, one the whole, happy...

They weren't...

Rumblings came from the ranks about misuse of landing nets. I addressed the situation and thought that would be an end to it... Oh, how wrong I was...

The evening was still and anticipation was thick in the air. With smell of the groundbait in our nostrils and the roar of the maggots in our ears, I cut the tension with a blast from the whistle that woke some of the parents up, made a child cry and set dogs barking to herald the beginning of the match.

For me it is a moment of stress relief when the match starts, and gets me wondering what the shrimps will throw at me in the next 4 hours... The first issue was too much dust in maggots. So my first lap was to do what I can only describe as a promotional for whoever it is that makes maggots riddles. In this case, surprise, surprise, PRESTON INNOVATIONS! (Put the cheque in the post...) Other riddle manufacturers are available...

An usually clean Mud Monster and the printers pin up were doing their best to plumb the depth. Unfortunately they were plumbing the depth at a different venue because they were a good 3 feet over depth. Once put right, I made a note to address this at a later date. Jake, struggled to string bites together, which surprised me to be honest. But the lad sat it out from start to finish and did his best. At the end of the day, what more can you ask? He did manage to land a belting Rudd, which was weighed several times before a realistic weight was reached due to a sopping wet weight sling. There was no way that fish was nearly 3lbs! Instead we agreed on a still impressive 1lb 5ozs 12drams. A good chunk of his final weight of 3-7-4... Well done Muddy!

The Columbian connection in P9 struggled too. Perhaps mainly due to the experimental use of a catapult that Joseph seemed to be working on. I watched with interest as the 'Twisted Elastic' method was employed. I was, however, not surprised at the result... Once Joseph was reminded that it was probably not great idea to use the catapult in front of his face, he then proceeded to feed the squirrels and knock out two Blue Tits, in wild display of marksmanship. Some pellets even made it to the water...Joseph, at one point, did turn up at the other side of the lake to tell me he was catching a few. I asked how many he thought he was going to catch by coming round to tell me about it? Something clicked in his eyes and he said he was going to go and catch some more, and turned to run back to his peg. He suddenly realised that this action would result in him being tied, upside down, from a tree by his shoelaces (My default threat for running) and marched smartly back round to his peg.

He refused to sit for a photograph with his catch because he only managed 0-10-12. But I'm proud of him anyway, so here they are...

Tommy M on 8 had an altogether different experience with top bloke Tim, and Teresa remarked that Tim had been brilliant with him all evening. Thomas's approach to life can be described as 'urgent'. I guess a more accurate comparison would be a wild cat on a trampoline. He is a cheeky monkey and makes me laugh, but sometimes it makes instruction hard work. It is more of failure of communication on my part most of the time, but dealing with 9 other juniors all wanting a piece of you 95% of the time, sometimes you just need to be able to say something once without any comeback. Thomas had a sweet idea of loading up his keep net with pellets and maggots, so the fish would have something to eat during their stay in captivity. Unfortunately, this is kind of thing is frowned upon in competitions because it inflates the weight of the result. Add to this the fact that some of the tiny fish from the landing net incident had miraculously found their way into his keep net which, to his his credit he admitted to doing, didn't exactly press on my funny bone much. It is just a bit of fun, I know. But there are rules and, scooping up fish with your landing net and adding them to your legit fish, then 'feeding them', are two things that are not allowed. I dealt with the matter firmly, but fairly explaining the rules to everyone, especially how putting tiny fish into a net with a big Carp will only lead to them being beaten to death. Hopefully firmly enough so that I don't have to take more serious measures in the future. But Tim had helped 'Lightning' to catch some pretty impressive lumps with a Carp going 11lbs 2ozs 12drms and a Roach pushing 1lb 5ozs 4drms. Both these fish, along with the Mud Monsters Rudd, will cause me to have to take my shoes and socks off to work out how much as a percentage of the British record they are, so they can be entered for the Specimen Award. Tommy finished with 18lbs 15ozs which was good enough for 3rd place on the night. Well done Lightning, well fished!

On to P7 where I found Aquaboy and his pretty PA. Ollie was having a frustrating night because of the 'disturbance' from next door and the Red Fox smashing it on the other side of the lake. There really wasn't a case for disturbance because the aerator was making a hell of a racket in the middle of the lake, so it probably disturbed him, more than the fish. I gave him words of encouragement and mixed some groundbait for him. Within minutes the rod was bent into a much better fish and I've never seen Anna so on edge. Ollie did a great job of keeping fish from the lilypads to his left as the fish made a bit for sanctuary on more than a few occasions. Anna took some blows to the head from Ollie's heavily stressed feeder rod but, I do think that she was ready to leap in and wrestle the fish to submission with her bare hands in order to get the beast in to the keep net. I'm sure that child birth was easier than what she puts herself through watching Ollie fishing, but you can't buy that kind of parental dedication.... Add another Carp, some snotty Bream and some blades and Ollie finish in an excellent 2nd place with 22lb on the nose, and 20 points.

Noah and the Broadmayne Bush Man were in P6 and I didn't really get to see that much of them. P6 is a swim that I call 'The Crevice'. It's down some boulder like steps of brick, to a very small platform at the bottom. Knowing Jon, I knew that Noah would experience a steady catch rate, with a good chance of some lumps. I asked Noah if he had enjoyed the evening and he quickly replied "No!".... Which apparently means yes 'In his language'. I must be getting old.... I'm sure he did have fun because he weighed in a respectable 4lbs 1oz 12drms and net of fish that had Jon Bass stamped all over it!

In P5, Aiden and the effervescent Jenni, had now been joined by our latest coach Andy Hawkins, who thought, it seemed, that his first job was to eat my packed lunch. No man comes between a fat angler and his lunch, So he was passive/aggressively threatened with a good birching and put in his place. Aiden, who had not been fishing for some time, showed this fact by screaming "what do I do? What do I do?" when a Carp did take a liking to his baited feeder. Despite expert help (or hindrance) from yours truly, the hooklink parted and the fish was lost. Aiden is a quiet soul most of the time, but to see him this animated did make me chuckle. He's grown so much, so much so that we may have to look at a larger seat box for him! It was so nice to have them back in the fold again and I hope that the 6lb 10ozs was enough to whet his appetite for fishing again. I thoroughly enjoy the company of them both, even if Andy spoilt the picture a bit. In all seriousness, P5 was definitely the 'new swim' and Andy did a great job of looking after Aiden, as did Dale at start.

Well done Kiddo and welcome back!

The Copps were in P4, with Jack being one of the few 'Doing it right' on the pole. Jack seems to have developed a trend for 'Catch and early release', whereby he doesn't want put the fish through the hassle and trauma of being in a landing net. A praise-worthy gesture, but not conducive to good match weights. Jack did look tired though, so much so that, Dave was doing all the feeding for him. I'm not quite sure how much of that excuse I am expected to swallow, but will be something that will be looked at in the future, not just for Jack, but all Juniors. Jack was doing everything right though and looked the part fishing with a pole too. I see a lot of myself in Jack in that, when things are not going well or the fishing is a struggle, his chin drops and it's easy to drag yourself down. But you have to drive on and fish to the whistle. The lad is good, he doesn't need telling from anyone else. But he does need to realise it himself sometimes and that if fishing was easy, it would be called Catching instead. He did reinforce his nickname though, by holding up a foul hooked branch and saying "Now I know why they called me Twiglet!"

Jack finished the night with 4lbs 15ozs 12drms. Well done Twiggy, Good job...

In P3 there were some familiar faces. Quiet Faith, Mrs Guru and the Pantsman were thrashing out a result on the much favoured 3. They explained to me what they were doing and all seemed right me. Faith caught a few fish over the duration of the match, but I turned up just in time to see her grappling with a rather angry fish that I think was actually trying to pull her in. Finally the fish was netted and it was a reasonable size, much to the relief of both parents as Mike pretended to mop his brow with the back of his hand and blowing out his cheeks. Not a easy task seeing as the poor chap has recently undergone more dental surgery than a recovering meth addict, and has been in some considerable discomfort lately. Lydia looked strange too. Then I realised that she was not holding fishing rod whilst buried under 18 layers of blankets in the pouring rain. I further distracted Faith by asking her the necessary questions that would enable her to pass Level 1 of her training. She weighed 8lbs 7ozs with her carp of over 7lbs, which was a new personal best. Well done little lady and welcome to level 2!

On to P2 with the two Toms. One a Rees and the other a Red Fox.

Now Tom is a venue specialist at Luckfield and Tommy is a complete novice. Putting them two together seemed to logical thing to do. But even I didn't see the kind of epic watercraft that the Red Fox displayed. Not to mention the fish that won some of the battles and got away with it. The Fox had plopped his pupil onto his new 'Oil Rig' of a seat box. A box that shall hence forth be known as 'The Anvil'... Not easy to move and canes when it lands on your foot... Tommy needed the security of the Anvil to anchor him to dry ground once the Fox had located some targets and, between them, they racked up an impressive weight that drew many Ooh's and Aaargh's! from the gathered crowd at the end... Still hampered by the scratch on his finger the sly old fox did a splendid job for our newest member...

The Ghost of Luckfield gave young Tommy his first match win at his first event. Something that very few of us can boast. But not all of us have a Red Fox behind us to help... Congratulations to them both with a weight of 32lbs 5ozs 12drms

On to our final peg on our journey around Luckfield ending at Peg 1. Not the most productive peg this evening, but definitely the prettiest. Sofia the 10 year teenager was partnered with the lovely Alex for the evening. When I informed Miss Altuzarra who her coach was for the night, she had a wide eyed beam of a smile on her face at the thought of being with Alex. To be honest, who wouldn't? Or maybe she was just glad she had not been saddled with me again? Either way I wouldn't blame her..... They did have a tough night though and even help fr