CANCELLATIONS, LATE ARRIVALS AND TEARS...
A still and over cast morning stood over the Top Lake, or Doughnut Lake, at good old Whitemoor for our latest instalment in the Junior Championship. The water was like glass... a dirty old bus type of glass, but glass never-the-less and the fish were as keen as I'd ever seen them. 'The Doughnut' is a picturesque little pond that is stuffed with little fish, very few of whom are Rudd, which makes a nice change. The brambly island provides a magnet for wayward casts and reedy margins give good sport for larger fish later on. The Shrimps love it here, understandably so...
I should have realised by now that running these Shrimp events was not always going to be all milk and honey. The worst thing to happen are cancellations. Thomas 'Lightning' Millard was off for drowning (swimming) lessons and wasn't exactly a cancellation. The effect was the same however and we were down to eight. Lightnings best friend, Carter was next to be scratched off the list, this time with an ear infection. Next up was Tommy Rees, who mum called to say her car had blown up or something and, seeing as his dad was selfish enough to choose to work on a fishing day, Tommy couldn't make it either. Lastly and on the morning of the match, I had a call from Mrs Guru (Lydia) to say that, unfortunately, 'The Dormouse' (Faith) would not be able to scare the boys today due to unforeseen issues at home.
The day before, an attempt to move mountains was undertaken to ensure that The Mud Monster was able to attend. Mr Pumpkin (Glenn Taylor) was another one of these weirdos that work on fishing days and the mug he had got to stand in for him had seen the light and cried off. Mrs Pumpkin (Linda) didn't want to sit in the pouring rain with two daughters, all three of them bored out their minds whilst 'Muddy' fished his match either. Some parents just don't have the commitment needed sometimes... But Glenn had assured me that he would be there, all be it a little late...
As I was setting out the 'Lost Parents, this way' signs out on the road on the way to the venue, the red Copp mobile screamed past me with horn blaring. This was the first time that any parent had beaten me to an event. Or could this show how keen (Sad) the Copps are to get there this early? Captain Chris (Ward) was next, followed by the Metropols finest, PC Bracey, and new lad Josh (Who shall now be known as 'Fizzy' because of the amount of talking he likes to do) with mum, Sadie. There's only a small carpark at the Top Lake and DDAS cheerleader, Anna with her lad, Aquaboy (Ollie), were left high and dry with nowhere to park... Those present were asked to 'Shove over a bit' to let her in.... We did just that and a space big enough to park a combine harvester was created for her by rubbing door handles intimately and indulging in some paint swapping... Anna expertly parked by stalling three or four times to increasingly loud cheers for the gathering crowd...It's always better to try to park with the handbrake off..
With all present, correct and parked (finally), the early draw for todays shenanigans went as follows:
Peg 1: Ollie 'Aquaboy' Smith on the aerator. An absolute flier apparently.
Peg 2: Jake 'Mud Monster' Taylor. In the corner, where he belongs.
Peg 3: Jack 'Twiglet' Copp. In a swim where I could keep my eye on him/them.
Peg 4: Josh 'Fizzy' Roe. On the end.
Not a huge event I grant you. But spreading them around the lake would at least ensure that I got my steps in...(9315).
An early draw also meant that the most irritating question of the day went something like this... "When do we start?"
"What time is it now?"
"Wait, what? That's ages! Why can't we start now?"
"Because it's not fair on Jake. He knows we start at 11.30, so if we start earlier, he loses even more time"...
(10 minutes later)
"What time is now?"
"How long before we start?"
"What? We should just start now. 48 minutes? That's ages!"
"Yep, well, we can't start"
"Why?" "Seriously??? You're taking the mickey now, aren't you?"
(10 minutes later)
"When do we start?"
Shoots a seriously hard stare, that could curdle milk at 500 paces which results in no more questions until the whistle for the start...
Before the start, however, Glenn and Muddy steamed into view like a stunt scene in a cheap car chase movie. The doors flung open and operation 'Get Jake to his peg before the match starts', swung into action.
Like a finely tuned food blender, the coaching team, including the DDAS cheerleader, descended on Glenn's white chariot to disembowel the fishing tackle from within. I disarmed the otter fence by running round the other side. It's not far, but by the time I had carried his seatbox to Jake's peg on the other side of the lake, I was having one of those moments that showed I was no spring chicken anymore. Breath rasping, heart pounding and knees trembling.
Dear God, was this how it was going to end? Carrying someone else's tackle box when I don't like carrying my own? It's what he would have wanted... No it isn't! I checked my smart watch and a laughing emoji appeared instead of the heart monitor. I decided it was just a cheap one and commenced some easy breathing exercises to slow my breathing before someone saw me and dialled three nines....
With Jake installed (Once I'd sorted out a birds nest of a tangle from where Glenn had 'packed it away from last time') I breathed into the whistle (not part of my breathing exercises) to start the competition. Almost immediately, the peace was shattered by the thrashing of the water to a fine foam by four determined kiddos.
It's a job to say who drew first blood because it was a frenzy of action from the start. Whitemoor has a real gem of a lake, especially for Shrimps.
The overcast day sprung a leak and the fine drizzle that gets everything wet was blowing around on the lightest of breezes. I commandeered Dave's umbrella from him to shield Sadie from the rain. This left Dave high and not so dry, but he's a chivalrous bloke and whinging was kept to a minimum. He'll get his reward in heaven....
Anna (DDAS Cheerleader) embraced the weather conditions by releasing her inner water nymph as seen below...
The picture is a little blurred because she oscillates at a very high frequency when in open nature.
Now Glenn has a bad back. Not really helped by the stunning work he executed at the Charminster open day recently where he gained his now popular (If only with me) nick name of 'Mr Pumpkin' due to the most orange of orange polo shirts since the Tango advert (Ask your parents kids). Watching him creak around the lake like an old man that had recently discovered that he had had an accident of a faecal nature, was a sight that could melt the coldest of hearts. He does have my sympathy, although I wouldn't tell him to his face.
The pain in his back had clouded Glenn's organisational ability however, because he decided that Jake needed an extra challenge for today by expertly forgetting to bring the lads glasses with him. I did offer Ollie, Anna and Chris tin helmets before the match started in case Muddy 'launched the big one' past the big green blob that was, for Jake, the island. I'm just glad we're not doing archery...
The Captain (Chris Ward) and I swapped stories of old fishing days when things were much better and splinters were the size of tent pegs. Anna, by this time, had glazed over from what I can only assume was an overdose of nostalgia.
Chief Super Intendent Bracey was on duty with Fizzy watched with interested indifference by Sadie. The lad was always going to struggle against supreme baggers like the other three, so I tagged in with Jerry who immediately sat down to stuff his face with rolls and other fine fare.
We decided that we should aim for 20 odd fish for Fizzy and set about trying to achieve this for him. The method feeder was Josh's choice of weapon and Jerry and I took turns loading the feeder like two gillies loading shotguns for a toff at a grouse shoot. Fizzy's casting was interesting to say the least. Being inexperienced, casts would range from excellent, to dangerous for island dwelling animals, to ballistic. One cast in particular came down with snow on it and, in the distance I swear I heard the faint rumble of a downed aircraft. A snapped hooklink forced him onto the whip and he started to really nail it.
The excitement of Junior angling was summed up by Fizzy in the picture below...
You may think that he would catch more by facing the other way. But in all fairness, this was taken in the 'What time do we start?' phase of the day....and he wasn't the one asking the questions either....
So on to the results and I was quite surprised how well everything panned out.
I'm going to start in reverse order, and there's a good reason for that. With a show of hands, how many of you that will read this can say that they recorded a weight of over 11lbs on their first ever match?
No, didn't think so... My hand didn't go up either. To be honest, my first weight was so unremarkable that I can't remember what it was.
Josh was determined to compete in the match and weighed in with the others. The day became a little too much for him afterwards however, he was quite upset at coming in fourth and refused to come out of the car for the results.
I just want to send this message to him. Very few anglers hit the ground running and even fewer win their first match with absolutely no experience. A match weigh of 11lbs 6ozs 8drms is a considerable achievement for most adults, let alone small, chatty, 9 year old boys with borrowed gear. I am extremely proud of him and he should be proud of himself too. Josh has quickly become accepted into our family of young anglers and, together, we celebrate the highs and support each other in the lows. He sat for the full four hours without walking around, he asked questions that would expand his knowledge and executed any instructions that were offered to him with competence and skill. He will be up there with the winners one day and that day isn't that far away. Your coach is proud of you and I am glad that you have chosen to join in with us at DDAS Juniors... Well done...
In the third place spot was Aquaboy Ollie with a very respectable 25lbs 15ozs. Ollie's casting ability astounds me constantly and his accuracy is remarkable. Ollie has real talent and his future in angling is bright whichever course it takes... Always ceaselessly supported by super mum, Anna, who lives every hooked and netted fish as if it was the Fish'o'mania final. They make a great team and are both a big asset to our club. Big thanks to the Captain for all his help today. Chris remarked on how intelligent the lad is and what delightful company he was during the session. 17 solid points today Ollie, well done...
Despite being late and having Glenn helping him, the Mud Monster managed a brilliant 2nd place with 30lbs 1oz 4drms which wins him 20 points and adds to his tally in the championship. Once Jake gets some extra help with his casting, he will break through towards fishing more independently, and steadily improve. Jake and dad, Glenn, are learning together and that is something that you cannot buy. Glenn is doing a great job in supporting Jake too and yes, that was a compliment!
Runaway and well deserved winner on the day was the Mighty Twiglet, with a belting 47lbs 1oz. Jack fished impeccably throughout the session today and confirmed his place as a serious threat to senior anglers in the future. Jack has the posture of a consummate professional about him and I am sure he will go far. Well done also to dad Dave. I know it physically hurts him to step back and let Jack's fishing flag fly. I would be the same if not worse. But less is more and the lad can do it....Obviously. But bravo all the same. Well done kiddo! A full sack of 25 big points is yours....
One final interesting event happened after everyone had cleared off that may be of interest.
I had to go and pay in our match fees to Tom at the office as usual. Just before I drove up, Chris and I spoke to a chap that looked strangely like Tom, only a (slightly) older version. The large black Range Rover he was driving sped away up the track towards the office. After saying my goodbyes, I made my way up to see Tom and, halfway up the track, I again passed the large black mafia mobile. I flashed and waved my thanks and carried on. Upon arrival at the office, I noticed that the Mafia mobile was reversing back up the track again at an impressively high speed. The older Tom jumped out and we started a stare off for what seemed an uncomfortably long time. In fact, the only thing that could have made it worse, would have been a tumbleweed rolling through in between the now Mexican like stand off.
"Have you come to give some money?" Asked older Tom.
"That depends on who the hell you are?" I found myself saying.
"Tom is my son" said the older Tom, who was, quite obviously, the fishery owner who had probably wondered where on earth I was going, irritatingly causing him to reverse back to where he'd just came from....
As usual, none of this is possible without the help of my coaches and dedicated parents of some classy Juniors, new and old. Big thanks to the staff of Whitemoor Fishery for helping our Juniors make some everlasting memories...