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Newbies, Friendship, and Car Park Crayfish


I have been getting quite familiar with Revels Fishery and Tackle shop lately, what with the Junior Knockout series, our very successful session with Mosaic, and now with our last Revels coaching session of the year.

Attendances have been on the rise lately since the disappointment of the August period and the new faces have been extremely welcome at our sessions.

We were a couple of bodies short on the coaching front, so it was going to be a stretch with all these newbies to contend with.


Mr Jon Bass questioned whether I had invested heavily in shares with an umbrella producing company because, during the week I had been convinced that it was going to rain. So convinced was I that it would be wet that I even spent some of my birthday money on a new pair of boots! But I didn’t count on Annamama having a closer relationship with the sun Gods than I had previously thought. Add to that new sun magnet Sofia who, as soon as she and newbie Sholto left, cast a temporary shadow of cloud across west Dorset. I’m looking forward to the perpetual days of sunshine that these two seem to bring, although I may ask them to tone it down a bit for the summer!

No rain then as the day began and me, the car, and FIVE seat boxes made our way across the countryside. There is something special about the morning of a junior event. I have written before about the excitement, the nervousness of delivering a good coaching session, and the beauty of the early morning.

It has been a while since I had wandered around the main lake at Revels. With all the maintenance, groundwork, and trimming that had been done, it looked totally different. If someone had shown me a picture looking across from peg 4, I wouldn’t have recognised it. That and a newly revitalised permanent peg 17, the lake was looking good. Would it fish as good as it looked for the Shrimps?


With the swell in numbers and the limited number of coaches available, we had to designate zones for juniors to fish according to their abilities as best we could. Fishing on pegs 18 to 21 we had newbies, Leo, Sholto, and Liam. Two others, Harry and Jack#2 would be with Si Wag and Mr JB on p6 to p11. The advanced prodigies would be with me on 12 to 16…


If anyone has got this far without nodding off or turning to alcohol, you will have noticed an unusual name. Sholto is, apparently a Scottish name and one that took Captain Chris several goes to get his head around. In fact, there are only two coaches’ names with more than one syllable in them, such simple creatures are we. We also now have a plethora of ‘Jacks’, so I’ve numbered two of them until they do something daft enough to earn themselves a worthy nick name… J. Cryer is Jack#2, and J. Bates is Jack#3. Jack#1 will remain as Twiglet…


I droned on a bit about the dangers of water, Otter fences, and waking Jerry suddenly if he was asleep. (Never startle a sleeping Wookie…) Then we got down to the business of trying to outwit the resident species. I had explained to the newbies that lakes like the Stock Pond offer a different kind of fishing to the Main Lake. The Main Lake is a challenge only mastered by a few. Even then, just when you think you have it nailed down, the lake says ‘Nope’ and it’s all change again. Many times, anglers have fished the Main Lake and come away talking of tackle on eBay and something called ‘golf’? But we all go back there to see if we have got it right on the day. When you do, the feeling is sweet…

Section 1: The Prodigies: Faith, Jake, Ollie, and Jack: I’m doing these lunatics together because they basically moved around as one unit today. I did sit and bore them to tears talking about pole floats at one point. It was worth it because they really didn’t have a clue. I will be asking some questions to see how much they listened at the next event. Championship points will be deducted for wrong answers. (They won’t lose any points really, but it makes me feel mildly tyrannical when I write things like this) The fishing seemed secondary as the four stooges bonded together whilst chasing Crayfish. This was particularly wholesome for Faith who, with the lack of other girls to hang with, has realised that it is necessary to hang out with smelly boys instead. A rose amongst prickly thorns… Jack#1 (Twiglet) had decided to be anti-social and fish on the Canal Lake, but the forming of ‘Team Operation Crayfish’ enabled dads like Glenn and Dave to pretend they were taking their kids fishing but were just having a day to themselves instead. Fair play to them too. The Crayfish squad had found an unwitting crustacean living under the platform on permanent peg 16 and now it’s day was going to be ruined but four doughnuts poking Poles, rods, dynamite, and flame throwers at it until it succumbed. Succumb it did and Ollie came to me asking if they count in matches? I think he thought he may have found a way of getting an advantage over his competitors by going for a species that others would not. But the noise and commotion of the great Crayfish chase would not be sustainable, not to mention the fact that it had taken four of them 2 HOURS to catch something that probably only weighed 5ozs…

Signal Crayfish are an invasive species, unwelcome in the fisheries they habit. Once caught it is best not return them to the water and instead humanely dispose of them. This was explained to the Crayfish Squad and the invader was quickly and humanely dispatched. The four understood the reason for this action completely. But it didn’t stop them from recreating recent televised events and giving the late Mr Crayfish the send-off he deserved. He was laid to rest in a shallow grave and was not given a minute’s silence because you can’t shut these fruitcakes up for that long! See blog from the pairs match at Todber from which the headache is only now subsiding. Master Smith fashioned a small cross from twigs and grass to mark the spot where he met his end.

With all the works on this part of the lake ongoing, I can’t help but compare the Crayfish to King Richard III. Mr Crayfish will be covered in stones that will form the new pathway to P17. Maybe in years to come his remains will be unearthed to the cries of ‘Oh look, there’s a Crayfish’, instead of ‘Oh look, there’s Richard the third’. A small but overwhelmingly significant difference…


On to the Newbies half mile.

Section 2:

The Newbies:

Leo, Sholto, and Liam:

All the coaches remarked that the lake did not produce the numbers of fish expected, but that’s all a part of the challenge. If it was easy, they would call it ‘Catching’, and not fishing… It was nice to put a face to many emails by meeting Sholto’s mum, Sofia today, and I think she enjoyed her time with us. I don’t need to question whether Sholto enjoyed it because he was bristling like loose electricity from the second he arrived. So excited was he that he mistook Jerry for me, despite us having a coaching session together previously! I don’t which of us should be more insulted by that? I’m going to say it now, I think this kid has talent. His casting is very good for his age and, if he listens with equal levels of passion that he clearly has for fishing, he will be challenging the prodigies before too long. The tricky part is harnessing an excited child. Think of a wild Mustang that has been exposed to a particularly loud bang after watching endless episodes of Love Island. Quite zestful. Like conquering the Loo tent, Captain Chris harnessed the excitement very well, and said that the small red-haired boy (Red Fox Jr?) was delightful to coach.

Liam and mum Hazel are newbies from our recent, and highly successful charity event with MOSAIC. Liam’s character has a lot in common with our very own master T. Millard (Lightning) and challenged Uncle Jelly’s endurance to the max today. Like Sholto, Liam has an immeasurable level of excitement for the sport and harnessing all that energy will pay off for him in the end. By contrast, Hazel is calm, relaxed, and ties loops extremely well! We learned today that NOTHING is off limits regards to new and innovative hook baits for Liam. Anything that walks, crawls, or flies could end up going for a swim with new piercings… Once we have reigned in the stratospheric enthusiasm with a few casting lessons (Which I will organise very soon), Liam will be a competent angler. Although, we may have to invest in some strong Velcro to keep him seated! Liam is a lovely lad with a kind face, and I look forward to coaching him in the future…

All the newbies have been set a task to learn their fish species in order to begin their progression on the coaching ladder.

Section 3: The Nucleus group/more newbies: Harry, Jack, Austin, and Josiah: This group of Shrimps had, arguably, the better area of the lake but, as we already mentioned, each swim is its own challenge. I won’t go into detail but, I needed Austin to have an enjoyable day today. The boy is facing emotional mountains and I know I can speak for the whole club when I say that we are always here to support him and his family. As you will see at the end, this was not necessarily the case. I must confess that I did not spend as much time in this area as I wanted to for several reasons, and for that I apologise. However, the ever-capable hands of Si and Jon were more than capable of handling things, it’s just that I did not see much fishing first hand. Austin had sat in a notoriously fickle swim. P6 is DEEP and you need to be experienced to get the best from it. It has chewed me up and spat me out in the past! I think that Camo had a few silvery fish but no wobbly Carp today. Austin’s grandad, Brian, told me that he had said to Austin ‘Why do you need to bring all this stuff?’. I confessed that it was probably me that had given ‘All this stuff’ to him in the first place! I apologised, something I had been doing a lot of today…

Brian gave me an ‘Ah, so it was you, was it?’ look, and we left it at that… Josiah has set fire to the grass in his haste to get to peg 8 on the end of the spit. This peg is a match winner on most occasions, not that that mattered today. I had no idea that a small boy could carry a large box that fast! Jo caught steadily on a difficult day. P8 is a very long pole peg, and small anglers can’t reach that far yet. The feeder offers a chance to catch some fish but, it is not as productive as a pole. I saw Jo catch a few nice fish though, and his mile wide smile was as evident as ever…


Newbies Harry and Jack#2 were on pegs 10 and 11. I would love to tell you which one was on what peg but, until they get some DDAS Juniors polo shirts with their name on, I have no idea which is which at the moment. If you’re thinking that I SHOULD know, give me a break here! I wear clothing with MY name embroidered on it, so I know who I am most of the time… One of the boys, I’m going guess at Jack, was making no friends with the local Squirrels. To get a cast stuck up 11 metres up a tree directly ABOVE your head is a talent that few can boast. But I saw it with my own eyes! I’m not sure if he was asked to but, I came across Jon and one of the ‘Cryer clones’ fishing in an area that we call ‘The Deeps’ and was not thought to be worth using today. It is a humbling experience to be proved totally wrong because at the centre of a commotion was a small boy with a large Carp, and an even larger grin. 8lbs 6ozs became a new personal best fish for Harry. Or Jack#2… One of them… Oh, I don’t know!!!


All in all, it was….an interesting day. Conditions made the fishing tricky for young anglers and pressured coaches. We learned a lot about each other today. Hopefully this will help to strengthen friendships in the future.

Before I go into the less desirable incident, I would like to mention a subject that arose from today’s coaching. If you look at most anglers, be they specimen or match anglers, you will notice a high level of preparedness. Be it cleanliness, tidiness, or both. Failure to be prepared, is to only be prepared to fail. Oh, here he goes, banging on about cleaning my equipment and being super tidy again…. Yes, absolutely! If the passion that some of our juniors show for the sport could manifest itself into keeping everything fixed, clean and tidy, then think of how much more enjoyable fishing could be for you? Fishing does not finish on the lake. Nets must be dried. Loose bait should be cleaned up, as should mud or dirt. Old or tangled line should be dealt with. All my coaches and I saw today was punctures, tangled line, and filth… If you play other sports, ask yourself how it would look if you started an event with mud from the last one on your kit? I know washing is all done for you, but ask yourself what excuse you have to keep your fishing tackle clean if you don’t have to do anything else? Let’s see some responsibility for your tackle and have a better effort next time please?


So, the last part of this week’s report is a serious one. I take the care and protection of the juniors in my care extremely seriously and I do not tolerate abuse from outsiders. Unfortunately, one of our Juniors was verbally abused by ‘youths’ fishing at Revels and the incident was reported to and dealt with by Jason Fricker the owner. Special thanks to Jason for dealing with this incident so swiftly and decisively. Thank you to Jason and all the staff at Revels fishery for hosting us today.


Thank you to Jerry, Chris, Jon, and Si for delivering a coaching session under difficult circumstances.


Thank you to all parents and juniors for enjoying the late summer sunshine with us today, particularly the newbies…


Our next session is a match at Luckfield for limited number of participants. At the time of writing there are only four spaces left. Book in on the website or message/email me to book in. Booked in so far are, Faith Jack#1 Jake Jo Leo and Ollie.


There may be a change to the venue for the scheduled coaching session at Ash Ponds on the 22nd of October due to the availability of coaches. I will give you more details when they are finalised.


Take care all,


Juniors Sec….



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