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River coaching session - River Frome, Wool - 14/11/21

Hair today, gone tomorrow...

Like last time, I'm going to start this blog a day earlier because daft things seem to haunt me during my preparation and Saturday was no exception.

As a coach, we were told to keep our appearance clean and tidy to give a professional image to those you are coaching. On Saturday afternoon we had some visitors coming round to see us at 2pm and time had run away with me a little. One of the jobs still to do was to give myself a bit of a haircut. Since lockdown I have taken command of my own barnet, and I have bought myself a trimmer. With only 20 minutes before the arrival of our friends I grabbed the trimmer, removed my T-shirt (steady ladies) and set about some unwanted hair removal. Naturally, the only sensible place to begin this process is top dead centre. The trimmer sparked into life rather reluctantly it has to be said and I made my first sweep from the forehead to the crown. It made a much more aggressive sound than usual and, I was amazed at how much my hair had grown since my last trim, as the severed hair fell to the floor.

I must point out that the whole process is executed without my glasses on and bent over forwards in our bathroom. Basically, all I can see is the hair I am cutting off.

After a few swipes I reached up and rubbed my newly trimmed dome and felt.....Well, not a lot actually. Certainly less than would normally be socially acceptable. Not only that but my head felt rather colder than normal. In a kind of flash back to the last trim, I recalled taking the trimmer apart to clean the comb and the blades. The reassembly of the trimmer was conspicuous by it's absence.

My eyes widened as reality burst into the room and, in one fluid motion, kicked me square in the spuds. Cold realisation rippled down my arms as I ran my fingers over stubbly strip that now sat atop my noggin.

I stood bolt upright and tentatively peered into the mirror to see the new 'reverse Brazilian runway strip' that I had created. I carefully touched the abused area with my finger tips to make sure it was all true...

My reflection and I made eye contact and I think I may have called myself a very, very silly boy... I looked at the trimmer and, sure enough, no comb, just the unchecked blades of doom. I stared at it for quite some time before shrugging my shoulders and finishing the job.

A while later, I had to make sure that Trudie was awake for the arrival of our guests.

I gently stroked her arm to wake her and she lifted her eye mask. This time it was Trudie's eyes that widened and she emitted kind of sound that someone would make if they were trying not scream in fear, laugh, and throw up in equal measure. She just stared at the 'new me' with a haircut that looked like it may have required some pretty strong anaesthetic drugs and a vast lack of self respect to carry out.

The Red Fox had mentioned that he would be at the river at 'Sparrow Fart', (Early) to give the fish a pre-session team talk about what was expected from them today.

I arrived at the river about 8.30am and was alone. I set the gear up and began the long wait for a Junior or two. I knew that an abusive email would bring the Fox out of hiding and he appeared along with the Lovely Alex, both dressed to kill in the latest wading apparel that Daiwa have to offer. Alex wasn't joining us today however. I think she just turned up to remind Tom about the result from the last match. An event that I promised that I wouldn't mention again....So, I won't.

I have to admit that there is something extremely satisfying about just taking what you need, instead of three lorry's full of equipment. It makes a refreshing change to carry just one rod, one reel and a handful of bait and bits.

The itty bitty birthday girl, Faith, was first on the scene with her staff in tow. I felt honoured that she had chosen to spend her birthday morning at the river with us. Max rocked up in a jacket that was louder than his dad when it is his round at the bar. I get the feeling that camouflage was something that Max had heard of before, but didn't quite grasp the concept. He said that his secret weapon was to stun the fish like a flash grenade.

H&S done and we all headed off to the river to see what we could find.

I sped towards a known 'good spot' like an arthritic Gazelle and set about showing Max the ropes. Meanwhile, Tom and Faiths entourage could be seen just around the bend (insert your own jokes here). River fishing is a different discipline to other types of fishing. These fish are wild and wary, not just fat mud pig pets, living in a man made hole in the ground. You have to use finer tackle, stealth and skilful experience to catch them sometimes. Others it can be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Today, was the former and the fishing was tricky. But being so new to our Juniors, it was exciting and fresh. Both Max and Faith handled the 15ft rods with centrepins extremely well and both caught fish too. Max with a collection of some of the biggest Minnows I've ever seen, a small Brown Trout and a Salmon Par (Baby Salmon), but sadly no Grayling. Faith managed three Grayling and two small Brownies.

The two hours flew by and soon it was time to say goodbye and await the arrival of our next two Shrimps...

Tom and I had lunch by the river and couldn't resist a quick dabble for ourselves before 1pm, when phase two would arrive. Tom strode confidently trough the river, using those muscular thighs to plough through the strong current. I, with legs like cocktail sticks, stayed on terra firma. The more the firmer, the less the terror. Tom had persuaded me to use one of his floats with a more sensitive tip. I returned this kind gesture by losing it in a tree. He did go in and look for it but, by this time, I had legged it.

Team Aquaboy turned up with a bearded bloke that Anna kept hurling abuse at and Ollie kept calling 'Dad'. I quickly deduced that this was 'Shooting Stuart' and it was great to see him at a Junior event. Stu has not been to a Junior session for a long time because of something he calls 'work'. I again warned him about using such four lettered words in my presence.... David and Jack Grassby arrived and I honestly came to the conclusion that I am the only person on the planet that has not met or did not know David from some time before. He seems to know absolutely everyone. I swear I even witnessed some of the Carp shoot him a wink of acknowledgement at Revels the other week...Anna and David were swapping stories of old acquaintances from the second they met...My Mother-in-law does know David because of her weird obsession with funerals and the fact that she is a verger at St Mary's church. So perhaps I can be in the club by association... With formalities completed, Tom lead Ollie into the river with great care and diligence. Not only to keep young Ollie safe, but also to show 'Aquaboy' that he could be in water with getting wet from head to toe... I had felt a couple of bites from my drier position before Jack arrived, but they seemed to have cleared off in the meantime. So a group decision was made to go back up stream. Tom had already snared a couple of Grayling for Ollie at the first position, but I freely admit that my lack of knowledge of the river was beginning to tell and no amount of bluster could hide the fact that I was struggling to find fish for Jack to catch.

I gave Tom my best 'Help me' eyes, similar to cat or dog uses when it's hungry. This clearly did the trick because Tom confidently took over coaching of young Jack with a 'Hold my pint' kind of attitude. That meant Ollie was stuck with me and we immediately caught a couple of fish....Typical!

Towards the end of the session Tom's confidence was reaching a state of desperation as even he was finding fish hard to locate. A couple of missed bites and bumped fish later saw the mickey taking rise to epic proportions. Everyone had stopped what they were doing to pile the pressure of getting Jack his first river fish squarely on Tom's broad shoulders....and then it happened...

The first thing heard was a low rumbling sound from Tom as his rod hooped over with what is commonly described as 'a much better fish' on the hook. Tom was stumbling about a bit as he fought the river monster which was stripping line from the reel as if he had hooked a speeding car by the bumper. Tom followed the fish downstream as far as he could and, by now, the crowd has realised that this was a serious fish. It was a serious fish too and I saw the excitement in Tom's eyes at the thought of a fish this size possibly being a Grayling. It's not easy playing fish under such pressure, I know this from experience. But Tom was doing well and I think the biggest pressure was getting a fish for young Jack.

There was talk of specimen trophies and glory. Accolades and notoriety filled our minds if Tom could pull it off. But then, after what seemed like 40 minutes, but was actually only 5 or 10, slack line... The fish had gone and all that was left was stunned silence. A crest fallen Tom was left where he fell, wounded in the reed bed.

Once the wailing, gnashing of teeth and shedding of tears had subsided, Tom was back on his feet again. Re-rigged, rebaited and thrashing the water to a foam again. I was on my 14th 'Well I really need to be going', which wasn't help by Tom whispering 'I'm in' and then laughing full in my face as I whipped around to look with such violence that I nearly unscrewed my head... Turd... We all wanted a fish for Jack and he got it in the end. Tom managed to grab a Grayling for Jack (technically) and I am happy to accept that our 100% record of always getting a fish for our Juniors is happily intact. Well done the Red Fox...

We were passed finishing and I had to go. As I walked away after thanking everyone and bidding them fair well, only hear Anna soft voice saying 'Got one'. Without looking back I launched into a comedy run across the field. I just had to go... The sessions were a great success and I feel that we have opened the door to rivers for the Juniors that attended. They all did extremely well considering their lack of experience at a session that was, without a doubt, lead by Mr Foyle. It was his idea to go to the Frome at Wool and I can see us doing it again before too long. Well done mate, proper job...

Juniors Sec.

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