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The smell of the ground bait. The roar of the maggots!

After the turmoil of the last junior event, I was kind of hoping for a more relaxed event at Luckfield. With the exception the remarkable Todber Manor, Luckfield has been host our best junior match this year. So, I was looking forward to going back there again…

The previous week was a busy one. Home decorating and a bit of practice at ‘Old Luckers’ was on the menu, and two things suddenly dawned on me… The first was the fact that my knees have given up the ghost. That all too familiar sound of bubble wrap being stamped on by a Skittle ridden hyperactive five-year-old child could be heard whenever I lowered myself to the floor. Cracking knees are great when you are eyeing up the girls as a teenager, but it means something less desirable when you are over fifty and trying to paint skirting board. I pulled and groaned my way around the floor like mutated blob of radioactive porridge, almost bursting into tears as I reached the end… DIY never used to be like this.

The practice part of the week went a little better, despite the knees still giving an occasional crack or two. I dumped my portable tackle shop in peg 10 at Luckfield and started with a pole and maggots over ground bait.

Maggots will be featuring heavily in this blog post by the way… I caught small Skimmers and Roach….sort of regularly. But the catch rate went up with expender pellets… A switch to method feeder snared a tackle strewn ‘Decent fish’ which I lost at the net, and a Common of around 9lbs.

These sessions are designed to gather information for the shrimps so that they can have as good a chance of catching a few fish as possible. At least, that is the idea anyway…

As Friday approached, the efforts of my DIY started to affect M’Lady’s chest, and I knew she could be in trouble by the weekend… For those of you who don’t know, Trudie has something called Atopic Eosinophilic Asthma, rare and quite deadly form of the condition. Her breathing can go from ‘Summer breeze through a thicket hedge’ to ‘Broken bellows on a dilapidated church organ’ in the space of an hour. It is so unpredictable that the ingredients of things like paint or sealants can be very harmful to her. She is also sensitive to weather changes too. We always know when it is going to rain when her lips go blue! I wish I was joking….

The undercoat on the skirting had made her breathing tricky on Friday night. I was hoping for better news Saturday morning. No such luck. Trudie knows her chest better than anyone else and we agreed to crack on as normal. She would send up the Bat Signal if I were needed.

The stage was set, and the bog tent went up without a problem. I even shook it a couple of times to see if I could make something happen. Nothing did. How boring… **Editor's note** Writing about the Bog tent has reminded me that I forgot to pack it away! No kidding! It is still at the lake, shivering in the cold and planning its revenge as I write!

Everyone eventually arrived, some of them uncharacteristically late. Others very characteristically late, a few even surprised me that they made it at all! Once gathered, I droned on about match rules and safety issues. All the boring stuff that keeps it fair and prevents people from dying!

Pegs drawn, I set the juniors free on the lake like a pack of rabid penguins at mackerel convention.

This is how the Penguins were drawn.

Peg 1: Carter Lynock (Foghorn) Peg 3: Josiah Wells-Parkes (His Lordship) Peg 5: Faith Stone (Jibber Jabber) Peg 6: Oliver Smith (Aquaboy) Peg 7: Austin Scott-Kennedy (Camouflage) Peg 10: Leo Bates (As yet un-nicknamed)

Your coaches for today were Vanellope von Schweetz – Graham Howard Wreck-it Ralph – Jerry Bracey Fix-it Felix Jr – Tim Broughton King Candy - Tom Foyle

Now, I droned on about DIY, allergies and, Trudie’s lungs for good reason. After only an hour the Bat Signal went up, I donned some bad fitting spandex, and raced home. Obviously, I missed most of the match and all manner of things could have occurred without my knowledge. They could have had a wild party for all I knew. It was either the paint fumes, the change in the weather, the tree spores, or a mixture of all three. Trudie was struggling. M’Lady said that my presence was soothing to her. I looked at pitifully wondering how she became so easily pleased… Her breathing had stabilized and so I was able to return to the lake for the last hour of fishing.

Upon my return I noticed a distinct absence of any wild parties and, indeed, fish. In fact, it was as if they had hit the pause button by accident!

Carter was trying to catch small silverfish with a heavily tangled pole rig. Leo was in the arctic peg with Jerry, five degrees colder than those on the far side. Jo had caught one Carp which had been weighed, recorded, and returned. Ollie and Faith were still yet to catch anything. Austin had caught a few silverfish. The lake was not playing the game.

One thing I had noticed from the start was a distinct lack of bait. Maggots to be precise. The gland of irritability started to pulsate. I had scurried around the lake at the start thinking that I could scrounge a few wrigglers for Carter. Becky had made a very late decision to attend and did not get the chance to get some.

Out of SIX juniors, ONE had turned up with any maggots at all. Rather than writing a pre report, I may as well have screamed at a block of cheese in a full moon… Austin became the generous donor of a few maggots to three out of the four juniors that caught anything at all. There is a moral to this story, but I can’t quite put my finger on it… Wait…. ALWAYS BRING MAGGOTS TO A MATCH! Particularly when an experienced angler advises you to do so. Particularly went it’s getting colder. Particularly when someone has practiced and mentioned through, oh I don’t know, something like a blog post that it might be advantageous to have some with you. I wouldn’t dream of writing ‘I told you so’, but….

I think that’s enough about maggots. I need to take into consideration the feelings of those who didn’t manage to catch anything. I will be gentile with you. I would hate to caster shadow over the day.

Shockingly, Josiah managed to mouth hook a mud pig of 7lbs 5ozs. There were no chips with this Cod because he didn’t have any maggots either (Oh, Stop it!)…But it was enough to secure the win, The £15 voucher for Alan’s Angling (Where all insults are free, and they sell lots of maggots).

Second place went to old noisy boots, Carter. He used maggots to catch 2lb 6ozs worth of maggot caught silvers. He also narrowly missed out on a HUGE Perch that decided that it’s new lip piercing was unwanted, and a Carp that he can blame a tubby, bespectacled coach for losing for him on the whip. Guess what the bait was? No picture for Carter because, quite frankly, he didn't want to...

Third place was snatched by old ‘where did he go’ Camouflage. Austin wrestled 1lb 15ozs of maggot caught Roach and Perch that really love to eat maggots.

Leo Bates deserves a mention for his first match result and fourth place with a hard earn 1lb of maggot loving silverfish.

So, what have we learned? Well, Silverfish like maggots. Carp also like maggots. Carp don’t always feed well when the night before has been cold. Carp are not the only fish to catch. You can do really well without relying on Carp. There is life outside of the Method Feeder. Finally, always and I mean always, listen to the coaches… Old and crusty they may be, but they know their stuff. Just occasionally it might be worthwhile listening, or in this case, reading what they have to say. Afterall, if we coach you wrongly, we get it in the neck. How does it feel now, huh???

Of course, 83.5% of the above is jest. Everyone did their best with what they had, and you can’t ask much more than that.

With just one more points match left, the championship could be going to one of SEVEN juniors! Here are all those that have a mathematical chance of being crowned the 2022 Junior champion…

Faith Stone 59 pts Jack Copp 58 pts Oliver Smith 57 pts Josiah Wells-Parkes 57 pts Austin Scott-Kennedy 52 pts Jake Taylor 40 pts Carter Lynock 37 pts

A set of golf clubs will be waiting for anyone that blanks at the last round at Whitemoor on the 5th of November.

Our next event is on the 22nd of October at Sharnhill Lake for a Coaching session. The subject of the tutorials will on how to buy, keep, and bring maggots to a fishing match. Also, on how to read a blog post. If you didn’t read the others, I doubt you are reading this one either. Anyone seen my block of cheese? I’m kidding!!! It will probably be on how to make a pole rig. So, bring a flask and a good book….

The Christmas Match is getting ever closer and, if you haven’t done so already, you need to download the free App SPOND to book in.

Thank you to my intrepid team of learned coaches, Jerry, Tim and an occasional Tom.

Thank you to all the juniors and parents that came today, particularly those that gave me the opportunity to write ‘Maggots’ so many, many times… Juniors Sec…

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