Thursday, 10 October 2013

Angling coach - nurturing the future

If you've been reading my jottings for a year or so you may remember me taking my two nephews fishing, if not here's the post, Angling from the start - take kids fishing. At ten and twelve years old they've fished a few times with their dad, usually in the sea when on holiday, but on each occasion, and that includes when they came with me, they were just given the tackle ready set up. As part of my level two angling coach course I had to teach a series of four one hour sessions that were linked in topic and it seemed the perfect opportunity to try and get the lads really involved with doing things for themselves. I was under no illusion that it would be an easy task particularly as Uncle Rob tends to be one of the kids when they are around, usually resulting in me being jumped on, beaten, and generally run ragged! Trying to deliver an organised session when the participants are so familiar with you is not easy but in for a penny and all that and so we set a date.

Paul, Will and Tom's dad, was going to join us but I got him to set up a little way away from us so as to try and limit any distraction and so he got on with a bit of fishing and left us to it. You really do have to start to think about things when you get into coaching, remember that every little thing that you take for granted is brand new and a mystery to many others and work from there. First job was to assemble a rod and reel apiece and thread up the line, so far so good but young minds are always eager and they were soon asking why they couldn't start fishing straight away like they had before and that's where you really have to start to think about things. The best I could come up with was to relate what we were doing to their beloved Xbox and explain that fishing with everything done for you is a bit like starting a game at level thirty. They stood and thought on that one for a second and blow me if it didn't work, result!

Next on the agenda was a bit of casting practice, something that they had never done before, fishing had meant lowering a set of mackerel feathers from a boat or swinging a float out on a fixed line. In hindsight I should have started them off using a whip, that cuts out an awful lot of tangles, but this was a learning process for me too. Both boys picked up the general idea fairly quickly and although they were still making mistakes at the end of the day that is only to be expected and they did really well to progress as far as they did. We went on to set up a simple float rig apiece and in general ran over the basics that they would need to start with a pile of tackle and end up catching fish and of course we did some fishing too. From knowing virtually nothing when we started the lads ended up fishing for themselves, hooking bait, unhooking fish and apart from the inevitable tangles I just stood back and watched.

Tom with a whacker!

Will soon got the knack of unhooking his own fish

Ever since I first considered taking my nephews fishing I had always said that I would avoid them catching carp if possible and although there were plenty of that species making themselves known the lake was so stuffed with small silvers of various species that none were hooked on the maggot which suited me fine. The lads were quite happy pulling out small fish until another angler arrived and set up along the bank. He was soon knocking out carp after carp and I could see Tom's gaze getting diverted regularly until the inevitable question came, why can't we catch some of those Uncle Rob? Well I thought a bit of added excitement would do no harm and especially if we could actually see the fish take the bait but bait was the problem, I'd only brought maggots. I nipped back to the van and had a rummage and although I had any number of different types of pellet and a couple of bags of groundbait in the passenger side footwell there wasn't a dog biscuit to be seen. That only left me with one option if I wanted to surface fish and it meant me going hungry, my sarnies!

The response from a few bits of bread crust was almost instant and the lads were soon at my side gawping at the carpy jacuzzi a few feet in front of us. There was no way that we could use the light float rods that I had brought and the only other rod I had was my 9ft stalking rod that I had used in conjunction with a marker float for a casting target, that would have to do and a simple freeline rig was all that was needed. Well the lads took it in turns to catch a fish and then Paul muscled in for a go and we had a great time, oohing and ahhing as a fish refused the bait followed by a second or two of blind panic as one was hooked.

A few more carp came to the net but I was quite pleased to see Will slink off back to his float rod, content to keep getting a bite a cast from fish of a few inches long.

My sandwiches didn't last long and the last few bits of crust reserved for the hook (while Bourbon biscuits were fed!) finally got used up. My other half plus the lads Mum and little brother George were due to visit and so I rang through an urgent request for a loaf of bread, meanwhile it was back to the maggot rods.

George is a character to say the least, five going on fifty at times bless him. Of course within seconds of me throwing in a bit more bread the carp were back and George was pushing his way to the front of the queue, well it was only fair that he had ago wasn't it! Obviously I had to offer a helping hand, particularly as he started to get dragged towards the water's edge, but he did really well and of course he caught the biggest fish of the day and made sure that everyone knew it!

Followed shortly after by horror!

 As I drove back home I was absolutely cream crackered, it's surprising just how much work is involved in trying to keep a couple of kids fishing. It's definitely a case of get hold of some whips for next time I think as that would cut down my untangling time by a hell of a lot. But I had a great big smile on my face, what a brilliant day. In fact I would go as far as to say the best day on the bank all year and I hadn't even wet a line. I can't wait to get stuck in to some coaching proper, hard work at times but the rewards are great.

Mind the Gap!


  1. Great tale Rob, they will each remember that day for ever - but the fish will grow with time of course :o) Its a lot of effort but the satisfaction you gain is immeasurable.

    1. Very true Dave, having now learnt a bit about teaching it's also very interesting to see how different kids respond to different things and have different needs. I love it, I just wish I'd of done it years ago

  2. Since our recent chat on facebook, I could tell you had obviously enjoyed the coaching courses a lot and found it very rewarding Rob, having taken a couple of young guys with me on the river recently after promising them a barbel or two (admittedly they were more proficient than the youngsters you was with), I can understand how rewarding it can be. Nurturing future generations of youngsters in angling and doing something that you evidently enjoyed Rob, now that is something special in my opinion, well done.

    1. Cheers Mark, I reckon everyone should give a little bit back if they can, you don't have to go to the n'th degree to make a difference but we both know how much we get from our angling and wouldn't it be great to give someone else that little boost that they need to follow a similar path