Junior Coaching Day

Oxfordshire (RA34) delivered its first junior coaching day on Saturday 25th October 2014 and it was a hugely enjoyable and successful day.

Charlie Holyfield, a member of our region, who is also a bailiff at Horseshoe Lake, Lechlade, Gloucestershire, approached me some time ago about holding such an event there. Although the venue is owned and run by the carp society, they have mutually beneficial links with both the PAC and The Tenchfishers and having attend a couple of Mick Brown events, as well as our own regional fish-ins there, I knew it was an ideal venue, with all facilities on site and a large lake with a good head of pike in.

A date was chosen about 8 months before to allow plenty of time for all the arrangements to be made and just as importantly to advertise, as we wanted to get as many juniors as possible to attend. The date strategically being the last Saturday in October before the clocks went back.

No  RA (34) members have an angling coaching qualification yet, so contact was made with Eric Edwards who heads up the PAC development and coaching team. Following telephone conversations and email exchanges I could see the format in which the event would be delivered. I started advertising locally, firstly by sending posters to the county's tackle shops, a couple of local schools and making contact with Angus Campbell who lives nearby and who is a qualified L2 coach himself. He also runs a young anglers club. Meanwhile, Eric was busy getting a number of coaches on board who would be the main tutors for the day.

We set a target of 20 juniors between the ages of 7 to 16 and on the day we had 16 juniors aged 8 to 14, which included 4 girls which was great. During the week leading up to the event Martin Allen, one of our regional members, very kindly offered to sponsor the catering for the day, whilst Predator Angling in Kidlington supplied some deadbaits.  Our sincere thanks to both.

When I arrived on the day at the venue I was met by two of the coaches, Mick Crisp and Phil Wilkinson  and their enthusiasm was very evident. The registration table was set up whilst Miles the fishery manager set about cooking bacon rolls for everyone on arrival. Eric Edwards, Karl Devlin, Alex Fraser and Angus Campbell completed the coaching team whilst a number of RA (34) members, who had all signed disclosure forms, assisted when and where required. Quite a few of the parents stayed as expected and were made welcome as we split the juniors, roughly based on ages, into five groups named Team Minnow, Team Roach, Team Dace, Team Grayling and Team Gudgeon.

The structure of the day was then that each group would spend one hour with each of the coaches in the following activities before moving on to the next discipline:

Trace Making (in the lodge with Karl Devlin)
Lure Fishing (bank side with Eric Edwards)
Static Deadbaiting (bank side with Phil Wilkinson)
Wobbling Deadbaits (bank side with Alex Fraser and Angus Campbell)
Float Fishing (bank side with Mick Crisp)

With the juniors actually setting up rods and rigs during each hour, fishing time was limited, however it was not long before young Kai Firth brought a smile to the face of his dad Mark and his tutor Eric Edwards with a nice lure caught small jack.

Soon after and with floats cast out Mick Crisp’s group saw a double landed and this was quickly followed by a 14lb pike to Tom Bartrip on the static ledgered baits in Phil Wilkinson’s swim.

With pike on the bank the juniors were shown how to handle and unhook the pike and all were excited with the captures. Each coach had their own style of delivering, this along with the different tactics ensured that the juniors were kept interested. 

Everyone returned to the lodge for lunch, it was quite funny to see them picking their lunch bags based on their team names ahead of their actual names. Soon they were back out spending the afternoon completing all activities. We concluded the day with a group photo, closing words and giving everyone a goody bag which included a copy of Pikelines.

I think it’s fair to say that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day with the coaches and adults getting as much satisfaction as the juniors, who learnt so much and were all very well behaved. It cost one father £170 on the Monday, as he had to go and kit his son out for lure fishing and I know of others who have been out pike fishing regularly since. Point in case being Jess Styles who has since upped her PB to 11lb 1oz and is out fishing with her dad and brother most Saturdays.