My name is Billy Pitman and I’m 13 years old and I would like to share my story of my fishing experiences over the last seven years.
I started fishing at the age of six with my dad. My first venue I visited was Evesham Jubilee pool armed with my Shakespeare rod. The first time I fished a real match was at Evesham Jubilee. I weighed in 2lb 7oz fishing with my pole, which was an Avanti Hyperactive 11m.
My next couple of matches I watched, listened and then went away and practiced different techniques to help me understand how to catch, what bait to use in different water temperatures and how to feed. This inspired me to go to watch the Evesham August Bank Holiday three-day festival held on the River Avon. These three days really inspired me to start competitive fishing.
Through my learning so far, I’ve been lucky to have been mentored by skilled anglers. They have taught me about lines, hooks, elastics and floats just how important each one is in different waters and weathers. The old advice of the likes of Ivan Marks about balanced tackle and small hooks is as true today as it was when my dad was just a kid.
In the first four years that I’ve been a member of Evesham Jubilee AC, I have managed to win many matches against men and ladies, often with good weights. I’ve won quite a few trophies and medals too. I just keep trying all the things I have been told by the professional anglers and those anglers that fish as a hobby and trying new things to catch more fish and win more matches.
I kept on going to matches and achieving some respectable results I got recognised by Maver. They offered me a year’s sponsorship with them. They kitted me up with all the tackle I would need to become even more competitive. They gave me a net bag, pole bag, bait from Bait-tech and many more things. I decided I needed a new pole too, so I saved up all my money and got a Maver Darkside 3, a 16m long pole I knew that they would help me progress even more in my fishing.
As I competed in more and more matches, I found out about the Canal & River Trust junior championships. I was very interested, so I went onto their website. I found out loads about the event such as the rules and the baits that I could and couldn’t use. I spoke to a few people about it. They reckoned that I should enter because it would begin to give me an understanding about canal fishing. A few different people told me that if I could learn to catch fish on the canal, I would catch them anywhere.
For the last three years I have fished in the Canal & River Trust junior championships and I have really enjoyed it. I hope to win it sooner or later, maybe this year on the Shropshire Union Canal with a bit of luck. The Trust website is good. I try and read all the blogs from anglers who fish mathces and what they caught from their favourite pegs. The stewards and match organisers patrol the towpath all day. You can pretty much ask them anything about fishing and they would give you an answer. I still have more to learn about canal fishing for sure, but that will have to wait.
I have fished all over the country from Redditch to Cornwall. Here is a list of places I’ve travelled and enjoyed being in matches and practice days:
Last year, I decided to fish the England Talent Pathway. I thought it would be a good way to help me get even better at fishing. The England Talent Pathway teaches you all about the lines, rigs, mixing groundbait, elastics and balling groundbait accurately at 13m. (the maximum length of pole allowed in international events). People who have never been fishing would be amazed that there is so much to learn. I competed in the first three rounds: the fourth one being the regional. They picked the 15s England Team but alas my name wasn’t on the team sheet; but I wasn’t to upset as knew I would get another chance.
This year I attended the Talent pathway again. I think I performed a whole lot better. Many of the things that the coaches taught me last year I managed to put into practice this time around. With nervous excitement, I went on to the regionals and worked very hard to show exactly what I can do and put all that I’ve learnt into practice. When it came down to the announcement of the team I was so nervous as I was really hopefully but of course not sure of selection. When I found out I had been picked in the squad of five, I was so happy.
I am looking to fundraise to get the U15s Team to Italy where this year’s junior world championships are being held. So I am asking for kind donations of 10p or hopefully more from all my followers for such an amazing cause. Check out my Facebook page (Billy Pitman) for more details.
Thank you for reading my story and I hope this article inspires young people out there to start or keep on fishing. There may be a canal or pool near your house and if you stick at your fishing, good opportunities await those who listen, observe, read, practice and actively participate with their local clubs.
The team undertake a diverse range of work including looking after the Trust's £40 million worth of fish stocks, managing agreements with over 250 different angling clubs and helping more people, especially youngsters, take up angling on the canal. Follow this blog to keep updated with the thoughts and work of the team.See more blogs from this author