As the health and wellbeing benefits of fishing have become better understood, the number of young people taking up the sport appears to be on the increase. In this article Blake’s Mum, Alison reveals the progress her son has made since first trying out fishing.
Blake began fishing a couple of years ago when he was eight, after a friend suggested it might be something he would enjoy. Our friend, Kye, who is a keen angler, gave us a couple of short poles so we could take Blake and his older brother fishing. Although our eldest son Bradley had a go, it was Blake who really took to it.
After a couple of trips to the St Neots tackle shop, Laurie the owner could sense Blake was keen to get into fishing and we got him a membership ticket to fish at a lake in Little Paxton. We spent many afternoons there in the summer and he enjoyed catching plenty of surface-feeding rudd, an ideal species for beginners to catch. It was brilliant experience for him.
In 2019, Blake took part in an under 16s coaching session at Cambourne Fishing Lake and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He caught well and came home proudly showing off his certificate and trophy. His fishing intensity has steadily increased, and he's gone from initially fishing occasionally at the weekend, then to most weekends and even after school, when the evenings are lighter.
I took him to Godmanchester one afternoon, a place he enjoys catching perch. He fished until it got dark, because he was pulling out perch after perch, by throwing in a small handful of maggots and drop baiting his hook into them.
The St Neots club are active participants in the Let’s Fish! programme, running a series of introductory events each year. In autumn 2020 I saw a post on the St Neots Angling Club Facebook page advertising they were opening their match fishing up to juniors. I wondered if Blake would manage the whole five hours, but he was as keen as ever to get by the river. He fished the whole five hours, but alas, caught nothing. It was still good experience and showed his deep love for fishing. He enjoyed watching those that did catch weigh in their fish at the end. He wasn’t deterred and joined the next match and this time caught well.
Blake enjoys float fishing, lure fishing and he got a pike float for Christmas. He has caught two pike so far. The first one, he was just practicing with a lure to work on his casting technique and when he started shouting 'I’ve hooked one', my husband and I thought he was joking, until we turned round and could see his body straining to reel it in.
For pike number two, he was fishing with his 3m pole and started shouting 'I’ve got a pike', again I thought he was joking but then I saw the flash of green. I think I flapped about more than the pike. Anyway, after a few minutes of panic, the pike was released safely back into the river. Amazingly, Blake’s whip was still intact, hook included.
Blake is gradually building up his fishing tackle collection. He has a Shakespeare seat box, a 3m and 4m pole and a telescopic rod for his lure and pike fishing. The St Neots Angling Club members have been very welcoming and encouraging. He's now a member, something he is very proud of.
Blake has acquired a few bits of equipment from the club members – the most exciting thing was a catapult for the maggots. It’s nice that he feels part of the fishing community in our local town. I am desperately hoping the St Neots club can form a team of three to take part in The National Celebration of Young People and Fishing. If not, Blake will happily take part as an individual or as a member of another clubs team.
We are so thankful that fishing was able to continue during the recent lockdown, as it’s so important to Blake and has done wonders for his mental wellbeing. He is a busy boy, always on the go, so originally I didn’t think fishing would work. When he is by the river, he is calm and ultra-focused and it’s now my favourite thing to do with Blake. It’s important that Blake focuses on one thing at a time and fishing certainly helps with this skill.
The joy I get from seeing him succeed at something he is so passionate about is amazing. He is always happy to talk to people who are passing by and will often ask them if they would like to watch. Being able to interact with others is also an important life skill. I have learnt that fishing has a very calming impact on people and being outside in nature is refreshing and good for the brain. I instantly feel happy and calm by the river – maybe not when we get a tangle though! I have fond memories of fishing as a youngster with my dad and have enjoyed getting back into it alongside Blake.
Last date edited: 17 March 2021
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