What’s it like to take part in a junior angling competition?
Entering your first junior competition can make you feel a bit nervous, but as Alex explains, it's well worth it. You'll become a better angler and you might make friends along the way.
I learned a lot that day and I will be back next year with much more experience. I love fishing with all I’ve got.Alex
Alex, 10, is a member of Wellingborough and District Nene Angling Club Juniors. He took part in the cadet age category of our junior, cadet and youth canal angling championships in September 2020, a national celebration of young people and fishing. To find out how Alex prepared and how he felt on the day of the competition, we asked him to keep a diary for us.
Saturday – 7 days to go
Sunday – 6 days to go
Dad woke me up at 6.30am because it’s quite a long drive to the canal. I spent all day at Foxton Locks where my club coaches Pat, Brian and Ian taught me how best to fish at the canal using pole techniques. I caught many fish today. Mostly perch, but some roach as well.
Thursday – 2 days to go
All week I’ve been watching YouTube videos to get some hints and tips from experienced fisherman on how best to fish on canals. I am getting a bit nervous, as it will be only my second time competing at national level.
Friday – 1 day to go
Big day tomorrow! I am getting all my fishing stuff out from the shed. With my dad’s help we’re making sure everything is in good order and that I’ve got everything I need for tomorrow.
Saturday – day of the competition
All of my family got up at 6am. We had a nice breakfast to fill us up and then we travelled 1.5 hours to Shropshire where the tournament was being held.
When we got there I found out that I had a nice peg (number 33) just opposite a lovely house. I felt really happy, as last year my spot wasn’t a great one. We found out that around 50 cadets were taking part in this year’s competition. There were four kids from my club.
I started getting ready for a big day. Coach Bryan was staying with me most of the time, to support me when I started getting nervous or stopped catching. My dad was helping too. It was a lovely sunny day and it’s always nicer to fish when the weather is good.
It’s not about catching, it’s about fishing.Let's Fish! coach Bryan
I caught my first fish about five minutes after I started and it was a little gudgeon. After that I was catching steadily for an hour. I had some roach, perch and more gudgeon. Also I lost five good-sized perch and that was frustrating because when you’re competing every fish counts. My coach had to remind me to keep cool. “It’s not about catching, it’s about fishing,” he said.
After a while I stopped catching so I tried different things. I changed my maggots to worms, tried to feed with ground bait, changed hook size, and fished different depths. And my hard work (and my support team’s) paid out, as just before the end I caught two good-sized perch!
Then the whistle finished the tournament and we just had to wait for the organisers to come around and weigh the fish. It was nerve-racking! Last year I only caught three little fish weighing 50 grams, so I knew I’d done much better this year. And my weight was 400 grams in total!
After some more waiting (which I didn’t really mind as I made some friends), all the kids were gathered together (but socially distanced) for the results. Our club did really well. Out of 50 kids competing that day we ranged from 19th place to 30th. I came joint 24th out of 50.
I learned a lot that day and I will be back next year with much more experience. I love fishing with all I’ve got and I like being out there, fishing, making friends and spending time with my family.
Last date edited: 10 November 2020
About this blog
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