This article is brought to you, courtesy of a grateful young Mum, Carly Allcott, who thankfully discovered the Let’s Fish programme for the first time in 2022.
Back in July at the start of the summer holidays, I had to explain to my two boys Frankie and Alfie that we couldn't afford to go away again this year. It's never a nice thing to have to do, but given the economic realities, there will be hundreds of thousands if not millions of families in the same boat. We still wanted to make the summer holidays as memorable as possible, so I asked the boys what they wanted to do.
Without very much hesitation, they both chose to fish as something they had longed to do. If the truth be told, I could have broken down and cried my heart out. How was I supposed to take them fishing when neither me nor anyone I knew had the first clue about it. I just didn't know where to even begin.
Then in one of those strange coincidences, an advert appeared on my phone advertising a free to attend Let's Fish! session. Fortunately, it was to be held at a canal not far away from us at a location called Ackers. It was with some trepidation that an anxious Mum (me) and two very enthusiastic young boys turned up on that first sunny morning.
We were greeted by a friendly fellow on the welcome desk, who turned out to be Paul Warwick. The other two coaches were Alan and Steve, and the two boys were placed with them. Within five minutes I heard excited screams of ‘got one Mum' then another, then another. I have to confess that part of me had secretly hoped they would not find fishing enjoyable, and that this fishing trip would be our first and last, but enjoy it they most certainly did. I wasn't going to be able to escape my fishing nightmare that easily.
As the session progressed, they both desperately wanted to catch more fish than the other as they matched each other fish for fish, showing considerable focus and determination. Luckily there were a couple of spare slots in the afternoon and having discussed options with Paul, we dashed off to the nearest Angling Direct to purchase some basic starter kits. Paul kindly agreed that he would tweak them that very afternoon, so they were fully fit for purpose, and the lads grabbed another hour's one to one coaching each for good measure.
Soon thereafter, Frankie decided that for his birthday he would like to participate in the National Celebration of Young People and Fishing. Both boys were duly entered the junior section on the Sunday, even though technically Alfie could have participated in the cadet (7 to 10 years).
Paul explained that the event was like the London marathon, there were a few elite kids with masses of equipment, but that most kids were like us and went along to do their best and enjoy the occasion to the full. In the lead up to that big day, the boys attended as many Let's Fish! events as we could, around ten in total, improving skills steadily as they did so. Come the big day, I was confident they could fish unaided, for relying on me for support was not likely to be productive!
Catch of the Month
Towards the end of the month, Frankie even entered a photo in the Catch of the Month competition. You could have blown me down with a feather when I found out we had won junior fish of the month for August. What a way to end the summer holidays.
National celebration weekend
The boys could hardly sleep for excitement as the morning of the National Celebration dawned and they 180 young people lined the banks of the picturesque Shropshire Union Canal. Luckily, it can be arranged that siblings be allowed to fish at adjacent spots to each other, which make logistics much more straightforward for us anxious parents.
The whistle went, and sibling battle commenced, with Frankie on peg 130 and Alfie on peg 131. Winning the celebration didn't remotely matter, but finishing in a higher position than sibling brother most certainly did. It was neck and neck but at the weigh in, it was Alfie who took the honours with 560g verses 460g from Frankie, placing them 91st and 108th respectively.
Back at the village hall and there was an impressive array of prizes for all participants. Thinking about it, the day hadn't really cost us anything, for both received a £10 voucher, gudgeon mugs, a cap for landing a roach, a bag of Sonubaits groundbait and a pack of 10 size 20 hooks to nylon, getting on for 60 quid's worth of stuff in total I reckon. It was of course Frankie's birthday and when he was called up to receive his medal, John Ellis asked the audience to sing happy birthday. It is fair to say Frankie was delighted, although perhaps a little embarrassed in equal measure.
Commonwealth games call up
A fortnight later an email arrived informing us that Alfie had been selected for the Commonwealth Select Blue cadet team at the Commonwealth Games. In what other sport could you go from an absolute beginner to participating in something so prestigious in less than three months? Unfortunately, Frankie had not quite impressed the selectors enough to make the top 51 in the young junior section, but as his name was on the reserve list there was still a glimmer of hope.
I really didn't want him to miss out, so I said my prayers, which were answered just a few days before the event. When a spare slot became available, Frankie grabbed it with both hands. It was another fantastic occasion with a brilliant atmosphere. Alfie was top scorer with 620g with his team placed 16th. Frankie weighed 490g with the Let's Fish! Select Orange team ending up in 7th spot.
Thank you, Let's Fish!
I wrote this article to let people out there know that Let's Fish! sessions are so important. I will be forever grateful and just wanted everyone to know how much of a difference Let's Fish! has made to me and my children this summer! We had our last session of the year in October and it was quite emotional to say goodbye to Peter, Paul, Neil, and Kim Atkinson. I would also have to give a special mention to Steve Broome. Steve is convinced that Frankie will end up a better angler than Alfie, whereas John Ellis firmly takes the opposite view. It will be interesting to see who turns out to be right, or will they end up like Broomy's team-mates, Neil, and Paul Turner who are just as good as each other, or so they tell me. We shall see.
Last Edited: 29 November 2022
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