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Cool hand Luke: My fishing story

My name is Luke Daysh, and I’m 16 years old. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 15. Fishing has helped me enormously. It is an activity that I would strongly encourage any young person to try out, boy or girl, whether you happen to be autistic or not.

The story of Luke Daysh

In the beginning

I have been fishing since the age of six. I started out fishing with my dad and sister in the school summer holidays. I can vividly remember visiting our local River Tone and the Bridgewater & Taunton canal armed with a 4-metre elasticated whip and the various other fishing essentials that make up a basic starter kit. I was always super excited to see what fish we might catch.

The first fish I ever caught was a roach quickly followed by a very slippery eel. I did not know back then that the wriggly beast had travelled 3000 miles just to reach Somerset. Maybe they have a taste for cider?

Six year old Luke

Developing my skills

Over the next few years, I continued to fish with my dad most weekends, pretty much regardless of the weather conditions. We would visit various sections of our local canal and river. I continued to mostly fish with my elasticated whip and then progressed to a rod and reel. I was amazed how quickly I was able to build upon my angling skills and experience.

People who have never tried fishing probably think it's boring, and you just sit there, trying to avoid falling asleep. In fact, for me, it's the exact opposite. You are focusing on tactics and thinking about what to do next, and have little time to think about other stuff.

Luke following his fathers footsteps

Variety is the spice of life

I really enjoy fishing on the canal due to the wide variety of species of fish we can catch there. I've been skilled enough to have caught, chub, roach, rudd, eel, perch, bream, tench, carp and even the odd predatory pike. Two years ago I joined the Taunton Angling Association's (LINK) junior match club.

Participating in these local matches gave me the opportunity to fish with other juniors and further develop my angling abilities in a fun, unpressured environment. The junior club allowed me to unlock my potential and I quickly adapted my angling ability to fish completely independently using rod and line, pole and whip.

Tench on the pole

It's been brilliant for me to have been able to participate in these matches and catch so many fish, including a specimen or two. One of the prettiest looking fish for me is the tench with its green body and red eyes. I was particularly pleased last summer to hook into a massive tench on the pole, which I landed. It was what you call an elastic stretcher, but the elastic did its job. That tench weighed in at well over 5lbs, a specimen for a canal.

During the 2022/23 season I was able to fine tune my skills which led me, last September, to having the opportunity to participate in the Canal & River Trust National Celebration of Young People and Fishing which is attended by over 300 cadets, juniors, and youth from the ages of 7 up to 20 from right across the country. I think it is the biggest fishing event of its type in the country for young people, so being part of that is a special experience.

A cracking tench!

Shropshire Union bound

I knew that my previous years of angling experience would help me with this event, but I also bolstered my knowledge of the venue and how to fish it by watching the very informative Canal & River Trust tutorial YouTube videos and reading the hints and tips information on their website. I now felt as prepared as I could be and ready to fish.

It certainly was a long journey and needed an early start to reach the venue, but the journey north up the M5 gave me a little more time to think about the specifics around how I needed to fish at the venue. As I took note of the tutorials, I had prepared various rigs and took enough tackle to make sure I was able to fish a variety of methods and use different tactics depending on the weather and water conditions.

Celebration unfolds

We arrived in plenty of time, and you could feel the general anticipation of the occasion. As we made our way to the peg near bridge 48, it was great to stop and have a brief chat to some of the other like-minded junior anglers, who all shared my excitement and were dead keen to start fishing. I quickly set myself up on the peg I had drawn and managed to scoff a sandwich before the start of the match.

As the all-in sounded, I started fishing with a single pinkie (as bait using the whip and then moved onto a smaller hook and used squatts to catch several silver fish including a Fjuka mug earning gudgeon. It hardly seemed as though the match had started before it ended. I managed to catch several silver fish, so I was really pleased with my efforts fishing a different water to my normal venue. I think having had that first experience of the ‘Shroppie', I could do even better next time.

Future fishing ambitions

As the new Taunton Angling Association junior season is about to commence, I will be able to take my experiences and learning from the National Commonwealth Communities Celebration and put this into practice.

I will also share my knowledge with other juniors within the club, so they are ready and prepared to participate in this year's National Celebration event. The most important thing of all about fishing is the enjoyment and relaxation it provides, and I think I will keep on fishing for the rest of my life if I can.

Angling star in the making

Last Edited: 06 March 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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