We have heard it said you must have been fishing dozens or hundreds of times to contemplate participating in the National Celebration of Young People and Fishing. If that’s true (and in reality, it’s a myth), young Ewan forgot to read the textbook, for he chose to participate in the 2022 event after less than a week’s experience in the sport. This is his story, brought to you by his grateful Mum, Jill.
Mr Bagley's call to action
Never did I imagine I'd be here as a ‘fishing Mom' writing to tell you about my son's fishing journey so far! Ewan is very sensitive to smells, textures and loves everything to be clean so you can imagine my surprise when he came home from school excitedly clutching a letter about taking part in a “Let's Fish!' session that his head teacher Mr Bagley had arranged for some of the students! Ewan was adamant that he wanted to take part. He'd also been told about the Let's Fish! National Celebration coming in the following weekend and he had his heart set on being a part of that big day.
On Monday 12 September 2022, Mr Bagley arranged for Ewan and some other pupils and family members to spend time on the Shropshire Union Canal at Church Eaton. The Let's Fish! coaches taught the basics of coarse fishing in preparation for the National Celebration the following Saturday. Ewan loved this session and fully embraced the whole experience, mixing groundbait, holding a maggot for the first time, hooking a maggot and holding a fish – to say we were proud would be a massive understatement. Ewan took some coaxing to first hold a maggot but as soon as he realised that there was nothing to be scared of, there was no stopping him!
Celebration day arrives
After the success of his first session, Ewan was more excited than ever for his first competitive experience at the National Celebration. Bright and early on Saturday 17 September 2022 we packed up the car and set off for the Shropshire Union Canal, this time the location was High Offley in Staffordshire. When we arrived, we were so impressed with how well organised the event was. From first pulling on to our designated parking area the stewards and coaches were there to greet us and direct us to our peg ready to set up.
As we got closer to the competition start time, Simon, one of the small army of coaches, came to help us set up and check that all was in order. His advice and support proved invaluable. He was able to put Ewan at ease who at this point was bubbling over with excitement at being able to fish again! We didn't know then that Motty is a three times canal pairs champion and knows his onions when it comes to fishing. There's a useful video that he has made featuring all you need to know to catch fish on the three metre line, a must watch for keen Mum's!
As the horn sounded, the competition began and within a few short minutes, the float disappeared. A gentle strike and Ewan had caught his first fish. That was a relief and not long afterwards, both gudgeon and roach were landed meaning Ewan had won a Fjuka gudgeon mug and Let's Fish! roach cap. Across the three hour competition, Ewan caught a whopping 42 fish weighing in at 720gs! He placed 30th out of the record number of 87 cadets (aged 7 to 10) that had taken part in the celebration that day. Ewan was also part of his Pelsall school team who placed 2nd in the school's competition. He was also presented with the cadet Developing Prospect Award for impressing the coaches with his fishing skills. Having only fished for a week, he was absolutely delighted!
Commonwealth Games call up and maggoty disasters
A week later, we were very surprised to receive an email from John Ellis inviting Ewan to be part of the National Commonwealth Community Celebration to be held on the 22 October 2022, which of course, Ewan excitedly accepted. The day of the celebration quickly came around and after a small hiccup with maggots escaping their container at home (much to Ewan's amusement – but not mine!) we were off for his second competition. The coaches and the teams that run these events are so welcoming and knowledgeable they do make these events so inclusive whether like Ewan you have very little experience right through to those that are regular anglers. The competition was such an enjoyable day. Pegged near teammates Max Lee and Joseph Briggs, Ewan loved the experience and managed to land 300g of small fish on what was a chilly autumn day and was placed 32nd in the cadets' category.
Looking to the future
Ewan has taken a break from fishing over the winter, but has been busy researching fishing techniques and is raring to get back out fishing again soon once the spring weather eventually arrives. He is already looking forward to the various 2023 events.
Also, a massive thank you to John, Simon and all the Let's Fish! team for the hard work and dedication that they all put into the Let's Fish! coaching events and running the celebration events. They are all so inspirational to all of the young budding anglers out there. I would encourage any parent to take their children along to one of the Let's Fish! introductory days and give it a go.
Last Edited: 31 March 2023
Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration