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Haden’s fishing journey

When I was three, I went fishing for the first time in Turkey with my dad. My first ever fish was a mullet. Eight years on and I like all types of fishing, including sea fishing, coarse fishing, game fishing, and match fishing. The competition side appeals to me the most because I like the competitive spirit, atmosphere, and camaraderie of the whole occasion.

Haden's fishing journey

My first time match fishing

I started match fishing when I joined Prince Albert Angling Society Juniors back in the summer of 2020. I will never forget the day I turned up late for my first PAAS training session. As I arrived, Let's Fish coach Peter Fieldhouse met us on the towpath and boomed out “YOU'RE LATE!” as only Peter can.

He certainly made an early impression on me, ensuring I was never late for a training session or a competition again. That day was also the day I first learned how to use a pole properly and feed.

National Celebration debut

It wasn't long before I fished my first National Celebration in 2020 as a cadet. I also fished in the 2021 cadet National Celebration weighing in 830g and coming 28th position, our Prince Albert team (Noel Owen, Connor Farrow and I) coming forth overall.

Soon after, I was invited to represent the Let's Fish! starlets cadets were alongside my teammates Dylan Egan, Wybunbury based match winner Zach Enderby and Luca Candlin won the team event with a combined score of 26, putting us four points clear of the Let's Fish! Gold team (Alfie Portman, Noel Owen, Lewis Mayne and Harley Fenton).

It was on that day I was approached by Bryn Lamb saying that he wanted me to fish in the Angling Trust Junior National held at Westwood Lakes in Lincolnshire. This is the reason why I also joined Telford Angling Association juniors. I would recommend any young angler to join a local proactive angling club, not only for the coaching and tips you get, but they will help supply you with all the right kit and guide you in the right direction.

My 2022 year

After participating in the Junior National in June, I started looking forward to the National Celebration. I would now be participating in the junior section for the first time (11 to 15 years) and I started to seriously practise fishing the long pole, which really paid off in the end.

First off, I fished one of the Let's Fish! Commonwealth Communities events held on the Staffs & Worcester canal at Wombourne. That was where coach Steve Broom taught me to use chopped worm on the long pole properly for the first time, and I ended up winning that event with the help of last second bream.

Haden's angling year

National Celebration of Young People and Fishing

It was nearly time for the national celebration, with 192 pegs in the drawbag and 178 kids eventually lining up in just the junior section alone. I just couldn't wait for that Sunday morning to arrive. This was what all my training and practice was leading up to.

Then, it was time. We arrived at the picturesque Shropshire Union Canal and eventually got to my peg, which was on the honesty box stretch near bridge 51. It looked good as there was a bush on the far side and a boat on my left margin.

The whistle went, and I got off to a great start, catching plenty of fish on the 3-metre line fishing over ground bait with pinkies as explained in the Simon Mottram video. This is a video every kid who is taking part should take time out to watch, for there are plenty of fish to be caught under your feet if you know how. I was relived to get a couple of gudgeons early on, so the Fjuka gudgeon mug prize was in the bag.

Ninety minutes shot by, and we were allowed to fish the long pole. I was still getting bites close in, so I stuck on the 3-metre line for a bit, but then Harley Fenton next to me caught a perch far out, I decided it was time to get out the long pole. I caught a big perch straight away, but the cast after that I had my PB perch about 2lb.

In the end, I finished 9th out of 180 people with a cracking weight of 2.920kgs. More brilliant news was to come with the team event result. Fellow Prince Albert team-mate Evan Hughes had weighed in with 2kgs 220g and Ashleigh Dale a useful 1kg 300g. That gave the Prince Albert team a total of 520 points and an incredible third placed finish.

Haden at National Celebration

National Commonwealth Communities Celebration

I was delighted to receive one of the 51 invitations to the young juniors' section of the National Commonwealth Communities Celebration. I drew peg 98 on the section of canal known as Palethorpes. I got off to a slow start, not catching anything like as many fish on the 3-metre line as I had done back in September. Just before the hour was up, I put a section of worm on the hook on the 3-metre line and snared a useful bonus skimmer. After 60 minutes, we were allowed to go on the long pole.

I went straight on to it, knowing that this was the only way I was going to have a chance of winning or at least making sure I scored reasonable points for the team. It took a while for it to get going, with 30 minutes of not catching anything of a good size. Eventually I got going, and I was hooking into lots of fish but losing them.

The hook I had on was a barbless 16, and I ended up losing about half a dozen fish of decent size, so I changed it over to a barbed 14 which worked, and I ended up catching plenty of skimmers and bream. A minute before the end, my dad said, “this will be your last cast, what are you going to put on the hook?” I said “caster to get a quicker bite” and it worked. I ended up catching a roach/bream hybrid of about 10oz landing it as the whistle blew.

Haden at Commonwealth Communities Celebration

Presentation joy

The scales arrived with Lewis Kenyon and Dave Watkins in charge. My weight was 2kgs 980 grams, that's over six pounds in old money. It was the best weight on the board up to that point, but as most of the weigh in was being undertaken by another weighing team, all I could do was keep my fingers crossed.

Then, it was time for the presentation back at Hinstock hall. Had I done it and how had the team performed? Then it was announced that in first place individually was me! It felt amazing. It was then announced that our team, the English Communities North-West, consisting of Sam Sellars, Richie Jarvis and I had finished in third spot. We were four points behind the Lottie Clarke captained English Girls Red team.

Lastly, I would just like to thank all the coaches, organisers and the Let's Fish! volunteers for making this possible and can't wait for all the next years competitions.

A Let's Fish! view of Haden's progress

We asked John Ellis to summarise Haden's progress to date and this is what he had to say. ‘It's been fascinating to see the progress the lad has made in the past two of three years. I would never have predicted a podium finish for the Prince Albert junior team at the 2022 National Celebration.

Like most things in life, Haden's meteoric improvement to date has been 1% down to natural ability and 99% to his hard work and practice. It's wonderful when that hard work and focused practice pays off, but in sport it's never guaranteed. There are just too many variables in angling. The greatest test for Haden will inevitably come when things don't go his way despite his best efforts. Sooner or later, that happens to everyone in any sport. Will these inevitable future learning experiences make Haden more determined and motivated to reach his full potential or will it weaken his resolve? I will let you know in ten years' time.

Last Edited: 28 December 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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