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Jacob Sayer’s first Let’s Fish! year

At the beginning of 2022, my parents asked me if there was anything that I would like to do, and I said that I would like to try fishing. They looked up fishing events to try out fishing, and luckily found Let’s Fish!

Jacob Sayer at the National Celebration

First time fishing

My first Let's Fish! event was on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, which I really enjoyed. Not only did I catch some fish, but I found it interesting and relaxing. As a novice fisher from mid-Wales with no family experience of fishing, I was fortunate enough to be selected by the Canal & River Trust to be given fishing equipment to help start me off. The money to buy the tackle had been kindly donated by a Welsh based charitable organisation to help children like me get started. This kit included a keepnet, a 6m take part Maver pole, a landing net and handle, plus other essential bits and pieces like bait tubs, a plummet which I soon learnt was to help find the correct depth, and a disgorger to help with unhooking fish.

Regional Commonwealth Communities Celebration

In August, I went up to Wolverhampton to collect this and take part in my first mini competition, which was part of the Commonwealth Games series of events for young kids like me. With some help from the Let's Fish! coaching team with setting up, and help with improving my fish unhooking skills, I came in third place in the cadets having caught 690g of fish. Whilst up in the area, we picked up some more bits that the Let's Fish! team recommended would help with the fishing going forward.

Pontypool front row

In early September, I took part in the Let's Fish! competition on the Monmouth & Brecon Canal a few miles north of Pontypool. This was my second mini competition, and I was really excited to take part. Again, the Let's Fish! team were incredibly supportive and able to give input regarding the ground bait, and where large fish tend to be.

Whilst I didn't catch quite as many fish this time, it was quite a slow day for most participants, I came second in the cadets! (but there were only two of us, so it isn't as impressive as it sounds). Other kids that took part that day included Jacob Bath, Ollie Paterson, Ben Brookes, and Charlie Izaak.

Person holds a fishing rod in the canal

National Celebration Day

The latter part of September saw me taking part in the cadets' section at the National Celebration of young people and fishing in Staffordshire. This was so incredibly exciting, and there were over 80 kids between 7 and 10 years old taking part from all over England & Wales. They had it where if you caught a gudgeon, you won a Fjuka mug, and if you caught a roach, you got a Let's Fish! cap – I caught both types!

Whilst I was able to land quite several small fish, I was gutted that a massive fish that I hooked got away before I was able to land him, but I plan to come back and get him next time! My final weight was 280g and our team of Welsh Dragons (Travis Couch, Dylan Dowman plus me) were 19th out of the 29 teams.

Jacob with supportive family

National Commonwealth Communities Celebration

In October, I was lucky enough to be part of the Welsh cadet team in the Commonwealth fishing event on the Shropshire Union Canal near Market Drayton. Again, the team was made up of Dylan, Travis and me and our pegs were all near bridge 51, known as quite a good area to catch fish. I felt enormously proud to carry the Welsh flag in the opening ceremony. We met up with Rob Skellett and Ryan Couch who had brought bait, our brand-new team clothing, and they gave us a bit of a pep talk.

It had rained for much of the week, and so I half expected to get soaked, but amazingly the day turned out to be warm and sunny. We fished from 12 noon to 2.30pm. This time around I caught 350g with Dylan catching 590g and Travis doing brilliantly with 1kg 650 which was the heaviest catch out of all the 51 cadets.

The village hall was packed, and we had to wait a good while for the results to be announced. There was a table full of trophies, including for the top five teams. I somehow hoped that Wales might end up in the top five out of the seventeen teams. When it was announced that the Welsh team had won the cadets section, a big cheer went up. I felt incredibly happy and was very pleased indeed with my new trophy, plus a rare Welsh language gudgeon mug!

Below is a picture of me with my “catch” on the day and with my teammates.

Jacob with his catch

A year of learning

This year has seen me learn a great deal about the basics of fishing. I've learnt how to put bait on the hook, know when I have a bite, and can strike, land, and unhook fish on my own. I am looking forward to using these basics and getting more input, so that I'm able to catch bigger fish in future as well as an increased number of small and medium-sized ones, which all add up to a bigger overall catch.

I'm keen to continuing with fishing, learning how to fish well, and catch bigger fish, by learning about the different baits, and skills needed to hook and land the bigger fish. I am looking forward to taking part in future fishing events, hopefully representing Wales again and with a bit of luck to win some more trophies over the coming years.

I would love to be able to sit with experienced anglers to learn more and improve my skills. Whilst my parents are incredibly supportive of me fishing, they too are also learning with me at the same time.

Jacob with his team. Team Wales!

Last Edited: 01 December 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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