One of the recurring themes of the past two or three years of the Let’s Fish programme has been the upwards march of young female anglers coming into the sport. It’s a welcome trend that seems certain to continue.
Over a quarter of Let's Fish participants are female, and around 50 girls took part in the 2022 national celebration of young people and fishing weekend. One of them was a promising youngster, Lucy Fletcher. This is Lucy's fishing story.
Introduction to fishing
My name is Lucy Fletcher, I am 11 years old. I Started fishing in 2021, I love the outdoors and I had always wanted to try fishing. My mum saw a free event at Bradshaw Hall fisheries, so I went and loved the experience. I then went on to complete the Get Fishing award, achieving, bronze, silver, and gold. This really gave me the bug for fishing, so the following year I joined my local fishing club, which is Ramsbottom Angling Association.
First competitive experience
The Rammy coaches started from scratch with me, as I had not fished all winter. I really wanted to experience the feeling of taking part a match, so my mum signed me up for one of the local Let's Fish Commonwealth Celebration events.
This was to be held on the Leigh branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in the school summer holidays. I was extremely nervous and felt I didn't really know what I was doing or what to expect. Fortunately, the Let's Fish! guys were extremely friendly and helpful. It was a sweltering day which may explain why the weights of fish caught were not as high as anticipated, but as I've learnt, it's the same for everyone.
I ended up finishing in second position in my age group, which I certainly was not expecting but which I extremely pleased about!
In preparation for this Dave Marshall and Matt Stringer, two of the amazing coaches at Ramsbottom Anglers arranged extra coaching sessions and selected me into the Rammy Hotshots team along with Blake Horton and Ethan Wexler. The draw was undertaken on Facebook Live on the Wednesday evening prior to the big day, and I drew peg 71.
The big day arrives
I remember arriving at the car park and seeing how many kids were there and all the fancy equipment that some of them had. I thought that I didn't stand much of a chance as I'm still building my kit up and had to borrow bits for the day. In the first 90 minutes, you must fish close in, which is designed to give everyone a chance, regardless of how much or how little equipment they might own.
I remember my coach Dave saying to me if I came in the top hundred, he would be incredibly happy and if I came in the top fifty, he would be over the moon. I plugged away determinedly for the four hours and came 45th out of close to 190 other participants with a weight of 1.090kg so I certainly did both him and myself proud. As a team, the Rammy Hotshots finished 18th out of 62.
Commonwealth Games selection
I was back on the Shropshire Union Canal in October 2022, where I had been invited back to be a member of one of the two English girls' young junior teams taking part in the national Commonwealth Community Celebration. I was to be part of the English Communities Team Blue.
I was absolutely honoured to be given this chance alongside teammates, Stoke on Trent's Poppy Bishop and Prince Albert's Ashleigh Dale. I drew peg 93, and I was nervous, as I didn't have anyone near me that I knew for help should I need it. On the day, I remembered everything that I had been practising, got my head down and managed to bag an impressive 1.720kg.
I was so proud of myself especially as I had done it all on my own. Individually, I ended up in 7th spot out of 51 and even better, my team came 5th which I was happy with for we all picked up a trophy.
Plans for 2023
These big canal events with their wonderful atmosphere have been my highlight of the year and I cannot wait to get back to them next year, more experienced and more prepared.
This winter, I am doing classroom sessions with my club, learning all about presentation of my rigs and preparing me for next season where I will be competing in all the Ramsbottom junior matches and as many canal-based matches as I can fit in. My favourite fish species is the tench so I hope I can land plenty more of them in 2023.
I'm extremely proud of the progress I have made in such a brief time, I never thought in my first full year I would be winning trophies, but I've got two! Being in such a supportive club is what has got me to this stage. Everybody helps each other and the coaches work so hard to give us the best training possible. I cannot wait to see what next year brings.
Advice for newcomers
My advice to anyone wanting to start fishing is, don't be put off by not having or being able to afford all the expensive gear. The fish don't know what posh seat box or brand of pole you're using. I'm learning that most of the wily fish do tend to know if your hook is a little too big for the bait you are using, or the bait itself is behaving in a funny way because it's not being presented properly.
For me though, the most important thing about fishing is all about having fun and I have loved every minute of it so far, even when I've been sat in the pouring rain catching nothing.
Last Edited: 13 December 2022
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