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My Let’s Fish! coaching journey, by Helen Mason

Every journey has a beginning, and that is very much where I am. Although fishing has been a part of my life since a young age, perhaps more years to go back on than I care to remember, let’s fast-forward to 2019.

Helen Mason's Let’s Fish coaching journey

My introduction to Let's Fish!

My husband is a club bailiff for Prince Albert Angling Society. He was visiting the Montgomery Canal as there was a Let's Fish! introductory event taking place. I tagged along and met the coaches, including the lead level 2 Peter Henery who was in overall charge of the event. I asked if I could join him on the welcome desk whilst I waited for my husband. Within five minutes, I just knew that I wanted to be part of the Let's Fish! family.

Helen coaching Let's Fish! pupil

I spent the entire day at the desk and loved every moment of welcoming everyone, signing them in and allocating them their coaches for their session. To this day, I smile when I think back to the faces of the children and their families/ carers as they came back to the desk to collect their Let's Fish! certificates, all excitedly sharing their learning and tales of the fish landed.

Please, Mr Henery

I badgered Peter to let me help out on future Let's Fish! events at two local venues, the Montgomery Canal and the Shropshire Union at Nantwich. This was with the view to becoming a volunteer. Due to COVID 19 and dealing with an ongoing shoulder injury this didn't happen. With things finally getting back to normal, Peter contacted my husband in early 2022 to discuss coaching opportunities, and I knew this was my chance to put my name forward. Peter would have been a brave or foolish fellow to have turned me down.

Female role models

One of the things I've noted over the years whilst fishing has been meeting very few female fishers. It always seemed to be about dads, brothers, uncles, sons and in my case, my husband. My day job involves working with teenagers (all girls) and we are continually referring to positive role models in their fields of vision for either work or hobbies. So I want to be sure to be their positive role model in something I know they will enjoy, i.e. being able to sit by the water's edge, switching their brains off from life's troubles and stresses and allowing them to be ‘in the moment'.

Watching them catch and learn will be just the most rewarding feeling ever, and being a qualified Let's Fish! coach will allow me to do just that.

An unlikely coach

The Let's Fish! coaching programme follows a logical structure and is based on various principles which could be applicable to sport more generally. Participants are first introduced to fishing using short take apart poles. These are really nothing more than an advanced version of the garden cane and piece of string. I never imagined myself becoming a coach, as my knowledge of pole fishing was zero. How could I possibly become a coach in a field I knew nothing about?

The turning point for me was seeing first-hand the benefit of fishing. I met children coming to the events having never fished before and are now part of clubs and in one case now a coach themselves. I released that they couldn't possibly have known how to pole fish when they first visited, so it was me who was holding myself back. Furthermore, I told myself that I'm about girl power, that I wanted to coach on the canal banks and be that female role model for aspiring young fishers.

Helen coaching at Let's Fish! event

Indoor mottification

In early 2022, Peter invited me to attend a coaching meeting via Zoom. The following week attended the indoor mottification day held at Anderton boat lift along with 30 others. It was an amazing day. I met some wonderful people. Some had lots of knowledge about fishing and coaching, whilst others like me were at the start of their journey.

Encouragingly, there were three other female attendees, Jodie Deacon, Kim Atkinson and Andreas's mum. The indoor mottification days teach you practical tips on how to use your equipment, changing the elastic in the pole tops, how to prepare and use groundbait, and making up rigs which I've learnt is best not undertaken with false nails (thanks for that tip Simon!).

I must confess that I struggled with making a loop but having watched Simon in action have since bought myself a loop tying gadget and im now able to make them perfectly each time. This gadget has also come in handy for bracelet making.

Keep it as simple as possible

John Ellis also spoke about the lessons that the Let's Fish! family had learnt and how coaching had evolved since 2017. The top tip I learnt is not to overcomplicate things and although it's great to have everything you need equipment wise as a coach; we also need to remember who our target audience are. We must never forget that just two or three fish at that all first introductory session will be a memorable start to most fishing careers. I look forward to the day when I have to actually try and slow down the catch rate early in the day to increase the prospects of the participants later in the day.

Bryn Lamb

I also have much to thank Bryn Lamb for. Bryn is a level 2 coach doing lots of good work with the Telford club alongside the likes of Jon Portman. He has invested a lot of his own time in getting me set up and prepared, so I can get to the water and practice (forever in your debt Bryn) this was my first day at on the Montgomery Canal and was my opportunity to play with my equipment, felt a bit messy with poles here and there but over four hours I managed to settle into it and even managed a bit of multitasking; changing rigs, avoiding boats, talking to passer-by and listening to advice on how to plummet, whilst telling people what I was fishing for.

Last Edited: 28 June 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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