Our coaching year: Dennis Hunt, Luton Angling Club
The Grand Union Canal Three Locks, Stoke Hammond was the venue for our last scheduled Canal & River Trust ‘Lets Fish’ event this year, held on 7 October.
Let's Fish! was a resounding success with over 40 people of all ages either returning having been to a previous event or coming to try fishing with us on the Grand Union Canal for the very first time.
Life's better by water
Fortunately, we had super weather all day. All who attended really enjoyed the experience in the sunshine, commenting how peaceful it was just to be sat by the water. Many attendees had never experienced the canalside environment before and found the general atmosphere with the passing boats, tweeting birds and gently rustling leaves on the trees extremely relaxing. Several new club memberships were sold and nearly everyone who came caught fish with perch, bream and roach showing well.
It's amazing how far people travel to come to our events.
The furthest last week were a family who travelled from Sutton, south London, so our reputation is spreading fast! It's perhaps unlikely they will ever join our club but more important than that, there is a good chance they will take up fishing somewhere or other. Even if they don't, they have now been introduced to the wonder of canals. On the lighter side, one of our senior coaches lost a vital piece of equipment as he dropped his coaching whistle in the road getting out of his van, which was promptly run over by a passing car.
Luton's Let's Fish Campaign
During 2018, the club have run six events for the Canal & River Trust using three locations, and over 200 people have tried fishing with us. We also ran a special event for a cub pack, which all who came enjoyed and the leaders thought went very well. We're always happy to do these special events given enough notice to organise the coaches and venues.
If you have a group that would like to give fishing a go, please contact us; we will see what we can do. Our coaches also supported Trust events at Foxton (in the snow as part of the Trust's winter open day programme) Middleport, Tring, St Neots and Fobney Island near Reading, adding considerably to the total numbers introduced to fishing. It was pleasing to hear that the latter two clubs have nominated some enthusiastic people for their coaching training this coming winter.
Improving our skills
‘You never stop learning', someone once said and when it comes to coaching, that's very true. Along with 40 or so other coaches, we attended the Trust's CPD day at Hatton. It was an enthralling day, full of energy and we covered some interesting stuff delivered by the likes of Simon Mottram, Ed Price, Peter Henery and Tony Campbell. Even the Trust's chief executive, Richard Parry, turned out.
If you have never attended one of these workshops, I would thoroughly recommend it. In June, I was one of four coaches to undergo mottification on our section of canal at Three locks. We all picked up several useful tips, among other things to help us keep the bites coming for longer, how to improve our bait presentation and why it's imperative not treat a coaching day like you would a pleasure or match fishing session.
Next year we hope to be running more local events using additional canal venues and a newly acquired parking facility to deliver this. We've several coaches taking training courses funded by Sport England and the Angling Trust through the winter, so watch out for next year's program announcement.
Our aim is also to provide an enhanced offer for our own Kingfisher (junior) members with coaching pathways and well as some friendly competitions. I am coming around to the view that generally kids do quite like competition, especially against fellow siblings. It was great to learn that around 80 youngsters took part in the Angling Direct junior canal championships on the Shropshire Union.
Next year the club will hopefully be in a position whereby quite a few junior anglers will be lining the bank representing the club. I should also be fishing the Division Two National representing the Canal & River Trust coaching team, assuming I get selected. On top of that, the club hosting a heat of the Dynamite Baits Canal Pairs championships on 30 June 2019.
Support from far and wide
A big thank you is due to all who have supported us this year in one form or another. Special mention is due Browns Angling in Leighton Buzzard for their extremely generous bait sponsorship. Amer Jawad of Rive UK turned out twice to help with coaching. He kindly donated the material needed to elasticate our whips, another useful tip from Motty which helps eliminate the problem of inexperienced youngsters trying to swing sizeable fish straight in.
We also need to thank all our own club members, wives and friends who have helped with the booking in and all general administration tasks that need to be done to make the events run smoothly. There is certainly more to running the booking in desk that meets the eye, it needs a dedicated and methodical person.
Without all this help we would not have been able to make this year a success. There are too many of you to individually name, but I'm sure you know who you are. We should also thank the ‘guest' coaches from Milton Keynes, Tring and further afield who have assisted us this year. Without their generous help and working in partnership with these clubs and individuals we could not have delivered the results, so a big thank you everyone.