It was September 2021 when we first came across the name Poppy Bishop. After booking on to the National Celebration of Young People and Fishing, her brother decided at the last meeting not to participate. Thus, it came to pass that 11-year-old Poppy stepped up as a last-minute replacement.
National Celebration 2021
Poppy was so new to fishing we even thought her name was Polly, which from the feedback received, didn't necessarily go down well! What was impressive was the weight of fish she landed, just over 3kgs, good enough for 5th placed junior and second highest placed girl behind Team Rammy's Lucia Archard.
Inevitably, as often the case in fishing, there would have been those who perhaps wondered if this was a just a one off ‘lucky' performance or whether Poppy would become a consistent performer and therefore be one to look out for in the future. So, in Poppy's own words, let's find out what's happened during 2022.
2022 started with a bang (or a splash if you prefer) and I began the year by attending several training sessions run by The Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society (SOTAS). Most sessions were held along the Trent and Mersey Canal, where I was able to practise and refine techniques, on short and long poles, as well as learn some valuable peg management skills.
Although I love every training opportunity, a real highlight was the opportunity to attend the ‘Feeder & Waggler' session that was held at Stanley Reservoir. This was the first time I had used a rod and I enjoyed the challenge. It took a few casts to adjust to the different techniques needed from the pole, but I soon got the hang of it and found a new style of fishing which I enjoyed.
As part of my ongoing training and development, I was excited to learn that I had been selected to take part in the Middy Training Academy. We spent the morning receiving some great tuition from Middy Sponsored Anglers, including Rob Wootton, David Wood, and Luke Bamford, who I would like to thank for spending time with me and teaching invaluable tips and techniques.
It was soon time to put our new skills to the test, and we took part in a three-hour match to really embed the new techniques. It certainly paid off because I came away with 35lb and an overall eighth place.
Canal North Junior Championship
The Canal North Junior Championships were looming and this was being held on the Aire & Calder Canal. I had completed some research on, what was, another new venue and discovered that the venue was a very deep water canal. With this knowledge, I reached out to Barnsley's Matt Godfrey and Lee Kerry. They both were able to offer advice and tips for the venue that I have no doubt helped to secure me my overall third place in the junior section.
Angling Trust Junior National
In addition to attending the Middy Training Academy, I was offered the chance to attend the Angling Trust Junior Nation in Lincolnshire. This was a team-based event, and I joined up with Monster Bait & Dips, now known as Angling Allstars. I won't deny that I was nervous about participating in such a big match and it was also my first venture into commercial based fishing. The home of the Fish'O'Mania final, Falcon Lake, was my home for the day and I caught steadily throughout the day.
National Celebration of Young People and Fishing
The National Celebration of Young People and Fishing was fast approaching, and I had been looking forward to this event all year. This was where I had first made my debut just 12 months prior, and I was keen to exceed the standard that I had set for myself previously.
During the match, I used every technique going. I changed up my feeding methods regularly and my hard work paid off, with my catch weighing in at 3.650kg. This meant that I had not only matched my 5th place from last year (with a higher overall attendance 178,verses 110) but I also placed top female junior, what an amazing feeling.
After the high from the national celebration, I was greeted with the news that I had been selected to captain the English Communities Girls team for the End of Year Commonwealth Communities Team event. The realisation that I was starting to be recognised for my fishing ability blew me away.
Just 12 months ago, I had been fishing my first match, and now I was being offered this fantastic opportunity. From 17 junior teams, the three performed well and did not disappoint, finishing a very respectable 5th place and another trophy for the mantelpiece.
Regional Commonwealth Games events
Throughout the year, I have been offered the opportunity to fish in a variety of different locations and braved a multitude of different weather conditions. This included taking part in a couple of the regional commonwealth matches, both on the Shropshire Union Canal and the Trent & Mersey Canal. I found these events quite challenging and in hindsight, I could perhaps have caught more, but they provided me with valuable lessons in resilience, patience and to constantly adapt and learn from my surroundings.
The year has been a constant stream of learning and challenging myself, and I hope my passion shines through. I have set myself high expectations for 2023, including applying for and hopefully gaining a place on the Angling Trust Guru sponsored Talent Pathway. Overall, I would like to continue to grow and develop my skills and inspire more young people and girls to get involved in a sport that has now become a passion and a love for me.
Last Edited: 13 December 2022
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