In the Let’s Fish! national celebration of young people and fishing, it’s possible to be a winner in so many ways. Many families tell us they enjoy the experience so much that it has inspired them to not only spend more time going fishing, but learning more about the different fish species and the wider canal environment. It brings whole families together.
Most promising angler awards
In what is a hectic day for organisers, one of the fisheries & angling team's most enjoyable jobs on the day is choosing the awards for most promising juniors and cadets. With so many potential candidates and limited time to assess their potential, it is a judgement call.
The panel comprising various Lets Fish! technical coaches are looking for a mixture of concentration, tenacity, and persistence, not necessarily a big catch on the day. There are loads of kids with latent natural angling ability that which can be brought out in future coaching fishing trips. One recipient of the award in 2020 was 13-year-old Ryan Copeland. This is Ryan's fishing story.
My first ever fishing trip
It was a cold but sunny day in early 2020 at the Stoke Canal in Middleport that I first attended a Let's Fish! event. My coach on that day was Peter Henery. I caught just a single perch using pinkies on the hook. I remember Peter feeding squatts regularly and also introducing a ground bait. That one fish was enough to make me want to go again, it had sown the seeds. However, it was a while before I got around it. As summer holidays arrived I again turned my mind to fishing.
Let's Fish! regular
From the 10 August 2020 I started to attend Let's Fish! on a regular basis at the Middleport Canal which is a 10-minute drive from home. The Stoke on Trent Angling Society Let's Fish! coaches are John, Roy and Tony. They have taught me all the basics on how to fish. They let me use all of their equipment and provide the fishing bait. My favourites are worms for perch and squatts and pinkies for the roach and gudgeon. I went several times during the rest of the summer, getting a little bit better each time.
National Celebration of Young People and Fishing
John Davey told me about the National Celebration of Young People and Fishing and said I should think about taking part. I decided to give it a go, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I had never fished in a competition before, albeit it turns out it's not a deadly serious competition and John assured me help is on hand for those who need it.
I looked forward to the big day all that week. I was excited but also a bit nervous as I just didn't know what to expect. On the day I was pegged at number seven. To start off, I used a 3-metre pole and fished under my feet. Later in the competition I fished further out using a longer pole. In that first hour I caught perch, skimmer bream, roach and gudgeon. I must admit I missed a few bites but best I could tell I was doing as well as the other kids pegged near me which really made me happy. In my first match and I was doing OK. That made me feel good. My biggest fish of the day was a half-pound perch, however at least a couple of bigger ones got away before I could get them in my landing net.
At the end of the competition, a hooter sounded and soon the weighing in team came along. My weight was 710 grams. I came 36th overall and the Stoke on Trent Angling Society team finished 7th out of the 19 teams which was brilliant for us. Then something totally unexpected happened. There is an award for the most promising junior angler. My name was read out. I was over the moon to receive this ‘Most Promising Angler' award. It was a shock and for a few seconds I could hardly speak. Surely they had made a mistake and got me mixed up with another kid I thought, but no. John Ellis confirmed it was definitely me that had won this award. I don't even remember him watching me fish at all, I must have been concentrating so hard on my float and regular feeding when he was there. My prize was a fishing session with canal champion Simon Mottram, I could barely wait.
Day with Motty
The big day was fixed for the 10 of October 2020. It was a very wet day at Motty's chosen Market Drayton venue on the Shropshire Union Canal. Let's Fish! introductory session days are very good, but this was day was just epic. In total I caught about 90 fish in three hours, there were perch, bream, roach and gudgeon. I've never caught anything like this many before. I feel I learnt so much from Simon, for example, how to mix and use ground bait, how to lay the pole rig in correctly every time and to let it flow straight line the flow, how to strike at the right time to hook more of the perch. When fishing further out, remembering to keep throwing some maggots in when I put the pole in each time. It was a great experience. Thank you, Simon. I will be back with the Stoke team in next year's national celebrations and doing lots of fishing in between. I might see if there are other friendly competitions to fish in.
If you would like to go fishing alongside Ryan in 2021, you can find out more information about the event here.