In the last year, the Let’s Fish! team has delivered over 10,000 hours of coaching activity.
Some attendees take to fishing like a duck to water, and a few will inevitably become stars of the future. One young fellow with the potential to make that leap to stardom is Walsall’s Dylan Egan. We caught up with Dylan to record his progress thus far.
In the beginning
I've always been interested in fishing from the age of four when I caught lots of small roach on a whip when on family holidays. I started fishing more regularly in 2020 during Covid lockdown at a local pool. I caught small roach, perch and my first few carp, and really got the bug for fishing!
Let's Fish! debut
In July 2020, not long after fishing was allowed again after lockdown, I attended my first Let's Fish! introductory session held on the Walsall Canal. In the space of 50 minutes, I had caught my first two canal fish, both decent sized roach. The Let's Fish! coaches Neil Powell and Peter James both commented that I had a decent level of natural talent. They both went on to suggest that I should consider entering the National Celebration of Young People and Fishing coming up that September as an enjoyable and useful experience for the future. Peter Henery arranged a one-to-one practice session at Wombourne canal with Neil and Pete to help prepare me for that big day. I caught lots of fish, including a rare canal crucian carp!
National Celebration debut
September arrived and I woke up early with butterflies. I was excited and nervous, not quite knowing what to expect for the National Celebration event. It was my first ever fishing match alongside over 40 other eager young cadets. It was a hot sunny day for the time of year, and after three hours I weighed in 250 grams which I was pleased with as bites were hard to come by.
Knowing what I know now, I could have caught a few more fish and maybe even have challenged Charlie Beetham Grainger's top catch of 950g. After that, I made up my mind that I wanted to experience fishing in some more similar events, so I joined a local club with my dad to fish these events, held mostly at Bolding's pools in Bridgnorth.
The following year, I joined the Telford and District AA juniors club and took part in a few of their junior matches. What I was most excited about was fishing my second National Celebration on the Shropshire Union Canal as part the association's team. I was placed 30th individually with 650 grams finishing in the top half and managing to more than double my weight of the previous year before. Alas, a teammate had to drop out the day before with Covid which unfortunately scuppered the team's chances of finishing in the medal places. In what John Ellis described on Facebook as the biggest upset since Foinavon, it was the Stoke-on-Trent Potters who took a most unexpected and deserved team victory.
2021 Let's Fish! celebration
Later that year, in October, I was delighted to be selected for the Let's Fish! end of year celebration team event match. I was appointed the captain of the Let's Fish! Starlets team, one of eight taking part.
The Let's Fish! English gold team were considered the team to beat but amazingly my team of Haden Saunders, Luca Candlin and Zach Enderby were able to just pip them to the post. Wybunbury's Zach was first individually, and I was second in my section and 7th overall.
I was very pleased with my efforts as I had to learn to try to overcome the annual autumn challenge canal anglers face of a carpet of leaves in the peg.
2022 part one
In June, representing the Telford Juniors team, I fished the Angling Trust Junior National held at Westwood Lakes. I weighed 15 kgs of carp and F1s, a respectable result on the day amongst many older anglers. In August, I scored my first canal victory at a Let's Fish! Regional Commonwealth Games Celebration event, which was perhaps fitting as it was held at the venue for my first ever Let's Fish! event, the Walsall canal. I caught lots of small skimmers and roach to weigh in 3kgs 350 grams in three hours.
National Celebration 2022
This was my third time participating in this event. The attendance has increased again to around 85 cadets, taking up literally a whole mile of canal. This would be the last opportunity I would ever have as a cadet (7 to 10 years) to take home one of the coveted top trophies. An early gudgeon settled my nerves, ensuring a Fjuka gudgeon mug would be making its way home.
My Telford AA teammates were Paighton Doodson and Lily Rose Portman. Both the girls performed admirably, weighing in over a kilo each. I backed them up with a useful 700g. In the team race, we knew it was close between us and two of the strong Ramsbottom teams. Happily, we came first, and the longed-for team trophy was secured.
In October, I was again selected for the National Commonwealth Communities event. I was pleased to land the top weight in my area near bridge 52 which unfortunately didn't fish as well as normal that day with none of the top weights coming from that area. But that's fishing. It would not be as interesting or challenging if the same pegs produced the winners and the same people caught the most weight of fish all the time.
This year has been a good one, and I've made some good progress and improved and broadened my skills further.
Earlier in the year, I was accepted onto the Angling Trust Tackle Guru Talent Pathway programme, which also acts as the trials for the England U15 team. This was four sessions focused on silver fish techniques and was held at Makins Fishery and Barston Lakes. The coaches included Matt Godfrey, James Dent and Frankie Gianoncelli, from whom I learned lots about deep water skimmer fishing on long pole, and also fixed waggler fishing and catapulting ground bait.
My best session resulted in a match weight of 28lbs of skimmers and roach on Lake 4 at Makins.
Since then I attended many of the Junior Youth Community Cup qualifiers at various venues. I was pleased to win the final in the cadet age group at Moorlands Farm in June, against strong competition. For this I won a coaching day with England International Josh Newman, which was amazing!
At the Angling Trust Junior National held at Tunnel Barn Farm at the end of June, I captained my Telford Juniors cadets team. We had some great performances which won us a bronze medal, finishing just two points off a gold medal.
Aside from my regular junior and adult club matches, where I have managed to frame and win some money, my focus then switched to canal practice in preparation for the National Celebration.
I attended two of the Let's Fish Regional Celebrations, finishing 2nd at the Walsall canal event and winning the Dudley canal event with a mixed net of skimmers, roach, and perch for 1kg 240g.
The 2023 National Celebration weekend arrived, and I was part of 330 participants. I drew the Knighton Area, right in the middle of the section, to the right of the canopies. I had a good start on the 3mtr line, but as with everyone around me, the bites slowed after about 90 minutes. I managed to find a late run of squatt fish at 13mtrs towards the end, but unfortunately the "all out" was called just when I was starting to put a good run of fish together. This meant I finished top of my weigh board and 2nd in the larger 35 peg section in my young junior age group.
The following week I went to the Division Two national final where my dad was competing for one of the Let's Fish Teams. He was in the same section as Jason Cunningham so I spent some time watching Jason fishing with squatts, which was a great experience to see how quick the fish can be caught with good efficiency. At the presentation afterwards, it was inspiring to see my Telford Juniors teammate Lauren Stevens collect her medal for finishing 4th overall among 400 anglers. I hope to achieve that one day!
I then attended the Daiwa Global Communities Celebration amongst 180 participants representing 34 countries. I drew Peg 18 in the Shebdon area. I caught 1kg 210g which gave me 7th place overall.
To top a great year, I have also featured in October's edition of Improve Your Coarse Fishing Magazine, and also on the cover of one edition of Angling Times.
I love canal fishing and the challenge of canal matches. I've realised that you have to keep going, as half a dozen netter roach and skimmers or even one big fish can dramatically change the result right at the end. That would not realistically happen on a commercial. I'm going to work on my bread punch fishing next year and perhaps the ultimate challenge, keeping roach feeding on my far bank swim for the duration of the match.
I will be moving up to the young junior age group next year with plenty of events to look forward to including my personal highlight, the National Celebration being held on 16 & 17 September where perhaps 350 or even 400 kids will line up over the weekend. Having been on the winners' rostrum as part of a team, I'd love to win the National Celebration individually one year. If I don't, it won't be for the want of trying. I've really appreciated all the help everyone at Lets Fish! has given me. Collectively, they've definitely helped me improve my angling.
Last Edited: 30 November 2023
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