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The personal journey of a Let’s Fish! angling coach, Paul Daysh

This article is brought to you by Taunton Angling Association’s Paul Daysh, a prominent level two Lets Fish! coach.

Paul Daysh

Once upon a time

Like my son Luke, my fishing journey started at an early age, in my case at 16. I can clearly remember my first fishing adventure back in September 1991 alongside my dad, brother, and uncle.

1991 was the year the Berlin Wall came down, and John Major was Prime Minister. Gary Lineker and Gazza were the top footballers, and nobody was using social media or even the internet.

We didn't catch any fish on that first trip, but it didn't matter, as I was instantly hooked. I started chatting to as many anglers as I could meet, asking numerous questions, reading scores of fishing magazines and books, basically absorbing as much information as I possibly could to help me catch fish.

Luke following his fathers footsteps

Tackle shop employment

Leaving school, I started working in the local fishing tackle shop on a Saturday and quickly made friends with numerous anglers. They were all willing to give me useful advice, sharing stories of their special catches.

My angling in the early 90s mostly consisted of carp fishing at various commercial lakes that were springing up and the odd winter pike fishing session on my local Bridgewater & Taunton Canal.

A break from fishing

As with so many, work and family life came along, so my fishing took a back seat for a number of years. The interest was certainly still there, though. I continued to watch angling programmes and videos and continued to read as much as I could about the sport, even though I wasn't actively out on the bank.

Following my return, my fishing evolved as I moved away from carp fishing to explore targeting other species of fish, focussing for a period of time on predator fishing for perch and pike. In more recent years, I rekindled my passion and love for the canal and really enjoy pole fishing, again targeting different species of fish throughout the year.

Paul with his perch

Taunton juniors

Two years ago, Matthew Dunster, soon to become the Taunton Angling Association Junior Match Secretary, started the junior fishing section. I volunteered to help Matthew support the children and their parents at club matches.

For me, this was a turning point towards deciding to become a qualified coach. Helping out with the junior club brought back so many happy memories of fishing with my own children, with the joy and excitement that it brings when a child catches their first fish. It's really very special to be fortunate enough to share that first catch moment with a young person and their parent(s) out on the bank.

I've realised as I'm getting older, it's not necessarily about my own fishing journey now, but helping others to start on theirs. I guess this is no different to my earlier days helping in the tackle shop with customers sharing their tales, which in turn, inspired me to get out fishing.

Getting involved with the Let's Fish! programme

I was looking for a new challenge, so I decided to undertake my Angling Trust level one angling coaching qualification and then quickly progressed to take my level two. This in turn led me to the opportunity to work in partnership with Canal & River Trust running Taunton AA Let's Fish! events on the canal. I ran my first event last July alongside my friend and colleague, Mike Corns. Mike is also a level two coach.

My first Let's Fish! event was very well attended by children of all ages, adults, and families. This gave me the opportunity to put in practise all of my own fishing skills and my recently acquired level two knowledge. Within a few minutes of the start, the first fish was landed by a grateful young participant, quickly followed by another and then another.

Thankfully, this pattern continued throughout the day, with all participants catching and leaving their 60-minute sessions excited and enthusiastic about their experience.

Paul in action as a Let's Fish! coach

Reflections

Towards the end of the day, Mike and I had time to reflect on the sessions and participants we had supported. We both quickly realised what an amazing opportunity we have been fortunate enough to be part of. We had enabled all of our participants, through our support and guidance, to catch lots of fish and witness the experience with them.

In praise of the canal

The Bridgewater & Taunton Canal is a fantastic place to hold Let's Fish! events as it always staggers me the quantity and quality of fish which can be caught close in. Not only this, the canal is such a popular place for members of the public walking, cycling or boating stopping en-route to have a chat and also join in with the anticipation and excitement as a child or adult is about to net their catch.

It's almost as though time has paused for a moment or two, just waiting for everyone to get their first glimpse of the fish breaking through the surface of the water and then once netted hearing the cheers and congratulations from these intrigued spectators before they get back to going about their day.

I've lost count of the number of sessions and participants Mike, Matthew and I have delivered over the past number of months. As club secretary for Taunton Angling Association, I'm seeing quite a few of these Let's Fish! participants, both children and adults, joining the club and continuing with their angling journey. It's rewarding seeing them putting into practise some of the skills and knowledge we have been able to pass on to them at the Let's Fish! events.

Moving forward into 2023, I am still excited to be part of the Let's Fish! family and very much look forward to enabling future events and participants into the sport. If you live in or around Somerset, you can join us at a Let's Fish! here.

Last Edited: 29 March 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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