I am involved with a youth club aimed at the teenagers in the area around the church I attend. Unfortunately, due to limited numbers of staff we can only run the club on a monthly basis at present but a new initiative which is less staff intensive has been offering small group sessions focussed upon things different to the usual fare of football, snooker, pool, table tennis, computer games and just listening to music.
The first sessional groups did cookery and dance and I then suggested fishing – which seemed to be a good idea, but the problem was licences! I then remembered National Fishing Week when, if my memory served me correctly, new anglers could get to try it out without a licence. I also seemed to remember that it was sometime in August so, if it was happening this year, the plan was for me to take a day off work and give a taster of fishing to a couple of groups of 3 or 4 young people, one group in the morning, one in the afternoon.
First job was to find out about National Fishing Week and this was fairly easily done on the Internet but, given that I had heard nothing about it, I was frustrated to find that the week this year was from 19th to 26th July. This was the week before my holidays and there was no chance I would get time off work. However, we weren’t travelling until the Sunday so I decided to run the sessions on Saturday 25 July. Invitations were given out and seven teenagers (all girls!) signed up.
Where to fish was the next question; the Leeds-Liverpool Canal is handy but the towpath tends to be a bit busy, so one of the local commercials seemed best – with the added bonus that fish could be almost guaranteed (what was I thinking!).
I contacted Andy Molyneux at Mescar Fishery and he agreed to a reduced charge for the group (which the youth club would pick up). Tackle was to be provided by myself and one or two friends and the plan was to set everything up in advance and show the members of each group how to fish with float tackle. The only problem at Mescar was that the main lake is used for a match every Saturday so we would have to use the relatively newly dug Mistral lake which features nothing but carp; still, a spot of pasty bashing should have the newcomers wanting more!
Graham Marsden very generously supplied me with caps, stickers and T-shirts for all participants, Taskers Tackle let me have some disgorgers (the boss wasn’t there and I didn’t have time to go back!) and Prescot Angling Centre gave me three bags of pellets – thank you very much to all. The organisers of the National Fishing Week sent me a supply of DVDs on starting fishing, three copies of Angling Times and a number of other leaflets for distribution (most of these would have been of more use in preparation for an event but so far as I can see everyone got them at the same time – it wasn’t that my event was a late registration!).
Came the day and due to illness and family holidays the seven had shrunk to four plus a “chaperone/chauffeur” who also asked if she could have a go. Five sets of tackle were set up and I waited for the group to arrive at 9.30am. Fish were showing and I baited up each swim – this was going to be an eye-opener for those who took part. After days of rain the weather was kind and after a short introductory session on fishing, health & safety around water and, most importantly on fish welfare, the girls were each sat in a swim and “battle” commenced. Well it would have done if the fish had decided to take part – the most vital element in the exercise just did not turn up. I spent 4 hours wandering up and down the bank giving advice, sorting out tangles, suggesting different tactics, encouraging regular baiting, etc, and not a fish graced a landing net.
One thing I have to say is despite the lack of activity on the piscine front the girls were very patient and it was only as we approached 1pm that fatigue set in and we agreed to call it a day at 1.15 – even then one young lady wanted to stay, she was sure something would bite (more confident that me, I have to say, because the news had filtered through that fish in the other lake had gone a.w.o.l as well).
Each member of the group said that despite not catching they had enjoyed the session and each received a “goody bag” containing FM Hat, T-shirt and stickers, a disgorger, an angling magazine the DVD and assorted NFW leaflets. I hope that one or two of them may try the sport out again and I will be talking to them when the opportunity arises.
I may well do this again next year; after all there was a lot of work, not described here, that had to be done in preparation so why waste it? If you think it is something you could try don’t forget to check the date well in advance and find a fishery where the fish are in an obliging mood!