Update from Kent - Fishing for Schools coach Kevin Durman
A new term and a new beginning. Pat Kelleher, the long standing deputy head at Orchard School had moved on to new ventures, with Katie Lloyd taking over his duties of running the school side of our Friday fishing for schools sessions. We had a chat during the summer holiday and decided on a new structure for our sessions. Previously it had been a case of just getting the youngsters fishing and teaching as we went along. For this new term it would be more about learning to set up equipment from scratch and then moving on to the actual fishing.
Our venue for the past few years has been the lovely Coombewood Fishery at High Halden. Alex the owner has been understanding of our needs and has been great in letting us use his fishery, a real gent. The fishing here is superb with lots of bites to be had, even in the tough winter conditions.
Our first session went as planned with the pupils making up a 3m whip rig, learning to tie a double overhand loop, then how to put a float on, followed by split shot and finally another double overhand loop to which we attached a barbless hook to nylon.
The next stage was to find the depth of water using a plummet before finally getting to put a maggot on, settle down on a seat to catch some fish.
And that’s exactly what happened, with lots of Roach, Rudd, Perch, Gudgeon and skimmers getting caught.
At the end of the session rigs are wound on to pole winders with the pupils name written on them.
We now have enough equipment that each pupil has a rod sleeve with a feeder rod, 3m whip and a landing net pole. Each sleeve is numbered and issued to the pupil who is then responsible for everything in the sleeve.
As the term went on we learnt to make up and use feeder rods too. On arrival at the fishery, I give the pupils a choice of feeder or whip. Some like to sit it out for a big fish like a carp on the feeder whilst others like to keep busy catching small fish on whips.
On the last session of term we have a little pairs competition. Alex let’s us use his fishery approved keepnets. But rather than go on weight I give all the youngsters a counter and we fish for points. 10 points for a carp, 1 point for a little fish. Of course, their eyes light up at the 10 points but the savvy ones know its easier to catch 10 roach or Rudd. Our last match in October was won with 100 points, all little fish. Its great fun and there’s a trophy for the winning pair giving them bragging rights until the next time.
I had nine pupils for the first six week term and am currently with a group of eight for this term. After Christmas they’ll be another new batch. Fishing is always a popular option, so we rotate the pupils with some coming again later in the year. I reckon we must have 50 or 60 different pupils throughout the year, a great amount of new anglers, many of which I know go on to fish in their own time at weekends and in the holidays.
Thank you to the Red Hill Trust who are supporting our work with Orchard School during the 2021-22 school year.