With spring here and the weather improving, there are plenty of things to look forward to for the coming year.
Fishing for Schools have had their new intake of schools for this year. This involves an application for funding that all schools in England and Wales get an opportunity to take part in and the schools are chosen from the strongest applications. As well as seven local Kent schools that were successful , we also have four mental health and disability groups we will working with in the summer school holidays.
Year on year our fishing courses get more popular; this year with we have taken on a new school Longfield Academy and from our mental health groups we have a new group, Choice Support, Peppercorns, Dartford. Never before has fishing been so popular.
For our work to go ahead we are fortunate enough to have some cracking sponsors, this month I am looking at one of our sponsors, The Tackle Box, Dartford, who fund a local school, Stone Lodge to do a fishing course. For us, it is great to have such a power house of the fishing industry on board, one that is my local tackle shop and has recently celebrated its 40 year anniversary. It makes common sense that in order for our young people to take up fishing as a hobby they need a local tackle shop, where they can get their fishing gear, advice and importantly their maggots. In order for more young people to come into our sport, it has to be the coaches, tackle shops, clubs and fisheries that play their part in promoting juniors into angling and once there, supporting them on their way. I know for a fact, what the Tackle Box gives back, in order to get young people into fishing.
I work all through the school's term time. Twice a week at Rowhill SEN School, Longfield on a fishing and educational course, which is an all year course. The winter months can be tricky, the main challenge is finding places to fish that you have got a chance of a bite, but they are out there. Rivers normally come into their own in winter months, it is just a case of keeping your eye on the weather forecast and planning around that. We have had occasions when the local lakes are frozen, but the river being flowing can be your saviour for a fishing session.
Tales from the River Bank
A couple of recent sessions with the Rowhill School students. On the first, we visited Grove Farm Fishery, Hadlow with a cold easterly wind blowing and heavy rain we decided to start in the lodge and look at ground bait. This was the subject of an AQA fishing course we were working on. The lads learnt how to mix ground bait correctly, looking also at different types of ground bait, colours and flavours that could be added and the importance of a riddle that can turn poor lumpy ground bait into good textured ground bait.
The boys then went onto the lake to have a fish. At this time of the year the fishing is really hard, especially the silver fish, in some cases you have more chance of catching a carp than a silver fish. On this session the boys were all fishing whips in the hope of a silver fish, but the group found the going tough, especially in torrential rain. Getting towards end of the session, one of our lads saw his float sail away and proceeded to play a nice fully scaled mirror, which he done well to get in, especially as he was using the humble whip more associated with catching smaller fish. The prize for catching the fish, on such a beast of a day, was a chocolate, kitkat.
The second session was going to be a challenge, the weather forecast was for gale force winds, just what you don't want when you are coaching young people and they are your responsibility, but you know that at some point in the session the lads are going to want to have a fish. The venue was Shorne Country Park, Gravesend - a great place to take a youngster to catch fish, but like all fisheries can be difficult in the Winter. The idea was to start in the Cafe, do a bit of paperwork towards the boys' fishing course and hopefully then have a fish, as long as the wind didn't blow us over, which is how it panned out. We found a bit of shelter at the end of the lake, they call the Steps lake; after an hour of fishing, whips, with light line and small hooks, feeding little and often we had nothing to show for it. We decided for the last 30 minutes of the session to up sticks and move onto the other lake at the venue The long lake.
I made the suggestion, and there was a lot of stares from the students, as if to say you must be mad, but we did move, only a short walk. The swim we normally fish was occupied, it was hard to believe that there was another angler out in such windy conditions. Anyway we found a suitable swim, quickly plumbed up, fed a few maggots, the float went in and a few seconds later it went under and we were into our first roach. After that, feeding little and often the swim was solid, we were catching one fish after the other, it seemed like a miracle. A steep learning curve for the boys today, it doesn't matter what your fishing for, whether it be carp or roach, sometimes to catch, you have to move.