Last Saturday saw Joe and me head off to the Derwent Reservoir for the Salmon and Trout Association introduction day to fishing. I’d found out about the event on the twitter stream of Anne Woodcock (@ladiesfishing). Anne was kind enough to point me in the direction of the organiser Cliff Johnston to book our place, and on friday morning we were all signed up and looking forward to the following day.
Joe had struggled to sleep the night before with excitement, and must have asked a dozen times on Saturday morning ‘when would we be heading off?’. Mid morning we made our sandwiches, filled our flask, grabbed coats/jumpers/hats and set off to Derwent just after noon.
The event was due to start at 1pm, we arrived early and took the spare time to munch through our picnic – that didn’t last very long!
There were lots of S&TA guys around to help all the kids. Joe has been fishing with me before a couple of times, but always spent his time paddling, falling in, padding and falling in some more. To have other kids around, and with the S&TA guys there to add a little bit of authority to the day, Joe was more than ready to get stuck in!
Everybody set up and ready to catch!
It was too windy for using fly rods, so we legered power bait and used bubble floats for bite indicators. This was perfect, casting was relatively easy and tangle free, the powerbait was nothing if not effective and the bubble float meant Joe and the other children didn’t have to stare off into the distance to see if they had a bite.
Cliff and all the other helpers were absolutely first class. We had Sid helping us for a while, he did a great job of showing Joe where to cast, and how to cast. With just enough help to get him going but not so much so Joe didn’t get to do anything.
Almost all the kids caught at least one fish during their time fishing, some managed a couple. Colin was also there with a rod setup for casting lessons. He took a child at a time off to the side and spent time with them getting their casting perfected. Colin runs the fishing lessons on the Derwent Reservoir, he told me how they’re very busy at the moment, and had been throughout the season.
Colin giving Joe casting lessons
Mid way through the day Joe’s bubble float shot up and the end of the rod started twitching. He immediately asked what he should do, and with a chorus of ‘pick the rod up’ he was into his first ever big fish! 2 minutes later and there was a 2¼lb Rainbow in the net. The T&SA helper asked Joe if he wanted to dispatch the fish, and to my slight surprise Joe agreed and did a very surgical job!
Joe with his catch
Three hours after we started it was time to pull stumps and call it a day. Or so we thought. We all moved from the waterside up to where Cliff had his motorhome and gazebo set up. It was here that he told us of the fly casting competition the kids would all have to take part in.
Ordinarily I’d be a little worried about a fly casting competition for small children, especially those that’ve never cast a course rod before, never mind a fly rod! This was a competition with a difference though, and one all the kids thoroughly enjoyed.
Some of the great volunteers packing up the rods
Cliff set up three fly rods – all with the same amount of line out of the top rung. Each child would then (with the help of one of the T&SA guys) cast and try and get as many wiggles in the line as possible by the time it landed on the ground. The cast with the most wiggles was the winner. This proved to be a real hit with children and parents alike, lots of competitiveness on all sides!
Some wiggle casting in action
Whilst all this was going on, one of the T&SA guys (sorry, didn’t get your name!) gutted many of the trout caught by the kids to save mums & dads having to do it when they got home.
After the competition and gutting was finished it was time for goody bags and prize giving. Each child also received a certificate along with the great goodies (I wanted a bag!).
Joe had an absolute blast, he’s not stopped talking about it and loves his baseball cap with the LED lights in the brim he won for getting second place in the wiggle casting comp.
We ate the trout last night, it tasted lovely. This all went much better than I thought it would as Joe had named the trout by the time we got home on Saturday and was getting quite attached to it. Later in the evening, whilst he wasn’t about, I quickly filleted it and disposed of the leftovers. I had a horrible feeling he was going to be gutted (ha! see what I did there?) once he new his fish had been chopped up. Thankfully, all was fine. He enjoyed his fish and the thanks from the whole family for catching their dinner.
We’re all off to the Reservoir again next weekend, to hopefully catch our tea again – I think that’s as good a thumbs up we can give to the great guys of the Northumbrian Trout and Salmon Association and Northumbrian Water Go Fishing. Thanks to you all for putting on such a well organised and generous day, especially to Cliff – what an enthusiastic and entertaining gent you are sir!