Syon Young Angler’s Day
Easter Activities at Syon Park
It was a cold, wet autumn day when a bulb lit up above Mackenzie’s head
“We should run a kids day!”.
Having helped set up and coach them before I was equally excited and anxious at the prospect of getting everything in place to provide a great day’s fly fishing for some inexperienced anglers.
Lots of chats with our regular anglers on the bank to see what kind of participation we could expect led us to go forward with the idea, planning had begun for a day in the Easter Holidays. The Salmon and Trout Conservation Trust was our first point of call. They had previously funded a casting demonstration at our Countryside Learning Schools Day. We wanted to take that one step further. Teaching some beginners how to fish, introduce a new generation to the thrill of fly fishing, and show them that playing Playstations and Xboxes are not the only thing to do during time off school.
Planning done, the event day was nearing. It was a mad rush to get everything in place. We had spoken to the Environment Agency about borrowing a net to string across the lake, everything was in place to collect other than an address! With our local fisheries officer on annual leave and everyone else at the EA extremely busy the decision was made to grab a net from Albury instead. The Albury net which had last been used to net Syon last summer was perfect for what we needed. It helped keep fish in the narrow part of the lake which hopefully would increase chances of some trout on the bank. Trout which were very gratefully received from Richard King who made a special delivery from our fish farm.
Tuesday 10th April was finally upon us. Mackenzie and I met our guides, John and Trevor, in the morning. We had a chat about wind direction, where best to put gazebos, exchanged numbers for psychotherapists to get over the events of the day.
After an in-depth health and safety talk and making sure everyone had hats and glasses, each of our sessions rolled off the mark. John and Trevor taught the basics of casting. A small piece of bright orange wool was the fly, and keeping that fly in the air as the young anglers cast their rods back and forth was the aim. Within 20 minutes everyone had got the hang of it, damsels were tied on; the water was now our aim.
Lines were flying in the air, and surprisingly nobody got their lines crossed or tangled with anyone elses. The lessons had stuck. Fish were rising. A shout from Charlie Barnicott was the first of many! His rod was arched over; line tight, a hard fighting rainbow on the other end doing its best to knot itself into the other anglers freshly cast flies.
Playing and landing a fish. This one was a bit more difficult to teach. The theory had been explained but as each of our young anglers found out, your brain, knees, and ability to speak cease to function when you catch your first fish, especially when it’s 2lb+ rainbow leaping out of the water. Our guides, parents, and guardians were all of vital importance. The amount of fish coming out meant we needed all hands on deck to make sure we got nets under fish and onto the bank.
The despatching of the fish was something we thought was very important to teach. Almost everybody managed to give it a go, but absolutely everyone held up their fish and smiled for a photo!
Each and every young angler caught a fish. An exceptional feat! Some took longer than others, the last angler on the day had the help of all the guides, bailiffs, and parents to land the last fish of the day, which also happened to be one of the biggest, just pushing 3lb. The skill and determination shown on the day was inspiring. Nobody gave up, no matter how many tangles tied, reeds ripped, or trees twisted.
Thank you to everyone who participated and assisted to make the day a roaring success
Special thanks to Simon Hadleigh-Sparks for photographing the event.
Syon Park Bailiff