Late last year, I was asked to help out with the Angling Trust’s Talent Pathway programme. For those who haven’t heard of it, this is a scheme designed to take promising young anglers, and help them hone their skills, with the eventual aim of getting them to such a standard that they are able to take part in the England Youth Trials.
The session that I led was at Sutton Bonnington on the River Soar. I really enjoyed the day – there is something very rewarding about working with young people, especially those who are as keen to learn as this lot were!
A lasting memory for me was a young lad called William McCranor. At just 13 years of age, he was by far the youngest angler there, and also one of the smallest! I remember trying to get him to form top up balls with one hand, as international rules dictate, and giving up in the end as the poor lads hands were that small the best he could manage was a ball around the size of a marble!
The really striking thing about William though was how focussed he was on his fishing. Although a lot of the kids who were there had far better poles, seat boxes and tackle than William, there wasn’t anyone on the bank who concentrated more intensely! He watched his float like a hawk, and soaked up every piece of advice and information I could offer.
Fast forward five months, and I saw William again, this time on the final of the Talent Pathway programme.
At first I didn’t recognise him! Not only had he grown about a foot, but he had also invested in a shiny new Preston GXR 1600 pole with his Christmas and Birthday money! I don’t think I have ever seen an angler improve so much in such a short period of time.
This time, when I walked past William, I felt like asking for advice, rather than offering any!
It was no surprise to me when I found out later that William was one of the few youngsters asked to take part in the England Trial at Makins.
Time For A Change
In between all this happening, I had decided, that after using the Preston GXR range of poles for over three years, it was time for a change. The poles had served me brilliantly, and as my review in next months Pole Fishing explains, you will struggle to find any poles better in there respective price brackets.
As Editor of a magazine about Pole Fishing, I see it as part of my job to change brand of the pole that I use every now and again though, and the new Daiwa Connoisseur G50 poles had taken my fancy!
What really surprised me was how Preston Innovations responded when I told them of my decision. I imagined that they would either ask me to sell the pole and send me the money, or send it back to them, as is industry standard in this sort of situation.
What brand manager, Scott Geens gave me the option of doing was waiting until I saw a young angler who I felt could make good use of the pole, and giving it to them.
When I saw on Facebook that William had been picked for the trial, it struck me who the perfect candidate might be! Afterall, international style fishing requires plenty of spare No4s, No5’s and No6’s not to mention extra top kits and spares. Rumour has it he had to borrow some top kits from Adam Wakelin to fish the Barston weekend!
When he and his dad came to pick it up last night, his smile said it all. What a nice gesture from one of the UK’s biggest tackle companies. On behalf of William and his dad Alan, a big thank you to Scott Geens, and Preston Innovations for their generosity.