IZZY Gibbins is an example of a youngster who has overcome her fishing nerves and is now looking forward to building on her early success in matches.

The 14-year-old St Gregory’s High School student from Bewsey admits she did not like handling ‘wriggly maggots and the slimy fish’ even at the point that she started having little competitions with her dad, Chris, less than 12 months ago.

But in a year as difficult as 2020 was due to coronavirus, Izzy’s positive experiences mounted to her finishing the top-placed girl and overall fifth in a national competition.

She is keen that other young people are given the opportunity to follow a similar journey and develop their confidence in the way that she has.

“I started fishing when I was 10. The more I went fishing the easier I found it. I also eventually began to convince myself that maggots can’t bite,” she said.

“I first started fishing competitively with my dad, early in 2020. Even then, I still didn’t like touching the maggots or even the slimy fish like bream.

“But once I realised the maggots were not going to crawl up my arm and the fish weren’t going to bite me, I enjoyed the excitement of catching different types of fish.

“I also like being outside, seeing all the different birds and wildlife that are around while fishing.

“My dad started showing me different ways of how to catch fish more effectively.

“Once I had improved my catch rate, me and my dad started to have little competitions to see who could catch the most fish.

“Quite often I won, however my dad often caught the larger fish and that’s where it all began.”

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She joined Newton-le-Willows Anglers’ Association so she could fish in the junior matches, never finishing outside of the top three all season and finishing runner-up overall.

Those matches are run by two prominent coaches for Let’s Fish! - a programme run by Canal & River Trust in conjunction with many angling clubs to encourage youngsters and families to give fishing a try.

“My dad suggested fishing the Canal & River Trust’s Junior Championships, held as part of Let’s Fish! to celebrate young people and fishing.

“Quite a few kids were taking part in a match for the first time. I didn’t know really how I would do. I didn’t even know the water as I have never fished the Shropshire Union Canal before, so I went with an open mind.

“The weigh-in was carried out with social distancing rules so there were no large crowds milling around, as you might get in a normal year.

“My weight was 2 kilos and 20 grams. Coming fifth overall out of 55 in such a large event has really boosted my confidence and I’m really looking forward to next year’s junior canal championships match.

Warrington Guardian:

“I found everybody we came into contact with to be very friendly and helpful. The atmosphere was fantastic and we were made to feel very welcome.

“What I like about the event is that there are loads of coaches on hand to support anyone who is struggling.

“This year I am also hoping to start helping my school and they are interested in doing a school fishing club to help get more juniors into outdoor clubs and fishing.

“Let’s Fish! are trying to get more schools to take part in their events, it’s free for schools so schools in Warrington could try this it helps with children’s mental health and well-being.”

More details are available at canalrivertrust.org.uk/explorers/teachers/lets-fish