I am a soft touch when I am asked to help coaching – either at our rugby club, where my son is taking a great interest, or at our lakes, where quite a lot of effort is made to bring more budding anglers into our great sport.

This week saw the running of Bristol Water’s Youth Competition, and I was involved both on Tuesday and Wednesday with the event. On Tuesday I was asked by the guys on the committee of the England Youth Team to help the youngsters to familiarise themselves with fishing on Chew Valley Lake. A group of like-minded locals was present to pass on much valuable information to the up and coming stars of the fishing world.

I must say how impressed I was with the attitude, casting ability and obvious knowledge of most of the young lads present for the "get together." I worked with two lads, and their casting ability alone would have disgraced many an adult! They were both adaptable and persevering – as they had to be on a day when not a lot happened. One of the lads actually caught five trout (two on nymph and three on dries), whilst the other failed to land any. However, he was not too despondent and was still looking forward to returning on the following day to fish the competition.

I was mildly surprised to find there were no young ladies involved in the England squad, but on the open competition on Wednesday, I was boatman for two very enthusiastic girls. Claire and Emma had fished this event three times before and never caught a fish – yet they were returning for another attempt. Both girls struggled with their casting, but as the day progressed, they improved.

Emma finished up in fourth place in her age group, with the two trout that she landed, though she really could have had quite a few more if only she were more used to fishing dry flies. Poor Claire hooked two fish, but both came off the hook, so she returned with another blank. But she will be back!

Regular readers will know that I am passionate about my dry fly fishing. One of the reasons why I like it so much is its mere simplicity! There are too many anglers out there who try to blind us all with technical jargon and ideas that are at best confusing, and sometimes even misleading. I start most of my beginners with either simple nymph fishing or if there is a vague hope that fish are near the surface, with dries. Yet all of the juniors that I watched on Tuesday and Wednesday were reluctant to fish this method.

Wednesday afternoon, fish moved on the surface the whole time I was afloat, yet there were so few who tried dries. I suggested that the girls with me should try dries and that was what they caught (or lost) their fish on. Keep it simple and you will be surprised what you can achieve.

Tight lines,

Martin Cottis