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Rising talent James Thirkill shows how a bit of passion, belief and determination can lead to big things.

In July 2008 I won the Cadet National on the Stainforth & Keadby Canal. After the match I heard some snide comment’s such as spawny, draw bag etc, said by other anglers – and parents for that matter. This really infuriated me so I made it my goal to come back and win it again!

The next National saw us on the Cudmore Fishery complex and my first time in the Junior age group. After a very hard days fishing that saw me have 11 fish for around 22 lb, it saw me take 6th Junior place overall. This was enough to qualify for the Junior Fish ‘O’ Mania!

But this wasn’t enough, I still felt like I hadn’t achieved my goal, so it was back the next year for another go! This time the National saw us on the Kennet & Avon Canal. To put this day nicely, it was a disaster! We got our team plan wrong and were beaten by bigger fish in every section. I weighed in 69 fish for 12oz – they were literally eyeballs!

So again I came back fighting. After an absolutely terrible go last time around I was determined that I could do it. The couple of weeks leading up to the next National, which this time was at Heronbrook Fishery in Staffordshire, I was in the garage constantly, tying rigs, hooklengths, you name it!

The day of the National came and I was off up to Heronbrook at 4 o’clock in the morning! We got there and drew. I was handed Peg C9 (I cannot remember the permanent peg number) on Canal Pool and I was very happy with my draw.

The first hour was a complete nightmare, though. I wasn’t kitted out for the ‘stick ups’ in my peg and I lost 12 fish in the first hour and only landed one! After that battering it was the fish that came out as winners as I decided to give up with swims across and focus on my 5m meat swim instead. This area was very steady, producing small F1s and the odd better carp for around two and a half hours.

Unfortunately, the last half an hour of the four-hour event saw me only have two bites. Thankfully both bites resulted in fish, a nice carp and a small F1. When the weigh in started, around 10kg was winning. I thought I’d caught more than that but not but much more, plus I thought that the guy to my right had caught a bit more than me, but again he fell victim to the stick ups!

The lad to the right of me weighed in around 16kg while I weighed in 21.26kg – a lot more than I expected! I didn’t think for one minute that I could of won with that, but I was hoping for a top-six finish to get into the Junior Fisho again.

I walked back to the car with my gear to be greeted by the rest of my team. “Well done mate,” I heard someone say. I couldn’t believe it, I had actually done it. I had beat my mate Jack Caple by just 40 grams to win! This shows that if you set a goal you can achieve it. Don’t get put down – keep your head high! Thank you for reading.

Jim Thirkill

James Thirkill is an 16-year-old student from Clifton, York, and one of the youngest members of the Middy Match Team.

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