A report released by the Environment Agency has revealed a worrying decline in junior rod licence sales.
The amount of kids aged 12-16 going fishing has dropped by 44 per cent in just four years according to the figures, slumping from 77,000 in 2009 to 44,000 in 2013.
The news comes despite numerous schemes being launched in recent years to encourage new blood in to the sport with funding from governing bodies such as Sport England, the EA and the Angling Trust.
Sarah Collins, who runs the Get Hooked on Fishing Campaign - which coaches thousands of kids every year - believes that although more needs to be done, including councils providing more access to fishing for youngsters, the figures may not be a true representation. “When you are being coached by level 1 or 2 coaches in schemes and campaigns like mine you are not required to buy a licence, so many kids have simply not done so,” she explained. “Also, anglers can apply for an exemption from buying a rod licence when trying out the sport during club and council open days whereas they previously needed to buy a licence. We need to work together with councils and the community to improve access to waters for kids such as country parks where fishing should be free for under 16’s as youngsters of that age often find it hard to afford to go fishing,” she added.
Sarah’s campaign alone has seen an estimated 40,000 youngsters pass through its coaching processes since it began in 1999, including over 8,000 last year.
Former England International, Denis White, who has helped coach thousands of young anglers, also believes more needs to be done in schools to encourage kids: “Angling should be on the curriculum because it not only introduces them to a new sport it focuses them on learning and relaxes them. The kids become better behaved and learn about the environment too.”
Richard Wightman, Environment Agency Fisheries Manager revealed they are working closely with the Angling Trust to try and reverse the figures. “Children under 12-years-old can fish for free and we’re keen to encourage more people to pick up a rod and give fishing a go. We’re working with the Angling Trust to deliver the National Angling Strategy and encourage people to come back to angling or take it up for the first time. We have also kept the rod licence price the same for the fourth year running, including those for juniors which are just £5.”
There are a number of courses which aim to encourage newcomers to the sport - check these out to find one near you:
• Get Hooked On Fishing, www.ghof.org.uk, 075252 55572
• Take a Friend Fishing, www.takeafriendfishing.co.uk, 08454 599956
• Les Webber’s own coaching scheme , www.angling-projects.org.uk, 01189 431701
• Lymm Angling Club Junior Coaching Scheme, www.lymmanglersclub.com/juniors, 07525 360804
• Kingfisher Pool, Warwick, www.kingfisherpool.co.uk
• Fir Tree Fishery, Wigan, www.firtreefishery.co.uk, 01257 252607
• Gipping Valley Angling Club, Suffolk, www.gippingvalleyanglingclub.co.uk/junioracademy
• Cob House Fishery, Worcester, www.cobhouse.org/fishing-academy, 01886 888517
• Carp Society’s Junior Carp Camp at Horseshoe Lake, A four-day coaching camp for youngsters aged 12 to 16, www.horseshoelakelechlade.com/society
• Korda British Young Carpers Angling Championship, An annual fishing competition for carp anglers aged under 17, Visit www.bycac.co.uk
• I Love Fishing. Korum’s scheme to inspire the next generation of anglers includes offering tips and advice and all-in-one starter kits, www.clubkorum.co.uk/I_Love_Fishing