‘The nation’s rivers are in their best form for over a decade’. That’s the verdict from a series of top angling coaches and match organisers who have seen bookings rocket this season.
Commercial fisheries have taken the limelight in recent years as a result of the prolific sport and modern facilities but a number of factors have now led to large numbers of anglers returning to natural venues.
Over 1,000 tickets for RiverFest tournament qualifiers were snapped up within a week of going on sale, with attendances also increasing drastically at open and club events.
The spike has left many surprised but Angling Times columnist Dave Harrell believes it was only a matter of time before the crowds came flooding back. He said: “The people I coach are often shocked at what they can catch on a river and can’t get enough of that type of fishing from then on.
“People are getting bored of commercials and with the UK’s rivers in top form they offer a very different, yet equally rewarding, challenge.
“There is no doubt running waters had a period in the doldrums and venues such as the Don and Mersey were badly polluted but they’ve recovered and they are once again at their peak,” he added.
Professional tutor and England international Mark Pollard has spent more time than ever before on running water and he told Angling Times: “I offer anglers the opportunity to enjoy coaching at any type of venue and I’ve had the highest amount of requests I’ve ever had for river venues this season.
“Almost every river is improving and this is drawing back a lot of people who thought they’d never fish on one again,” he added.
Committee members of river-orientated clubs have also seen a marked increase in permit sales. Yorkshire’s Mirfield AC is amongst those experiencing a boom in popularity and match secretary Martyn Highe said: “Our membership numbers are up almost 20 per cent this year and people are travelling hundreds of miles to fish our waters.”
“In one of the last matches on the River Calder, 28 anglers had double figures of silverfish so it’s easy to see why we are seeing more and more new faces.”
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