A fanatical angler who heads up one of the most important organisations in fishing has revealed a revolutionary plan to improve canal fishing across the nation.
The Canal & River Trust is responsible for maintaining over 2,000 miles of water and the head of the organisation has shown his commitment to boosting angling participation by creating a number of forward-thinking initiatives in the form of a 10-point action plan.
Getting more juniors on to canals, stocking fish and launching new high-profile competitions, are all part of the strategy, with work set to get under way immediately.
A surge in the number of people visiting natural waters has been recorded recently and chief executive Richard Parry is determined that the trend continues.
“Our canals offer fantastic fishing for coarse anglers of all disciplines and, although we have noticed an increase in the number of anglers using these waters, we are determined to do even more to keep that momentum going,” he said.
“By working with clubs, the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency, we are confident that we can generate more opportunities for anglers.
“The 10-point plan is just the start of our future commitment to angling on canals – we are always open to suggestions as to how we can make even bigger improvements.”
Richard’s passion for angling has been on show for all to see – he attended the Division One National on the Gloucester Canal last month to watch the event and conduct the presentation.
C&RT national fisheries and angling manager John Ellis believes that this kind of dedication will help create a bright future for canal fishing.
He told Angling Times: “It is fantastic that the head of the organisation is so passionate about the sport we all love and that can only be good news for canal angling.
“I’m looking forward to working with Richard to apply this very exciting plan of action.”
The news has been widely welcomed by clubs throughout the UK, with many of them expressing a desire to help the C&RT execute the plan.
Birmingham AA controls stretches on five different canals.
Its secretary, John Williams, hopes the new pledge will lead to positive action.
“Our canal stretches are full of fish, but there are a number of issues that stop people visiting them, with access one of the major sticking points,” he said.
“The C&RT now needs to put this plan into action and prove it is fully dedicated to providing a better service for angling.”
THE CANAL & RIVER TRUST 10-POINT PLAN
1 Introduce more juniors
A series of instructional videos are set to be filmed to promote canal fishing to youngsters. The footage will be made available to watch for free online. The Junior Canal Championships will also be staged in the coming months.
2 More competitions
The Canal Pairs Championships was launched in 2014 and this year’s effort has once again been well received. Talks will get under way to see whether other high-profile canal competitions can be fitted into the calendar.
3 More freedom for clubs
The Canal & River Trust was formerly British Waterways and under the old establishment clubs found it difficult to upgrade their stretch. The red tape has now been removed to make it much easier for clubs to make improvements such as adding new pegs.
4 Increased patrols
Staff from the C&RT are to team up with the Environment Agency and Angling Trust to conduct more patrols on canals to prevent poaching and illegal angling, with venues in London set to take advantage of the scheme first.
5 Improved access
Long walks and a lack of parking are often cited by anglers as major reasons for avoiding canals, but better access is set to be installed close to popular stretches to solve the issue.
6 Leasing more stretches
The C&RT has revealed it is keen to lease more stretches of canal to clubs at affordable prices.
7 Fish stockings
Fundraising efforts have started to collect £5,000 to help rejuvenate roach stocks in the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes. Similar fundraising projects could be launched to benefit other canal stocking campaigns.
8 Improved online presence
The C&RT website is set for a major overhaul, with officials promising more information on top canal stretches to fish, on ticket prices and news updates for anglers.
9 Fish surveys
A lot of mystery surrounds what is present in our canal systems, but staff are set to conduct fish surveys on numerous stretches to give anglers a better picture of fish stock levels.
10 Create community waters
Stretches of canal that are currently being underused could see coaching and community events that would help draw new people into angling and reduce issues such as anti-social behaviour in the process.
For more details visit https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/