The world angling championships could soon be held on home soil for the first time in over 20 years if ambitious plans are given the go ahead.
In a secret meeting held by legendary former Drennan Team England manager Dick Clegg and the Angling Trust, officials from the Canal & River Trust (CRT) investigated the possibility of turning a section of the Aire & Calder Canal in Yorkshire into a venue capable of holding international matches.
The stretch being considered is the Boothferry Aire and Calder Joint Canal Committee-run section between Goole and Great Heck in East Yorkshire. It’s a waterway which is more than up to the job, according to Dick who is international events director for the Angling Trust.
“We have been working hard to get the world champs back to the UK for a while now. We (the Angling Trust) have been looking at plenty of venues, but the Aire & Calder is one of the closest we have to making it happen as it’s wide and deep enough to satisfy international rules. We just need to sort out some of the issues and it could happen.”
The last time the world champs came to home shores was in 1994 at Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont when Drennan Team England, led by Dick, not only secured team gold, but saw Bob Nudd crowned world champ for the third time.
“The stretch of the Aire & Calder we are considering is long, straight and full of fish, which makes it ideal for international events,” said John Ellis, national fisheries and angling manager for the CRT.
“The only problem is with access and facilities for spectators, but there are things which can be done to iron these problems out which we will work hard to do as we would love to see international matches held on our waterways.”
The project is just part of a nation-wide series of action plans recently created by the CRT to improve sport for anglers and encourage more people back to the towpath.
The initiatives, which were drawn up following numerous meetings with angling clubs, will see money being spent on improving facilities at venues, as well as increasing participation by holding events.
It’s a move that follows the recent revelation that the charity is being buoyed by a noticeable increase in anglers heading back to the canals in 2015.
“We have definitely experienced a rise in the number of clubs and anglers heading back to the waterways in recent years,” John continued.
“This has been helped by a big drive by us and other organisations and clubs to get people fishing natural water again, as well as an increase in competitions on waterways, which is encouraging match anglers to come back too.”
Events such as the CRT’s own Canal Pairs Championship have seen a remarkable rise in popularity, with record numbers of competitors taking part this year.
John believes this is a positive sign, but despite the increase the forward-thinking organisation is keen to continue efforts to get more anglers involved.
“We still have a long way to go to get back to the glory days when the towpaths were packed with anglers.
“The CRT will continue the drive, working with the other national organisations to help with coaching days competitions and events,” he added.