Proof that our sport needs young anglers - NOW!

Fishing is fast becoming an old man’s sport. That’s one of the conclusions of the biggest-ever angling survey, which found that just nine per cent of fishermen are under the age of 30, with the average age of an angler now 49.

The report into angling participation, which was independently carried out by Substance research, showed that a massive 52 per cent are aged 50 and above, and also included a host of other interesting figures, including:

Coarse fishing is the preferred type of angling for 59.4 per cent of anglers, as opposed to 25.6 per cent for game and 15 per cent for sea.

A person goes fishing for an average of 58 days per year.

Anglers spend on average £501-£1,000 per year on fishing.

The mean annual income for an angler’s household is £51,137.

56 per cent of anglers did not rank catching big fish as an important reason to go fishing, and 69 per cent did not rate catching lots of fish as an important motivation.

The age trends exposed in the research is something that Martin Salter, Parliamentary spokesperson for angling, is well aware of. The keen angler believes there is a real dearth of fishermen aged between 20 and 30.

“It’s like missing a whole year class of fish. Could this be because we didn’t do enough to encourage youngsters 10 to 15 years ago? Possibly, but there are more young people coming through now. It’s important that we double our efforts to recruit new blood,” said Martin.

The survey, backed by the National Lottery, also found that 44 per cent of anglers thought fishing a moderately intense physical sport, and 34 per cent even described it as highly intense. These statistics are crucial for securing future funding says Jackie Sheldon, senior development manager for the Angling Development Board.

“I’ll be presenting this report to Sport England because it backs up evidence from another survey that I’ve recently obtained, where 46 per cent of anglers consider it moderately intense. In growth areas Sport England only funds sports that meet this criteria, but fishing is regarded as low intensity,” said Jackie.