Big plans to revive the ‘Nationals’

The most iconic series of events on the match-fishing calendar could be set for a major overhaul after organisers revealed their determination to revive the ‘Nationals’.
More than 5,500 anglers used to compete over six divisions on rivers and canals in the heyday of the National Championships in the late 1980s, but that number has slumped to fewer than 1,000 people involved in the two remaining leagues this year.
A number of factors have been blamed for the demise, with the rise of commercial fisheries among the most commonly cited reasons.
Rather than allow the negative trend to continue, a committee has been formed to look into how those glory days of the Nationals can be resurrected.
In order to bring back the masses, officials at the Angling Trust is urging anglers to offer suggestions as to what changes could be made to boost the popularity of the Nationals. Competitions manager Ben Thompson said: “We are reviewing their structure and are committed to finding a solution that increases participation and is fit for purpose in modern-day match angling.
“We want anglers to give us their ideas as to how best to achieve that from 2017. We need to get to the root of why the popularity of the Nationals has faltered, and I am confident that the Trust and anglers can do that by working together.”
Daiwa Dorking are the current holders of the Division One title and key squad member Des Shipp believes that the system needs to be revamped to improve its fortunes. He told Angling Times: “You need a team of 10 anglers to enter the Nationals and a lot of squads struggle to put that many people together, so halving the number of competitors in each team could help.
“The venues that are used also need to offer great access, as the long walks put a lot of people off getting involved.
“Nationals are still very prestigious events and we need to do what we can to regenerate their popularity,” added Des.