Fishing clubs are reporting membership rises of up to a staggering 300 per-cent thanks to a ‘modern approach of recruiting anglers’ that’s set to make 2015 a record year for organisations across the country.
Dozens of clubs are starting to turn around their fortunes and attract new blood to the banks of rivers, stillwaters and canals thanks to initiatives across popular social media sites, value for money joining fees and even the purchase of commercial fisheries.
An exclusive Angling Times investigation recently revealed that countless UK clubs had decided to freeze their annual memberships this year and it seems it’s a decision that’s already baring fruit.
The first of many success stories comes from Derbyshire’s Stanton Fishing Club which is celebrating more than most after increasing its membership by 300 per-cent with a rise from 122 members to 410 at the last count.
“The club had been dying for several years and we had a lot of heated discussions about what we could do about it,” said DSFC secretary Mick Burke.
“We sold just six junior books in 2013 so we decided to stop charging anglers up to the age of 16 and almost immediately we had 70 juniors take up membership, but what we found was that a lot of their parents joining them too.
“We’ve had a complete turnaround and the whole dynamic has changed and I’m convinced any club can do the same .”
Staffordshire’s Fenton and District Angling Society was another club that was previously in steady decline, but is now celebrating a membership boost revealing a recent increase from 651to 792.
“A new committee took charge late in 2012 and the club changed almost beyond recognition.
We’ve got a new well-maintained website, new ticket sales outlets and a major restocking programme in place, plus we’ve added some new waters to our portfolio,” said assistant secretary Jim Maskery.
“Plans for the coming year include taking our advertising campaign out on the road at local events, we’ve also started a Facebook page and a renewed junior project is to be instigated this year to attract new blood.”
The decline in the popularity of club angling over the last decade has coincided with the rise of commercial fisheries, but some clubs have decided to confront this issue head on.
Leeds and District Amalgamated Society of Anglers have this week announced the acquisition of Carpvale Pools in Moor Monkton, North Yorkshire.
The three pool complex follows the clubs takeover of Kippax Park, another popular commercial fishery in the area and Club President Stan Jeffreys told Angling Times: “Commercial fisheries have definitely been responsible for falling memberships in a lot of other fishing clubs.
“We’ve got more rivers, canals and stillwaters than we can shake a stick at so we’re delighted to be able to offer our members a commercial fishery giving anglers more choice.”
But it isn’t just angling clubs themselves who are responsible for introducing exciting new initiatives to bring anglers into their organisations.
The Canal & River Trust are now offering some stretches at significantly reduced rates for clubs if they can provide something like a bailiffing service in return.
One club who have already taken advantage of this are Shropshire based, Hodnet AC.
It is now running a previously prohibited to fishing stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal at Market Drayton Marina in exchange for patrolling the banks where poaching was causing a major concern.
CRT’s National Fisheries and Angling Manager John Ellis said: “This is a fantastic example of the Canal & River Trust and a customer angling club coming together to help boost membership numbers and help each other at the same time.
“We have agreed limited fishing rights which will be upheld by the angling club’s own water keepers. This is a win for the Canal & River Trust and the angling club as it saves us money which can be spent on improving the canal network instead of being spent on bailiffing.”
How numbers are increasing:
Earl of Harrington’s Angling Club. This Derbyshire based club decided to adopt a huge online presence in recent years even employing a full time social media officer. Membership went up 50% since the move.
Watford Piscators: Offer a non-fishing membership at just £20 in the hope that more parents who are not anglers will take to the bank and support children who want to go fishing.
Hull & District Anglers Association: Have agreed to give anyone under the age of 16 a free club book as long as the join with a full-paying adult at the same time. The club have also abolished joining fees for new members.
Derwent Angling Association: Allows juniors under the age of 16 up to four sessions for free as long as they are accompanied by an adult club member.
Salford Friendly Anglers: A major re-launch in 2010 which included a change to free memberships for all saw this Manchester club go from just 6 members to well over 1000 anglers.
Bay Moulton Angling Club: This Cheshire club brought commercial complex Border Fisheries during the initial rise of commercial venues at the turn of the century and saw memberships soar to well over 2000 from just a few dozen anglers.
Nottingham Federation of Anglers, underwent a huge revamp in 2013 and changed to an ‘open to all’ policy. Membership increased by over 100 and fuelled by the superb form of the River Trent, which the club runs several sections of, the group has also experienced an increase in match bookings.
FIVE WAYS TO BOOST YOUR CLUBS MEMBERSHIP
1. Use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter wisely. Post regular updates and encourage members to get involved.
2. Running matches with a difference. Standard events work but consider introducing ‘specials’ such as barbel and predator competitions.
3. Keep tickets affordable. There is no point having the best waters in the area if only a handful are willing to pay the prices you have set.
4. Encourage younger members on to the committee. Listen to what they have to say and take their ideas on board. After all, they are the future of the club.
5. Make key committee members easily contactable. If they can drop you an email or make a call and get an immediate answer it makes members feel part of one big community.
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