Dave Harrell: My plan to save river fishing

River fishing legend Dave Harrell has this week unveiled his ambitious blueprint for the resurgence of river fishing across the UK.

In a continued bid to attract thousands more anglers on to running-water venues, Dave has now drawn up plans for a ground-breaking initiative called ‘Go River Fishing’.

The aim of the month-long event is not only to promote and showcase traditional angling on some of the most prolific and iconic waterways that the UK has to offer, but also to build on the recent resurgence that river fishing has enjoyed.

But despite this and the success story of RiverFest, which was also the brainchild of Dave and has seen anglers flock back to be a part of competitive angling on running waters, the river fishing icon believes that there’s a distinct lack of newcomers coming into this branch of the sport with commercials attracting the most novices.

This is a trend that he’s hoping ‘Go River Fishing’ will address.

“We have reached a critical point for river angling and if we don’t act fast to get more people involved, then nobody will be wetting a line on them in 20 years’ time,” he said.

“There are plenty of things being done by the Angling Trust and Environment Agency to promote fishing on the whole, but we need a more specific campaign that I believe can be responsible for creating a whole new generation of river anglers.”

Dave has long been a campaigner for a review of the current closed season and this will form one of the foundations of his blueprint for ‘Go River Fishing’ as he intends to consult the Environment Agency over the possibility of staging the month-long event in May or June.

Hiring a number of regional co-ordinators also forms one of the first stages of the scheme, with each one charged with analysing local river fishing opportunities to pinpoint venues that would be suitable to stage the event.

Experienced anglers would then be sought to give up their time for a number of free taster and demonstration sessions, with local newspapers, radio and TV stations being canvassed heavily to promote each event.

“It’s a formula that could work extremely well. Using the media will help reach out to non-anglers and make their first point of contact with our sport on a river rather than a commercial,” Dave continued.

“Finding a date in the current calendar could prove almost impossible and with that in mind I think it is important that the EA reviews the closed season to allow us to stage this vital event in April or May.

“Everybody wins out of this situation. Tackle shops gain more customers, clubs gain more members and rivers gain thousands of new enthusiasts.”

Staff at the Angling Trust have been approached with a view to playing a major role in the organisation of the project.

 Chief executive Mark Lloyd told Angling Times: “We’re keen to explore all the options related to getting more people on rivers, along with all the other things we are doing to get more people fishing more often.

“Creating a final plan will take time, but we are conscious that this topic is important to a lot of anglers.”

Angling charity Get Hooked on Fishing is always trialling new concepts to boost participation and head of the organisation Sarah Collins has added her support to the plans.

She said: “It’s a really great idea and I support any project that gets people fishing more often – especially on rivers.

“To make something like this a success, the co-operation of clubs and associations is vital to help Dave formulate his plans. To create an event on a national scale requires a lot of people working together.”


- Recruit regional organisers who would be responsible for sourcing appropriate venues for use during the project. Fisheries with good access, pegging and a reputation for providing plenty of bites would be deemed ideal.

- Create tailor-made press releases for local newspapers and radio stations to gain maximum exposure of the events being staged.

l Recruit experienced anglers to act as mentors and coaches.

- Consult the Environment Agency to review the closed season in order to create an opening on the angling calendar for the month-long festival.

- Work with tackle shops and manufacturers to create opportunities for participants to receive goodie bags and discounts.