Trendy’, ‘cool’ and ‘sexy’ aren’t words usually associated with the public image of angling. However, experts believe this needs to change quickly if we are to secure a safe future for our sport, Angling Times can reveal.
The news comes out of a specially organised ‘think tank’ at Solihull’s Barston Lakes, where leading figures from the sport’s governing bodies and concerned anglers met to formulate a plan to reverse the current decline in rod licence sales.
Their ideas would be used to contribute to the forthcoming National Angling Strategy – an initiative designed to increase participation in angling over the next few years.
Adam Browning, of the Angling Trust, and the Environment Agency’s Tom Sherwood pitched the Strategy after statistics revealed an 11.5 per cent decline in rod licence sales.
They told the audience: “Angling is an asset of immense significance, generating £1.4 billion for the British economy every year, as well as supporting 27,000 full time equivalent jobs.
“After the sharp decline in rod licence sales it’s essential that we act to present angling to a new audience.”
Most agreed that to the uninitiated, the public image of fishing is a negative one – typically a middle-aged man sat on a riverbank, in the rain, catching nothing.
Carp Team England manager and TV presenter, Rob Hughes, strongly believes it’s this image which needs to change quickly to attract new anglers.
He told us: “We need to make fishing trendy and sexy to disprove the stereotypical image of a boring and lonely angler on the bank.
“Using digital media to convey this is pivotal to its success, and by making exciting and engaging content we can introduce the public to angling in a different light.”
As an example of the potential impact of of online angling promotion, it was revealed that an image of David Beckham fishing with his sons generated the most interest of any angling-based social media post in years, quickly amassing over two million ‘likes’.
Sarah Collins, CEO of Get Hooked On Fishing, endorsed Rob’s idea.
She said: “When I first walked into a tackle shop I found it an uncomfortable place where I was looked upon in an unfriendly light.
“For angling to appeal to a wider audience we must give it a fun, safe, family-friendly image. Without this people are put off before they’ve even wet a line.”