LAST season the angling market enjoyed a remarkable boom, as newcomers and returners to the sport swelled our ranks and sent the balance sheets of tackle companies and fishery owners soaring.
According to the Environment Agency’s National Angling Report, in the year to the end of June 2021 there was a 17 per cent increase in rod licence sales, generating £5m of additional income for the EA.
But now, with life returning to some form of normality, sales are tailing off and, with that, so is income. However, Tom Sherwood, head of the EA’s National Angling Strategy, said the organisation has earmarked a number of areas to target over the next five years to keep the momentum going.
“Last season there were around 940,000 licence sales – a huge rise on the previous year’s 830,000,” he said.
“Now we’re seeing sales tail off slightly, which we think is down to people’s reduced spare time.
“Lockdown gave people the chance to try fishing because many weren’t working. Fishing was also one of the only sports we were permitted to do. Now, however, that luxury of extra time just isn’t there.”
Tom, a keen angler himself, revealed some of the areas the EA plans to focus on to try to reinvigorate the fishing boom.
He said: “We’ve invested a lot of income into our Fisheries Improvement Programme and we’ll continue to focus on this. The Take a Friend Fishing scheme also has room to grow. More than 4,000 took part this year, but we want at least 20,000 people involved.
“We also need to boost the number of female anglers. We’re bringing fishing to underprivileged communities, and this is another area we want to expand.”
With anglers having traditionally been the EA’s harshest critics, Tom admitted that better transparency is also needed.
“We need do a better job of showing people where their money goes, and to prove to the angling community just what we are capable of,” he said.