THIS year’s Junior National is set to be the largest match for kids to take place this century.
In further proof that angling is booming across all age groups, 200 anglers between the ages of seven and 20 are set to compete on the Shropshire Union Canal this weekend (September 18-19).
The popular contest will be split into three matches – Cadets (aged 7-10), Juniors (11-15) and Youths (16-20) – and the success of the contest has been largely attributed to the Canal and River Trust’s (CRT) Let’s Fish campaign, under which angling clubs offer free coaching to youngsters.
John Ellis, National Fisheries and Angling Manager at the CRT, is delighted by the size of this year’s contest and believes it’s a start of a successful era of junior fishing.
“I can’t think of a bigger junior match in the last 15 years and reckon you’d have to go back to the old NFA Junior Nationals to find something similar,” he told us
“Many of the attendees can be traced back to our Let’s Fish events. We see the same names entering this year’s contest that have attended these coaching events in the past. The fantastic coaching work of clubs like Wellingborough, Telford and Port Sunlight, to name a few, has played a crucial role.”
While some people were sceptical of the Let’s Fish campaign, John reckons the scale of this year’s National is evidence enough for more clubs to get on board.
“People will see what we’re doing and think ‘we need some of that!’ We’re expecting more clubs to get involved, which will allow us to offer more Let’s Fish sessions,” said John.
“I think we can expect junior matches to get even bigger in the coming years. We’re not yet at the level of the old 700-peggers back in match fishing’s heyday 50 years ago, but we need goals and that’s what we’re aiming for.”