The National Fishing Month (NFM) launch at the CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace was a roaring success despite the best efforts from the unpredictable weather. Coaches from the Professional Anglers Association (PAA) and the Game Angling Instructors Association (GAIA) tutored nearly 900 people over the three days in both coarse and game angling. Nearly 600 of these were children who had little or no previous angling experience.
Fisheries Minister George Eustace kindly took time out of his busy schedule on launch day, Friday 18th July and came down to the water’s edge to meet the coaching teams and their students. The Minister and CLA Game Fair President Henry Robinson were invited to take part in a coarse fishing ‘taster’ session from lead coach Nick Watkins, and they both seemed to enjoy their time spent on the bank.
The NFM launch was supported not only by Government officials and CLA Game Fair Senior Management but also by TV personalities and presenters. Adam Henson (Countryfile) and his son Alfie spent time learning to both fly fish and coarse fish, with Alfie catching a small roach. Phil Spencer (Location, Location) and his family also enjoyed coaching sessions from both the PAA and GAIA over two days.
Everyone who participated received a ‘goodie bag’ containing a ‘Get into Fishing’ booklet full of information on how to get started and advice on different types of fishing, stickers and a fishing log book. Participants were also presented with certificates of participation as lasting mementos of their introduction to angling – even the Minister got a ‘goodie bag’!
The log book will be of special interest this year, as by recording their captures throughout the summer holidays, NFM participants can enter their books into a competition to win a day’s fishing with well-known angler, columnist and presenter Des Taylor. This unique prize will enable the lucky winners to become part of Des’ fishing world for a day, learning about watercraft, stalking fish and the wonderful environment around the water.
Initial feedback has indicated that the general public has responded enthusiastically to the widespread national publicity campaign inviting everyone to ‘have a go’ at organised events during National Fishing Month. Of the 300 events listed on the NFM website, the Kevin Green Memorial Day at Leamington Lakes, Gloucestershire, the Fish N Frolics Festival in Shipston, Warwickshire, and a number of Angling Trust supported events in Newton Abbott, Swindon, Haverhill and Tyne and Wear, look set to be especially popular and offer ideal opportunities for youngsters to engage with angling as a sport.
Naidre Werner, Chairman of the Angling Trades Association (ATA), the organisation that runs NFM said: 'Our initial participant numbers are looking very good and the synergy of our close partnerships with the Environment Agency, GAIA, the PAA and the Angling Trust have ensured that we are all aiming for the same outcome – a positive experience for anyone wanting to try fishing for the first time.
'The teamwork displayed by the GAIA and PAA coaches at the Game Fair just shows what we can achieve together to encourage more participation in our sport. The feedback from the parents and their children during the launch weekend has been extremely positive, and I’m confident that it will be the same across the country throughout the whole of National Fishing Month.'
'However, none of this could be achieved without the support of those organisers and coaches who actually plan and facilitate the NFM events every year. A big thank you goes to those who have already run their events and good luck to those who have events yet to come. I must also offer my personal gratitude to Daiwa, Pure Fishing, Leeda, Sports Direct, Dragon Carp, Fosters of Birmingham and Fishing Republic for being so generous in donating products and services to support NFM and its organisers.'
With over 300 registered on the website, there are still plenty of events happening across the country before NFM ends on the 31st August 2014. Visit www.nationalfishingmonth.com to look for an event near to you.