A third of the adult population in England has been fishing at least once in their lives. For a sport that’s been regarded as niche and somewhat inaccessible, this is a healthy number which is rising steadily as angling gains national popularity and celebrity backing.
In February this year, The Telegraph ranked angling as the 19th most popular sport in England, but more importantly it recorded a year-on-year change of nearly 10% in participation numbers – highlighting the popular growth that the sport is experiencing.
More recently, angling’s inclusion in This Girl Can, the national campaign to motivate and promote female participation in sport, is testament to the growing interest in casting a line for the first time. More people are now inclined to head to the waterside, rod in hand to relax and spend time in nature away from the distraction of email, phones and the office.
With research showing that four out of five UK children are “not connected to nature” parents are keen to discover new ways to get kids outdoors and active. Fishing, with the chance to discover what goes on underwater, ticks the right boxes as an easy and inexpensive way to spend family time together.
According to the latest figures from the Environment Agency junior fishing licences – now free for 12 to 16 year olds – have received a welcome boost over the summer with uptake rising by over 25% from 51,117 at the end of 2016 to 65,487 this August.
The Angling Trust are at the forefront of this return to the riverbank, and their mantra “more people fishing more often” runs through the “Get Fishing” campaign that last year introduced over 30,000 people to fishing.
Head of Participation at the Angling Trust, Clive Copeland explained: “We offer a whole range of events which provide fun, safe and friendly access to fishing at ‘Get Fishing‘. Anyone can now get into angling. Complete beginners can come and try fishing at sessions where all the tackle and bait is provided, plus we are also welcoming back hundreds of anglers who used to go fishing and are now rediscovering its health and wellbeing benefits. It really is an exciting time for anyone who wants to give fishing a go.”
With public figures and celebrities being featured fishing more regularly, together with an increasing number of prime-time TV shows, angling continues to gain popularity and exposure.
Household names such as David Beckham, Anthony Joshua, John Terry and Rita Ora have recently expressed their enjoyment of angling and it’s now becoming a cool thing to do that can even be combined with a busy celebrity lifestyle. Rita Ora recently explained how this might be a bit of a surprise to her fans “It’s a random thing for me to do but I like it, it’s relaxing”.
The Get Fishing initiative has the backing of high-profile names, who recognise the positive influence angling has had on their careers and want to see more people embrace fishing.
Formula One Managing Director of Motorsports and keen angler Ross Brawn reflected: “My Dad first took me fishing when I was a kid and gave me a life-long connection with nature and the outdoors. As well as creating a passion for angling, it was something he and I could properly do together. He’s 90 now but we still go and have a dabble together. And I am making that connection now with my grandkids, who love going fishing, especially if it involves a bit of camping and outdoor life. Don’t believe they are only an iPad generation – give them an interesting alternative and they are full on. Fishing can succeed on so many levels, and it is a lot of fun – try it and especially try it with your kids. The Get Fishing campaign and initiative helps you to get started – no excuses!”
Paul Whitehouse, actor, writer, comedian and avid fisherman, gives his perspective: “When you start fishing you discover a way of looking at rivers, lakes and canals and what goes on around and underneath their surface that will bring you a lifetime of enjoyment – it’s the perfect way to spend time outdoors.”
Scott Maslen, who plays Jack Branning in EastEnders shares this enthusiasm, he’s also a keen big-fish angler: “I’ve been fishing for years and get so much pleasure from it. It’s not the first thing that people would think I’d spend time doing, but fishing is a great way to unwind and forget the pressures of life.”
You can get into fishing too, Get Fishing’s website get fishing lists hundreds of events and places around the UK to start where you can try fishing at quality assured beginner sessions for all ages and abilities.
Other Angling Trust Ambassadors & Angling Advocates who support the Get Fishing initiative:
Jacqui Oatley MBE, sports presenter best known for her football and darts coverage described how she enjoys fishing: “It’s great to go fishing because like me you can catch loads and loads of fish and it’s really exciting doing so. And, if like me you go through the odd period where you don’t catch many, you’ve got loads of people to chat to and have a lot of fun with. And also, it’s a very peaceful and tranquil activity.”
Nick Hancock actor and former TV presenter of They Think It’s All Over and Room 101 explained why he goes fishing. “I love to be out there in the countryside, to try and do what the proper fishermen do, but also I love fishing because wherever I go I can pretend that there’s no coverage on my phone and nobody can bug me!”
Barry Hearn, Chairman of Matchroom Sport, World Snooker Ltd and the Professional Darts Corporation attributes much of his business success to going fishing: “I go fishing because in this world we live in, it’s the only time you can really relax, get out of the rat race, think things through, and plan your next move. My whole life has been built around this, and the success I’ve had is because I go fishing.”
Former England International goalkeeper, David Seaman explained his enjoyment of the sport. “For a long time I have been passionate about fishing. I find it a great way of relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors. I encourage anyone who’s not tried it, to give it a go.”
Further Angling Trust Ambassadors & Angling Advocates who support the Get Fishing initiative can be found here.
Notes for Editors:
The Get Fishing campaign is run by the Angling Trust to increase the number of people being introduced to angling across the country. Anyone interested in going fishing can find angling events at Get Fishing Near You. The events listed are for all participants regardless of gender, age, fitness or previous angling experience.
The Angling Trust is the National Governing Body and representative organisation for coarse, game and sea angling in England and Wales. It campaigns to protect the water environment and fish stocks, promotes participation in angling (particularly to under-represented groups and those from deprived backgrounds) and organises national and international competitions. www.anglingtrust.net.
Angling Participation and the Get Fishing campaign is supported by Environment Agency fishing licence income and helps to introduce thousands of people to fishing each year.
Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2017/02/15/popular-sport-england/
This Girl Can: http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/activities/