Lines On The Water

Help angling and the environment – become a volunteer

“Volunteering? That’s giving up your time for nothing, right?”

“Well no, not exactly. If you’re thinking about it in financial terms then by its own definition, volunteering offers no monetary gain, but the wider rewards are almost limitless.”

It’s a hypothetical exchange of course, but it’s also a fair guess that its essence will have been played out across England, Europe and the entire world on a very regular basis.

According to the website, volunteering can be a mutually beneficial experience for those involved. Specifically for the provider, it offers a pathway to potentially life-enriching benefits.

“With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer.
However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.”


From the career perspective, volunteering can help you to experience a specific area of interest and meet people who are connected within that field. In that regard, volunteering within angling is a perfect platform for anglers. In helping others learn skills, or offering assistance for environmental projects, you’re nearer to your passion and closer to making it worthwhile on a far deeper level than just catching fish.

So how can you volunteer within angling to ensure you make a difference and potentially take out as well as put in? We’ve highlighted 5 options available through the Angling Trust website that offer opportunities to put mutual benefit into action.


Coaching offers direct interaction with others and, potentially, instant results! In a recent Lines On The Water blog, we established that if you already know how to fish, you’re already on the road to becoming a fully licensed coach. You don’t have to be a competition winner or specimen record holder, merely someone who wishes to spend more time at the waterside with others and pass on the knowledge you have. You might not immediately think you have knowledge to pass on, but if you fish and can catch fish, then you most certainly have.

If you can fish, you can coach.

Coaching focuses on all abilities of anglers from outright beginners to others who are perhaps at your own level or even above, but who want to learn more. Even someone you regard as being ‘better’ than you can potentially derive benefits from a different approach or a knowledge of tactics for species they consider themselves to be weak in.

The benefits to you as a volunteer coach are obvious. Social interaction, deeper participation in the great outdoors and the wholesome satisfaction of being party to someone else’s success.

The future of angling starts here.

As the recent blog highlighted, the route to becoming an angling coach has recently been made easier and the initial steps can be followed by opportunities to participate in professional development courses.

You can find out more and request further information on the coaching pages of the Angling Trust website.

Water Quality Monitoring Network

The Angling Trust’s Water Quality Monitoring Network was launched in May 2022.

It harnesses the power of angling clubs and anglers to understand the quality of water across England and Wales and to establish a solid foundation of data. The findings from tests taken by club volunteers help the Angling Trust to keep up the pressure to improve our rivers, streams and stillwaters.

Sourcing and reporting,

The network itself is effectively formed by the individual angling clubs, anglers and other volunteers who undertake the regular monitoring activities. Clubs recruit and organise teams of local volunteers who are allocated monitoring sites and on a regular and consistent basis, gather a range of data. A report is required from each site, once a month for at least two years although clubs can collect data at more sites and more frequently if they wish.

As well as monitoring water levels, flow rates and the possible presence of pollution and algal blooms, the samples taken assess levels of nutrients such as phosphates, nitrates and ammonia. The Trust supplies monitoring kits and consumables to the clubs at cost and the volunteers carry out the process and report the findings for analysis. This is important work at a local level and affords the volunteer active local participation in a national programme. It also offers the opportunity to enjoy the countryside and local environment.

Ongoing monitoring of our waterways by the Environment Agency samples water quality and biological quality with long-term data sets held on record. The Trust’s network, supported by the volunteers, helps supplement this information and fills in the blanks with data which is made available to help inform the wider understanding of water quality.

More information is available on the Angling Trust website or directly from the scheme’s administrator, Kris Kent at: [email protected]

Anglers Against Litter

Alongside the Water Quality Monitoring Network, the Trust’s Anglers Against Litter campaign offers an alternative option for tackling pollution.

The campaign is sponsored by tackle company Shimano and there are regular presentations to volunteers – or ‘champions’ – who have made significant contributions to help clean up their local waterways, banksides and general communities.

A commitment to angling and the environment brought national recognition for Yorkshire’s Ron Wood

At an organisational level, angling clubs can apply to receive official litter picking kits produced through the Trust’s partnership with Shimano but use of the equipment isn’t necessarily limited to club members. An offer of help from one who cares and simply wants to be involved, would no doubt be welcomed at clubs up and down the country.

Of course, you don’t have to use an official litter picking kit to pick up litter in the countryside and on that basis, this is probably the easiest volunteering option in the list. For any responsible member of a community there will surely be that warm feeling of satisfaction whenever they stop at a hedgerow to lift and remove something that’s either unsightly or a potential hazard to other users or local wildlife. But if you want to get involved on a more organised basis, speak to your local angling club. If you need help identifying a local club to approach, the Angling Trust’s website has an interactive map that provide local information. Additionally, a visit to a local tackle shop will probably yield names and contacts for onward conversation.

The Anglers Against Litter campaign has been supported by the Environment Agency who have invested money from rod licence sales, more information can be found here.

Volunteer Bailiff Service

Let’s clear up a potential issue at the beginning of this one because for many, the word’ bailiff’ instantly conjures up thoughts of an enforcer who is primed to challenge lawbreakers and intercept general ill-doers. That is not the case. Interaction with others is not the single motivating factor here.


An emphasis on observation rather than enforcement

In fact, becoming a Voluntary Bailiff provides the opportunity to positively contribute towards protecting fish, fisheries and the wider community. It’s a position that helps safeguard the very future of our sport and its associated habitats.

The work will certainly support the Environment Agency and the police as volunteer bailiffs are their eyes and ears on the ground. They provide a vital link between the EA , Police, Clubs, Fisheries  and Anglers.

Since 2009, only EA Officers and the Police are empowered to demand sight of rod licences. Club bailiffs can also ask to see a rod license if it’s a condition of being allowed to fish at the club.

On any given day, the role of a Volunteer is far more likely to involve the patrol of local watercourses and the logging of any observations you make for reporting purposes. A ‘patrol’ could even include your own fishing trip or a simple walk along a riverbank, so the opportunity to relax, de-stress or simply enjoy the fresh air while carrying out your voluntary task is a more realistic prospect than anything more strenuous.

More information on the scheme, which is funded by the EA, is available on the Trust’s volunteering pages. Full training is of course provided to all successful applicants.


If you’re an individual who enjoys the thrill of competition, volunteering provides an option to get close to the action. The Angling Trust’s competitions team is always on the lookout for assistance with matches staged all over the country and would no doubt welcome the offer of involvement.

Competition anglers need volunteers to make it happen

From the volunteer’s perspective, this is an opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of angling with an edge at all levels and across all disciplines. Coarse, Game and Sea events are regularly competed, you could potentially rub shoulders with the Team England crew or assist at events where the seniors of tomorrow are beginning to make their own waves.

Opportunities in this area are clearly dependent upon the event schedule and each competition’s requirement for support so it’s certainly a more ad-hoc option than the others mentioned. But when available, there’s a buzz to competition angling and if you’re not going to compete, you can still sample the atmosphere as a volunteer.

More detail on competitions is available from: [email protected]

There are of course other areas for volunteering and organisations such as the Rivers Trust and other environmental groups are regularly on the lookout for support too. It’s certainly wise to acknowledge that volunteering might not be for everyone; time allocation in a busy, modern world is not always compatible with personal responsibilities but if it is an option, then whether it’s through an Angling Trust scheme or any other, volunteering offers both opportunity and benefit for those in receipt and those who provide.

Want to know more about volunteering? Why not visit our page ‘Activist Anglers’, a movement led by actor Jim Murray,  which aims to empower and educate anglers on how they can make a difference and protect their local waterways.

Activist Anglers – Angling Trust

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