With National Fishing Month upon us in late July, it is a perfect time to plan introducing someone new to our sport. Whether it’s a friend, relative or partner; showing a non-angler just why you love fishing so much has loads of advantages, both personal and for the sport as a whole. For angling to remain as the largest participation sport in the UK, it is important that new blood is recruited on a regular basis. The fishery and tackle industries rely on income generated by anglers, as do angling clubs. So, more newcomers introduced to angling means a stronger UK angling economy, which is of benefit to us all. Plus, expanding the general public’s awareness and understanding of fishing can only be a good thing. As anglers, we positively contribute so much towards many conservation and environmental issues and I think this needs to be better publicised, to show that we do more than just sit around wasting time, watching an orange blob all day (well, not quite all day!).
I have taken several non-anglers fishing over the years, including cousins, girlfriends and friends. Whilst some of them have since taken up fishing on a regular basis, I’m regularly asked by some of the others to take them fishing again. It’s most rewarding to show someone how to use fishing tackle and see the delight as they hook and land that first fish. It’s even better when they’ve enjoyed it so much that they want to go again.
Two of the most successful instances of this would have to be on my trips to Northern India for Mahseer, and to Western Canada chasing Sturgeon. My friend Rich had not fished since childhood, but with my enthusiasm for catching a mahseer whilst visiting him in India, he was raring to catch one himself. We embarked on quite an adventure, finding our own guide and travelling some tricky terrain in order to reach the fishing grounds. Low and behold, Rich hooked the first two mahseer, the second of which was quite a specimen! He played it on a tiny telescopic rod and the fish virtually melted the reel during an epic 55-minute fight, beneath a blazing Indian sun. His prize for putting himself through such an ordeal? A 40lb+ Himalayan Mahseer (which ended up being bigger than anything I caught!) and an almighty smile!
“Titch displaying his breathtaking Himalayan Mahseer, caught as a novice under my instruction”
Then in Canada my friend since school, Tim, came sturgeon fishing with me. We had a superb 3 days, catching a number of sturgeon, but Tim’s first was definitely one of the most memorable! As soon as Tim set the hooks, the sturgeon powered away on a relentless, long run. Tim couldn’t quite comprehend its power, and out came the legendary line, “I’ve… I’ve got a whale or somert on here!”. Much groaning, sighing and lactic acid later, a sturgeon in the 70lb to 80lb bracket was lifted on board. An unbelievable capture for Tim’s first fish caught outside the UK.
“Tim Sellars with a good Sturgeon, caught in Canada. Tim was a complete angling novice, but struck gold with this superb fish.”
More recently, I introduced my friend, Freya, into fishing. Our first outing was for tench, and she out-fished me at a 2:1 ratio! Then on her first pike fishing trip, she managed to tempt a 12lb fish, while I struggled to catch anything over 6lb! Talk about beginners’ luck!
As any glutton-for-punishment angler would no doubt agree, I decided the perfect Christmas present to exploit her newly found talents would be a fishing rod! Much ribbing later, we went piking again, and true to form I blanked while she caught on her new rod!
“Freya on her first fishing trip with me, with her first ever fish; a lovely tench”
So why not make the most of National Fishing Week. It’s the perfect excuse, if one was ever needed, to take someone fishing who has never experienced the thrills and pleasures of angling, first-hand. Don’t forget, if you want to take someone fishing who is under 12, they won’t even need a rod licence. If the person is 12 or over, they can purchase a 1-day rod licence for £3.50 from a post office or online.
If you or your child is thinking about trying fishing for the first time (or if you’re trying to get back into it after a long lay-off), there are some tips & FAQs on how to go fishing legally in this Angling Trust blog post. Elsewhere on my website I have lots of information on free fishing taster events for children and how to find out where you can learn to fish.
For a more complete taster of angling, take along a non-angler to one of the many events being hosted as part of National Fishing Week, such as the Fish-O-Mania final or the open day at Barlow Lakes, near Chesterfield. This is being held on Saturday July 19th this year, and I have attended for the past few years to pass on any knowledge, advice and encouragement I can to budding new anglers. Anyone can turn up and try coarse, carp or fly fishing for free, with instruction from an NFA qualified coach. Tackle is provided and that magical first capture is almost guaranteed. Last year every youngster trying fishing for the first time walked away with a free 3 metre whip and rig to get them started!
For further information about National Fishing Week, including a search facility for events in your area, visit: www.nationalfishingweek.co.uk. Then, help promote the idea of introducing new anglers, by sending in your stories (and photos) to www.takeafriendfishing.co.uk