For so many reasons, 2018 has been a memorable year for fishing. Along with the freak weather, there were big surprises and some truly uplifting stories. Here are 15 images that summed it up, through the lens of Angling Trust blogger Dominic Garnett.
From drought to downpour
Even by British standards, the weather was wildly unpredictable in 2018. Early on we had the “Beast from the East” and the big freeze. Yet by summer we were cursing the hottest summer in decades and chronically low water levels. Normal service has more recently resumed with heavy rain and flash floods. A freak year, or is this the new “normal”?
The great fry explosion!
One unexpected bonus of the baking hot summer was an explosion of fry across the country. Warm margins and weed growth made for a bumper year. Could it be a sign of healthier times ahead? We are as determined as ever to help clubs and fisheries with practical support and advice, to help ensure healthy fish stocks for the future.
Angling legends back the great crucian comeback
Another refreshigly optimistic story for 2018 was the success of the National Crucian Conservation Project, bringing this much-loved species back to fisheries across the land. Angling stars were out in force to support the opening of Wimborne & District Angling Club’s new dedicated crucian and tench water, Pinnock Lake, which you can read about in this special blog article from September.
Bizarre finds in freshwater!
Opening the topic of litter and random catches to fellow anglers this year, the response I got was both incredible and bizarre. Along with weapons, dolls and erotica, TWO of these Indian statues were recorded. Do take a peek at the full blog post on this grubby yet fascinating topic, to see the full range of oddities, along with ways angling can help combat litter.
First casts and “Get Fishing” events
Without doubt, the biggest current challenge for angling is getting newcomers into the sport. The efforts of hundreds of Angling Trust coaches was truly inspiring this year. Their hard work and the sunny weather helped to make events busier than ever, with so many magic moments. Perhaps my favourite was the “bream brothers” on my local Tiverton Canal (above R), who were thrilled to bits with their magnificent fish.
Changing perceptions of angling and immigration
While the topic of European anglers and migration still brings some negativity, one of the most uplifting stories I covered in 2018 was with the Building Bridges team. Their events are a melting pot of Polish, English and other nationalities, where families get the perfect introduction to UK catch and release fishing. Hundreds of school kids have been involved this year, and the benefits to clubs and tackle shops could be huge! Take a look at my summer blog to find out how the team are turning a perceived problem into a great opportunity.
Still learning at 80 years young
Of course, while we love to see kids on the bank, angling is truly a sport for all ages. Just ask the inspirational Jill King, of the “Fishing for Life” group. I met them in July as they celebrated 10 years of helping women recovering from cancer. Having only learnt to fly fish in her 70s, Jill’s remarkable enthusiasm has led to her become a coach at 80 years young. ““I just love my fishing,” she told me. “I enjoy it immensely, and I got so much from the group that I wanted to give something back.”
While angling’s doom mongers love to rant on social media, it’s a real shame we seldom appear to shout as loudly for the sports heroes- because when anglers get inspired and work together amazing things happen! On the banks of the Upper Severn, I saw this first hand with Rowley and Fenemere AC. With a little help from Environment Agency rod licence funding via the AIF (Angling Improvement Fund), Max Taylor and his men have worked wonders, turning a neglected stretch of river into a thriving fishery (you can read more about their great work HERE).
Carp in the big city
Talking of great work, another of my favourite road trips of the year was meeting the fantastic anglers of Liverpool’s Sefton Park. After all, besides idyllic rivers, our public and urban waters are so important to get people fishing! With an inspired plan from locals Garry Lawler and Aaron Temple, and a little help from rod licence money via the Angling Improvement Fund, the project at Sefton has brought huge benefits to the community.
Unsung heroes & award winners
Angling in the UK is so much stronger for the goodwill and effort of thousands of coaches, bailiffs and other volunteers. While these folks do their bit for love rather than recognition, it’s great to be able to thank them when the chance arises. One of my most memorable characters of 2018 was Roy Bridson, an award-winning Voluntary Bailiff. In spite of his battle to recover from cancer, Roy has continued to be a key presence on the bank, checking licences, looking after the rivers and even saving a distressed lady who had intended to take her own life. His tales from the bank made a wonderful Angling Times interview, too, headlined by Roy’s quote “Unfortunately for the poachers, I’m still here!” Here’s to all our grass roots heroes who make a difference.
Join us in 2019 to build a more positive future for angling!
Whatever our style of angling or opinions on it, we all want to see fishing in a stronger position in the future. 2019 is set to mark ten years of the Angling Trust. From training hundreds of coaches and voluntary bailiffs, to taking taking issues such as pollution and water management to local and national decision makers, we’ve made great strides this past decade as you can see in our recent summary of 12 big wins for fishing.
However, there is so much still to work on and so much more we could do with support of more individual anglers. If you are not already a member, why not join us this year? Membership is not only a great way to give back to the sport you love but brings a range of benefits. See our membership section for more information.