What are your hopes and aims for fishing in 2019? To start the new year in style, we caught up with a host of passionate anglers and famous faces from Matt Hayes and John Bailey, to Hugh Miles, Keith Arthur and current Drennan Cup Champion Dai Gribble.
MATT HAYES: TV presenter & angling personality
“There are two big causes in angling I want to get involved with this year. First, to help the sport recover its recruitment of young people, typically 6-12 year olds, which has been very poor in recent times. The Angling Trust continues the important task of training more coaches and giving kids opportunities. It’s a big challenge which I hope I can be part of, but we all need to do more and the sport needs something game changing.
Having reached the stage in my fishing career where thoughts often turn to ‘putting something back, wild salmon populations are another concern. In particular, my support for the Gaula River in Norway and the welfare of its salmon is a challenge close to my heart. As the co-owner of a fishing lodge, I’m conscious just how big a responsibility this current generation has to bear when it comes to Atlantic salmon and the fight to preserve wild fish numbers. In England, the banning of almost all commercial salmon netting in 2019 will help. Again, though, we need to do more.
Talking of putting something back, I’d also like to see a change of focus in angling and a recognition of all those unsung heroes who give their time and effort to help others and grow the sport. In my next fishing series, to be shown later this year, I’ll be celebrating some of these people with my own “Angling Heroes” awards. Keep an eye on my Facebook page in the coming months for more on this.
JOHN BAILEY: Angling author, guide & columnist
“I would love to see more kids fishing this year. As with so many other sports, youngsters just don’t get the freedom we once had. Perhaps it’s time we trusted them more, however, and allowed them to get outdoors and learn about the natural world? Whether as a parent, grandparent or family friend, we can all help. If everyone did this, it would be a huge step forward. It enhances your own experience on the bank, too. Their first reactions to fish, even if they’re only small ones, are wonderful to see.
As for the future as a whole, your perceptions as an angler change over the years. I consider myself incredibly privileged to have fished all over the world; but the focus always returns to my beloved local River Wensum. I’d swap all my foreign catches for a single two-pound roach from its waters! Fish populations need our help more than ever and I applaud all those who make a difference. I hope that this year more of us can think beyond our own fishing towards the bigger picture, whether it’s taking a child fishing or volunteering for your local club.”
ZENIA DRURY-GREGOREK: Angler’s Paradise host & avid fishing mum
Fishing means so much to me and my family. It’s a natural therapy that gets us all outside, away from digital technology to appreciate the outdoors. Growing up at Anglers Paradise I’ve personally seen more women and kids getting into fishing than most perhaps, but this year I want to see more events than ever and angling coming together as a whole to help families get into the sport and share our passion. On their 10th anniversary year in 2019, the Angling Trust are trying to do just this, and I for one can’t wait to support them and the angling community to try and grow the future of fishing- and that starts with the younger generation.
HUGH MILES: Award-winning filmmaker & lifelong angler
In terms of resolutions for 2019, “must try harder” comes to mind! Try to support campaigns to protect our fish better. Try to help when children are learning to fish. Try to help our Wimborne club become even more successful. Try to get fishing more regularly would be great too, and catch some good fish. Try to help the Angling Trust capture more members in what we all hope will be a memorable and successful 10th Anniversary year. If only there was a website where I could order blocks of extra time to squeeze everything in! Happy New Year, everyone.
CHARLES JARDINE: Passionate fly angler, writer & Angling Trust Ambassador
“I still recall the very first meeting at Fishmonger’s Hall when the disparate – and often fractious – angling bodies came together in a unification called the Angling Trust. A brave new world dawned. Ten years on, here we are. So what has changed?
Well, let me categorically say – and this as an occasional critic – no organisation has championed the cause and case for angling better. The fact that numerical individual membership is relatively small, is risible. For a paltry sum per annum, every angler in England and Wales should see it as a moral obligation to join and add collective weight to The Angling Trust’s already resonant voice. Rather than moan, lets put our collective voice behind this vital part of angling in 2019.
There are ominous, metaphoric thunder clouds on the horizon for all rural pastimes – and angling will NOT be exempted. Let’s celebrate the Angling Trust. Importantly, lets celebrate that fact that we have a sport to be proud of and an organisation that fights vociferously for it continuing. If you have one New Year resolution, ensure that it is not to see what the sport can do for you, but what you can do for the sport.
DAI GRIBBLE: Specimen angler & Drennan Cup winner
My big fish targets each year are not based on catching a fish of a particular size, but rather to fish a water that I hope has the potential to produce specimen fish and see what I can catch. Whilst surprises are increasingly rare in the world of specimen fishing, opportunities still arise. It’s hard to beat the excitement of the first few bites on a new water, where you’ve no idea what could take your bait. This year I’m hoping to fish for tench in a lake better known for carp. The carpers have caught good-sized tench but report seeing much bigger ones. Will it be a wild goose chase or something very special?
One thing I have undertaken to do this year is collect at least five pieces of litter wherever I fish, just as the Angling Trust’s “Take 5” campaign has urged us all to do. I know it won’t change the world, but if every angler did this we could make a meaningful difference. Most litter by the side of rivers will eventually end up in the sea; unless you’ve been living in a cave you will know the damage plastics, in particular, can do in the marine environment.
MARTIN SALTER: Angling campaigner and all-rounder
2018 was a year of mixed angling fortunes for me and I’m hoping for a bit more consistency in the New Year. My work patterns are changing so I’m hoping for less screen time and more bank time: that’s my primary New Years resolution!
I’m considering a trailer boat so I can take advantage of the fabulous fishing on my local River Thames, as well as occasional trips to the South coast. Recovering bass stocks bode well for this, and I’d also like to catch my first smoothound. Some boating courses will need to come first though, so I’m safe on the water.
I’ve also got a couple of overseas adventures in mind, including a trip to Colombia after peacock bass with my good friend and Angling Trust Ambassador Keith Elliott. We had a great trip to the Amazon a while back and discovered just how addictive this great looking, hard fighting species can become. Apparently the peacocks are even bigger in Colombia so we are stocking up on stronger hooks for our poppers and jigs.
Closer to home, a new tench lake might just deliver my first double figure tinca this spring, but before that I want to bag another two pound roach; I’ve had one from nine rivers so far, including the Thames, Kennet and Colne, but would love to make that ten! I love all forms of fishing but my first love is definitely running a float down an English river. Despite the problems of pollution, predation and abstraction that we constantly battle with at the Angling Trust, there is still some great river fishing to be had in our green and pleasant land. Hope to see you on the river bank in 2019!
Catch more from Martin Salter in his “Fighting for Fishing” blog HERE.
KEITH ARTHUR: Angling journalist & presenter
I’ve been casting lines now for 65 years and my fishing time is pretty restricted these days. In some ways that’s a blessing because I’m able to devote more time to Get Hooked on Fishing as both chair of the charity’s trustees and a volunteer. Helping with young people sent to us from pupil referral units is massively rewarding. Seeing non-communicative children become involved to the extent they can become mentors is amazing! Those suffering from ADHD tying knots, preparing their own rigs and plumbing up before baiting their hook, striking and landing their own fish shows that they can learn in the right circumstances and their teachers comment to that effect. In fact we had a terrific email from a school head underlining the achievements of his charges with GHoF and they are now on the CAST Awards ladder.
As a partner of the Angling Trust, we are charged with introducing newcomers to our sport, too, as part of the Get Fishing campaign. We’ll be doing more of the same in 2019 at events such as BBC Countryfile Live which, in 2018, had 120,000 visitors to Blenheim Palace. This year, a second event will be introduced in the North. Add our own Family Fishing Days and it’s going to be a busy year and whilst I’ll be fishing for myself, I’ll enjoy this ‘by proxy’ style even more. Tight Lines to you all for the New Year and if you’d like to volunteer for GHoF, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter or www.ghof.org.uk
SAM EDMONDS: Lure fishing expert & angling coach
I’m looking forward to targeting some new fish species in 2019. I’m still not exactly sure which to go for yet, but I really enjoy researching where to find them and what lures or flies I can catch them on. Invariably, you learn some new tactics along the way that improve other aspects of your fishing. I’d also like to try and beat some of my current freshwater predator personal bests, as it’s been a while since I broke one. Hopefully this year I’ll also be able to help others achieve their targets too. I hope it’s a good year for you; tight lines for 2019!
JOHN CHEYNE: Angling Trust National Regions Manager
This year I’m aiming to add more variety to my fishing. I spent a lot of time lure fishing on canals in 2018, mostly fishing in and practicing for various Lure Anglers Canal Club matches. I had a great time and will continue fishing these in 2019, but maybe try to get by with fewer practice sessions. I intend to start fishing a local Tuesday evening match series this summer, on a lovely little stillwater that’s organised by a local tackle shop. Sitting there on a box with a keepnet will make a real change from roving matches on canals and I’m looking forward to it.
I also want to spend more time fishing rivers in 2019. I had some great days trotting for grayling and dace on the Teme last Autumn, so the stick float outfit will definitely get more use in 2019. Most of all I want to make sure I take the opportunity to grab short sessions on local waters whenever I can fit them in, whether it’s an hour or two trotting on the River Salwarpe, casting a lure into the Severn or trying to tempt some crucians on a local stillwater. Basically I’m aiming to cram as much fishing into 2019 as possible!
RICHARD MORLEY: Angling Trust Head of Marketing
For me, as someone new to angling, I’m looking forward to getting out even more this year and enjoying this magical and amazing sport – alongside my eldest son Josh, who is six years old and reminds me that he has caught more than me every single time we have been out!
Last year, before I joined the Angling Trust, I attended one of their Get Fishing events and both me, Josh and his cousin Suzie had an absolutely awesome experience. It was this event that started our journey into fishing. I get asked every week “when we are going fishing next?”, which is a huge improvement from the previous stream of requests to spend time on i-pads Nintendos and the rest! We’re trying various types of fishing at the moment – a spot of carp fishing with Martin Salter was a particular highlight. Predictably, Josh’s results on the day were far better than mine! I hope I will experience more ‘firsts’ and get hooked even more on the sport in 2019.
Looking at angling as a whole, as head of marketing for the Angling Trust, our focus is on building a better digital offering to get more people into angling. We need to get everyone involved in this push! One standout statistic from a survey of over 11,000 anglers in 2016 is that 50% of those surveyed knew others who were definitely interested in trying angling – so the potential is out there. I’m also focusing on making sure more anglers know about the great work that the Angling Trust & Fish Legal do. Fishing is a complex sport with many strands; there’s so much good work going on that many are not aware of and we should be shouting louder about this! I’ve made a start for 2019 by showcasing some of the major areas of work we cover at http://joinanglingtrust.net/join/ – take a look, I guarantee you won’t know the half of the positive work the Angling Trust & Fish Legal team do.
ALEX CLEGG: Angling Trust Regions Administrator
At a Fisheries Forum in December, I remember someone suggesting that angling participation is on the decline because ‘life gets in the way of living.’ Thinking back, this was a fair assessment of my own 2018, which ended up far too busy! So what better resolution than to make more time for it?
It’s obviously hard coping with the pressures of the modern age, but even just a few hours sport in the evening can do wonders for our general wellbeing. I think it’s now more important than ever to detach yourself from technology every so often, and fishing provides those perfect moments of calm in an increasingly hectic world.
Night fishing has to be the ultimate escapism in this sense, and one personal ambition for 2019 is to have my first after-dark attempt at sea trout. Casting into the pitch black where your senses take over is something that strongly appeals to me – and having the chance to glimpse such an amazing fish in the process would make it even more special. Experiences like this are what life is all about, and we shouldn’t let other things get in the way!
DOMINIC GARNETT: Author & Angling Trust Blogger
Just as life changes, my priorities in fishing change each year. 2018 saw a return to regular match fishing, which I relished, surprising myself by finishing third in a closely fought local league, along with second in our “cup final” type event. Other than that, I’ve absolutely loved short lure fishing trips and going for smaller and more unusual fish as much as the larger ones.
2019 promises to be hectic, as I have both a house move on the way and my wife is expecting (let’s see how many of you read right to the end of the blog and pick up this little bombshell!). This is both exciting and slightly terrifying! I’ve already been warned by friends to get as much fishing in as I can sooner rather than later. Actually, stowing a lure or fly rod in the car for a quick hour or two could be more important than ever this year.
As for bigger picture goals, I want to carry on spreading a positive message for angling. I have been a Trust member for years, but my first eight months working part time for the organisation have truly shown me the huge amount they do for all of us. Too many anglers are unaware of this, so I hope I can continue to write about all the positive things that go on and the many unsung heroes that make our sport what it is.
However, in 2019 I do also hope some of the doom merchants stop cursing the darkness and change the light bulb. We’ve made huge improvements in the past 10 years; but just imagine what we could do if more anglers were on board? So my resolution for 2019 is simple: let’s be relentlessly positive. We don’t have to agree on everything to build a brighter, better future for angling. Doesn’t it feel good to look beyond your own landing net and do your bit?
FOLLOW THE ANGLING TRUST & “LINES ON THE WATER” THIS YEAR!
Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and keep an eye on our campaigns and updates over the coming months. 2019, our 10th Anniversary year, promises to be another hugely important one for fishing. Why not do your bit and join us to build a better future for angling? It takes just minutes and brings you a range of special benefits and discounts, besides standing up for the sport you love.
For further reading, don’t forget to also subscribe to this blog for regular fishing articles, news and more. If you haven’t caught it yet, our regular blogger Dom Garnett’s recent roundup of 2018 in pictures is packed with uplifting stories and well worth a look.