Games initiative shows kids can be lured to banks for some angling action
- Credit: Archant
Get the kids match fishing. That will bring the numbers surging back along the banks and ease the worries of angling bosses who watch helplessly and hopelessly as the tide of recruits gently ebbs away.
This message resonated loud and clear following the Sainsbury's Norfolk School Games finals staged on the Barford Lakes fishery.
Sixteen teams of three from eight local schools lined up to test their budding skills, generously supported by tackle firms Drennan International, Preston Innovations and the retail section at Barford by donating a splendid array of prizes that may well encourage more to enter the next tournament.
This is forward thinking that should occupy the minds of those whose priority remit is to rescue the sport from oblivion.
This has to involve competition, for it is a fact that in most forms of sport, individually or collectively, the driving force is an overriding ambition to take on and defeat your peers.
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Teaching youngsters how to catch tame carp for pleasure is insufficient to maintain enthusiasm and there has been a steady drift towards other more convenient indoor entertainment on the screens.
It has become more difficult to persuade today's youth to play ball games, but as reported in the EDP this week, this was addressed by a showcase of football tournaments that attracted thousands.
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So to arrest this withering decline in rod and line activity, angling has to grasp the nettle, enter the think tank and come up with similar ideas to inject a hefty dose of desire to fuel recovery.
Angling Trust coaching schemes that cost money have not worked out during this period of recession which, given recent political developments, is not over yet. Thus angling clubs, the fishing tackle and bait industry and fisheries as well as school teachers and parents must combine and act to restore junior participation.
And the Sainsburys league revealed a significant pointer to achieve that end.
Schoolteacher Kim Chambers from Brundall has no doubts that adult input has to be more positive than arranging the occasional visit to a nearby lake. 'Instructing school children how to fish is one thing. Maintaining their motivation is infinitely more difficult,' she said. 'There has to be positive thinking and planning between angling clubs, fishery owners and the tackle trade.
'Sponsors have to come forward so that fishing competitions can be staged for youngsters on a regular basis. And most importantly entry must be free of charge.
'Exciting prizes such as vital angling kit must be donated and advertised on social media.
'Including angling within the school curriculum is unlikely to work. Some parents do not approve of field sports and are most concerned about the welfare of their children's much-loved otters.'
Most competitors in the Norwich two-day festival on the Rivers Bure and Thurne began their careers as juniors, attached to their fathers' local clubs. They achieved consummate skill in their chosen sport to become members of an East Anglian elite, able to beat all-comers.
Fished in torrential downpours Glen Hubbard (Angling Direct) headed day one on the Bure with 30lb 6oz of bream. On the Thurne, Mick Mirgeaux (Deben) scored with 19lb 14oz and went on to clinch top honours the following day with a catch of 21lb 2oz from the River Bure to score a perfect two section penalty points for his total of 41lb 10oz.
Pete Gitcham (Waveney Valley) also finished with 2pp and a 36lb 5oz aggregate, followed by Wayne Anderson (DAD) with 3pp from 34lb 14oz.
The third round of the Nisa Feeder League on the River Yare was completed in crystal clear waters that produced mainly roach catches. They were headed by Kevin Paynter (PWA) with 28lb from peg 121, then Simon Newman (DAD) with 22lb from 146.
The Barford Evening League concluded with Carl Watker (Costessey Crown) netting 66lb 1oz, ballooning his aggregate to a winning 213lb 7oz.
At Wicklewood, Matt McKewen headed the Costessey Crown with 126lb 4oz and the Codgers charity event, raising funds for Diabetes UK at Cobbleacre, was a huge success with donations still coming in.
Organiser Terry Lear said: 'We have had a marvelous response from anglers and local business people and we are extremely grateful.'