My first visit to the site as a volunteer fell on one of the many scorching hot days we have had this summer. After setting up all the tackle and equipment, a group of 12 young teenagers between the ages of 13 and 14 years old arrived. They had been learning to fish all week and today was to be the eagerly awaited match between 6 teams of 2, with prizes of fishing tackle awaiting the winners. The match is decided on the highest weight of fish that come out of each team’s keep net at the end of the day. After selecting their swims, the match had begun and I was on hand to resolve any tackle problems and give them advice on how to fish effectively. Knowing that they had all fished for the first time earlier that week I was surprised to see how well they were doing. It was obvious that they were thrilled to be there and the element of competition had added to the excitement. Although of course there were plenty of tangles, questions, break-offs, and fish they couldn’t unhook to keep me running around the lakes non-stop!
By 1pm it was time to stop for lunch, although many of the anglers asked if they could skip lunch and carry on fishing, despite being offered a free McDonalds by their teachers. I think you could say that is an achievement in itself. After the break they carried on for the last few hours with not one angler failing to catch a fish, or ‘blank’ as is the term used in the angling world. It was now time for the all-important weighing and team by team the fish were transferred into the weigh sling and onto the scales. The majority of the fish caught were relatively small of around 4 or 5 ounces so a large number of these fish need to be caught to build a decent weight. However, one team managed to locate one of the stunning larger carp on the complex of around 4lb which you could safely say was the fish that won them the match.
All in all GHOF gave these teenagers a chance to find out why fishing is the most popular sport in the UK and I’m sure many of them will continue to fish in the future. Bringing young anglers into the sport is extremely important for the industry but also in raising awareness of the environment. As well as learning how to fish, young anglers are also learning about different species of birds, plants, insects, and of course fish, and how they interact with one another. It was experiencing wildlife such as this from a young age that fuelled my own passion for the environment, and fishing is a fantastic sport to help imbed this in the minds of the young generation.
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