Barriers to Fishing: Carl and Alex in Conversation
An opportunity to find out from the next generation of anglers the pressures, restrictions and barriers to fishing that they face. Sussex based Carl and Alex are no strangers to the world of angling and they have been kind enough to share some of their views on the matter with Andy Loble
How did you get into fishing?
I have always been interested in water and fish. When I was about nine my grandad gave me a fish species poster and I wanted to try and learn how to catch them. After talking to some friends at school about my aim, one of them introduced me to his dad who took me to a local pond where I caught my first fish. Alex became inspired through seeing me having so much fun!
Who taught you to fish and where have you gained your current knowledge?
Having had a positive first experience of fishing I was eager to learn more so I started reading books and magazines. I searched for local places to fish and although I didn't have much luck to begin with, I thankfully came across Crowborough Angling Club, which runs an annual fishing day for juniors. Roger, who runs the junior section, including the junior matches, has taught me so much. The majority of our learning came through practice and determination, also research online and in magazines.
What pressures and restrictions have you found within the sport?
Travel, costs, advice, access to waters etc…
Finding places to fish has been tricky as my local club and tackle shop were not very forthcoming. Luckily for us, our parents, both of whom don't fish, are very supportive and take us to the venues. When we were younger mum would have to sit with us as many local clubs stated that we were too young to be left on our own by water. Fortunately she was able to bring her work with her. We have found the costs involved to be reasonable, but that is because we have learnt to ignore the tackle and bait selling DVDs and fished the basics like sweetcorn under a twig or freelined meat for barbel.
Do you relate these issues to your age?
Yes, we were young and not having any direct contact with clubs and the fishing community, did make it more difficult.
What do your friends think of you going fishing?
Most of them think we are weird as they think that it is an old man's sport! There are some who appreciate it though and I have had the pleasure in taking one or two friends fishing and they enjoyed it!
Do you think this attitude from your peers is stopping more of your age group going fishing?
Yes, of course. Many people I know keep the fact that they fish quiet, to avoid being teased or laughed at. This definitely prevents some kids from even having a go.
What would you like to see put in place to aid younger anglers to get into the sport and develop in the sport?
Easier access to waters and friendly tackle shop owners would be a good start. Also we need more clubs that have an active junior section and encourage younger members. Teaching the basics of fishing is so important but that too can be overlooked when kids are trying to emulate their fishing heroes. It would also be great to see angling build more of an online presence as what kids see on their computer often relates to what they do in their spare time.
There has been a recent trend by tackle manufacturers to take on younger and younger ‘sponsored anglers’. Do you see this as a positive step to changing peoples attitudes to younger anglers and why?
Yes, as they can be good role models and will encourage more juniors to fish. However this can also have a negative effect on older anglers who feel that youngsters do not have enough skills or knowledge to be in that position. I do feel that sponsorships detract from what fishing is actually about though - not products but the actual fish and their habitats.
Do you get treated differently to older anglers when out fishing?
In some places people have stopped and helped, sharing their knowledge with us. However we have also experienced the opposite, where older anglers have discouraged us from fishing their favourite swims.
Are there any issues that concern you regarding the current state and future of our fisheries?
Environmental, predation, pollution, non native species… All these concern me and I have been reading more and more about these subjects, following local forums and trying to understand the bigger picture of habitats rather than just how to catch big fish.
How do you think we can enable our future generations within angling be heard and taken seriously?
The online world has already helped young like-minded people to communicate and share their opinions, but if juniors were more welcomed to club AGMs and other meetings then perhaps they could have more of a say.
What are your future angling ambitions?
To inspire more people to fish, especially youngsters. Many of our age group spend a lot of time indoors playing computer games. We feel that they are missing out on so much. We want them to appreciate the outdoors and the wildlife (including fish) as if people do not experience nature when they are growing up then what would make them want to look after it when they are older?!
We also want to catch as many different species in as many different locations as possible, and continue to make videos about our adventures!
What are your favourite methods of fishing?
Carl – trotting
Alex - surface fishing
What species do you want to target next?
Carl - When the rivers open again I want to target river perch
Alex - Big tench
We are looking forward to Carl and Alex coming out and assisting the Sussex Fisheries and Biodiversity Team with some of our survey work over 2013. We shall also be heading out on the bank with them to see if we can catch a few fish from some of our local Sussex waters. Watch this space...
Barriers in Angling
FishingMagic would like to give you the opportunity to complete the survey taken by Carl and Alex. Do you have similar views to them, or do you have different concerns and issues you think we should know about? You can voice your opinion by following the link to the survey: Barriers In Angling Survey
Thanks for your participation!