From the Spring issue of My Countryside magazine, the Director of our Fishing for Schools programme, Charles Jardine, answers questions about the effect that the pandemic has had on fishing.
What effect has the pandemic had on fishing?
The hardest hit sector has most certainly been local shops. Historically, these have been the engine room of our support in dispensing local advice and angling wisdom, along with products. They have had a very tough year and now that they have had to close, this cottage industry will need our wholehearted support once the regulations imposed on our lives ease. The local fishing tackle store is our lifeblood and should be celebrated and supported. Beyond that, trying to get some anglers to understand that “local” actually does mean local and not, as some imagine, 150 miles away. As important as angling is, I honestly believe it is not worth bending rules just to fish! That said, compared with so many other facets of our lives, angling has fared incredibly well. The sales of rod licences have been up by 150 per cent – that’s massive. The important thing now is to retain those new fishers or returning anglers within the sport.
What effect has this increased participation meant in the broader sense?
Our various fisheries – coarse, sea and game – have been hugely busy. Of course, equipment has been a little short in supply in some instances, given that so much is imported from overseas. That has caused a few issues and, as with other industries, raw materials and components have also made manufacture slightly difficult. But on the whole, the fishing world has been buoyant.
How will fishing be left in the future?
Given the easing of restrictions, I would like to think we could maintain the momentum that we achieved last summer when our various fisheries were hugely busy. At a time when people found the quiet therapy of fishing and just being by water so beneficial, I think we are looking at a very bright future indeed.
How has Fishing for Schools been affected?
I’m delighted to say we have soldiered on. Finding new ways of delivery, new skills and while, not a new audience, certainly a different one. We have delivered into schools remotely, placing our fishing educational work in a digital format and rolling that out to many schools – which must be remembered are still open and helping so many young people. We have created our own website, fishingforschools.co.uk with tips, tasks and things for young (and older) people to engage with, and we’ve been exceptionally busy. Nothing will take the place of active delivery either in the classroom or the banksside… but that has not stopped us. Nothing would.