Angling’s largest participation programme, National Fishing Month (NFM), continues to set the benchmark for fishing participation initiatives, following the introduction of nearly 14,000 new people to angling this summer. They took part in a nationwide schedule of 326 special NFM events – a new record – held across six weeks during July and August 2016.
NFM 2016 was launched at a specially organised showcase event at the Sportfish Game Fishing Centre at Theale, Reading, on a gloriously sunny day during which people tried game angling for the first time. With a customised day full of hands-on angling opportunities, the event focus was on youngsters and newcomers, thereby meeting the core ethos of National Fishing Month.
There were at least 20 other events organised across the country during the first weekend of NFM. One of which was held at Northlands Park in Basildon, Essex, where coarse angling coaches offered sessions on the lake in the park, alongside pond dipping and rig-tying clinics.
The NFM successes continued through the remainder of August at hundreds more events nationwide. These included a number of special activities coinciding with open days at Cassiobury Park Farm in Watford. Paul Forman, NFM organiser and owner of Watford Angling Coaches who coached at the events, reported: “It was a very busy NFM period for us, but the 500 youngsters who came along loved the experience and wanted to know where they could continue fishing near to where they lived.”
One of the final NFM events took place at the Evesham Festival where, despite the typically unpredictable British bank holiday weather, the team still managed to coach over 150 people on the banks of the Warwickshire Avon.
Naidre Werner, Chair of the Angling Trades Association (ATA) which runs NFM, enthused: “I’m over the moon that our NFM participant numbers continue to reflect how important NFM is in creating awareness of angling to the general public. We really do fly the flag for fishing… and people love it.
“But the Angling Trades Association isn’t solely responsible for making this participation initiative such a success. We continue to enjoy funding support from the Environment Agency, regional and national support from the Angling Trust and the Professional Anglers Association and, in 2016, outstanding support with over 30 of their own events organised by our new partner, the Canal and River Trust. They have all been instrumental in helping us achieve such fantastic results.”
John Ellis, Fisheries Manager for the Canal and River Trust commented: “We are delighted with how well our new partnership with National Fishing Month worked out this year, engaging with nearly 1000 participants. We are already planning a larger programme of events on our canals and rivers in 2017 to make sure that even more people get the fishing habit.”
Naidre added: “This year, we have enjoyed continued headline sponsorship from Daiwa, Leeda and Pure Fishing and also physical help in facilitating support to the organisers from Fosters of Birmingham and Fishing Republic. Additions to the NFM family include support from manufacturers such as Fladen, Fox, Dinsmores and Tricast and retailer Angling Direct. They have demonstrated the admirable virtue of ‘putting something back into angling’, and I applaud them. The Angling Times and Angler’s Mail should also be mentioned and thanked for their ongoing support for both NFM and the Take A Friend Fishing campaigns.
“The real key to NFM’s ongoing success is without doubt attributable to the enthusiastic, steadfast support of the voluntary organisers and coaches who actually plan and deliver the events every year. It’s down to their hard work that the sport is exposed to so many people – and they deserve our greatest thanks and gratitude for helping recruit the next generation of anglers to our wonderful sport.”