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Stuart Gardiner

Why We Fish ?

While we still in this awful pandemic and even though fishing is allowed the distance, area and weather we can go to is fairly limiting for so many at this time, I myself am looking forward to brighter, warmer and drier days ahead in the months ahead when fingers crossed some new normality returns. Fishing as an essential means to survive has been around for 40,000 years with skeletal remains of Tianyuan man in eastern Asia regularly consumed freshwater fish as part of the hunter gatherer life back then.

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The sport of angling now in current times is very a ingrained pastime as opposed to and essential means to survive, our sport is ever evolving and has to be unique how people become hooked into the sport, for most I am sure it started for many as being taken out as a child with a parent to the waterside given a rod with a float and maggots or worms catching roach, perch and gudgeon etc.

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This was my own path into fishing and was very fortunate my Father was a keen outdoors person whose own path into fishing was completely different, going over the river Lea, Springfield Park Lake and Walthamstow reservoirs catching predominately Eels which were abundant and a staple East End food for the table at the age of 6 along with his friends during the blitz and rationing of WW2. He can still to this day recall walking from his family home in Muston Road E5 down towards Springfield park and the marshes with his fishing pals collecting shrapnel along the way from the days previous air raids and seeing the houses of his neighbours gone.

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Now in 2021 Angling has come a long forward but the basic reasons to partake remain the same and since covid seen a dramatic increase in participants with many new but most resuming after a lengthy break with 100,000 increase in Rod Licence sales last summer after the lock down. My personal thoughts on why we fish are below back up with a few stats as described.

Conservation. the overwhelming majority of anglers care about the environment they fish in, and spend there money on licences, day tickets on club membership etc that allows for the up keep and continued natural health of the waterways we fish. The ones who leave litter through laziness never fall into the true angler category. Angling is an important wildlife management tool. For more than 100 years anglers have helped to contribute to wildlife and fisheries management efforts. Anglers also have a vested interest in and support many efforts to preserve and protect all species and the environment-all the while helping to increase biodiversity.

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Social and Solitude, The social part of angling now especially on the carp scene is a huge part of the fishing experience with many fisheries offering 5 star swims and facilities to host long stays at venues. The social aspect of our sport is one of the great benefits if you have friends you meet up with regularly to fish together, or family members you share the hobby with, it’s a great way to spend some quality time together.It can also be a great way to bond with people you may not know so well if you share the same hobby, such as a new friend. The solitude aspect on the flip side is a perfect tonic if you need some peaceful downtime away from the daily grind.

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Health & Wellbeing, The health benefits both physical and mental are now first and foremost espcially championed by the Angling Trust in the past year promoting the positive benefits so much so that even geting fishing allowed in current covid circumstances. Fishing and being outdoors increases your vitamin D reserves. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Walking in nature or simply spending time under leafy trees prompts “electrochemical changes in the brain” which lead to a “highly beneficial state of effortless attention”. There are now many superb organisations like iCARP helping armed forces veterans with PTSD. This is huge bonus for the face of angling and a even a bad days fishing still beats a day at work or tending to domestic duties. Fishing offers you the chance to improve your self-esteem through respect for the environment, mastering outdoor skills and achieving personal goals. Fishing can also play an important role in ones personal and social development. Fishing is a lifetime skill and activity that can be enjoyed at any age. Just ask a youngster who reeled in their first fish how much fun fishing can be.

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The Economy. Freshwater anglers contribute an estimated £1.4bn annually to the English economy, supporting up to 27,000 full-time equivalent jobs, through their spending on the sport. This is according to an Environment Agency a major study of angling activity and expenditure has taken place. The Environment Agency study, ‘A Survey of Freshwater Angling in England’, examined the spending patterns and behaviour of 10,000 surveyed fishing licence holders to build a picture of the market value of freshwater angling in England. The study found that angling for coarse fish was the most popular activity for the nation’s anglers, accounting for 19 million days of fishing with carp the most sought after species with an estimated 7 million days fishing time. Game anglers spent 1.6 million days fishing for salmon and trout. The Report Findings –

  • Across all types of angling, almost 70% of all angling days were on lakes, ponds, reservoirs.
  • Most coarse angling trips took place between 5 and 25 miles from the angler’s home. Anglers travelled significantly further for game fishing, with most salmon anglers travelling at least 50 miles from home to fish.
  • Anglers each spent an average of over £400 on tackle and around £110 on club or syndicate fees.
  • A clean and attractive environment with minimal disturbance was more highly valued by anglers than the size and abundance of fish.

“All income from fishing licence sales is used to fund our work to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries. This includes improving habitats for fish, facilities for anglers and tackling illegal fishing. We also work with partners such as the Angling Trust, Get Hooked on Fishing, the Canal and River Trust and the Angling Trade Association to encourage people to give fishing a go.”

“The Angling Trust, working with the Environment Agency, are focused on protecting and growing angling not only as an important contributor to our economy, but also to our society as a whole. Over the last three years we have worked with the Environment Agency to reinvest millions of pounds of rod licence income in improving facilities for anglers, providing information about how and where to fish, together we have helped over 77,000 people try fishing for the first time.” Who doesn’t like browsing around a tackle shop or looking online for a bargain.

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And finally the and for everyone what its all about the ” THRILL ”. Fishing has a way of fulfilling an age-old need of pursuing and catching. The thrill lies in the challenge, in all 3 angling disciplines, course, sea and game such as stalking an elusive wild trout or matching the hatch, to casting to that perfect spot you have been patiently baiting and the single tone scream of the bite alarm going off and then landing a PB. Wether you see the float dip, quiver tip go around or retrieving a fly or lure there is no doubt the excitement of hooking a fish is what it puts the icing on the cake. Many will be quick to profess that it’s not the catching of fish that’s important, but the immeasurable life lessons that you will experience along the way and being part of the angling community as a whole.

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