For many years Colin was a senior Angler’s Mail magazine staff man and he has enjoyed a long, interesting journalism career.
He understands match fishing, pleasure fishing, carp fishing – the lot.
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SPORT, HOBBY OR PASTIME?
HERE’S a big question for you: is angling a sport, a hobby or a pastime?
There is no easy answer to that question and I suppose the response will depend on what sort of an angler you are.
A matchman will claim it’s a sport. A specimen hunter could class it as a hobby and a pleasure angler as a pastime.
In truth angling is probably all those things and maybe even a whole lot more.
When I fished matches every week – or practiced for them – I would have argued all day with you that angling was a sport.
I’d have demanded more TV coverage, more cash support from sports bodies and a place for the national sides at the Olympics.
But let’s be honest are any of those things a real possibility?
Well more TV coverage for angling and its involvement in the countryside, the benefits it can bring to people and the economy certainly should be.
Likewise we could argue for more cash from central Government for schemes that gets people into the country, kids active rather than sit in front of a computer or TV screen, and helps prevent social problems.
But a place at the Olympics? Where would teams fish? How would venues be fair?
The current World Championships are fished to rules put together to make the most level playing field possible for angling teams. They work most of the time.
But the Olympics would – pardon the pun – entail a whole different kettle of fish.
Mind you, if dancing horses can earn a place at the Games then fishing should have no problem!
Everyone involved in fishing is looking at ways to get more people involved, to stop a mostly ageing group of participants (myself includes in that part…)
Unlike many sports/pastimes we have plenty of facilities ranging from free venues through club waters to stacks of great commercial fisheries that are open to all.
The England national team have a clutch of various medals from European and World Championships – but those pieces of gold, silver and bronze are not likely to attract a whole batch of new participants.
Anyone who comes into fishing hoping to be world champion needs to do their homework and realise the chance of getting to the national side are very slim indeed.
Natural anglers are ahead of you by a mile and it takes years and years to get to a great standard to challenge them. And unlike some sports where you can get good times and win a place, it doesn’t quite work like that in angling!
The best way forward for fishing is to show just how thrilling it can be – how you get a high from earning a bite, hitting that bite and then carefully playing a fish to the bank.
And even more important is to show to the general public how much we think of the fish – it’s a friend, not an object, and it is carefully caught and returned to fight another day.
The lure of catching a shark or a Jeremy Wade-style River Monster is high – we must also try to demonstrate just how great it is too to fool a wary specimen roach or admire a spiky finned perch with attractive side bars.
Carp now offer a beginner the chance to catch a big fish quite easily. Let’s use that to good effect.
National Fishing Month is a great idea which appears to have worked – but we need it to run all year round, to have schemes in place that make angling very easy access to anyone who just wants to jump in their car or on a bus and go fishing.
There are a raft of trained coaches around the country but do you actually know how to contact one? You might, just.
But would Joe Public know where to go to find himself a coach. And, more to the point, could he justify a payment to have a basic day’s fishing, or just a few hours on the bank?
Football – and other sports – start kids off young. They have teams at schools, scouts, youth clubs and then progress to pub sides etc.
Angling needs to get into schools and other bodies that look after youngsters as they are growing up and need entertainment and sport.
I’m open to give up some of my valuable time to any local sides, clubs or groups that want help.
Other leading clubs, associations, trade teams and the like should also make it known they can be called on for help.
COLIN MITCHELL WILL BE BACK WITH HIS POPULAR PLEASURE FISHING BLOG NEXT SUNDAY.
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