A LEADING fisheries chief has said the UK needs strong angling clubs and well trained coaches to save the sport.

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Coaching to get people properly immersed in angling has been picked out as one key solution to turning around a slump in participation.

Rod licence sales are down 39.4 per cent since 2011 and the steep decline has led to the Environment Agency to start a National Angling Strategy.

This involves an extensive national survey of the views of both anglers and non-anglers.

It is taking place alongside the EA’s review of angling byelaws that the Angler’s Mail exclusively revealed, as well as the review of the Close Season.

John Ellis, head of fisheries at the Canal and Rivers Trust, presented a detailed paper to a recent Future Angling Conference run by the Angling Trust, in which he outlined his vision.

John told Angler’s Mail: “Basically we all need to do more to encourage youngsters to take up the sport, and delegates were very supportive of the approach we at CRT are using.

“There is little point in giving kids ten-minute taster sessions where they are actually taught little.

“The quality of coaching needs to be improved and time spent showing them how to fish properly in open sessions.

“Really we need to get back to basics and teach them a broad range of angling skills and show that fishing is more than just sitting under a bivvy waiting for carp.

“We ran 147 free taster sessions last year with 3,400 attendees and 95 per cent caught a fish within 30 minutes.

“Like other sports, it is important to get parents involved and encourage children to be part of a team and compete which they enjoy.

“The club structure is vital with active junior sections encouraging and supporting youngsters in a variety of ways.

“The angling trade also has a big role to play and we are all in this together.

“I would encourage all anglers to take part in the national survey as it is vitally important we get things right if the sport isn’t going to continue to decline,” John added.

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