It is a familiar yarn among some of anglings more senior commentators that ‘there are no young anglers coming through’. Well from where I am standing, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as even proportionally to the number of older anglers there are loads!
I recently helped Dave Harrell run the Garbolino Club Angler Of The Year event at Tunnel Barn Farm. There were certainly a proportional amount of anglers under the age of 25 compared to those over that age. Admittedly, there is something of a gap in anglers from say 25 to 35, but I would argue that this is predictable. Afterall, this is the age that a lot of people choose to have children, and after a few years out raising their kids a lot of these anglers return to the sport anyway.
The events winner, Simon Christian is a prime example of this. He was a very accomplished team and open match angler in his younger years, but has joined a club to help him get back into fishing after a seven year sabbatical to raise his family.
If you were to take our Drennan Knockout Cup as another example, there is certainly no shortage of budding up and coming anglers entering. I looked down the list of invited anglers, and counted 33 under the age of 30.
Another common doom merchant slogan is ‘there are nowhere near as many people going match fishing as there used to be.’ While the so called glory days of 1000 peg open matches may be behind us, there are thousands of smaller opens every weekend the length and breadth of the country. With so much choice available to modern anglers in terms of venues, this is hardly surprising. I can count 30 small, commerical fisheries within a ten mile radius of my home in Sheffield, and by going slightly further into Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire there are literally hundreds. The vast majority of these venues wouldn’t have even existed back in the 1000 peg open days, and the majority of them now house club and open matches most weekends.
With anglers being dispersed to so many different places, it is perhaps not suprising that it gives the impression that their numbers are decreasing. After all, some venues that once commanded open matches of several hundred now only have a handful. It isn’t that the anglers who attended these matches have stopped going fishing though, it is just that they go elsewhere.