Thousands tried fishing for first time last year

The Canal and River Trust’s Let’s Fish! initiative encouraged thousands of new and lapsed anglers to try fishing through a programme of targeted events, including The Game Fair at Ragley Hall.

Indeed, during the 2021 season, the CRT scheme saw a total of 8,589 participants at 452 Let’s Fish! Events, according to the organisation’s annual report, which has just been released.

Using venues like the lake at Ragley Hall along with canals, rivers and lakes throughout the UK, the initiative offers ‘catch and release’ freshwater fishing while revealing the wellbeing benefits of being by the waterways.

It aims to be inclusive, offering sessions for children aged 6+ and adults, while also diversifying the sport to reach a younger, wider and larger population.

An additional 202 young people attended the national celebration of fishing, held on the Shropshire Union Canal in September and its research evaluating the wellbeing effect of a Let’s Fish! session found a statistically significant positive wellbeing effect for children and young people.

Wider benefits, beyond the technical skills and practical elements of catching fish, include being outdoors in nature and having time and space to reflect.

The CRT annual report – covering the second year of the Covid-189 pandemic – also reveals a continued rise in use of the towpath, with nearly 800 million individual visits across the year and a record summer for boating once the waterways were able to re-open in May 2021 for unrestricted navigation.

Accounting for variances relating to the pandemic, income for the year remained broadly stable and the Trust was able to increase the amount spent on core maintenance and repair works to keep the network open, safe and navigable.

CRT chief executive, Richard Parry, said: “In a year severely affected by the pandemic, the Trust has demonstrated its resilience to the challenges faced and continued to provide opportunities for the nine million people who have waterways on their doorstep, to experience the wellbeing benefits they offer.

“With the threat of climate change, we must continue to focus funding and resources on increasing the resilience of the canal network and our core purpose of keeping the waterways safe, attractive, accessible and available, for boating and the wide range of other users.”

To view the Trust’s 2021/22 Annual Report & Accounts visit:

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