Customer information for the upcoming Angling Trust Division One National Championships. In his latest blog, national fisheries and angling manager, John Ellis, outlines what the public can expect on the big day along with a few suggestions to help make the day go smoothly for all concerned.
Saturday 19 August sees the Shropshire Union Canal host the 102nd top flight national angling championships. From 1906 through to 1971, when the event was known as the All England National Championship, there was only one division. After that, the number of divisions expanded rapidly for a while but has now stabilised at two divisions. In years gone, by over 1,000 anglers would line up along each match length. Difficulty in finding venues to accommodate these sorts of numbers now means there is a cap on the number of team competing in the top division.
At most, 50 eligible teams of ten anglers will be lining up along the towpath, although Angling Trust expect the final entry will be around 47 or 48 teams. The competitors will be split into ten sections, the details of which are set out in our previous update.
Boating customers will be particularly interested in the sections that will be excluded from the match length. There may be some minor tweaking in due course but as things stand, it is anticipated that the following areas will not be pegged out:
These unpegged sections will be ideal locations for overnight moorings on the Friday evening as you will not be impacting in any way on the pegging out for the national. On the day of the match, the event organisers, Angling Trust will have four stewards in each section. For anyone requiring further local information, why not drop local organiser Dave Watkins an email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Shroppie boating community would certainly be contenders for the most knowledgeable when it comes to recognising anglers needs. Few will be unaware that it’s much preferred if boats proceed at a steady speed down the central channel and avoid the offside bank and creating wash when possible. For those new to boating, a perfect example of how to cruise past anglers can be found here:
Navigating through a long line of match anglers, all armed with long carbon poles, can be a daunting task. Those who really wish to avoid it should note that although competitors will arrive at their pegs by 9.00am, fishing kicks off at 11.00am. The end of the match will be at 4.00pm so one option is an extended lunch break. It might be worth considering mooring up between Tyrley and Market Drayton or at the Wharf Tavern at bridge 55 where a section. An area immediately north of Bridge 55 will be reserved for mooring.
Most competitors will be using long poles. Although often regarded as a modern invention, poles were in fact used on the southern canal network back in the Victorian era. They have many advantages for the angler They enable much better bait presentation and reduce the risk of overcasting into offside vegetation etc. Sometimes anglers do like to leave their poles out until the last possible moment. Every fish counts in the heat of battle where a few ounces here and there may mean the difference between a place in angling history and being an also ran. Anglers do this entirely at their own risk. In the unlikely event of a coming together between a cruising boat and a fragile pole, there is only one winner. Although we are not aware of an incident of this nature ever occurring, the angler can expect precisely no sympathy.
Many pegs along the match length will be located opposite moored boats. 2014 Canal Pairs champion Simon Mottram has some useful advice for when you find yourself pegged opposite a boat.
The Shropshire Union match length is one of the most rural and the number of walkers and cyclists will be relatively low compared to many other locations. But that’s no reason not to lay your equipment out carefully to allow room for others to pass. When shipping back poles look out for some mighty herds of cattle in the fields behind. They can crush the most expensive pole with a casual stare! At the end of the match please do leave the canal as you found it. Don’t deposit any unwanted bait or groundbait on the towpath or in the hedge and remember to take any paper peg markers away with you.
We are not expecting a huge crowd to turn out to watch the event. In nationals gone by, hundreds if not thousands of spectators would line the banks.
Do park sensibly and avoid blocking the narrow country lanes and farmer’s entrances. As a spectator, please do consider the needs of the competing anglers. Stay well away from the water’s edge. Don’t block the towpath and please do ask permission before settling down behind the angler’s peg. Woe betide any spectators who accidentally treads on a competitor’s pole! You can expect to hear phrases you would not necessarily encounter in the Bible and a claim on your insurance to boot.
Advice to cyclists and walkers is similar to that offered to match spectators. Competitors will be deep in concentration and will need to ship back poles from time to time to land fish, rebait the hook, undo a tangle, alter the fishing depth etc. Usually this only takes a few second so please do be patient. Consider the option of dismounting. If negotiating long lines of competing anglers is not your cup of tea, it might just be the one day of the year when it’s worth considering avoiding the towpath for a few hours. If history is anything to go by, Shropshire Union Canal Division one national championships only come around once in every 100 years or so, therefore you are unlikely to come across one again any time soon.
The team undertake a diverse range of work including looking after the Trust's £40 million worth of fish stocks, managing agreements with over 250 different angling clubs and helping more people, especially youngsters, take up angling on the canal. Follow this blog to keep updated with the thoughts and work of the team.See more blogs from this author