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It’s that time of year again when upcoming National Championships start to occupy the mind of angling clubs up and down the land. Spring will soon be upon us and before we know it the summer nationals will be just around the corner.
I was absolutely delighted when colleagues at Angling Trust chose the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal as the venue for the Division 2 event which takes place on Saturday 10th September and is now open for entries.
Biased I most definitely am, but I have always believed that as far as is possible, our canals offer wonderfully fair match fishing venues. They allow the most skilful anglers and the best prepared teams to rise to the top. At the same time there are always some special ‘flier’ pegs where it’s predicted that individual winners will come from, not forgetting the occasional unheralded peg that throws up a genuine surprise.
The National Championships have long had an association with the canal network. In total, we believe that there have been 68 nationals held on the canal network as follows:
Name of Division
1937 1963 1985 1986 1991 1993 1995 1997 2000 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015
1981 1984 1987 1990 1992 1995 1999 2001 2003 2004 2006 2007 2008 2010 2011 2012 2014
1981 1983 1986 1988 1990 1992 1995 1997 1998 2001 2002 2004 2006 2008 2009
1982 1989 1994 1996 1998 1999 2001 2002 2003
1986 1987 1991 1994 1997 1998 2000
Much of the work making nationals the events they are is done these days by Angling Trust. Lots of the hard graft is undertaken by the unpaid loyal volunteers. Finding suitable headquarters with adequate parking can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. It does nark me more than a little when some anglers just assume the volunteers are paid handsomely for their services.
Canal & River Trust increasingly plays its part, amongst other things endeavouring to ensure that the vegetation management and maintenance programmes don’t impact on the big event. The fisheries & angling team does its bit too. We have recently stocked both the Dams & Lock and Stirrup Cup controlled lengths ready for the big day.
After years of fascinating research, our history & heritage advisor John Essex is soon to publish his book of the history of these classic competitions. John kindly provided the dates in the above table. So if you pick up on any errors, you know who to blame!
All paid up Angling Trust club members who are not eligible to compete in Division 1 can enter a team in Division 2. By my reckoning, that’s around 1,400 teams. Theoretically, given each team contains ten anglers, that’s a potential maximum turnout of 14,000 anglers. Just imagine that. If she is reading this, Sandra Drew at Angling Trust who would handle the admin, has probably just gone into panic mode.
Assuming you could peg 60 anglers per canal mile, we would need over 233 miles of canal to accommodate this event if every Angling Trust club member club did actually enter. I for one would not relish doing the pegging out on my own on the morning of the match. Of course, there are more than enough canals in the Midlands to easily accommodate 14,000 competitors if that many were ever needed. But realistically, it’s safe to assume only a small percentage of clubs will actually enter. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the figure ends up as at least 30 teams fishing; otherwise I will have to buy Simon Preece a beer, a scenario I would rather avoid.
A first time national entrant will be a team from Canal & River Trust, all full time employees and keen anglers. They hold a regular series of matches around the network and for many years have competed in the Water Industries Coarse Angling Championships with some success. Whilst they will be amongst the outsiders in the betting, I am secretly hoping that we might spring a surprise or two on the day.
Entries for National Championships are dealt with by Angling Trust. Email Sandra.Drew@anglingtrust.net or telephone on 0115 9061301 or 07808 77940.
Five good reasons why your club should seriously consider entering a team this year:
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.