Nearly 500 of the nation’s top anglers are set to descend on the Shropshire Union Canal this month for the Angling Trust Division One National Championship.
The Canal & River Trust is working alongside the Angling Trust and Hodnet Angling Club to host this major championship along 'the Shroppie' around Market Drayton on Saturday 19 August – the largest single one day event in the angling calendar.
A total of 490 competitors will be congregating at various points along a 15 mile stretch of towpath, hoping to hook success from the hidden depths of the beautiful rural waterway. It is the first time the competition has been hosted entirely on the Shropshire Union Canal and with some 49 teams, each fielding ten anglers, plus a number of advance practice matches, the contest is set to give a major boost to the local economy.
This month will be the pinnacle of the fishing year for Canal & River Trust national fisheries & angling manager John Ellis and his small team. Their work involves managing £40 million of fish stocks across the canal network, organising agreements with over 250 angling clubs and encouraging more people, especially youngsters, to take up the sport.
John said: "This 2017 competition promises to be a fantastic event both for the anglers and for Shropshire. For anyone thinking of getting into fishing, it is an ideal time to check out what’s involved in the sport. The Canal & River Trust ensures our canals are brimming with wildlife, including in urban areas where more people can enjoy it. They’re home to more than 20 native species of fish including roach perch, gudgeon, bream and eels. Fishing is really fun and it’s cheap to get going. You don’t need much to start - just a rod, some bait, angling licence, permit and a nice spot to fish. It’s a great way to spend a day.
Spectators are welcome at the competition to pick up a few angling tips as they walk along the towpath but it’s important everyone takes care and respects the wishes of the competitors. We thank everyone for their patience. It can get rather crowded with boaters on the water and walkers on the narrow pathway, so it’s particularly vital to ‘Share the Space’ and be considerate to other users.
Once you get the angling bug, there are dozens of competitions up and down the country where you can test out your skills. This 102nd championship is the pinnacle of that competition world, with the nation’s best anglers pitting their wits to be crowned national champions. We are hoping for fine weather and looking forward to some great catches."
Over 50 volunteers and angling club officials will be helping to marshal and organise the competition. The winning team will be the club with the greatest number of points at the end of the contest. Prizes include coveted trophies and medals for the top three teams and most successful individual who catches the highest weight of fish.
The national championship has a long and distinguished history dating back to the first All England angling contest in 1906. The National Federation of Anglers was established in 1903 and the sport grew hugely in popularity. However it wasn’t until 1937 that a canal was selected as the venue for the national competition and then for a second time in 1963. Since then a total of 66 national angling championships have taken place on canals, hosting matches in six different divisions.
Andre Grandjean, Chairman of the Angling Trust’s Coarse Competition Committee, added: "We are excited to be working with Canal & River Trust and Hodnet AC for our blue riband event of the year. The ‘Shroppie’ is in excellent form at the moment and we are anticipating a very competitive match."
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