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12 highlights of Lets! Fish 2023

Selecting just 12 highlights from the multitude of memorable moments was no easy task. Nevertheless, we've managed to compile our top twelve Let’s Fish! moments of 2023.

Another successful Let’s Fish! year has flown by. Despite the recent reduction of government grant, there could be more events to come in 2024. It’s not stopped us delivering over 450 events with over 8000 participant hours coached.

12. The continued rise of Lauren Stevens

Lauren Stevens has been attending the National Celebration of Young People and Fishing since 2019. Four years later, she was the runner up out of 115 juniors at the 2023 National Celebration, achieving over 7kg net of fish at the weigh-ins. In the same year, she put another 7kg plus on the scales in the Angling Trust Division 2 National taking fourth individual spot, making her probably the youngest medallist in the events history. To round off an amazing year, Lauren qualified for the Angling Trust Zerofit Silver final alongside Frankie Gianoncelli and five times world champion, Alan Scotthorne.

11. Youngest and oldest Angling Trust National Championships participants

Youngest and oldest Angling Trust National Championships participants

A 13-year-old Ashleigh Dale became the youngest girl to participate at the Angling Trust National Championships, making her 79 years younger than the 92-year-old Maurice Mobbs. Maurice who represented the Let’s Fish! Emerging Prospect team is now the oldest ever participant. He broke the record previously held by Thornhill’s Donald Peirson, who was aged just 90 when he participated. Maurice fully intends to be back in 2024, as does Ashleigh. Give her another 52 years or so and she could challenge Frank Butler’s national attendance record.

10. Josh Duffy wins the U20 world championship

Due to the Covid pandemic, Josh was unlucky not to have the opportunity to try to make the Under 15 England angling team. However, he was offered another opportunity for the Under 20’s squad and he grabbed it with both hands! At the World Championships, he won his section both days and took home the individual gold ahead of Billy Kirk by a fraction. Even more importantly, they both went home with team gold.

9. Sue Galloway awarded British Empire medal

Honours from the monarch are rarely awarded in the fisheries and angling world, less than 30 in total. In 2023, Sue became the second woman and the first ever member of the BAME angling community to receive such an award.

Still on a journey as a technical coach and improving consistently, Sue’s club, Northampton Nene, go from strength to strength in all sorts of ways. Her Northampton club members are starting to prove themselves at national level. Matthew Taderera was part of the Global Superstars angling trio and Lottie Clarke captained the English Girls Red team to victory at the 2023 Daiwa Global Communities for the second year. Without Sue’s input, results like these could not have happened.

8. Fjuka Tommy Pickering Talent Pathway

Tommy Pickering at Let's Fish! event

While Let’s Fish! aims to develop skilled anglers capable of representing their country in championships, it's not our top priority. However, we are happily open to every chance that enables us to help participants achieve that level. In this case, 15 promising young anglers were invited to the Tommy Pickering x Let’s Fish Talent Pathway event in October 2023. It was an honour to have 1989 World Angling Champion Tommy Pickering at the session and we hope to be in position to deliver more of these types of initiatives in future. His opening hour session was truly inspirational, and I learnt quite a few things that we can usefully incorporate into our angling coaches training days.

7. English girls team retains global young juniors’ title

English girls team retains global juniors title

Captain Lottie and her loyal teammates Kacie Chadwick and Penny Prinold were back to defend their crown at the 2023 Daiwa Global Communities Celebration. The team finished with 5 points ahead of nearest challengers, the Let’s Fish Red team. Can the three remarkable young ladies repeat the performance in the 2024 celebration?

6. Support from Daiwa

Wide ranging angling trade support has always been crucial for the future of Let’s Fish. After all, if the trade can’t support a programme that creates life-long anglers then who can? The tackle trade is the biggest financial beneficiary of our work.

Having Daiwa as a supportive partner has been an absolute delight with the highlight of the year being October’s Global Communities Celebration. We will do our upmost to deliver the best value for the Daiwa brand. Of course, we have other important trade supporters too, in no particular order Guru, Fjuka, Dinsmores, Maver, Matrix, Leigh Tackle & Bait, Dynamite Baits.

5. 34 different nationalities represented at the Daiwa Global Communities Celebration

Different nationalities representing Daiwa global celebration

Angling cannot increase participation if we don’t tap into diverse communities. Many of these overseas communities have little or no coarse angling heritage. That’s something we aim to change. The past five years has seen a steady increase in female anglers, so our ambitions of recruiting those with overseas heritage into the sport are realistic. Rome wasn’t built in a day though, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. Having kids representing 34 nations at the Daiwa Global Communities represents a great start.

4. Global Superstars storm to cadet team victory

In our national fishing celebrations, my favourite group is the cadets, aged 7 to 10. I appreciate how they handle situations without complaints or fuss, simply taking things in stride and moving forward. Charlie Beetham Grainger’s triumph in the 2020 National Celebration was a notably joyous occasion, as was the Stoke on Trent cadet team victory the following year.

The 2023 Global Superstars team victory wasn’t much of a surprise, given the exceptional talent of the three team members, Theo Karadia, Matthew Taderera, and Aziz Yusif. A winning team consisting of kids with Indian, Kurdistani and Zimbabwean connections is a triumph for diversity within fishing.

3. A record-breaking 330 at the National Celebration of Young People and Fishing

We shattered attendance records at our 2023 National Celebration! The event is the equivalent of the London marathon for young people and fishing with all abilities catered for. Events like these might not suit everyone, but our emphasis is very much on the fun aspect. It’s remarkable to think that just 17 young people took part back in 2017. Seven years later, the figure was 330, another astonishing achievement.

2. The rise of Winsford juniors

The Winsford juniors angling club have achieved brilliant results within a couple of seasons. Club membership grew from 35 in 2022 to just over 150 in 2023, not too bad! Credit for Winsford’s progress goes to the angling coaches who have taken leadership roles. Hats off to Mark Leathwood, Steph Banks, and Wendy Hainey amongst others. The club were also represented by over 20 participants to the National Celebration, placing them third numbers behind Ramsbottom with over 30 entries. Young Leo Smith was selected for the Tommy Pickering Talent Pathway.

1 The moment Leo Levesque secured his Fjuka gudgeon mug.

We often refer the National Celebration to the London marathon of young people’s fishing. The objective being to take part and complete the course, giving it your best shot as thousands of eager fun runners do in marathons and fun runs. Few club runners expect to win, but it doesn’t stop many tens of thousands taking part. For the majority of the participants at our celebration, winning their gudgeon mug is an important driver for attendance. Leo Levesque captures a wonderful moment of joy as the little fellow secured his hoped-for prize. This is what the essence of what the National Celebration weekend is all about. You can see the video on our Facebook page here.

Last Edited: 20 December 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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