I tried fishing for the first time in 2020 with a friend and loved fishing in nature. The river, the trees and birds, the tranquillity coupled with the excitement of a disappearing float signalling a bite. I was so eager to learn more about the sport! This is how my Let's Fish! story went down.
As I dipped my feet in angling a bit more, perch soon became my favourite fish. Just like the humble gudgeon, they are so obliging and are often new anglers' first ever fish.
I wanted to learn more about how to fish. Every other angler I spoke to seemed to have been doing it since childhood. So, there I was in my late 40s, I had much to catch up on!
Let's Fish! to the rescue
Due to time then spent boating, I had subscribed to Canal & River Trust newsletters. In the August, I saw there was a Let's Fish! event being held not too far away, so I signed up.
I was lucky to be coached that day by level 2 coach Dennis Hunt from Luton Angling Club. Dennis was expert, patient and encouraging and on a glorious sunny day I caught some more silvers and was properly shown the basics.
Return to Let's Fish!
Somehow a year went by without me making the time to get out fishing, and I was really missing it. I decided I needed a little confidence boost to get out fishing on my own, and that I should also take the plunge and buy some more of the ‘right' tackle. I saw that there was another Let's Fish! on the Grand Union Canal in August 2021 and so I booked up.
For some reason, I was a bit more nervous this time. I needn't have worried. I was delighted to meet Dennis Hunt again, and I shared my modest goals - to be able to confidently fish solo and to buy some tackle for myself.
Dennis introduced me to Richard Gibbs also from the Luton Angling Club and between them, they patiently coached me, restored my confidence, and recommended the type of fishing tackle best suited to a beginner. I was off!
Ware to fish
After a wait, I was fortunate to secure a membership with popular Ware Angling Club in 2021. I was also lucky to have two fantastic independent tackle shops nearby, as well as a helpful branch of a national chain.
I bought my first take apart pole as I'd been advised, and later a rod and reel was a welcome present. I've found the staff in tackle shops to be friendly, expert and not at all patronising or dismissive of a relative beginner who is currently only interested in fishing for silvers.
Putting something back
I continued fishing from that point on, but still not as often as I really would have liked. Then in early 2023 I saw that the fantastic organisation Cast A Thought, based in Kent and Essex, wanted volunteers to help them use fishing to function as a tool to support the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people, and adults.
I'm now a regular volunteer and by helping others catch their first fish, it's really helped my understanding and I find it hugely rewarding and enjoyable. Cast A Thought have been so supportive of me and my confidence in fishing has grown.
Another massive impetus towards my enjoyment of fishing has been due to the warm welcome and lots of help and encouragement from the friendly match fishing community from Ware Angling Club.
I was fortunate to meet a number of them at the Club's AGM in April 2023 and now, two months on, I've happily competed in my first two match fishing fixtures, and, with lovely synchronicity, our next fixture is being held on the Grand Union Canal. You can't go far wrong by joining your local club.
I'll certainly be thinking of the Canal & River Trust and their Let's Fish! programme as I cast out. I'll yet again thank Dennis, Richard and their colleagues from Luton Angling Club for giving their time to encourage people of all ages to fish. Their junior section is growing in strength each year.
For those of us to whom teenage years are but a memory, I'm proof that it's never too late to start and that you'll get a warm welcome from fellow anglers who are always happy to advise and encourage you.
In my experience that also goes for those you'll meet in tackle shops and at your club and also on the bank. I shouldn't forget the Environment Agency, who, along with the likes of People's Postcode Lottery, help fund Let's Fish!
Last Edited: 20 June 2023
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