It has been a worry among Angling Clubs and those of us in the trade over the years that there has been dying interest of angling among juniors.
Ultimately the future of our sport relies on young anglers taking up the sport but I am encouraged that there has been, in my opinion, a resurgence in interest in fishing among our young folk as this month’s pictures prove.
From my perception the interest in trying fly fishing from people who have never fished before has vastly increased this year, and not just amongst adults but children too.
Ultimately I believe there are many reasons young people do and don’t take up fishing, and many things we can all do to help to encourage more youngsters into the sport.
One of the main concerns I have is the lack of opportunity for youngsters to try fishing. I was lucky in that it was our family tradition - my Dad introduced me into angling as a kid of four or five years old.
However, not everyone is so lucky. I often find that many adults are keen to take a child fishing but lack the confidence to do so.
This is partly one of the reasons why I brought casting instructor Hywel Morgan to Stornoway for the last few years and held a free tuition evening at the Rugby Pitch in the Castle Grounds.
Parents who had little or no experience of angling could bring their child along and both could be taught everything they need to know by a qualified angling coach and carefully chosen instructors. From how to set up their fishing kit to basic casting and what to do if they land a fish.
We can commend the work done by well known local angler Donnie “Duck” Maciver over the years to promote angling in the islands, but what can the rest of us do to help?
Maybe we could think about people in our own social circles who might want to try fishing, young and old. Do we have a connection with local Scouts or Guides? Schools? Youth Clubs? Or just our friends and children.
Why not offer to get your families together for a ‘hobby exchange’ - swapping your fishing knowledge for a change to try something you’ve always wanted to have a go at, and getting the kids involved to boot.
Fishing can be expensive, and in recent years we’re all seeing our pockets squeezed. Having said that, in this respect fishing is not unlike any other sport or hobby.
In my mind, you make it as expensive, or inexpensive as you can afford.
I was lucky that when I started fishing aged five my gear was handed down to me by my Dad.
To be fair, it was far too heavy by today’s standards but it did the job. You don’t need the latest, top of the range gear to have fun fishing.
Taking someone who’s interested in going fishing out and introducing them to this most wonderful sport is a privilege, a valuable life skill and there’s nothing better than seeing the smile on their face when they catch their first fish.
Angling is a skill which, once you’ve learnt you can always return to it, no matter how many years later...
So don’t be nervous – visit your local tackle shop and ask their advice.
Not only will you have a fabulous day out, learning new skills and enjoying your environment but you will create some wonderful memories that hopefully will be passed down from generation to generation.