Bright start for National Fishing Month.

This time last year, the CLA Game Fair had been cancelled and the National Fishing Month (NFM) launch event had to be hurriedly rescheduled amid the downpours, with the help of the Angling Trust’s Martin Salter.

Twelve months on and mid-July coincided with a heatwave. The NFM launch at the CLA Game Fair at Ragley Hall, in Alcester, was a roaring success, with eight qualified coaches and other support team members teaching 359 people how to fish over the three days in the Warwickshire sunshine.

Fishery minister Richard Benyon kindly took time out of his busy schedule on Saturday, July 20th and came down to the water’s edge to meet the coaching team from the Professional Anglers Association (PAA) and the adults and children who were learning to fish. The minister spent time with every coach and their student, taking particular interest in coach Nick Watkins teaching a young girl how to catch carp on the fly.

In a unique initiative, the Angling Trust Regional Officers and staff and volunteers from Get Hooked on Fishing distributed fliers to members of the public encouraging them to have a go at coarse fishing at the NFM feature or at the Game Angling Instructors Association (GAIA) fly fishing stand. This initiative helped to target families attending the CLA Game Fair who wouldn’t normally have considered trying fishing on a family day out at a country show.

The success of the launch was backed by good attendance in the days that followed at other NFM events throughout the country. Initial feedback has indicated that the general public has responded enthusiastically to the widespread publicity inviting everyone to ‘have a go’ at organised events. As an indication of the breadth of the media message, Angling Trades Association chief executive Dr Bruno Broughton – also a member of the NFM team – devoted a day to live and recorded local radio interviews. This achieved almost one and a half hours of coverage spanning 11 radio stations and a combined listening audience in excess of 1.4 million.

Naidre Werner, the chairman of the Angling Trades Association (ATA), the organisation that runs NFM, said: “The weather has been a blessing this year and we could very well reach or even exceed our target of 15,000 participants. That means that in the 20 years that the ATA has been running NFM – with help from the Environment Agency, other organisations and the trade with their generous product donations – NFM has engaged, coached and brought more than 275,000 people into the sport… amazing and impressive participation statistics!

“However, none of this could be achieved without the support of those organisers and coaches who actually plan and facilitate the NFM events every year. A big thank you goes out to those who have already run their events and good luck to those who have events yet to come.”

With more than 300 registered on the website, there are still plenty of events happening across the country before NFM ends on August 26th, 2013. Visitwww.nationalfishingmonth.com to look for an event near you.