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The Reel Thing: What is the best way to get children hooked on fishing?

RECENT enquiry from a reader about how to get a youngster introduced to fly fishing made me realise just how many options there now are regarding promoting the sport.

Not so many years ago, it would have been a matter of getting a family member or friend who fished to take the aspiring young fisher with them.

Ideally this guy would have infinite patience, be great with young people, have suitable equipment and access to a fishery where they could be reasonably sure of success.

It did not always happen quite so easily but it was how many of us started. One of the present ways to see if a young person would enjoy the angling experience is to bring them to a well run fishery such as Straid (www. straidfishery.com; 02893038721) or Woodford (Facebook - Woodford Trout Fishery; 02893360225) where there are professional angling instructors who can easily show the basics of how to cast.

They will also go through safety considerations such as eye protection, awareness of others and water safety. When you have the basic casting action, you can then practise on dry land on the likes of playing fields until you are competent.

Which flies to use and when to use them can be learnt from instructors, books and magazines, fellow anglers or perhaps, better still, by actually fishing. You could also visit the Association of Professional Game Angling Instructors web site www.apgaiireland.ie and choose one of their excellent members.

Another way to try out angling is at angling shows and fairs where there are often free lessons on fly casting and fly tying. Organisations such as DAERA and the Loughs Agency also run taster sessions as do some councils and angling clubs.

Recently the Ulster Angling Federation (UAF) realised that there were not enough young people involved in the angling world. One of their concerns was how a potential young angler could take up a fishing rod if there was no family member interested in angling.

Therefore they worked with Sport NI to set up an Active Angling Club Coordinator, Gary Lavery, to encourage clubs to persuade members to become certified angling coaches.

This concept is now providing some clubs with level one and two coaches to help young people and others to take up fishing. It is an ongoing project and thus an increasing number of clubs will have their own coaching staff in the not-too-distant future.

If you want to introduce someone to angling, you can now visit the UAF website (www. ulsteranglingfederation.com) and look up which club is convenient to you and find a contact for them and see what they can offer.

For example, Ballynure Angling Club, which has angling on the Six Mile Water, is actively looking for young members so if you are interested please contact Deane Reid on 07976643007 or alternatively deane_reid@yahoo.co.uk

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