An update from the Nith Catchment Fisheries Trust about the work they have been doing with schools to inspire the next generation, along with a plea for some equipment to help them carry on this excellent work in the new session.
To date, we have conducted 39 sessions in the schools involving 175 children from seven schools throughout Nithsdale including Sanquhar Academy, Wallace Hall Academy, St. Joseph’s College, St. Michael’s Primary, Georgetown Primary, Dunscore Primary and Duncow Primary. The response from the schools and the children has been extremely positive with most schools keen to take part again next year. Comments from teachers have highlighted the benefits that this programme brings to the children by offering them the opportunity to engage with learning in a different, more practical way. It has also provided the teachers with material to use in their classrooms based on the project.
Session 1 – The lifecycle of Atlantic salmon. Visiting the Nith District Salmon Fishery Board hatchery and see live adult salmon and their eggs being stripped and incubated.
Session 2 – Learning about the Freshwater environment and dissecting trout
Session 3 – Learning about the Marine Environment and the different creatures that exist alongside Atlantic salmon.
Salmon in the Classroom and putting the fry back in the river
Session 4 – River survey – the children assess the health of their local river by looking at aquatic invertebrates and fish populations.
Session 5 – Exploring the Shore – the children put the knowledge they learn in session three to the test and explore their local shore.
Session 6 – Fishing Day at Drum Loch – The children learn how to fly fish in the session at a local trout loch. Professional angling instructors teach them how to cast and hopefully catch a fish.
The main aim of the Fishing for the Future initiative is to encourage young people to take an interest in the aquatic environment and provide them with the skills and knowledge in the hope that some of them will take up angling as a hobby. As a sport, fishing is generally under-represented by young people with local angling associations and fisheries feeling the effects of this as the number of people fishing declines year on year. Because of the work we currently carry out in schools, local angling communities have benefited from a small increase in the number of young people purchasing angling tickets but we knew more could be done to assist children making the leap from interest to action. This inspired the formation of the Nith Young Anglers Club, a group of interested young people who come together once a month, normally on a Saturday, to try different methods of fishing.
The first session was run in February 2017 where we took an excited group of eight to eleven year olds fishing for grayling on the River Nith. Since then we have taken them fly fishing for trout at a local rainbow trout fishery, Flounder fishing at Carsethorn, coarse fishing at Dunscore, tench at Morton Pond and sea trout fishing at Drumlanrig. We have another 6 angling days organised between now and the end of the year.
We feel that this is a vital step to providing children with a safe pathway to pursue this sport further. So far, we have had a great response to this Young Anglers Club and are fully subscribed for the rest of the sessions in 2017 and have a long reserve list in place. We currently have over 35 children signed up for sessions and have an average of 15 children attending each session. The NCFT hires professional angling instructors from Borderlines, a not-for-profit organisation, who teach the children how to fish and what to do if they catch a fish. All of the equipment is provided and we provide a bus from Dumfries to the venue and back for those families that do not have transport. We encourage the parents to attend as well so that this becomes a family hobby. We have had an excellent response to the Nith Young Anglers Club and are delighted by the number of young anglers that are taking up the sport as a result.
One aspect of the project that we find the most challenging is finding suitable venues which are safe for a group of 15-20 children, has suitable car parking nearby, ideally shelter of some description in case it rains and for the colder months, toilet facilities and most importantly….where they can catch fish! To this end we are in the process of digging out a very overgrown pond next to our offices. This involves bringing in a long reach digger and removing years’ worth of silt that has built up. Once this has been done we plan to stock the pond with various species of fish including roach, rudd, carp and trout so that fish can always be caught. This will enable us to run a number of sessions every year at this facility and use it for other schools and groups as an aquatic education facility. Having our offices nearby means that we have shelter, toilet facilities and ample car parking available. We hope to have this pond operational for next year.
The Trust are asking anglers to have a look in their tackle cupboards and see if they have anything which they could donate in the way of rods and equipment so that they can carry on this excellent work.
Any equipment that isn’t passed onto Young Anglers will be auctioned and the proceeds used to run the Club. We are also digging out an old pond near Auldgirth which would provide us with a great venue to teach youngsters how to fish. The aim is to work on it this during Autumn/Winter this year and have it ready for next year. We feel that the success of this Young Anglers Club is mainly due to the fact that we pay for professional angling tuition and involve the whole family so that the parents are also learning how to fish, making it a family hobby.
Nith Catchment Fishery Trust37 George Street, Dumfries, DG1 1EBTel: 01387 740 043Mob: 07775 866 306Email: firstname.lastname@example.org