Over the rainbow


ANGLING NOTES:AS EACH season passes it becomes more and more obvious to me that the future of angling rests with our youth.

Pollution may be contained, conservationists may keep tabs on threatened species and stock levels may rise and fall, but if the youth of tomorrow fails to continue the legacy of this splendid leisure activity, then the outlook for angling in Ireland is very bleak indeed.

In my travels around the country I see fewer young people out fishing and wonder where the sport will be in a decade or two down the road. It is a trend which needs to be tackled head on before it’s too late.

Luckily, we have one individual who stands out from the crowd in this regard and in my book deserves the highest accolades from the angling fraternity. Over the past eight years he has brought the world of angling to thousands of young people who otherwise would be oblivious of Ireland’s rich angling resource.

Des Chew of Dublin Angling Initiative (DAI), a subsidiary of Inland Fisheries Ireland, works tirelessly, often seven days a week, in reaching out to schools, clubs and communities. He brings groups out fishing to rivers, lakes and sea; delivers talks in classrooms and generally strives to educate our youth about angling and, hopefully, to show them a better way of life.

This year was a typically busy year for him. To date more than 300 youngsters from centres around Dublin have enrolled into a series of three-day courses. The aim is to provide an introduction to fishing and to impart a better understanding of our natural environment.

Angling is still one of the most popular activities chosen by young people and all courses are booked up months in advance. Children learn how to cast, set up a rod and reel and learn basic rig making, ground bait preparation, unhooking fish and safely releasing them.

Conditions this summer were difficult because of unseasonal weather, however it did not deter the youngsters from braving the elements and for many it was their first time to catch a fish.

The success of the DAI can be attributed to the support from the anglers and volunteers from the Dublin area who give up their time and expertise. A special not of thanks on this regard goes out to Chris McGregor and Brian Cooke.

The youngsters will be returning later this month to test their angling skills in the annual DAI trout fishing competition in Aughrim, Co Wicklow. It is expected that up to 60 teenagers will take part.

* Following many months of deliberation and soul searching, the Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST) has decided to change its focus towards the serious gaps that exist within the coastal and marine stages of the lives of salmon and sea trout.

“Because we are aware that the lives of salmon and sea trout are spent in a variety of habitats, we have aligned our strategic thinking to three principal types of habitat, giving us the “three pillars of our new policy”, according to its autumn newsletter.

Pillars One and Two will take a higher “thought-leadership” role in tackling problems faced in the littoral and oceanic zones, while AST’s work in freshwater (Pillar Three) will entail working in partnership with others. Full report on atlanticsalmontrust.org

A Members and Friends meeting, at which the new policy will be presented in more detail, will take place at Fishmongers Hall on Monday, December 10th. As this is an invitation-only event, if you wish to attend and enrol as an AST friend, contact marjorie.hunter@atlanticsalmontrust.org.

Then in February, AST will host an evening in Yorkshire to present its work following the Ocean Summit and Ocean Silver conferences. The emphasis will be on how the three pillars approach is of practical relevance to those who work or enjoy time on the riverbank.