From paddle boards to beach-cleans....

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We’ve all heard the saying “There’s more to fishing than catching fish” well believe it or not, work done within England’s angling community helps keep our country’s waterways free of masses of litter. We catch up with some of fishing’s ‘Green Guardians’ who take on the role of stewards of the natural world and hear how our rivers, lakes, ponds and canals are kept in tip-top condition by anglers described as “the eyes and ears of the waterways”…​


All across England, the Angling Trust’s Team of Regional Angling Development Officers work on bringing every aspect of angling to new audiences keen to find out the appeal of spending time next to water. The wellbeing benefits that come with watching a float and waiting for a bite from the diverse range of amazing fish that live beneath the surface provide a fascinating opportunity to discover a whole new underwater realm.

This desire to connect with the hidden world that swims beneath the everyday layer of lily pads or bubbling surf goes back hundreds of years with fishing having been described as the country’s largest participation sport. Nowadays – with about a million freshwater rod fishing licences sold each year, and many more of us than that casting a line into the country’s coastal waters – it’s clear that going fishing has an enduring appeal!

Unfortunately though, the almost classic sight of an upturned shopping trolley or bobbing beer bottle might sometimes be the standout image of a walk by the water. While most fishing spots are kept spotless by the angling clubs and fisheries that control them, occasionally a neglected stretch of river, a park pond or busy beach will suffer from an unwanted side-effect of isolation.

We are all more conscious of the environment and the future of our plant, not just because we owe it to nature to do the best we can to preserve it, but because it plays a vital role in our mental health and wellbeing. When we see pieces of litter in what should be a pristine environment, our gut-reaction is to want something done about it.

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How can you help?​


Well, to answer that look no further than the Angling Trust Officers who each summer run hundreds of beginner have-a-go taster session funded by the Environment Agency – this year looks like it’s going to be the busiest ever as the country gets “back to business” post-Covid lockdowns.

At the centre of all this activity is an underlying need to look after local environments – to keep lakes, ponds, beaches and rivers free of litter so that local fishy-habitats can be helped to thrive. So if you enjoy spending time in blue-green spaces, and want to play an active role in cleaning up their waterways, how about getting involved with your local angling community…

For example, the Angling Trust recently committed to taking part in the Great British Spring Clean which saw anglers gather together through fishing clubs in March and April to contribute towards almost half a million pledges to fill bags of litter.

Regional Development Officer for the North East, Dave Munt, worked with landowners and other river users to carry out a river clean-up with paddle boarders on the banks of the River Leven, a tributary of the River Tees. Local anglers from North Ormesby Institute Angling Club and paddle boarders from Ingleby Barwick Community Litter project joined forces to reach stretches of the river that weren’t easily accessible without water-borne access.

The plans of action saw paddle boarders from the litter project begin by scouring the banks of the river and dropping off the litter on a fishing platform, where local anglers liaised with the land owner and local authority to to bin the rubbish.

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On this, Dave said: “It was great to see an Angling Club working together with other river users and a local land owner to clearing the banks of litter and make things better for everyone who visits the River Leven.”

Steve Bell, Vice President of North Ormesby Institute Angling Club added: “As a club we appreciate how lucky we are to have a fantastic stretch of river, so close to urban life but at the same time so tranquil,and peaceful. The least we can do is respect the river and its wildlife and give our members an enjoyable environment to fish and enjoy.”

“The club continues to work hard to maintain and improve the river and seeing Cliff litter picking on his paddle board in areas we couldn’t get to was impressive and selfless to say the least! It was only right for the club to help out with the logistics of disposing of the litter and other items which made it easier for Cliff. His work is hugely appreciated and I’m sure anyone coming here will notice the improvement when they see for themselves. A great team effort!”

Who to Contact:​


Your Angling Trust Regional Angling Development Officer can help you find out about local litter picks.

Most towns have a local Fishing Club and they often run regular bank clearance and tidy up days – ask about coming along to help! Here’s a map of Angling Trust member fishing clubs.

Your Local Authority can tell you what citizen-based activities are on offer near to you – but they are often keen to work with the local knowledge that anglers have about litter and fly-tipping black spots – try and help connect the two. Find out which club has the fishing rights – perhaps the Local Authority can help dispose of waste if it is dropped off by the roadside…?

Find out about the Anglers Against Litter campaign and other ways to take action to tackle waterside litter – the campaign is delivered in partnership with the Environment Agency and funded from fishing licence income.

Top-Tip: Anglers can also help to be part of the solution, rather than the pollution, by recycling their old line and spools through the Anglers National Line Recycling Scheme.

Proudly supported by Angling Direct and Shakespeare

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‘Get Fishing’ campaign- supported by
Shakespeare, Exclusive Tackle Partner and Angling Direct, Exclusive Retail Partner
as we all work towards getting more people fishing, more often.

The Get Fishing campaign to get more people fishing more often is funded by the Environment Agency from fishing licence income as part of the National Angling Strategic Services contract with the Angling Trust, and Sport England.

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The post From paddle boards to beach-cleans: Get involved with fishing community river clean-ups and waterway litter picks for beaches, canals and rivers appeared first on Angling Trust.

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