AN outstanding girl angler, 17-year-old Corina Smith, trained under Durham PC Mick Watson’s award-winning “Get Hooked on Fishing” scheme, will be among the demonstrators at this year’s Chatsworth Angling Fair  –  joining such big names as TV star John Wilson, four-times world match champion Bob Nudd, and carp legend Chris Ball.

She and three other teenagers trained under the scheme, all from Co. Durham, will not only be displaying their angling skills at the fair but will also offer “hands on” advice to any of the young spectators watching them.

Their appearance, giving a welcome to the “young idea” in fishing, is among many special features celebrating the silver jubilee of the fair, held over the weekend of May 22 and 23 on the Chatsworth House estate near Bakewell, Derbyshire.

Corina, from Stoke-on-Trent, has been fishing since she was only three years old  –  taught originally by her father, who is a professional angling coach.

Although she prefers coarse angling, everyone in the “Get Hooked on Fishing” scheme becomes an all-rounder, able to go out and catch fish in every season of the year. The three other members of the Chatsworth team are:

Wayne Collins, 16, from Bishop Auckland, a pupil at Bishop Barrington school, who will be paying his second visit to the fair. Now sponsored by the “Masterline” fishing tackle company, he is equally at home with double-hander salmon rod or trotting with a centrepin.

Paul Soulsby, also 16, a student at Tansfield School, Stanley, whose elder brother Jon was in the team at last year’s Chatsworth fair. Equally at home with coarse, game and sea angling, he has been helping to teach other local youngsters under Mick Watson’s scheme.

Jonathan Boulton, aged 14, from Sunnydale school, Shildon, who joined the scheme only four months ago but showed such great promise as a coarse angler that he, too, has already been enrolled to teach other children.

INCREASING SUCCESS

Corina, who is still at college in Stoke, also works as a volunteer for the SAFE project (Safe Angling For Everyone), teaching children how to fish – and especially what safety precautions to observe.

The “Get Hooked on Fishing” scheme is now backed by the Environment Agency, the Countryside Alliance, the ACA (Anglers’ Conservation Association), and many other key public and private bodies.  Mick Watson first launched it as part of his police work, aimed at helping to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour by introducing young people to angling and giving them a chance to take up the sport free of charge.

“In its first two years,” he said, “the scheme involved some 200 youngsters aged between 10 and 16, from a cross-section of social backgrounds. Of those, 65 had been classed by various official bodies as being ‘at risk’ of falling into crime. I’m glad to say that, after taking part in the scheme, not one of the 65 got into trouble.”

Although “Get Hooked on Fishing” was intended at first only for young people in his own county, its success led to him being seconded afterwards to establish the scheme in six other areas: Birmingham, Lincoln, North Wales, Nottingham, Scunthorpe and Stoke.   Between them, these are now teaching an average of at least 1,000 youngsters annually  –  a total sure to increase before long, because the scheme is to be started up shortly as well in two more regions, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Mick Watson, 39, has been fishing since he was seven and reckons that his own best angling feat to date was to land two chub of more than 6lb from his local river before anyone else even knew they were there.

In the 2003 New Year’s Honours List, his work was recognised by the award of the coveted Queen’s Police Medal.

 

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