Over 10,000 budding anglers cast a line for the first time during National Fishing Week (August 19-28), an increase of around 30% on previous years.

“We know from our research that demand at the entry level of angling is huge and these numbers provide the proof that angling is experiencing a surge in popularity,” said Environment Agency Angling Development Manager Richard Wightman.

“We had over 10,000 people attending events this year and given extra resources we could have catered for many more. This success has shown that if you can address the barriers that prevent people from entering the sport, they are likely to give it a try and hopefully stick with it.

“Fishing has been proven to provide an outlet for excluded and disadvantaged young people, helping to cut truancy and antisocial behaviour. Our research indicates angling is among the best outdoor activities for lifting people’s self-esteem. It’s amazing the satisfaction that can be gained from the simple task of catching a fish.

“National Fishing Week has given many people a chance to learn how to fish for free and at the same time meet people who will encourage them to continue with the sport. We had children as young as four or five years old learning from some of the nation’s top angling coaches, as well as many older people trying their hand at angling for the first time.”

Over 400 events across England and Wales were fully booked and people were even reluctantly turned away from some locations. In Newcastle, angling featured in the local multicultural Mela Festival for the first time and, in Wales, extra events needed to be hastily arranged at Wilderness Pond after all available places were booked over a week in advance.

Midlands angling coach Derek North said even though 400 people delved into angling for the first time at last week’s Wychavon Festival in Worcestershire, double that number had shown interest.

“We always use properly qualified and insured coaches so we can ensure that everyone attending National Fishing Week events is safe, but we just can’t train them quickly enough to meet demand,” Mr North said.

National Fishing Week event organiser Neil Sellers said: ‘”We went for quality this year at our events rather than quantity, but due to the hard work and effort of the coaches, it seems that we have managed to both increase the number of events by 20% and participation levels by 30%.”

“National Fishing Week has benefited tremendously over the past three years through the financial assistance of the Environment Agency and Royal Bank of Scotland – each year results have got better.”

Mr Wightman said the next task was ensuring the follow up experience of these budding anglers was as equally fulfilling.