Angling: Downward trends are being defied in Yorkshire

Yarnbury AC juniors.
Yarnbury AC juniors.
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Big river championships are at the top of most open match anglers ‘want to win lists’.

And the near-one-hundred entry in last week’s joint Bradford No1/Leeds DASA Lower Aire Championships proved it’s fast-becoming one of the region’s blue riband events.

Birkenshaw’s Paul Clark claimed this year’s title with a near-perfect display of feeder fishing for a winning weight of 18-12.

With the river running about 18 inches above normal summer level, he chose to cast only a third of the way across in his 12ft-deep swim.

And, using groundbait caster and chopped worm feed with double disco maggot as hookbaits, Clark quickly put his net under two proper bream and two skimmers for about 12lb.

A change to lobworm added another 6lb of eels later in the match for a deserved win.

Last year’s winner, Mirfield’s Martin Highe, came close again with a similar bream and eel catch for 16-2, though Highe included a specimen-sized bream for the Lower Aire, which weighed 8lb. Third-placed Steve Raper broke the bream domination, catching just one skimmer with the rest of his 15-3 made up of quality eels.

Great Britain’s critically endangered fish list has the European eel placed firmly at the top, yet the Aire produced hundreds, all fighting fit in just five hours’ fishing.

I remember some huge catches over the years from the Wharfe and Ouse, though these venues now seem almost devoid.

Scientists have spent millions researching the eel mystery from Europe to the Sargasso Sea. I wonder ... would they be better moving to the humble Aire around Beal Bridge?

Having spent hours on our river banks, commercials and other still waters over the last few weeks of the school holidays, the recently released statistics regarding the massive drop in junior rod licence sales came as no surprise.

Figures showing a 50 per cent drop in the last five years from approximately 125,000 to just 65,000 sold in 2014-15 are easily believable witnessing the lack of young anglers on the banks this summer.

For the future of the sport, a solution to getting the youngsters involved again must become the no1 priority for not only the Environment Agency and Angling Trust, but tackle trade, local clubs and angling parents.

Clubs’ weekly match results rarely include anything from a junior section so the Angling News email I received this week from Yarnbury’s general secretary Adie Addie showed that with the right guidance youngsters are still out there eager to make their mark.

Yarnbury AC staged their second junior under-16s open match of the season at Toms Pond Otley.

The overnight temperature drop stopped the resident carp from feeding freely but that didn’t stop Moortown’s Cara Briggs, who alternated between the pole and method feeder to put some quality carp on the scales for 14lb 3oz off peg 11, which was enough for the 13-year-old to lift this year’s Old Ball Cup.

The second-place silver medal went to 10-year-old Harrison Smith from Menston, who fished the method off peg 1 to put a few carp and silvers together for 7lb 9oz.

Harvey Coates picked up the bronze medal off peg 12. T nine year old from Horsforth fished the pole with maggot to take a decent carp backed up with silvers for 6lb 15oz.

The YAC would like to extend a huge thank you to Steve and Maureen for the day, Korks Wine Bar, and prizes from Pudsey Angling Supplies, Supreme Angling and Mr Kenworthy.