December 18, 2014 Last Updated 3:21 pm

*Keeping Angling Alive for the Future

Winter time is often a time for reflection. Stan Ryan is back on home turf this time round and is advocating getting youngsters involved in angling - for the sake of sanity and for the sake of our sport...


Keeping Angling Alive for the Future

 Leon & Crab


It is a fact that angling as a sport has lost its popularity. The number of angling clubs has dropped dramatically.

There are several reasons for this. When I started fishing, over 50 years ago,  there were not as many distractions as there are today. TV was in black and white and there were few childrens’ programmes. Electronic games such as the Xbox simply did not exist. A tablet was something for a headache!

Most children spent a lot of their time playing outside as much as possible. Games changed with the seasons. Footballs were kicked up and down the street all year round. Marbles were more of a summer game along with many other similar activities such as throwing a penny towards a wall and seeing who got nearest its base. September and October were definitely for playing conkers. Rounders and cricket were played in the local field or school yard.

Hehe catching fish

For those of us that lived near the sea swimming and fishing started in June with the arrival of summer holidays and finished when school started again. It is unusual to see kids these days involved in these various activities.

The other matter is that the quality of fishing has decreased drastically in some parts of the country. Successive governments have allowed some of our waters to be cleaned out, without any thought of future generations.  The seas that we inherit when we are born should be handed onto the next generation in the same if not better condition. It is not that long ago since the Irish sea held a healthy stock of cod. We are lucky in that Ireland is a small island and some good fishing is still available within a couple of hours driving of most towns. I can leave my house in Dublin and be in Waterford in under two hours. For good pike and trout fishing I can be in the midlands in just over an hour (Ed- Of course this speaks volumes about the quality of fishing on the East Coast in winter).

Leons big pollock 2


So to go forwards it is sometimes better to look back in time. My father passed on his knowledge of fishing to me and so I tried to give the gift of this pastime to my three children and now have my two nephews becoming fanatical fishermen.

I think that it is important that kids or even adults are initially brought out only when there is a reasonable chance of catching a fish. How often have people said to me “ I tried fishing once but was bored silly waiting for a fish to jump onto the line” !

Mackerel bashing is how most sea anglers start and is always a good introduction for anyone to the sport. Once interest is created it is easy to develop diversity in the various forms of fishing.

Leon and Keelan who are 11 and 9 years old have been fishing for the last 4 years. Heading out in the boat is their favourite form of fishing  as it is very seldom that they blank. Acting as captain and first mate on “Bass Hunter” also provides them with great entertainment and both are quite skilled boatmen at this stage.

Now that they have gone beyond dropping down a set of feathers and hauling up a string of mackerel and decided that is only for beginners their whole approach to angling has changed without them even knowing it.

Leon Double flounder & bass copy


There are now more matters to be dealt with besides just catching fish. Collecting bait can be a great form of entertainment. This summer Leon and Keelan were joined by their cousin, Huha, from China . At 9 years old she had never even seen the sea and got involved in everything to do with fishing. First of all bait had to be collected and so we set out digging lug. A competition started immediately to see who could grab the worms as they were thrown up and what can be a bit of a task provided fun for the three of them.

As we had very high tides the razor beds were uncovered and collecting these provided even more entertainment. It never ceases to amaze me that both adults and children can enjoy this activity.  Of course there is always the chance of a nice meal if we get enough shellfish.

Collecting peeler crabs is another activity that provides a couple of hours enjoyment for kids. There is always the initial fear of getting a pinch from a nipper but this is soon overcome. Then it is time to chase your cousin around with the crab.



Fishing sometimes becomes a family occupation and reactions from non-anglers can often lead them to grab a rod and join in the fun. A day’s fishing can also mean having a picnic.

On a sunny bank holiday August weekend, two year ago, it was decided that the extended family would go to a beach. Quite “by coincidence” I selected a little cove that would allow the two lads to cast out a few lug. Conditions were not great with blaring sunshine but nobody told the fish. Within two minutes of Leon’s trace hitting the water he had a rod doubled up as he struggled to pull in a bass and a flounder together. Keelan then landed a flounder and so the afternoon continued with a constant stream of fish being landed.

Keelans flounder

Easter 2013 was very cold with strong NW wind blowing day-in-day-out. Where could we go to stand any chance of a fish? Eventually, I just chanced a beach where we had the wind was offshore and we had some shelter even if there were no fish to be had. Fours rods were set up: one for me and  each of the two boys plus one for Mandy their mother. This was her first time actively shore fishing. Two minutes after the first cast her rod nearly leaped out of the stand and she soon had a magnificent 8lb bass on the beach……much to the disgust of the two younger “experienced anglers”!!!! Mandy was now hooked.

New Captain

By tying in family outings with a bit of fishing more people get exposed to the sport and even if they don’t become anglers they can appreciate the sport.

The beautiful sunny summer this year was perfect for outdoor life. On several occasions we managed to have fantastic days at the beach. Disposable barbeques accompanied fishing rods and reels. On another occasion we ran out of Youghal early in the morning for fishing and on returning to port headed up river to Villierstown where some of the party had a BBQ ready for us. This trip has some of the nicest scenery in Ireland and of course there are some beautiful houses and castles to be seen.  The kids had great fun on flat calm water taking turns at driving the boat at full throttle.

Bass Hunter

So there is a positive association between fishing and the outdoors. One day we went bass fishing from the beach. The BBQ was set up as were the rods. Unfortunately, due to weed we had to leave the rods aside but the BBQ meant that we had a great time anyway. We just didn’t have any fish to cook and so had to do with sausages and burgers.

Leon with lug


Finally, it is often worth getting young people involved in a local club and entering competitions. I fished my first competition at 6 years old and won it. Imagine the impact that had on my enthusiasm for the sport. There are a number of anglers who fish mainly or even solely in competitions. The chance of beating fellow anglers brings a new dimension to the sport. Of course mixing with other anglers in a competitive environment means learning new tricks and traces to get higher numbers and different species of fish. The top anglers in Ireland have proven themselves to be a match for anglers from other countries around the world. Nobody gets to this level without serious dedication and preparation.



 Stan Ryan is enjoying the pace of retirement! He is doing it as we all would want to…fishing his way through retirement! All branches and all disciplines are a lure to Stan! His travel articles are superb here on Topfisher but his homebased angling can be just as good!


Comments are closed.