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The Canal & River Trust charity is inviting children and adults across the North West to unlock a new hobby this summer by joining a free ‘Let’s Fish!’ taster session.

The angling events, hosted on canals across the region, include free one-to-one tuition from licensed coaches. Sessions start this month and continue through to October, with events available in Rochdale, St Helens, Ormskirk, Oldham, Chester, Northwich, Nantwich and Willaston.

Run by the Canal & River Trust waterways and wellbeing charity, and supported by local angling clubs, the one hour, learn-to-fish taster sessions encourage people to experience the health and wellbeing benefits of fishing on their local waterways. All equipment, such as fishing tackle, bait, a rod licence and fishing permit, are provided free on the day.

Since its introduction in 2017, the Trust’s national ‘Let’s Fish!’ programme has gone from strength to strength, with over 15,000 people now having taken part. Financial support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery has helped the programme to develop and continue into a packed 2021 season, offering more than 350 events across the country.

John Ellis, national fisheries and angling manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Fishing is fun. It's good for your mind and body, and it's something the whole family can enjoy.  With the programme restricted in 2020 due to the pandemic, it is now back, bigger and better in 2021.

“We’ve seen throughout the past 12-months, the importance of getting outside into the fresh air.  And with canals local and on-the-doorstep for millions of people, spending time by the water fishing is a feel-good, accessible activity that people can do in the heart of our towns and cities.  This year, the ‘Let’s Fish!’ programme will be hosting many events within walking distance of urban communities, in places where everyone, regardless of background or ability, can take part.  The free events will get people up and running in no time. All the equipment is provided.”

To adhere to coronavirus guidelines, the ‘Let’s Fish!’ events will be reduced in numbers to begin with. They are made possible thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Angling Trust, Environment Agency and Nenescape.

John Ellis added: “This year we have a greater focus on ongoing participation. This means that those trialling fishing for the first time can go on and join a club and take part in local or even national competitions.  We are also looking to develop a schools programme – building links with schools near to the canal network to encourage children to get outside and into nature.”

For details of ‘Let’s Fish!’ event dates, locations and to book tickets, visit: www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/lets-fish.  Taster sessions are suitable for all adults and children (aged six and above), whether they are completely new to fishing or returning after a break. Although tickets are free, places must be reserved in advance to help manage numbers.

In the North West, ‘Let’s Fish!’ taster sessions include: Willaston, Cheshire (April 12); Blacon, Chester (April 14, June 2, July 28, August 4 and 11); Upton, Chester (April 16, June 4 and August 6); Rochdale (April 17, May 8, 14 and 30, June 11, July 9, August 13; Oldham (May 29, June 19, July 17, August 7); Nantwich (June 5,19,20,24, July 18 and 24, August 1 and 8); Northwich (May 3 and 31); Halsall, near Ormskirk (April 18 and 25)

The Canal & River Trust cares for and brings to life 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England & Wales. We believe waterways have the power to make a difference to people’s lives and that spending time by water can make us all healthier and happier. By bringing communities together to make a difference to their local waterway, we are creating places and spaces that can be used and enjoyed by everyone, every day www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.

Canal & River Trust’s waterways are home to millions of fish including around 40 different species. The charity is the single largest owner of coarse fishing rights in England and Wales with over 2,000 miles of waterways and over 70 feeder reservoirs. It is estimated that it would cost £40 million to replace all the Trust’s fish stock.

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