Sep 30 2010 by Johnathon Menzies, Blairgowrie Adv
YOUNGSTERS in east Perthshire have said they are ‘hooked’ on a successful fishing course.
The area’s popular Angling for Youth Development (AFYD) project, which was re-launched earlier this month after a short summer break, allows primary and secondary school-aged children to learn fly-fishing and other key outdoor skills.
Blairgowrie High School pupil Greg Sinclair (15) was already a keen fisherman before he became involved in the volunteer-led project.
But the New Alyth resident said yesterday his technique had come on leaps and bounds as a result of the scheme.
“There’s about 12 people on the course at the moment, I was probably the only one who could actually fish when we started two or three years ago,” he told the PA yesterday.
“I fish with my dad on the River Isla. You can catch salmon and trout in it – the biggest one I’ve caught so far weighed 10lbs!
“There were a lot of beginners at first, but everyone’s doing really well and we’re all quite good.
“I didn’t know anyone on the course when I first got involved, but we’re all mates now. I’ve picked up a lot more things than I would’ve if I’d just fished on my own, or with my dad.
“That’s why the course is good, it teaches you skills and gives you something to do in your spare time.
“I want to work outdoors when I leave school, so hopefully this will help me.”
Course administrator, Blairgowrie resident Fiona Bain, explained the group meets “every two Wednesdays and Saturdays” at Greg’s Beeches Road school.
Participants learn the theory behind the sport in the midweek sessions – such as casting, knot-tying, water safety and how to be environmentally friendly when honing their craft on local waterways.
One popular haunt for the weekend practical lessons is Ledcrieff Loch, on the outskirts of Alyth. The fledgling anglers, the youngest of whom are 10 years old, are mentored by experienced coaches who know east Perthshire’s many lochs and rivers like the back of their hands.
“It’s very community-spirited,” explained Fiona yesterday. “There’s seven or eight coaches who all give up their time and expertise for free, we couldn’t do it without them.
“AFYD courses are springing-up all over the country now, they’re proving to be really popular.
“I think parents like it because it gets their kids outside in the fresh air and keeps them occupied.
“If they want, they can take the skills they learn here and use them to gain other qualifications which will help them in later life.
“Youngsters enjoy it because it gives them something constructive to do and teaches them things they can then go out and do by themselves afterwards, outwith the classroom.”
The group’s next meeting is tomorrow at Blairgowrie High School, from 6.45pm.
AFYD are on the look-out for volunteers, and sponsorship, to help run the club. Anyone interested should email Fiona Bain on firstname.lastname@example.org