DEMAND for free fishing lessons among Winsford kids has gone up fivefold in two years.  

Coaches on Winsford and District Angling Association's development programme have been inundated with requests for teaching, to the point they’ve had to train seven new volunteers since the scheme was launched in 2021.

The club issued just 30 youth permits in the first year, but in 2023, that number rocketed to 150.

Youth permits cost just £5 for the year, and after that, tuition sessions are free.  

This is great news all round says Winsford Anglers’ development officer and coach, Steph Banks, as by training up new tutors, the club’s been able to improve the range of methods it offers, which now includes coarse, match, carp, lure, and fly-fishing.

The club runs fully structured, coach-led sessions for juniors, seniors, and children with special educational needs.

New starters begin on Wyvern House Pool, on the Drumber, which is fully accessible, before graduating onto some of the club’s more challenging waters like Winsford Top Flash and the River Weaver.

Northwich Guardian: Kian Clarke, 12, with a fine canal perchKian Clarke, 12, with a fine canal perch (Image: Winsford Anglers)

Steph, who returned to fishing herself after taking her son Matthew to one of the club’s coach-led sessions, says it’s ‘just brilliant’ to see so many young people ‘off the streets’ and ‘involved in something constructive’.

The 47-year-old said: “It’s an amazing programme. It’s just gone from strength to strength.

“A lot of our youngsters are from deprived areas of Winsford, and the impact we see on them is massive.

Northwich Guardian: Leo Smith with a fine bream from Wyvern House PoolLeo Smith with a fine bream from Wyvern House Pool (Image: Winsford Anglers)

“Some of them can be like a bomb on the car park, but the minute you sit them on that seat box, it’s as if something clicks.

“It’s quite weird how much it changes them. They’re just so intrigued.  

“We get them working through a skills matrix, with certificates for different levels, which gives it structure and something for them to work towards.

“One of the mums put something on Facebook recently saying it’s totally changed her son’s life.

Northwich Guardian: Angling coach Wendy Hainey (left) with keen student, Joshua Goodier Angling coach Wendy Hainey (left) with keen student, Joshua Goodier (Image: Winsford Anglers)

“He has special educational needs, and there aren’t many activities he can get involved in, but he works fantastically with the other kids on our programme.

“Wyvern Lake is very well stocked, so it’s great for the SEND children who need to be doing something all the time.  

“Two of the youngsters have been asked to apply for a big tackle manufacturer’s talent pathway, which could mean they’ll be fishing for England before too long.”

Northwich Guardian: Matthew Banks - Steph's son - started on the development scheme, and is now a coach himself Matthew Banks - Steph's son - started on the development scheme, and is now a coach himself (Image: Winsford Anglers)

Steph says the scheme relies heavily on sponsorship, and lots of local businesses have been very generous.

These include Daves of Middlewich, The Old Star Pub, CW Estate Agents, Cheshire Sheds, BC Motorcycle Training, Heritage Groundworks, Fowles Funeral Directors, Bluebell Wood, Greyhound Joinery, L&S Personalised Creations, and Payzone.

Steph added: “We run a lot of matches, and all the trophies come to quite a lot, and we’d like to kit out the regular kids too. We think it’ll make them feel part of a team.

Northwich Guardian: Coach Steph Banks with a nice little pikeCoach Steph Banks with a nice little pike (Image: Winsford Anglers)

“And as fishing can sometimes be expensive to get started in, especially for young people, tackle donations are always welcome. 

“Basically, the more money we can raise, the more free activities we can put on.”

If your child would like to learn how to fish with Winsford and District Angling Association's qualified instructors, or if you’d like to sponsor the scheme, email the a development team on  

All anglers must have a rod licence, which can be bought online from the Environment Agency.