History of the SFCA

The SFCA is the youngest and smallest of the Scottish Angling Governing Bodies (SGBs) but it is also the fastest growing and our membership has grown steadily, year on year, since the introduction of individual membership in 2009. In 2023 over 20% or our individual members were under the age of 18.  But where did the SFCA come from?

The beginnings
Coarse fishing in Scotland first became organised as a sport in the 1960s. The roach fishing on the Forth & Clyde Canal was the best in Britain at that time and attracted anglers not only from Scotland but from across the UK.  Some of Scotland’s most iconic Salmon Rivers, as far north as the River Tay in Perth, also held large populations of coarse fish as evidenced in this article from the Angling Times in 1968, ‘Tay Roach, Perth Harbour 1968’.

The Glasgow & West of Scotland Coarse Fishing Association (GWSCFA) was formed in October 1966 and the first recorded match organised by a Scottish club for Scottish coarse anglers was held on the canal at Bowling on November 20th 1966.

The GWSCFA grew rapidly and in 1969 the first Scottish Open Championships were held.  This event proved incredibly popular and grew to the stage where it was attracting up to 400 competitors in the early 1970s.

Other clubs started to emerge and in 1975 the Scottish Federation for Coarse Angling was formed along with the creation of the first Scottish League. Competition fishing was the early catalyst for the SFCA, but soon a development committee was formed covering youth development and identifying appropriate waters for coarse fishing with a view to a national facility.

Formal Recognition
Following formal recognition by the Scottish Sports Council as the national governing body for coarse angling in Scotland, the first Scottish International team was formed in 1979 and a team was entered into the World Freshwater Angling Championships for the first time in 1981.

Competition fishing remained a key part of the SFCA but development activities took on a growing role through the 80s and 90s including growing relationships with government and other authorities and direct involvement in national fisheries policy initiatives.

Despite all this activity the number of member clubs began to decline until only those interested in matches, and the Scottish Carp Group (SCG) and Pike Anglers Alliance for Scotland (PAAS) remained.  The SFCA, like the NFA south of the border had taken its eye off development and with commercial fisheries now starting to appear less people were joining clubs.

Recent Transformation
In recent years a huge amount of work has been undertaken in an attempt to address the decline by refocusing on coaching and development and beginning the process of modernising the SFCA to prepare it for the future.

Over the past decade we have gone from being an organisation governed solely from a constitution, to a modern SGB with all of the policies, plans and procedures you would expect of a much larger, professionally run organisation.

In the summer of 2010, along with the other two Angling SGBs we underwent our first independent sportscotland audit process, the results of which I am pleased to say were very positive but highlighted that all three SGBs had much still to do.  The three Scottish Angling Governing Bodies, the SFCA, SANA and SFSA, also formed the Angling Development Board of Scotland (ADBoS) to provide a forum in which they could work collectively on common issues mainly centered around coaching and development including coach education, coach licensing and the development and delivery of grass roots delivery and educational programmes.  Over the next two years ADBoS established a Scottish Coach Licensing system, trained its own UKCC Tutors and Assessors, developed and implemented the Club Angling Programme and, working with partner in Barony College and the SQA, developed and rolled out the National Progression Award in Angling and the Aquatic Environment on the National Curriculum for High Schools. Much of this work was led or driven by the SFCA and its Executive Committee members, despite being the only one of the three Angling SGBs to not have any paid staff. 

This modernisation has continued; with regular progress reviews being conducted against our Strategic and Annual Business Plans in accordance with our Corporate Governance and Risk Management Plan, and external audits conducted by KPMG on behalf of sportscotland.

Click here to see our Plans and Policies .

In 2016, again working with our partners in the other three SGBs, we began the process of forming a new umbrella body, ‘Angling Scotland Ltd’ to represent all angling interests in Scotland.  This body became fully established in 2018 and now provides the centralised structure for the three SGBs and all of the common core policies governing the sport in Scotland. To learn more visit: http://www.anglingscotland.org.uk/.

Today the SFCA is a much different organisation from the one that was founded back in 1975.  It has had to evolve hugely over the nearly 50 years it has been in existence, in order to meet the changing needs of the sport and society as a whole, and to meet the expectations and aspirations of its members and the wider angling public.  Its fundamental role to protect and promote coarse angling in Scotland, to provide opportunity for future generations, to provide effective governance for the sport, and to develop, select and field representative teams at international level remains unchanged however and we continue to strive to deliver on all of these objectives.

To learn more view our Annual Business Plan