My final session of the 2014/15 season was spent with a friend, fishing for chub in London.
It was tricky – bright sunshine coupled with a low and clear river meant it was always likely to be a bit of a struggle. But it was a lovely day to be outside, exploring a genuinely urban stretch of water. Such fishing may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but I just love it. A fish of any sort feels like a real achievement when you consider what they’re up against.
I took just the bare minimum of gear and roved around. It wasn’t until late afternoon that I found what I was looking for – a decent chub, tucked well away under an overhanging tree.
A link-ledgered piece of Spam, fished just above the snag failed to elicit a response. So I removed the shot and freelined a huge lobworm right under the tree. The chub nailed it first time. Buzzing.
My mate Rob relocated to the ‘new’ town of Hemel Hempstead a little while ago. After he travelled over to stay with me last year, spending an action packed couple of days on the Wye, this time I headed over to Hemel to sample some of the good variety of local fishing he now has on his doorstep.
I really enjoy our fishing trips together as the emphasis is on enjoying a bit of a social, exploring new venues and trying a few different methods in search of whatever comes along . Pure pleasure fishing.
We started on a stretch of the Grand Union canal close to Rob’s home. He’s found a few nomadic carp that he’s been targeting – without success thus far – and as we arrived in the hot afternoon sun, they were moving around enjoying the warm weather, but they were wary too and clearly used to being fished for.
I’m a complete canal fishing novice. The last time I fished a proper canal was the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation sometime in the mid 90’s – time spent basically trying to stay alive on a freezing December day that produced a total of two micro roach.
The Grand Union felt a lot different. The surroundings were pleasant and the weather warm. And there were clearly a few fish around.
I began feeding a few pellets by an overhanging tree and delayed setting up in an effort to encourage carp into the swim and feed. Rob went off to see if he could persuade one to take a floating crust.
It was a hot day, but the wind was swirling and it felt like change was in the air. The carp were certainly responding to the weather, charging around and generally making a show of themselves. I was confident they’d get their heads down. Indeed, it wasn’t long until clouds of silt were wafting up intermittently from my pre baited swim and I couldn’t resist getting a bait out. I started with a small chunk of spam, freelined, with just a couple of large shot a few feet up the line to keep it pinned down.
Rob, meanwhile, had found a trio of nice carp a little down from where I was. It just felt like something was going to happen…
And it soon did. Rob called to say he’d got one! A lovely, lean golden common carp of 10lbs. It was a smashing fish and I was chuffed he’d achieved his target and was there to share it with him.
It was also the point when the carp simply vanished. We never saw a trace of those carp again for the rest of our time on the canal, it was amazing. They went from being quite visible, moving around in small groups to melting away completely.
I returned to my swim, which by now was really being stirred up. At the time I thought it was carp and upon flicking the bait out again I was expecting a savage bite any minute. But instead a series of finicky pulls and plucks suggested it wasn’t a group of carp in my swim.
I sat it out for a while and Rob went off stalking again, all to no avail. I decided to set up Rob’s new pole, feeding hemp and caster into the same swim I’d been carp fishing in. It was great fun and despite the fact I’d not used a proper pole in ages, I soon got into the swing of things. We ended up taking it in turns and soon put together a nice bag of mainly perch, the odd roach and one nice bream – great fun.
Our plan was to head over to a stretch of the upper Lea in the evening and after a fish and chip supper, we headed over to the river.
The river was very low and clear and I thought things may be tricky. But fishing the last couple of hours of the day into darkness is usually productive on the Lea, and I fancied one of us would get a chance of a chub or barbel.
But we didn’t. In hindsight I think a roving approach would have been worth a try but instead a static bait and wait approach yielded only the dreaded crays for both of us.
Our plan for the second day was to head over to a quiet, mature gravel pit that Rob had discovered held a great head of roach, good tench and a few nice carp.
As we stumbled out of the door at dawn, the nip in the air and the fine rain indicated clearly that the weather had taken a definite turn. Heavy and grey clouds, now visible in the half-light, filled the sky as we pulled into what was clearly an attractive, tree lined still water with plenty of good features to fish too.
We were immediately greeted with patches of bubbles emanating from various areas across the lake –more than enough encouragement to make us get set up as quickly as possible.
We both opted for light waggler tactics and while Rob’s baiting strategy focused on loose feeding hemp and caster, I opted to introduce some groundbait laced with hemp, caster and pellet. We both opted for maggot hookbaits initially.
We were soon into roach – not big – but plentiful. Rob then tried a small cube of spam and immediately had a much better fish of 12ozs or so. Next cast, the same result and it didn’t take much persuasion on Rob’s behalf for me to ditch the size 18, tie on a size 14 and try meat. The response wasn’t quite as dramatic as Rob’s change, but soon I was netting a solid 12oz roach myself. It was a switch to corn though that really got through to the better roach for me. Throughout the day we had absolutely loads of them. All immaculate, solid fish between 6ozs up to one Rob had at 1lbs 5ozs. I managed a couple of a pound or so and the sheer number of fish we had around the 12ozs mark was amazing. Spectacular roach fishing.
We chatted to the friendly bailiff who informed us the lake offers good perch fishing, and some really big rudd, though sadly we never made contact with the latter or the big tench that inhabit the water.
I did go for a wander mid afternoon with a rod, net and bag of bits and bait and tempted a lovely, plump perch of 1lbs 14ozs from a classic snaggy, perchy looking area.
All too soon the prospect of the M4 began to creep into my thoughts and it was time to round up what had been another great couple of days with Rob, exploring the fishing opportunities on his local patch.
My old mate Rob has become a bit obsessed by a big, dark mirror carp that he’s found living in a stretch of the Grand Union canal near to his home.
He’s had a few short sessions in an effort to tempt it but no joy yet. These big, urban carp are no commercial fishery pushovers that’s for sure!
I’m heading over to Rob’s for a couple of days fishing soon and while we’ve discussed various waters to target, I’m hoping we can at least squeeze in an early morning or late evening on the canal in search of carp. I really fancy having a serious go at some wild old canal carp and I have a couple of waters much closer to home that I feel could be worth targeting – a feral 20 pounder really would be something.
So I asked Rob how big he thinks this fish is. ‘Yeah, it’s big’ – is as much as I can get out of him. I hope you get her soon mate!
I had a few spare hours after working in central London towards the end of last week, so naturally I decided to go fishing.
I’d travelled in with my trusty travel rod and a little bag with the bare essentials. I was accompanied by a friend to the wonderful little urban river we’d elected to try. Our plan was to try trotting in search of silver fish and then to perhaps try fishing a bigger bait at dusk in search of a barbel or chub.
The weather was overcast and very mild, but occasionally a cooling breeze provided welcome relief from the humid conditions. After working in a hot office all day escaping to the river for my first session of the new season was just what the doctor ordered.
It was also my first trip to this fascinating waterway – a venue that’s had its fair share of issues with pollution over the years. Yet it seems to have bounced back again and offers some interesting and varied fishing for local anglers.
I must admit I was simply enjoying walking along the course of the river using my polarising glasses to find likely looking spots and finding signs of aquatic life and it was well over an hour before we actually settled down to fish.
Feeding maggots into a lovely looking deeper run soon had little fish darting around in an effort to get to the grubs. It was magic watching them and soon my friend landed the first – a little chublet. He soon added a dace, a roach and some other chublets and I was itching to have a go. I did, and landed a chublet as well, a lovely little fish that darted around the river determinedly.
It was already becoming gloomier when I decided to go for a wander with my rod, net and a bag of bits and bait.
Despite trying some really nice looking areas, nothing took a fancy to my link ledgered spam. I almost walked straight past a swim that looked a little too shallow at first, but with some cover at the end of the run it looked like it was at least worth a cast into.
Despite giving it half an hour or so, nothing materialised. My friend had joined me by then and just as we were debating whether to make a move I noticed a long fish roll just off the faster water – barbel!
I repositioned the spam at the top of the run. It was probably five minutes before the rod top began to nod and a fairly gentle pull was met with a strike and – fish on! It was a classic, feisty battle and the barbel gave a good account in the flow. I was able to play the fish quite hard though and we soon had it in the net.
The barbel was bang on 6lbs and in good shape after spawning. It took a while to nurse the fish in the water after an energy sapping scrap but its strength returned and it was soon powering off back into its urban home. It capped what had been a memorable first session of the season.