A Practical Guide
Canal Fishing – The local canal was the very first place I cast a line. We started with cane poles, literally the sort of cane you’d find in the back garden.
These were our first rods, set up with a piece of nylon tied to the end and a grayling float or a tiny piece of quill.
There was a chap who lived opposite us called Stan Poole, and he and his son Keith would take me fishing. Stan was a good angler. He’d catch twenty or so small fish every time we went, while I was lucky if I caught one! But that’s where it all began for me and at that time, I suppose it was about fishing rather than catching.
The canals represented lovely little parklands amongst all the industry. They also held lots of creatures for us to explore. We used to find great crested and palmate newts, and there was a lot of bird life. We built rafts and dipped nets, and I suppose that’s where my interest in wildlife, bird watching and fishing all first appeared.
The stretch of our canal had been a busy industrial area and there was still a coal yard being used, but it was very rich with fish. It hadn’t got carp back then, but it had a lot of perch and roach. We struggled at first. Our hooks were too big. To catch a fish, any fish, was an incredible experience!
My first-ever catch was a stone loach. Perch came next. The fish weren’t big, but we learned a lot about watercraft. There were little basins where the boats would come in that were great for fishing. There were also gas works where there was warm water that would draw the fish in.
The sad bit was that after I got married and left the area, the canal was badly polluted. We used to joke that even rats wouldn’t live there. It was a terrible environment, full of rubbish.