Skyscrapers…sirens…dog walkers…joggers...graffiti and drunks are a few of the things you will find and see and hear when fishing an urban setting. I have a bit of a fascination with fishing within an urban environment…I suppose it’s the fact that I live within good old London Town. But it is also the venues themselves, places that on first glance don’t look like they could or ever would produce any kind of decent fishing, that interest me, but produce they do!
It takes a certain mindset to fish a water you know nothing about and at times are actually unsure whether they do contain any pike at all, it takes a bit of bottle too. I suppose fishing these venue’s can be tricky with no access areas, areas you really would not want to normally spend time in…especially after dark…undesirables roam around looking for an easy victim, kinda like a pike!
I find when fishing areas you not supposed to be in if you keep quiet and keep a low profile you can often get away with it, after all its fishing and I’m not thieving! Safety is priority, I will rarely undertake urban fishing without company, I can look after myself, but numbers add weight, it helps to have a 6’4 18 stone piking partner- love you Breaker!
So on to the actual fishing…many venues will be snag ridden, specially canal’s where access to the water is normally easy and open to all. Dumped scooters and shopping trolleys are a favourite. These are not places for light tackle at all, strong solid tackle, with thick braided lines are the norm as it makes the job of opening out snagged trebles so much easier. I tend to float fish baits and 95% of the time I also pop my baits up to keep them free of any bottom debris, carrier bags are everywhere in urban venues! Plus it is important- so that Esox can see them loud and clear! One thing I feel is imperative with popped up baits and floats is the use of an up trace, this adds safety to bite off and additional abrasion resistance to snags where it matters most. I do occasionally Ledger a bait, but only after I have scoped the swim out, using a lead tied to the end of the mainline and cast around and dragged along the bottom to find any nasty snags on the bottom of the swim.
There are miles of urban freshwater docks, reservoirs, canal systems and more, there is so much scope for those willing to put in the time and effort required- and this to me makes a capture even more sweeter.Not everywhere will produce fish, some may however produce a big big surprise. To me anything approaching or over mid double figures is big for any urban venue, I personally fish to catch fish these fish as they mean something to me. It's not all about numbers , more about where the fish came from, the story behind it, the weight is the last thing that really matters. It's nice to get a biggie but just being successful and catching is what its all about.
Having spent many hours searching for fish on Urban venues there is clearly no short cuts to success. Trying many areas even if they don’t look quite right is the way forward, fishing to features helps, moored boats, dumped mopeds/trolleys, bridges, marina’s (many are private) overhanging tree’s, the near side and far side shelf’s are all good spots to put a bait. When there’s minimal boat traffic in winter the centre channel can be good as its slightly deeper than the rest of the canal.
There’s also tidal/non tidal rivers to go at, some of these places you can really lose yourself and forget you’re in London. Until a siren shatters the silence. Then there’s the some of the HUGE London reservoirs to go at, there’s at least 10 of them! Most you can’t fish…imagine the possibility’s if you could get on them!
I recently got wind of a good urban fish, arriving at the venue and doing an SAS style sneaky mission to get to the swim we set up quickly and a ledgered pollan was cast to a feature in about 8ft of water. At 9.15am my drop off pinged off and I struck into something very solid which then woke up a bit! A good short scrap and I had a new PB in the net at 28.04…Three hours later the drop off pinged off again and I landed a 26.08 that fell to a ledgered Indian mackerel, from exactly the same spot as the 28.
This brace proper blew me away, magnificent fish and a proper Urban London fish too boot! My dreams had come true, and the possibility had been proven. Plus for me to actually be able to say my PB is from my home town of London is .... The Bollox !
Inside our Towns there is some very neglected waters, not necessarily he nicest most scenic venues but take a look at them. You might be surprised, after all, as we all well know… Our Esox does thrive on neglect!