Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Gentlemen of the canal.

The day was freezing cold and I had to take Molly for a long walk to vent some of her exuberant energy. I wanted to fish but had to take Molly, and that always, always means trouble, especially if I stay in the one spot for too long
. In such a situation, and with a canal not two minutes walk from home, then what better solution could there be than a spot of piking on the go? Even though I do believe that this stretch of canal has very, very little to offer a fisherman except the regular exercise of Shanks' Pony.

Sutton Stop, or Hawkesbury Junction, either, or...

But what the hell, I had a couple of frozen herrings in the freezer so I rigged up a float and went out for some mobile float fishing. My strategy was to cast and wait for 5 minutes, leap frogging down to Hawkesbury junction, a mile and a bit down the tow path. In this fashion, I must put a bait within yards of at least one pike, I thought.

Molly made much fun with bits of flotsam in the margins, which she believes are alive, because they move. But my float was dead. Nevertheless it was fun as we passed along the canal. It's amazing just how many people you'll see on any day, summer or winter, regardless of the weather on this canal stretch. Molly likes them all unconditionally and runs up to every one wagging her tail madly and expecting the inevitable petting that she has conditioned herself to thinking is her natural lot in life. Everybody loves Molly. It is a given.

One 'gentleman of the canal' took an interest in my fishing, and enquired 'live or dead mate?'

'Dead' I replied. 'As dead as the fishing!'

'You need to get up to Courtalds - plenty of pike and zander there, big fish too, up to forty pounds' was his advice to me.

'Blimey' Was my incredulous reply!

I carried on regardless, not wishing to walk two miles in the opposite direction. But nothing was doing anywhere here and I thought I might be tempted to that stretch next time out.

Spot the float

I made headway to the marina entrance where I had been reliably informed pike were always present. But not on this occasion unfortunately. And on again to Hawkesbury Junction where I had the chance to get some good Wallis casting practice, sending the float and bait right over to the other side, 30 yards plus (into a bankside bush on one occasion) with little trouble. But Molly had more bites than me, of this and that, and then she fell in the canal and had to be dragged out by the scruff of the neck. The pike didn't mind because they were either comatose, or absent but if she falls in near Courtalds, which she certainly will because she falls in everywhere she goes, maybe she'll have that Courtalds forty pounder lunching on her hind leg?

Molly worrying leaves, outside my local

On the way back I had another chuck in the Marina entrance, got hooked up on the far bank on a stupid cast, lost my tackle and had to inch my favourite bass float (now serving time for pike) back across the surface to netting distance, with a spinner. I then had a second interested enquirer, another of those gentleman of the canal, inform me that 'up near Courtalds is best my friend, up by Courtalds, near the bridge'.

'Cheers' I said. 'Ta very much - y'know, that's where I'll be next - up by Courtalds, near the bridge'

He took swig and wiped his mouth, fixed me with his best eye, touched the side of his nose twice, then pointed his finger to the sky.

'You should' he said, 'there's zander there THIS BIG! and the PIKE...'

'Forty pounders?' I said

'Oh yes, but keep it to yerself mind? Don't want the bivvy brigade getting wind' He said, before tipping me the wink once more, and striking off in the general direction of Courtalds.

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