Pike in un­likely places... it’s time to go un­der­ground!

Gritty, grimy ur­ban wa­ters hold un­tapped fish­ing po­ten­tial and some gen­uine surprises – as Dom Gar­nett dis­cov­ered when he joined city canal fish­ing fa­natic Dan Esox in an un­likely set­ting...

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

SOME of the most promis­ing and un­der­ex­ploited fish­ing is right un­der our feet.

A land­scape dom­i­nated by dis­carded rub­bish, roads and concrete bridges isn’t ev­ery­one’s cup of tea, ad­mit­tedly. But I have to say I find dirt real, ul­tra-ur­ban canals and rivers as ex­cit­ing as any wild water.

Dan Esox, who has a real taste for this gritty school of angling, def­i­nitely con­curs: “Isn’t it funny how we travel hun­dreds of miles to go fish­ing, and miss what’s right in front of us?” he says.

The scenery can def­i­nitely take some get­ting used to, with ev­ery­thing from empty tin­nies to bro­ken fur­ni­ture and a stray cricket ball.

In places it looks as black and dan­ger­ous as the River Styx.

Dan has seen his share of odd­i­ties too – the rivers here have re­vealed the odd dead body, firearms and even sex toys, much to the amuse­ment of a small army of Face­book fol­low­ers who en­joy his un­fazed at­ti­tude and gritty hu­mour.

It’s def­i­nitely re­as­sur­ing to have a big, tough com­pan­ion in an ur­ban lo­ca­tion. But be­sides hav­ing shoul­ders like an ox, Dan is a smart, stealthy an­gler. He flicks neat casts into dodgy-look­ing lies and im­pos­si­ble lit­tle gaps most of us would miss.

The river is de­cep­tively beau­ti­ful too, from a cer­tain slanted an­gle. Bridge pil­lars glow with ar­ti­fi­cial light and the trick­ling sound of the water blurs with traf­fic. Some­how the water main­tains its mys­tery and life, in spite of it all. “Beauty is in the eye of the be­holder, I guess,” says Dan, “which is lucky or I’d never have got a date with my wife in the first place.”

The next swim looks some­where be­tween Mr Crab­tree and a re­gional TV re­port on street crime, com­plete with bro­ken bags and sacks you wouldn’t want to open. But the fish are here, with species such as perch, trout and even the odd pike wait­ing to make the line stop and your heart jump.

“It’s all about find­ing your own fish­ing and do­ing your own thing,” says Dan. “It’s so easy these days just to find named wa­ters or copy what some­one else is do­ing, but where’s the fun in that?”

The re­ally re­fresh­ing part about Dan’s suc­cesses is that he has no golden per­mit for ex­clu­sive fish­ing. The vast ma­jor­ity of his best catches come from pub­lic wa­ters, whether day-ticket or com­pletely free fish­eries.

And herein lies the ex­cite­ment – the next bite on your lo­cal ur­ban water­way could be any­thing from a wild grayling to a mon­ster pike.

All it takes is a will­ing­ness to ex­plore.

Dan Esox rev­els in the sights and smells of ur­ban fish­ing.

With pike this pos­si­ble, it’s no won­der Dan Esox loves ur­ban fish­ing.

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