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...
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.