Monsters in the city...
They might not be the prettiest places to fish, but sometimes even the grubbiest city rivers can produce a miracle, writes Dom Garnett
EVEN after years of fishing my local urban river, I can’t say it’s a venue that’s easy to love. It’s a place of concrete and silt and things chucked into the river that definitely shouldn’t be in there. You’ve never seen so many empties in your life. Or so much swan poo. There are now 50 or so of the hissy idiots blocking the best roach swim in Exeter.
You find a different type of angler here too. There are the cute, clueless local kids, with crap rods and a hundred questions. Then there are those who pack a telescopic rod and about 20 beers with them, which might explain all the empties. And last there’s me, walking and scanning the water, daydreaming about the monsters I saw years ago.
You really have to wonder how the biggest fish survive in such a poor environment. There are swarms of dace and a few chub here, dodging the cormorants, but pike seem to struggle. Perhaps it is the keen survival instincts of carp that allow them to thrive undetected for years.
Tackling city waters certainly demands a different mentality. That big surprise could happen in 10 minutes, but it could just as easily take 10 years. Fishing locally certainly involves less time and expense, and most of our cities offer day ticket or even free sport. There’s a great deal of hardly fished water and, if you’re determined, there is always the chance of a reward.
Last week I cast into a deep hole more in hope than expectation. It was a new swim, where I’d seen reasonable carp in previous summers. About an hour in, the tip bounced a couple of times, then lurched over. For the first giddy few seconds, the fish played me. It must have run 30 yards downstream before I even dared to brake it. So powerful!
By the time I’d got the fish under control, Keith Armishaw was there with the net, luckily for me. But twice, she crashed clear as we battled from a high bank, trying to steer five metres of net handle against the current.
A few moments later she was on the mat at 19lb 4oz. No pristine estate lake carp but a thing of the city, old scars and dirty gold scales. The winning lottery ticket among the empties.
The urban Exe, home of vicious swans and wily carp.
Urban warrior: 19lb 4oz of River Exe carp.