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

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

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.

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