Frank Shenton: Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal
People who pass by while I am fishing always assume when they see an older angler that it's been a lifelong thing, for the majority of people do probably start off fishing as youngsters. In my case it's only been a relatively short time.
Anglers name: Frank Shenton
Current club, team or sponsor: Little Britain Anglers
How old were you when you started fishing?: 62
Which was the first canal you ever fished? At which location?: Manchester, Bury & Bolton canal at Royal Oak Basin, Radcliffe
Which is your favourite species of fish?: The next one I manage to land
If you had to choose just one, which would be your favourite fishing bait?: Maggots in their various forms
What do you consider your greatest fisheries or angling achievement?: Helping new anglers into the sport through the Lets Fish! programme
What is your remaining biggest single ambition in fisheries/angling?: To help get more people of all ages into the sport
Who is your all time fisheries or angling hero and why?: Mick Dodman (see below)
Something inside drove me to have a go at one of these events a couple of years back. I am never sure of who or what got me hooked that day, was it me or was it the fish I caught.Frank Shenton, 62, Let's Fish! graduate
My name is Frank Shenton and I'm part of the group of anglers called Little Britain Anglers.
The club is relatively new but we quickly acquired agreements for the fishing rights to various waters both on canals and local rivers. My personal favourite is the area known as "The Oak " locally on the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal as Radcliffe basin. It's local to me and easy to get permits at local fishing tackle shops or online with the club.
It’s never too late to get started
People who pass by while I am fishing always assume when they see an older angler that it's been a lifelong thing, for the majority of people do probably start off fishing as youngsters. In my case it's only been a relatively short time. I was a late comer at aged 62 but we all have to start somewhere and with a bit of luck I will still be fishing when the Queen or King (Charles or William) send me a telegram.
Let’s Fish! recruit
Hopefully readers will be aware of the Canal & River Trust Let’s Fish! events going on throughout the country. Something inside drove me to have a go at one of these events a couple of years back. I am never sure of who or what got me hooked that day, was it me or was it the fish I caught.
Early morning tranquillity
I still love this Royal Oak section of canal and regularly spend many an hour fishing that same spot. Throughout the day the same spot gives me a different feel. The mornings are tranquil with the light reflecting on the water and the birds twittering while going about their daily business giving a calm start to the day punctuated by that first pull on the line resulting in a welcome little battle to reel the catch in.
A little later, as the populace wake up there will be folk passing using the canal for a variety of reasons. There’s the jogger, the dog walker, the cyclist and the busy mums and dads rushing to take their kids to school. 99% of passers will greet you with a cheery good morning or enquire if I had caught anything. You certainly don't get that when people pass on the street.
It's great to see the kids as they pass start to take an interest in what you are doing and hopefully some will take up fishing as they are the future of the sport and of our precious canal network. I know when they do start fishing it gives them a respect for nature and encourages them to get out into the fresh air and make new friends rather than be stuck in front of a screen for hours on end.
What’s so special about the Royal Oak basin?
Why do I keep going fishing time and again to that same section? Simple, it ticks so many boxes for me as the location is just around the corner from where I live. I am one of those 8 million people who live within 1,000 metres (I prefer yards!) of a canal. By using a variety of baits from big maggots, pinkies and squatts to punched bread there is never a problem getting to catch fish. There is lot of wildfowl around too which often get fed bread so that works particularly well as a bait for roach although I have recently been told that bread in excess is not brilliant for the health of ducks.
The challenge of canal fishing
The parking is just a few steps away and the pub is there for when I’m in need of refreshment (and the loo of course). Even before I took up fishing I did voluntary work to bring that area up to a standard that everyone can enjoy. Every day the fishing is different. On some red letter days nearly every cast results in a bite but on other days you have to try different tactics to encourage that elusive bite. There are different challenges every day and even at different times of day.
Better than commercial lakes
There is a challenge to fishing on a canal that I like. Yes, the fishing on commercial lakes is also fun but to pit yourself against shoals of roach and skimmers that has a whole canal to roam is more of a challenge to me. To be sure there are going to be days on canals that you won't catch very much compared to a heavily stocked commercial but that's why it's called fishing not catching.
Making new friends
When out fishing it's the people you meet that can make hopefully lifelong friendships. People who probably you wouldn't have the chance to meet in your day to day life. It's when you see the difference fishing can make to someone that you see the power of the water. I have come a long way in a short time.
Giving something back
I am now a Level 1 Coach participating in those same Lets Fish! events that got me hooked, encouraging others to follow in my path and take up the sport. Not long ago, I attended a mottification training session with Simon Mottram on the Shropshire Union Canal at Soudley, scene of the 2019 Division 2 national which opened my eyes up. Simon’s coaching training video is well worth a look if you have an hour to invest; most people will pick up some useful canal fishing tips.
While the likes of Motty and many other top match anglers are undoubtedly technically extremely skilful, my fishing hero is an unlikely candidate. He is the man encouraged me along the coaching path, his name is Mick Dodman. Some of you might have seen him starring in a film shown to Parliamentarians extolling the canals’ therapeutic value on mental health, if you missed it why not take a look here.