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Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
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Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
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Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
Over the past 100 years, hempseed has proved itself as probably the best of the particle baits for attracting and holding fish such as roach in the peg.
Hemp was once believed to have magical powers of attractiveness with a unique aroma and giving off an oily trail once thrown into the water. Fish were said to home in on it and become transfixed into feeding on nothing else other than the ‘black seed’. Of course, there is no such thing as a miracle fishing bait but most canal match anglers will take hemp with them as part of their portfolio of baits.
Hemp is small dark seed bait that is soaked and then boiled until the shell splits and bright white kernels are showing. You can buy dry hemp and then prepare it at home in several ways including:
Do take care and note that non-fishing partners may take umbrage at the use of their favourite pan or of the unique aroma that the cooking of hemp inevitably fills the house with. If ‘spirited debate’ is a likely outcome of smelling out the abode, then it’s probably best to purchase ready cooked hemp from the local tackle shop or buy it in tins just as you would sweetcorn. It’s a little-known fact that hemp used for fishing bait has 20% VAT included in the price but hemp used as a pet food is VAT exempt.
Tares are often used in conjunction with hemp with some anglers preferring the larger size and ease of hooking. Tares are a dark brown/black seed and can be bought from most tackle shops. It is also found in most pet and animal feed shops. Tares are prepared the same way as hemp. Many anglers soak them overnight in water and then boil them until they become soft.
While it is generally used as a feed and attractor, hemp can be used on its own and can on occasions deliver magical results; other times the fish will not appear interested. Large roach and dace are particularly fond of a large single hemp seed presented on a small hook. Take care not to over feed as this encourages competition within the fish shoal leading to fast, difficult to hit bites.
Hempseed was brought over to England by Belgian refugees during Word War One and quickly took off in the south of England where it became so successful that you couldn’t win a match without it. This resulted in many clubs banning its use. One of the pioneers of tare fishing was Trent legend Johnny Moult. You can find out more about the history of the use of hemp and tares here...
Hemp and tares can be stored fresh in the fridge for a couple of days but after that they can start to go rancid. A good tip is to prepare a large batch and then freeze it. Only place the amount of hemp you would use in a session in any one bag. Half a pint would be sufficient for most canal fishing situations. Take the frozen bag out of the freezer the evening before the fishing trip and it will have thawed out by the morning. Others prefer to cook their hemp fresh on each occasion and then use the hemp water to mix groundbait. Its aroma may help attract fish into the peg.
Last date edited: 30 November 2017