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Rob Hughes: Langollen Canal

This article should perhaps really be headed 'My favourite canal'. There are so many pegs along the Llangollen Canal that are simply stunning places to spend time, that it would be unfair to name just one of them.

Llangollen Canal Bridge 18 Llangollen Canal Bridge 18

Angler's name: Rob Hughes

Current club, team or sponsor: Carp Team England Manager, World Champion, Sponsors – Fox and DNA Baits

Age started fishing: six

Favourite fish species: carp now but originally roach

Favourite fishing bait: sweetcorn

Greatest angling achievement: winning the World Championships as an individual and for a second time as a team. Becoming manager of the carp fishing team and steering them to their first ever gold after 17 years of trying.

Angling ambition: to go more often

Angling hero: in the early years, Dick Clegg and Tommy Pickering. Barnsley were outstanding and won everything in the 80's. As a carp angler, Rod Hutchinson who simply set the world alight when it came to carp and carp angling.

The scenery along the canal at Blakemere is exquisite, and the engineering around Chirk awe-inspiring.

Chirk AqueductIf you walk the canal between St Martins and Chirk, especially in the autumn months, you will see exactly what mean about stunning places. The scenery along the canal at Blakemere is exquisite, and the engineering around Chirk awe-inspiring.

Boyhood adventures

As a boy, long days would be spent with the lads at Rhosweil. Match practice would take place pre, and sometimes post paper-round on the stretch at Hindford. There would be special outings to the junction with the Montgomery Canal at Lower Frankton. There were tales of the mythical monsters of the Dairy in Ellesmere.

It was actually this very canal that got me into fishing in the first place. Sitting in the back of my mother's Mini on the way to North Wales almost every weekend to visit relatives, we would pass alongside the Llangollen Canal as it wound its way around the bend just outside Chirk. As an inquisitive six year old, I saw the umbrellas of the match angers fishing there and wanted to know more.

Crystal clear water

My angling journey had begun, and later, armed with rod and line, I fished at the canal at Rhosweil every sapre moment I could find. Being so close to the source of its water supply, The River Dee at The Horseshoe Falls near Llangollen, the canal here has a reasonable flow, and holds some stunning roach and dace. I perfected my gudgeon and perch fishing on the near shelf, by trial and error learnt how to fish the far one, and armed with a very early cloud bait of white crumb and aniseed, I stacked up those gleaming roach and dace.

First fishing match

I was totally hooked on fishing by now. At the age of 11 I fished my first ever match on the Llangollen Canal at Hindford as part of the old Jack Boote league. It was so called after the two pubs in Whittington near Oswestry that used to host us. The year was 1980 and I remember being told not to be too disappointed if I didn’t have too good of a day. It was after all my first competition.

The nerves were there, as there were a number of other boys from school who were regulars, but I was seriously competitive - still am, and I put my heart and soul into not embarrassing myself in front of my peers. Four hours and four and a quarter ounces of gudgeon later was enough to seal a victory for me, and the princely sum of £1.50 in my pocket at my first attempt. That was my Saturday morning's itinerary sorted for the foreseeable future.

Canals. Best venues to learn to fish

Little was I to know that the grounding that I would receive on the Llangollen Canal as a junior would eventually lead me to the heady heights of representing my country, winning the World Cup as a carp angler and ultimately being selected to manage England. We went on to win our first ever team gold medal in the carp discipline.

I loved that canal back then and still do so today now. I feel sure that none of my dreams would ever have happened if the young Rob Hughes had not discovered his favourite canal peg and learnt his apprenticeship on the canal all those years back.

The ongoing call of the Llangollen

My O Level history project was written about this wonderful canal at school. Some years later I decided to buy a smallholding that sat alongside it which was to become my home. It holds a very special place to me and there are areas along it that, for a number of reasons, are my “special place.”

Forgive me if I don’t tell you exactly where they are but I’m sure that if you visit the area, you will find some special places of your own.