John Castle: Lady Capels near Watford
My favourite canal fishing peg is on the Grand Union Canal near Watford.
Angler's name: John Castle
Current club, team or sponsor: Kings Langley Angling Society
Age started fishing: two
Favourite fish species: any species but love bream
Favourite fishing bait: bread flake
Greatest angling achievement: passing angling onto others
Angling ambition: to see canal angling make a comeback
Angling hero: Mike Heylin OBE
"To improve your chances of a good day's fishing on the canals get up very early and go home once the boat traffic gets too heavy."
My favourite canal fishing peg is on the Grand Union Canal near Watford. Working boats were still operating in the 1970's on the Grand Union but only a few in number. It was a Friday night in late June when I took a walk along my local stretch of the canal known as Lady Capels. I take my hat off to the bream that came to the anglers net that late evening, I guess it went about 4lb. That was enough for me.
Once home I rang my mate (Trevor) and asked him if he fancied an early session on the cut.
“What time?” he enquired.
“2.30 in the morning,” was my response.
"It will be dark then!”
"I know but we need to make the most of it,” was my reply. “I will pick you up,” I added.
I was so keen that I picked Trevor up at 2.15am. We arrived at Capels Wharf at 2.30am, armed with mashed bread in a bucket that I had prepared the night before.
Six or seven small balls were dropped into two selected swims prior to setting up. It was quite dark so we placed our leger rods pointing to the sky so the tip could be seen against the moon of night sky. I didn't have to wait long before the first touch, and again the tip went round. I struck and missed the bite. This happened several times before I realised that bats were hitting the line. Then I had a wrap round take and it stayed round, a nice bream of about 4lb went in the net. Three or four bream later it was just getting light so we could set our rods up at bank level.
At about 8 or 9am, I put a second net in the water guessing I had about 12 fish in the first net by this time. More mashed bread went in and the bream just kept coming. But now the first boats were moving and I thought, this is it sooner or later the fish will move off or I will run out of fish. Yes they did move, but just closer in.
Another five or six fish came to the net. Boats were now queuing to get into the lock. Midday, and enough was enough so we packed up. My total bag weight was just over 102lb of bream (27 fish) and a bonus carp of 6lb and a couple of chub. I will never forget this very special day. It set me up for my canal fishing career and the rest of my angling life.
The fishing rights at Lady Capels are controlled by the Kings Langley Angling Society. Membership is £65 for adults and £25 for juniors. Day permits are available from the patrolling bailiff on the towpath
The nearest tackle shop is World of Water, which is literally at the end of the venue by Hunton Bridge, around 800 metres as the crow flies from my favourite peg.
Now here is my top tip for successful canal fishing. To improve your chances of a good day's fishing on the canals get up very early and go home once the boat traffic gets too heavy. But please don't fish in my favourite swim!