Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
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10 reasons to take up canoeing
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From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
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Desmond Family Canoe Trail
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We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
When people ask what I did at the weekend and I say I went fishing, most people ask what I caught and that’s the end of it, unless they’re an angler themselves. If I told them that I actually stared at a bit of plastic for several hours, people would think I’ve gone crazy.
Especially in the colder months people ask why I fish and it’s quite hard to answer in a way most people would understand. In the summer people sit in the sun all day or go and enjoy canals lakes and rivers, albeit without a fishing rod, so nobody questions why. But in the winter it’s a different story, it’s cold and wet and most people would prefer a nice warm sofa to sit on instead.
Why people go fishing differs from person to person, some people enjoy the peace and quiet, some being surrounded by nature, watching the birds dart from tree to tree plucking insects out the sky. However, one thing most anglers can agree on, although most people can’t understand, is the exciting moments in fishing, the bit that all anglers are waiting for whether they are sat in the middle of a storm with 3 coats on or in shorts and a t-shirt enjoying the sunshine in the summer. It is all about the bite.
The bite doesn’t sound like much but it’s one of the best feelings in the world to a fisherman, so here is what the bite is all about.
"The bite doesn’t sound like much but it’s one of the best feelings in the world to a fisherman."
You’re sat patiently watching your float, you may have been there 5 minutes or 5 hours but it could come at any moment. The moorhen rustling around in the reeds or a splash somewhere on the canal takes your attention away occasionally, but it always comes back the float. The float is your clue to what’s happening in the depths below, but it hasn’t moved, you wonder if anything is wrong, am I using the right bait? Has it been eaten already? But you tell yourself to wait a little longer.
Suddenly, the smallest of taps on the float, there are fish by your bait! You block everything else out, the ducks splashing, the robin singing in the tree, silence. All your attention is focused on the little bit of plastic sticking out the water. Seconds feel like minutes, minutes like hours, and all the time you are just waiting and willing the float to go down, poised like a cobra ready to strike as soon as the float gets sucked into the murky depths, you start to wonder if you have missed it and then, it disappears.
The silence is shattered by the strike, the adrenaline’s pumping, you have no idea what’s at the other end of the line, it could be a monster or a tiddler, and then you hear the satisfying click of the reel’s clutch as the fish takes line. You have a big one! The fish starts to pull, it knows where it wants to go, it knows every snag it can swim through to get rid of the hook, you do all you can to keep it away from the reeds as it charges towards them, then at the last minute you manage to turn it away. It swims in front of your swim, coming just close enough to the top that you see how big it is, your heart skips a beat as you realise its size, the nerves set in, you don’t want to lose it now, you can’t lose it now.
"You have no idea what’s at the other end of the line, it could be a monster or a tiddler."
Your mind ticks over, is the line strong enough could my knots come undone? You’re willing the fish to give up its fight, it darts left heading for a tree, but it gives up quicker this time, it’s starting to get tired. The fish comes back towards you, its tail frothing up the water desperate to make one last attempt to escape, but this is the moment you’ve been waiting for, you reach for the net with one hand whilst holding the rod in the other. You bring the fish towards the safety of the net, willing it not to charge off again, then carefully slide the fish over the lip of the net. The feeling of relief washes over you as it can’t get away.
The sense of achievement overwhelms you, a smile breaking out on your face as you marvel on what you’ve caught. After weighing it and taking a photo you let it recover in the net, admiring your achievement, wondering how many times it’s been caught before, how many times it’s been the one that got away, or if anyone has ever even seen it before. Then you release it gently back into the depths from which it came, watching it fade away into the murky waters to grow even bigger. Maybe you’ll catch it again sometime, or maybe it will be wiser now, but you’ll have that moment to treasure forever. Then you cast back out into the water, wondering what will be next to take your bait.
The description doesn’t really give justice to how exciting it really is, catching a fish is something someone who hasn’t been fishing may never fully understand, and the only way for them to experience it is to feel it for themselves. So next time someone asks you why you go fishing, don’t just tell them because you enjoy it, why not show them how exciting it really can be.
Experience the thrill of the bite for yourself. Find somewhere to fish near you.
Jake joined the Trust in July 2015 as part of the Marketing & Communications team. He first went fishing aged 11 and has been hooked ever since. Jake will be telling you some stories from the bank as well as some helpful hints to hopefully pass on some of what he has learned over the years.