There’s fishing – and then there’s kayak fishing.
Everyone needs an hour or two to kick back from the daily commute, the school run, the emails and the endless chore list. What better way to carve out some refreshing free time than gently bobbing about on a canal with nothing but hovering dragonflies for company?
Canals are perfect for trying kayak fishing for the first time because they don't have the challenge of fast-flowing water, and there's the added benefit of the waterways teeming with trout, perch and tench.
Kayak fishing boats were traditionally made from wood and animal skin. The world’s oldest surviving kayak is in Munich’s Museum of Five Continents and dates back to 1577. These days, though, kayak fishers prefer models made of polyethylene.
Sit-on-top kayaks have proven popular among fishermen because you can secure all your equipment on the vessel. Smaller, cheaper kayaks are suitable for inland waterways but aren't sturdy enough for the sea. You'll also need a pad and paddle leash, a buoyancy aid, a first aid kit, a 6-7ft light boat rod, reel, line, hooks and hookbait, such as pinkies or squats.
Clothing wise it's best to invest in a quality wetsuit or drysuit, a breathable cag (water and windproof top), neoprene boots (neoprene provides good insulation against the cold), a hat and gloves or paddling mitts.
As with all fishing, you must obtain a rod licence before you start. This allows you to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt and eel with a rod and line in England (except the River Tweed), in Wales and in the Border Esk region of Scotland. You'll need an additional licence to fish in the Thames. Most of the canal network is licensed to angling clubs and allows kayak fishing but it's best to check first. You can find your local angling club using the search facility of the Trust’s angling page.
Find out more about fishing guidelines on the canal network here.
Words: Abigail Whyte
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