The golden age of canal angling

John Andrews is a writer, angler and vintage tackle dealer. Watch him talk through the essential post-war rods and reels. Film by Daniel Ali.

"The golden age of angling on Britain's canals could arguably be described as spanning three decades from the late 1940s until the late 1970s. The war was over and as the country began to rebuild people rediscovered what spare time meant. For many, it meant the freedom to go fishing again.  

Angling club membership which had dwindled during the war years now soared. Dozens of new clubs were formed and these clubs would fish a season's worth of weekly match fixtures against one another. Canals were popular match venues especially on the edges of the large conurbations in the North West, the Midlands and in London. 

By the mid-seventies almost every coarse fishing club in the country had obtained the rights for their members to fish their local canal. Up in the North West many an angler made their first cast on the Leeds-Liverpool; in the Midlands the Grand Union Canal nurtured a generation of gudgeon bashers, and further south in London, earnest young roach men fished in the hot water outflow of the ABC Bread Factory in Camden Town or poked a homemade rod through the railings in Victoria Park in the hope of their float going under. Like most post-war anglers, they’d have been using one or two of the essential bits of tackle covered in our film. Even today, fished in conjunction with a pint of decent maggots and a flask of tea, these will serve an angler well on their local stretch of water."

Words: John Andrews

Last date edited: 19 November 2014

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