Grand Union Hemel

Robwooly

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Jun 8, 2020
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375
This is from last week just before the latest lockdown

I have no car at the moment so it was a case walking down to the nearby canal for a spot of 'on your doorstep' fishing in the afternoon after lunch, I've strolled down there to fish in the summer but with the heavy winter coat on plus my waders to keep the old knees warm it felt a bit of a trek this time, over a railway bridge and down the local high street where I drew the odd weird look from the queuing traffic. The boots made things heavy going but I was glad I had them when I saw the towpath was a complete quagmire.

I set up away from moored boats which is hard along there so naturally I wasn't in a spot I liked as they were all taken, so after a biteless half hour I decided to move as things didn't feel right. I stopped off at the first bridge just to get a fish as there's always loads of bleak and chublets topping and first cast a small chub oblidged followed by another, then a little perch which was a surprise. Having caught something I plodded on through the mud to find somewhere to chill and relax away from the hustle and bustle of the road, the walk is always more leisurely when a blank is avoided so I took my time, glad to be out.

Despite the mud the towpath was still pretty busy and from the bridge a lady asked how muddy it was, to be honest when wearing waders you don't really notice as you plough through everything. I told her this so she went for it undaunted and I proceeded in the opposite direction passing a lock which had water running through the sluice channel and also over the lock gates from the recent rains.

At the next bridge I chatted to a lure angler who was blanking, we commented on how bright the low sun was and whilst it wasn't really cold it felt crisp and seemed to be edging towards a cold night. He seemed bouyed by the fact I'd had bites including a perch, it's always good to hear others are catching in winter so you know you can too, we've all been there I reckon.

Crossing over to the opposite bank, the swim I had planned on fishing was taken by an old boy who's missus had come down to supply him with a cushion for his seat. I joked that I go past there most days en route to the post office and never see anyone yet I come down fishing and he's there, I also got no cushion either! He was fishing chopped worm for the perch and was enjoying the sun like I was.

I went to the next but one swim up from chopped worm chap, I just wanted to have a seat by now even without any cushion. I was tucked away in the trees in an overgrown spot away from everything, sitting on my fold up stool on some rushes opposite the towpath, my own little bit of canal, I didn't feel I'd catch a lot here but it was just what I needed so any bites would do. It was shallow and snaggy and barely wide enough to flick my float out with an underarm swing through the gap in the trees, also the low sun was now opposite so I was straining to see my float against it, biding my time before it dropped behind the wide trunk of a huge chestnut tree.

I soon got a few roach, they were but small but pristine and quite chunky, my waggler had to drift in the slow current to a point underneath a nearside tree where it was almost touching the water surface, it was here every single bite came, it seemed to take an age for the float to get to that spot each time but it was proper winter fishing with a bite guaranteed, even If I could barely see the float at times.

Looking around as I waited for the float to hit the sweet spot was a joy, it was an oasis of winter wildlife, of course there was a robin which was soon getting a good feed from me plus a noisy wren which flitted about in the brambles, my super fish holding tree was graced by blue tits working their way through each twig and two kingfishers looked to be leading a balletic dance in the air as they almost collided heading for the same gap, no chance of that though as they are so agile.

My thoughts were now turning to packing up as the sun was dropping close to the hills behind the big chestnut tree, I looked at my phone and it was only half two which was surprising as it seemed to be getting dark. I then had a nice roach and perch, both netters, nowhere near a pound but they put a bend in the rod and the landing net was used at last, they were both immaculate and as I lowered them into the water by my feet they looked just gorgeous silhouetted by the low sun.

An hour later bites had switched off just like that, true canal style. I hadn't caught a lot but enough if that makes sense. I packed up before it got too dark to see and choppy worm chappy had long gone, I hoped he had a nice day though. With the light now truly fading I took a slow walk back wondering what I would encounter on the muddy towpath as the boats were firing up their log fires. It's funny how even the most average day's fishing can throw up lasting memories, as I was walking under the road bridge, below the steady stream of car headlights passing overhead a kingfisher flew towards me, banked and headed straight through the floodlit car park of B&Q opposite, the way it skimmed those parked cars and tore through the busy traffic to get to the nearby river was fantastic, it's blue sheen still outshining any lighting man could muster, it's an image that will endure for a long time and a wonderful finale to an afternoons fishing.
 

G20

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Jul 25, 2013
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Robwooly

(QUOTE: ) I have no car at the moment so it was a case walking down to the nearby canal for a spot of 'on your doorstep' fishing in the afternoon after lunch, I've strolled down there to fish in the summer but with the heavy winter coat on plus my waders to keep the old knees warm it felt a bit of a trek this time, over a railway bridge and down the local high street where I drew the odd weird look from the queuing traffic. The boots made things heavy going but I was glad I had them when I saw the towpath was a complete quagmire....................Adeyfield/Highfield ?
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Wow! I know that area very well having been brought up there ( I lived half a mile away) and having many days fishing that stretch as a lad. Many fond memories of catching stamp roach on hemp..... that's the only bait I would take with me. Had roach up to 1.8 lbs out of the canal there.The bleak and the chub were non existent then but later someone introduced a few chub which did very well and are still there. 3 or 4 years ago there was a shoal of chub up in the river Gade between the shops; some of them looked 3-4 pounds or more. Carp were also introduced into the canal and can remember seeing a large shoal in the river opposite B&Q one summers day. I won't comment on here about the shoal of 2lb + roach i have seen not too far away from there🤫
 

John Step

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I am not sure about someome introducing a few chub. The canal has several sections linked to the Gade which used to stuffed with chub in places.
The carp have been there for a long time. The warm water from the Oveltine factory was a breeding spot. 70s I think I place in a match there with 3 smallish carp.
 

tincatim

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That was a lovely read, shows that fishing isn’t just all about catching 100lb of carp. Sometimes it’s nice to go back to basics and appreciate the natural surroundings.
 

Robwooly

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Jun 8, 2020
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Wow! I know that area very well having been brought up there ( I lived half a mile away) and having many days fishing that stretch as a lad. Many fond memories of catching stamp roach on hemp..... that's the only bait I would take with me. Had roach up to 1.8 lbs out of the canal there.The bleak and the chub were non existent then but later someone introduced a few chub which did very well and are still there. 3 or 4 years ago there was a shoal of chub up in the river Gade between the shops; some of them looked 3-4 pounds or more. Carp were also introduced into the canal and can remember seeing a large shoal in the river opposite B&Q one summers day. I won't comment on here about the shoal of 2lb + roach i have seen not too far away from there🤫
Yeah there's always been chub along there as with all the sections where the Gade or Bulbourne run in and out, I know a few spots where they shoal up too and you're spot on, they were around the 3-4lb mark ;) Used to be a big ol' Golden Orfe that went with them too but not seen that for a while. Sadly the chub weren't in the town centre either this year, they either bred somewhere else or have been nabbed as I've seen a guy fishing handlines tied to bottles at one spot where the waters meet, plus there's been lots of homeless tents further down that section (where I blanked) and that is not as good as it used to be. Love to see reports of 2lb roach, I know of one caught further up near Berko but just one on a heavily fished stretch, there's lots of hybrids that like to sit on the surface that I keep thinking are roach, but alas they are hybrid bream.

In the spring during the first big lockdown due to no boats using the canal it went the clearest I've seen it and you could see shoals of roach, hybrids, chub, small bream, and the odd larger one, plus dace in the running pounds. There was lots of weed too and gravel in spots, the Grand Union looked like a chalkstream in places aside from no flow. It's amazing how shallow some spots were and these were the fishy bits.
 

R0B

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Nov 17, 2020
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I used to fish here a lot. The pound by the bridge and pub was often gin clear on occasion. Always a lot of biggish chub about - best caught with small diving crankbait and lots of pauses - BANG!
I think I last fished there Christmas day 2014 - caught a couple of decent chub, a 2lb Perch and then went home as the towpath was if every dog and its owner in the UK and NI had decided to descend on a 1 mile stretch of Hemel at the same time.

Loved the write-up, cannot believe there were so many anglers! Apparently angling is on the decline but my eyes are seeing the opposite.
 

Fred Davis

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Sep 13, 2003
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Have you seen the otter that's creating mayhem on that stretch my mate had to move pounds to catch at hemel
 

Robwooly

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Jun 8, 2020
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Lovely write up, mate. You do realise that Kingfisher own B&Q?
Haha that's good

Re the amount of anglers mentioned earlier I was down there again yesterday and saw around 15 pleasure anglers in different spots along a mile long walk, it's a myth that no one fishes canals and rivers anymore as they sure do here, I wont mention the dog walkers and cyclists though ;)
 
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