The 2020 fishing year was unimaginably halted before it had begun . The government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by banning fishing, despite it being the most socially distancing of all sports. To be fair the country had bigger issues than not being able to fish, so most – albeit with a little grumbling – accepted the constraint. In late May, with “the curve flattening”, restrictions were lifted in England (although not Wales).

In a further cruel blow, on the first day of eased restrictions I discovered some lowlife took advantage of the lockdown to steal the catalytic converter from my car, thus rendering it unusable. If I ever lay hands on that miscreant, the very hordes of Satan himself would flinch at the horror I would unleash on their body and soul. Having no transport, I doubled my efforts to find fishable water within within walking distance of my house.

A short walk away from home, a section of the Grand Union Canal runs alongside a park. It’s dark, turbid waters never looked that promising to me. I needed new waters. In the heat of yesterday, I planned to explore a nearby stretch of the River Brent and a length of the canal I’d not yet visited. The River Brent was devoid of fish (and seemingly any other life for that matter), so I turned to the canal. I found a stretch of the canal featuring a half-dozen row of locks. The sections between locks were mostly murky and weedy, but eventually I found a section with clear water. Three large carp were sunning themselves. This was more promising. And there, half-hiding, under floating weed was a foot-long pike. My bogey fish. I have wanted to catch one for as long as I can remember. I’d found myself a target. I would return the next day with appropriate permission and tackle.


The next morning at sunrise, I returned to the canal with a telescopic rod in my backpack and an extending net in my hand. My plan was to locate that same pike, and entice him with a soft-plastic jig.

The low angle of the sun gave less penetration than the day before, but if the pike was in the same spot I was confident I could see it. No pike to see though today. A few blind casts soon came back covered in blanket weed. In all likelihood, I was going to have to see the fish to catch one today. Unfortunately, the only pike I saw was belly up. Maybe a casualty of low-oxygen with the heat of the last few days. Nearby, a dead rat added to the canal’s tally of fallen fauna. Not nice.


I pushed further up the canal. A floating piece of brightly coloured sari fabric told me I was nearing Southall. No more fish were to be seen; I turned around. At the lock gate where I saw the carp yesterday, I met a fellow Welshman. I enquired what fish he was hoping for. “Carp and Tench”, he told me. The word “Carp” was barely out of his mouth as his bite alarm sounded. A decent double-figure carp had taken the bait. Within a couple of minutes this fish was being dealt with on the unhooking mat. (Carp fishing isn’t really for me, but I do admire the care with which they treat their fish).

Time to go. I’ll try sight-fishing again when the sun is at a higher angle to penetrate the water. The pike remains my bogey-fish.

red canal boat