FL02 PDF (212pp) - Page 73



The Town Stretch
F
or years I would travel
past the town stretch of
the canal, laughing to
myself at the anglers
sitting on their boxes
whilst drowning maggots from their poles or float rods.
How daft were they as I headed down
the coast with my car loaded with my
rods, brolly bait and rucksack to fish a
proper carp water? I never gave the
place a thought; why should I? Only
nods with match rods fished it for
bream and roach. Now fast forward
two decades to the present, and for
the last 18 months the canal has
become my carp focus. Oh how
things change.
The Royal Military Canal, as it is
known, runs for some 27 miles along
the Kent coastline from Seabrook and
then cuts through the East Sussex
countryside before exiting into the
River Rother. This is actually the
wrong way round, as it is actually this
river that feeds the canal!
The canal was originally built to
defend the English coastline from a
possible invasion from France at the
beginning of the Nineteenth Century
due to a gentleman by the name of
Napoleon. However, a one-armed
one-eyed English gentlemen known
as Nelson defeated the French fleet at
the battle of Trafalgar, and the invasion never arrived. Today the French
seamen seem to be preoccupied with
barricading their own ports, and we
now have Operation Stack! Oh how
things change!
However the fact remains that the
canal was built at an incredible cost
to the Crown and was never ever
needed to defend England. Even during the Second World War areas of the
canal were identified as defensive
points, and the waterway is now dotted with derelict pill boxes of various
shapes and sizes. As the canal drifts
out of Hythe there are even acoustic
mirrors which were the predecessor
to the modern radar. Even small
trench systems and gun emplacements, which are now overgrown, but
still visible to the trained eye, again
testify to the historical military role
that the canal has fulfilled throughout
its 200-year-old existence.
Today some lengths of the canal
have been awarded SSSI status or Site
of Special Scientifc Interest. Rare
flowers and fauna grow unhindered
and birdlife, and wildfowl are left to
their own devices. Some areas like
the town stretch at Hythe are
urbanised or industrialised with concrete walls, wrought iron strutted
bridges and park benches, but the
whole the canal is wild and wonderful. It is unique, idyllic and interesting.
It is a roving angler’s dream venue,
which allows you a certain fishing
freedom that is so often restricted on
some of the better known commercial
waters, and I have fallen for its mysteries, and the challenges that fishing
this type of venue often throw up.
For example the carp that live in
this environment are nomadic characters that do not rely on spod mix,
boilies and pellets to survive and
grow. They have grown to their size
on a much more natural diet of bugs,
berries, mussels, snails and on occasion anglers’ baits such as maggots,
maize and boilies when encountered.
Anglers baits will, I believe, never
become a natural food source due to
its 27-mile length mixed with the low
numbers of anglers who actually fish
the canal. This is in definitive contrast
to the many modern smaller venues
that have been created to feed the
(Top) The first canal carp.
(Right) The second double.
FREE LINE 73

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