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A Tale of Two Records Canal Carping
ally, I got myself sorted, met and married the amazing Angie, who, singlehandedly, got me securely back on
the rails.
I am now living in Chippenham,
and the local canal is the Kennet and
Avon. The K and A canal runs from
the Thames at Reading 75 miles west
to the city of Bath where it joins the
Bristol Avon. It was opened as a navigable canal to carry freight in 1810
with 74 locks in those 75 miles, 28 of
these on the Devises flight. In the
1950s it fell into disrepair and all but
dried up until its restoration and
reopening for pleasure craft in August
1990.
The K and A was a very different
canal to the RMC due to it being split
up into pounds between locks. Some
of the pounds are an acre or two,
while others stretch for about ten
miles. It was in 1987, before the canal
reopened, that I started to look at the
possibility of fishing it for carp. Many
of the pounds were very weedy and
looked good prospects, as several
smallish carp had been seen. I
decided to bait up a pound near Foxhangers with my favourite homemade
Robin Red boilies, which I was using
with considerable success on a couple of local lakes. I thought it may not
have been used in the area before. It
was a pretty pound with lots of overhang trees on the far bank, very
weedy and only about three feet
deep. To heighten the enjoyment, I
was to use my trusty ten-foot poundand-a-half Richard Walkers, lovely
rods that bend into the butt when
playing a fish. My first few short sessions produced dozens of hard fighting fish, but only up to low teens. Size
did not matter too much, as I was
thoroughly enjoying the comparative
peace and quiet, and I was still fishing
other waters for bigger fish. I fished
most of the pounds on the Devises
ticket over the next few years, my
favourite being the “Holiday Cottage”, named thus due to the fact it
had a beautiful cottage on the north
bank. It was no more than a couple of
acres in size, almost totally surrounded with high reeds and rushes
with a back bay behind the lock,
which was thick with lilies. It had an
intimacy about it that reminded me of
the pretty farm ponds I used to fish as
a lad. Not only did it look and feel very
carpy, but it was full of carp and
reputed to hold a reasonable twenty.
However, one of the problems with
lots of locks and pounds is that the
fish do move through the locks.
Sometimes this is under their own
steam, but occasionally I am sure
they are caught and moved by
anglers trying to obscure where the
better fish are. As with most of the K
and A, the towpath made it difficult to
set up a bivvy, and also it is a cycle
way which can be a bit hazardous for
anglers.
Again, although I caught a huge
number of carp, none were over 19lb.
What Angie, my wife did catch one
afternoon though, was Patch, my
lovely old dog. I was encouraging her
to fish, in the selfish hope that she
would get into it and want to join me
more often. Anyway, there she was,
doing very well catching a few on
luncheon meat, but found casting a
little difficult. She tended to lay the
baited rig on the ground behind her
and swing the rod sideways. It
(Top) A double for grandson Harry,
May 2007.
(Left) A brace of doubles with son-inlaw, October 2007.
FREE LINE 49

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