Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Urban fishing & why i do it.

It has been a while since my last blog, not by choice. That choice is governed by the speed my eye lids shut after my shift. Fishing for short stints in early hours to avoid the heat of the day or after what little rain we had meant i wasn't resting well on my days off and after my promotion at work and getting home at 9pm most nights the energy was draining from me. I'd often fall asleep fully dressed in my uniform getting my daughter to sleep who had waited up to see me, waking up early hours sweating and groggy before getting into bed proper.

It's a funny life i live, i defend my fort where i work from retail theft, preventing drug users from obtaining goods to fund their fix yet when i fish my urban rivers i put myself in the heart of drug dens, the multi colored needles littering the 100 year old cobbles. But what brings me back here? Yes there are big fish that lurk in these waters but i equally enjoy catching the small trout there. So it isn't a size thing, don't get me wrong i love a big old trout as much as the next person. If anything i'd say it was the sport that made it worth while. If you have ever caught a 3lb trout that wants to steam roll down river then you know just how well they fight, oz for oz trout are the best fighting fish i personally have caught. Now put that trout in pool with concrete pillars and overhangs, rusted iron pipes it can swim inside, cobbled gulleys and metal grids. Then you can start adding the fly tipped rubbish from the classic rusty trolley to the bin bags of household rubbish, the numerous bikes and scooters and the odd pram. 

You can catch a trout of 2- 3lb in these rivers and they know every little hole they can hide in. Team work is often essential. With Graeme i had to lift a bicycle off the top of one before it snagged onto a log. Unsnagging it twice it raced 30m downstream before he put a stop to the train. With JT a tangle of the fly line around the reel saw it head into a grated pipe before swimming under a concrete overhanging and line wrapping a concrete pillar. After unsnagging that JT still had a fight on his hands with a feisty fish.

I have sat in the middle of Manchester in the early mornings, a thick blanket of smoke covered the river from the fires on the moors watching wild brown trout eating terrestrials off the surface. Graffitied walls of old buildings, the mix of red brick and large stone blocks lining the walls of the river. There are fish here, some would say plenty of them, but in reality there isn't. 100 fish in a 100m stretch sounds good at first but then they are all visible and vulnerable in these harsh summer conditions. Often catching the same fish a couple of times over a year or sometimes in the same season. Each earning a name by their distinguishable features. The constant pollution entering the river from misplaced drains and 3rd world citizens, treating the river as a tip.

It is impossible for me to protect them, these Greater Manchester trout, as hard as their native citizens. Through thick and thin their daily lives are a struggle. But they perservere and they feed and they grow. They spook at the sight of any human like figure, the sound of a 2mm tungsten bead sends panic into the waters. Pollution, poaching & persecution. Killed because they are 'food' to those to lazy to buy from a store. There is no pride to be found in killing a soldier of a trout, the true pride is to see it slap your hand with its tail as it slips into the foul smelling waters whence it came. To have looked it straight in the eye as you captured it's image in digital history, these fish will no longer be forgotten regardless of their future fate. And all i ask for those who take on these urban adventures whether it be the concrete jungle or the green space just outside of town or in the local park. Bow your head and respect the creature you hold as it won't be there forever and it has lived a harder life than you & me, and boy did i have a hard life.


  1. Great read Pal. I share your views on much that you have written here. I was out on the Roch this week for an hour in the middle of rochdale town centre. Had three small brownies in good condition before dark. Stopped to talk to a man fishing a little further up. He was free floating worm though he told me spinning is his favourite method. In dismay (not envy) he pointed to two trout both about the 1 lb mark. he had knocked them to eat. worse still he told me he knocked a 3lb last week !! How i kept from knocking him is a testament of the highest restraint on my part. Anyway tight lines for now. Mickey

    1. just seen this bud,
      thing is when they stop catching as they've killed so many they just move elsewhere, they dont think. oh maybe i should stop they just think it's become a tough venue...