Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dropshotting the Regent's

Back in November last year, The Angling Times ran a short article about urban fishing in London using the Oyster card to get around. Travelling around London using public transport has never been easier. It is almost impossible to park in London without incurring ridiculous parking charges or even worse getting a fine or towed away. That is without all the hassle of battling with London's everlasting traffic. London is a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week city. Even on a Sunday, the place is buzzing.

Sunday morning and the sun is just about to show itself
As the clocks went back on Sunday morning (02:00 AM) I decided to take advantage of the extra hour and drag myself out of bed and make an effort to catch an early train into town. Sue, foolishly, made the decision to come along too. Our aim was to get to Camden Town and, initially, head east from there towards Kings Cross.

The alarm went off at 05:30 Sunday morning. It is at these times when the thought of going fishing does not sound as appealing as it did the night before. Telling ourselves it will be worth it when we get there, we dragged ourselves out of bed, and made it out of the house in time to walk to the station and catch the 07:12 to London Bridge. Bearing in mind this is Sunday morning - the train was packed! I was amazed to see the crowds of people heading down the tunnel that leads to the way out, and Underground station.

Deserted streets of Camden. The side of the building in the centre of the picture shows that
street 'art is not just confined to our current times.
The sign reads: "You save money by shopping at Boots chemists
We made it through tunnel and onto the Northern Line tube to Camden Town. Barely an hour after leaving home we were standing outside the station in the empty streets of Camden Town looking at the street art, old and new.

Street art of the highest standard, just around the corner from the tube station
A short walk from the station heading North along any of the roads that radiate in that direction will take you to the canal. We walked along Kentish Town Road until we crossed the canal and walked down the steps to the towpath. It is now getting on for 08:00 and the towpath is deserted.

Time to get my rod set up. I bought my rod and reel earlier in the year with the proceeds of a Christmas/birthday fund-raising scheme, just as I used to do when I was a kid - it worked! I also bought a couple of packs of dropshotting rigs that came with a few small plastic lures.

At the time it was almost impossible to get hold of the yellow braid so I ended up with a brown coloured line.Now I needed some jig heads. Not knowing where to start with jigging tackle, I visited to my local tackle shop and bought a few bits and pieces. They have a huge collection of course fishing tackle but are a bit limited on dropshotting/jigging gear. The smallest jig heads I could find were 10g. I had hopped to find some smaller ones but they were going to be better than nothing, or so I thought. I also bought a few soft plastic lures - well you can't not, can you?

I had pre-rigged the the new lures with the jig heads the night before, and fitted them with a wire trace just in case I hooked a pike! These I mounted on a wine cork to protect the points and prevent them hooking up with anything in my bag of minimal tackle.

The jig heads were far too heavy but they were all I had
I also fitted a quick-release clip to the end of the line onto which I would be able to attach my pre-made trace/jig rig. I attempted a few casts just to get the feel of the ultra-light rod and found it was more a case of flicking it out rather than a full blown cast. the retrieve was interesting to say the least. The soft plastic lure fell like a stone, attached to that enormous weight and simply collected a hook-full of weed. I persevered but I was getting nothing, although I was managing to put it where I wanted it to go without too much trouble. I tried open water and under the bridges but didn't even get a knock, that I could feel.

Best I could do was to drag up some weed
By now I had resigned myself to the fact that it was going to be most unlikely that I would catch anything. This did not bother me, I just wanted to get some experience. By now the sun had come out to play and the nip in the air had been replaced with the warm feel of the sun on our backs making distinct shadows on the towpath.

At this point we were lucky to catch our shadow, but no fish
We continued to walk along the towpath taking in the sights and having a jig between the covering of weed that seemed to be covering the whole canal in places. The wildlife seemed to be enjoying it and curious to see if we had brought any food.

Egyptian geese looking for free handouts - sorry mate no edible bait today!
Arriving at Kings cross we sat on the steps that lead to the old, now filled in basin to change the tackle. it was obvious to me that the jig heads I had bought were totally wrong for what I was attempting to do. I removed my end tackle and replaced it with a dropshot rig. Now without the advantage of using the jigging gear to find the fish I was fishing blind. At this point a young lad appeared, rod in hand and started to fish.

I went over and spoke to him and he turned out to be a very friendly young man, by the name of Tom who was also doing a spot of dropshotting. He new exactly what he was doing and and was happy to show me where I was going wrong. He confirmed the jig heads I was attempting to use were far too heavy and my lures were all wrong too. He was fishing with a 2 or 3g flexible jigging head arrangement that looked far superior to my cumbersome rig I had been chucking around earlier. He also very kindly gave me a couple of small 50mm shads that looked far more like what should be using on my rig. He offered me a smaller jig head but I declined, not wanting to take advantage. Just a few minutes talking to someone on the bank is worth hours of reading and watching videos - you can't beat it.

Just to prove there are fish in the canal Tom sent me a picture of one of the perch he managed to catch that day
We decided to walk back to Camden market and visit the street food stalls selling all kinds of food from around the world. Stopping off along the way to have a dabble with the dropshotting gear. No luck but it was fun trying. I packed the rod away and we hurried off to sample some of the street food. Staying moderately cautious, we opted for some Polish sausage in a roll with onions. We made the right choice, it tasted every bit as good as it smelt.

Dropshotting near one of the bridges - still no luck but I am getting some experience
After polishing off the grub, we set off towards Paddington. With the gear packed away, knowing I really needed some different jig heads and shads, I was happy to just explore as much of the canal as we could. It was a fine day and by now the towpath was getting busy with walkers joggers and cyclists. I do wonder how many of the cyclists end up in the canal...

Early afternoon and the place comes to life with people
We walked away from the market now heading West. The route takes you through Regent's Park and slices through London Zoo. there are lots of potential fishing spots all the way along but at this time of day the canal is full of boats chugging their way along. I think it is a case of getting a few hours in early and then moving to the ends of the canal, where is does not seem to be so busy. Once we arrived at Paddington Basin we walked over to the station and hopped on a train back to kings cross so we could start exploring the Eastern section beyond Kings Cross.

Long stretches of the canal are covered in weed
As we headed away from Kings cross towards Islington and Hackney it was starting to cloud over and the temperature dropped. our feet were starting to complain so as we approached the Kingsland Road we decided to leave the canal and head home.
Well, we didn't catch anything but we had a very enjoyable day. I learnt an awful lot and got the chance to experience a side of London I have not visited before. Now I have a better idea of what I need, next time I will take a selection of smaller jig-heads and shads so next tome I can catch a perch like Toms! I also have a much better idea of the layout and where I will be fishing next time.