A short film about specimen angler Bob Hornegold who has spent a lifetime fishing the Lea system, a river close to me, a complicated river that has been changed by man for thousands of years. Today the river still shines with some remarkable fishing available just fifteen miles from central London.
On Saturday 2nd April 2016 the Angling Auctions in Chiswick finally drew to a close when the hammer fell and lot 630 – “An unusual American Bamboo trout fishers creel” was sold. Slow applause permeated throughout the hall in appreciation for Neil Freeman who has put the hammer down on 32,000 lots over the last twenty five years offering vintage fishing tackle, taxidermy, books and angling art to a worldwide audience of collectors and angling enthusiasts.
My involvement began in 2011 (I’m considered a relative new boy) when John Andrews of Arcadia asked if I could help out on the rods. Arriving in Chiswick I was soon put to task in the construction of the rod rack, an antique in its own right, but a protector of fine fishing rods. Neil told me that he built the rack in 1991 with a drunk Irishman, a story I must confess I believe looking at the quality of its construction, but in defence of the Anglo-Irish workmanship it still survives with it’s biannual kicks and trips that it has to endure from eager anglers grasping at the wonders it beholds. Five years on I am still putting up the same rod rack, stuffed with even more matches and bound with ever more gaffer tape.
Over the years staff have come and gone but generally there is a core that stay loyal, Neil’s brother has been involved from the start and more recently Neil’s son Sam has worked as a porter. Fresh sandwiches and cakes are made and the all important tea urn is switched on as soon as we arrive on the Friday morning, the tea urn is first off and last on the van, a tradition that has lasted since the beginning. Last Saturday the tea urn was loaded onto the van for the last time in Chiswick and a new beginning for the Angling Auctions has begun down in Romsey, Hampshire. Hopefully I will see you there?
Huddled around three Anglepoise lamps five students gathered under the guidance from Bruno Vincent AKA Super Fly Guy. The Three Kings pub is our meeting place, tucked away on Clerkenwell Green, pleasantly quiet, the perfect setting for some focused concentration. In a room above the main bar we sat around a dinning table and discovered some of the techniques from master fly tyer Bruno, while supping a few pints and chomping through scotch eggs and pork pies. Considering three of us were complete beginners the results were quite astonishing, buzzers, cascades and broadswords patterns…
If you want to see Bruno’s freestyle and traditional work or ask about these evenings please drop Super Fly Guy an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1881 Charles Dickens (Jr) put together a club listing for his book Dictionary of the Thames, in all there were over 110 clubs but I believe there were quite few more, for example the Brunswick Brothers of Limehouse. A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting one it its members, Barry who showed his skills fishing for bream and roach under the shadow of Canary Wharf. Sadly now I believe most of these clubs have disbanded although the Brunswick Brother still angle. Many doors have now closed and the piscators no longer seek refuge to swap stories and dodge the foul weather. The names deem to indicate their approach and attitude from the romantics of Foley street, the ‘Golden Barbel’ to the more light hearted ‘Good Intent’ brothers of the Crown in Bethnal Green Road. On Friday I shall be in the Captain Kidd in Wapping, not listed below but with the Thames lapping below the windows it will be the perfect opportunity to raise a glass to lost London Clubs and the echoes of the London anglers banter.
ACORN, “Royal Oak,” Spencer-street, Goswell-road.
ALBERT, “The Crown Coffee House,” Crown-street, Old-street.
ALBAN’S, ST., “Royal George,” Great New-street, Kennington Park-road, SE.
ALLIANCE, “Old Red Lion,” Great Warner-street, Clerkenwvell.
ALEXANDRA, “Duke of Wellington,” 3, Colt-lane, Bethnal-green.
AMICABLE BROTHERS, “Bald- Faced Stag,” Worship-sq., Finsbury.
AMICABLE WALTONIANS, “George the Fourth,” Goswell-road.
ANGLER’S PRIDE, “Red Lion,” Dockhead.
ATLAS, 73, Newman-street, Oxford-street
BARNSBURY, “The Albion,” Caledonian-road, near King’s Cross.
BATTERSEA PISCATORIAL, Queen’s Hotel, Queen’s-road, Battersea.
BERESFORD, “Grove House Tavern,” Camberwell-grove.
BERMONDSEY BROTHERS, “General Garibaldi,” Southwark Park-road
BLACKFRIARS, “Ordnance Arms,” York-road, SE.
BLOOMSBURY BROTHERS, “Rose and Crown,” Broad-st., Bloomsbury
BOSTONIAN, “Dalby Tavern” Dalby-street, Prince of Wales-road Kentish Town.
BROTHERS WELL MET, “Berkeley Castle,” Rahere-st., Goswell-road
CAMBRIDGE FRIENDLY, “Rent Day,” Cambridge-street, Hyde Park-square.
CADOGAN, “Prince of Wales,” Exeter-street, Sloane-street, S.W.
CARLISLE, “Clarendon Club,” 80, High-street, Islington.
CANONBURY, “Crown and Anchor,” Cross-street, Islington.
CARNALY CASTLE, “The Carnaly Castle,” Carnaly-street, St. James’s.
CAVENDISH, “British Lion,” Cavendish-street, New North-road, Hoxton.
CITY OF LONDON, “Cogers’ Hall,” Bride-lane, E.C.
CLAPHAM JUNCTION, “Lord Ranelagh,” Verona-street.
CLERKENWELL AMATEURS, – “George and Dragon,” 240, St. John-street-road, Clerkenwell.
CLERKENWELL PISCATORIAL, “White Hart,” Aylesbury-street, Clerkenwell.
CONVIVIAL, “King’s Head,” Mitchell-street, St. Luke’s.
DALSTON, “Hope,” Holly-street, Dalston-lane.
DE BEAUVOIR, “Lord Raglan,” Southgate-road, N.
EAST LONDON, “Duke of Norfolk,” Norfolk-street, Globe-road.
EDMONTON AND TOTTENHAM, “Three Horse Shoes,” Silver-street, Edmonton.
EUSTONIAN, “The Wheatsheaf,” Kenton-street, Brunswick-square.
EXCELSIOR, “Two Eagles,” South-street, Lambeth
FRIENDLY ANGLERS, “Albion Tavern,” Albion-street, Hyde-park
FRIENDLY ANGLERS, “Jacob’s Well,” New Inn Yard, Shoreditch.
FREE AND EASY, “Jane Shore,” High-street, Shoreditch.
GLOBE, “Globe Tavern,” Blackstock-road, Highbury
GOLDEN BARBEL, “York Minster,” Foley-street, Portland road
GOLDEN TENCH, “Somers Arms,” Boston-road, King’s Cross.
GOOD INTENT, “Crown Inn,” Bethnal-green-road.
GREAT NORTHERN BROTHERS, “Robin Hood,” Southampton-street, Pentonville.
HAMMERSMITH UNITED, “Builders’ Arms,” Bridge-road.
HAVELOCK BROTHERS, “General Havelock,” West-street Triangle, Hackney.
HEARTS OF OAK, “Black Bull,” Thomas-st., Brick-lane, Spitalfields.
HIGHBURY, “George Hotel,” Foothill-road, Finsbury-park.
HOXTON BROTHERS, “Jane Shore,” High-street, Shoreditch.
IZAAK WALTON. “Old King John’s Head,” Mansfield-st., Kingsland-road.
JUNCTION BROTHERS, “Shakespeare’s Head,” Barnsley-street, Bethnal-green-road.
JUNIOR PISCATORIALS, “The Cock,” Clapham Common.
JOLLY PISCATORIALS, “Sugar Loaf,” Great Queen-street, W.C.
KENNINGTONIAN, “The Clayton Arms,” Kennington Oval
KENTISH BROTHERS, “George and Dragon,” Blackheath-hill.
KENTON, “Kenton Arms,” Kenton-road, South Hackney.
KING’S CROSS UNITED, “Albion,” Caledonian-road, N.
KENTISH PERSEVERANCE, “Corner Pin,” Cold Bath, Greenwich.
KNIGHTS OF KNIGHTSBRIDGE, “Grove Tavern,” Grove-place, Brompton-road. S.W.
LARKHALL, “The Larkhall,” Larkhall-lane, Clapham.
LIMEHOUSE BROTHERS, “Dunlop Lodge,” 70, Samuel-st., Limehouse.
LITTLE INDEPENDENT, “Russell Arms,” Bedford-street, Euston-sq.
MARYLEBONE, “Bank of England,” Cambridge-place, South Wharf-road.
METROPOLITAN, “Rose Inn,” Old Bailey.
NEVER FRETS, “Cronnard Shuttle,” High-Street, Shoreditch.
NAUTILUS, “British Lion,” Central-street, St. Luke’s.
NORFOLK, “Norfolk Arms,” Burwood-place, Edgware-road.
NORTH~EASTERN, “Shepherd and Flock,” Little Bell-alley, Moorgate-street.
NORTH LONDON, “Prince Albert,” Hollingsworth-street. Holloway.
NORTH-WESTERN, “Lord Southampton,” Southampton-road, Haverstock-hill.
NORTON FOLGATE, “Rose and Crown,” Fort-street, Spitalfields.
NEW GLOBE, “The New Globe,” Mile-end-road, E.
OLD BOWER, “Duke’s Arms,” Stangate-street, Westminster-bridge-road.
ODDS-AND-EVENS, “Monmouth Arms,” Singleton-st, Hoxton.
PENGE, “Lord Palmerston,” Maple-road, Penge.
PECKHAM BROTHERS, “Prince Albert,” East Surrey-grove, Peckham.
PHOENIX, “Tavistock Arms,” Werrington-street, Oakley-square.
PISCATORIAL, “Ashley’s Hotel,” Henrietta-street, Covent Garden.
PRINCE OF WALES, “Royal Standard,” Seymour-place, Edgware-road.
PERSEVERANCE, “The Perseverance,” Pritchard’s-row, Hackney-road.
PUTNEY AND WANDSWORTH UNITED, “Coopers’ Arms,” High-street, Putney.
REFORM, “Jolly Coopers,” Clerkenwell-close.
RICHMOND PISCATORIAL, “Station Hotel,” Richmond, Surrey.
ROYAL GEORGE, “Royal George,” Crown-street, Soho.
ROYAL PISCATORIAL, “The Albion,” Rodney-road, Walworth.
SAVOY BROTHERS, “Black Prince,” Chandos-street, Strand.
SILVER TROUT, “Star and Garter,” St Martin’s-lane, Charing-cross.
SIR HUGH MYDDELTON, “Three Johns,” White Lion-street, Islington.
SOCIAL BROTHERS, “Prince Regent,” Dulwich-road, Herne Hill.
SONS OF THE THAMES, “Three Tuns,” Rupert-street
SOUTH BELGRAVIA, “Surprise,” Vauxhall Bridge-road.
SOUTH KENSINGTON PISCATORIAL “Coleherne Hotel,” South Kensington.
SOUTH LONDON, “George and Dragon,” 235, Camberwell-road.
SOUTH HACKNEY, “The Lamb,” Wick-road, Sooth Hackney.
SOUTH ESSEX, “The Elms,” Leytonstone.
SOUTH ESSEX PISCATORIAL, “Victoria Dock Tavern,” Victoria Dock-road, E.
SPORTSMAN, “Lady Owen’s Arms,” Goswell-road.
ST. ALBAN’S, “Walnut Tree,” St. Alban’s-rd., Kensington-rd., SE.
ST. JAMES AND SOHO, 30, Gerrard-street, Soho.
ST. JOHN, “White Bear,” St. John-street, West Smithfield.
ST. PANCRAS, 58, Burton-street, Burton-crescent.
STANLEY ANGLERS, “Lord Stanley,” Camden Park-road.
STAR, “Bird in Hand,” Northampton-street, Clerkenwell.
STOKE NEWINGTON, “Prince Albert,” Victoria-rd., Stoke Newington.
STEPNEY, “Beehive,” Rhodeswell-road, Stepney.
STRATFORD BROTHERS, “Coach and Horses,” Broadway, Stratford.
SURREY PISCATORIALS, “St. Paul’s,” Westmoreland-rd, Walworth.
SUSSEX, “Sussex Arms,” Grove-road, Holloway.
TRAFALGAR, “Star and Garter,” 13, Green-street, Leicester-square.
TRUE WALTONIANS, 100, Liverpool-road, Islington.
UNITED ESSEX, “Dorset Arms,” Ceylon-road, Stratford New Town.
UNITED MARLBOROUGH BROTHERS, “Red Lion,” 22 and 23, Portland-street, St. James’s.
UNITED SOCIETY OF ANGLERS, Wellington. Shoreditch UNITED BROTHERS, “Druid’s Head Tavern,” Broadway, Deptford.
WALTHAMSTOW, “Common Gate,” Wark House Common, Walthamstow
WALTON AND COTTON, “Crown and Woolpack,” St. John-street, Clerkenwell.
WALTONIAN, “Jews Harp,” Red-hill-street, Regents-park.
WALWORTH WALTONIANS, “St. Paul’s,” Westmoreland-rd., Walworth.
WEST HAM BROTHERS, “Queen’s Head,” West Ham-lane, Stratford.
WEST CENTRAL, “Cross Keys,” Theobald’s-road, High Holborn.
WEST LONDON, “Windsor Castle,” King-street, Hammersmith.
WESTBOURNE PARK PISCATORIAL, Pelican, All Saints-road, Westbourne-park.
WOOLWICH BROTHERS, “Prince Regent,” King-street, Woolwich.
WOOLWICH INVICTA, “Golden Marine,” Francis-street, Woolwich.
WOOLWICH PISCATORIALS, “Cricketers Arms,” Sand-street, Woolwich
While routing through some old hard drives I discovered a folder labelled ‘East London.’ Being distracted by anything rather than my actual task of finding some new work I went through the images recalling the journey I took on a still, misty spring day in 2007. For those who remember this area before the Olympics will recognise the route I took from where the main Olympic stadium now stands, to the old Lesney Matchbox factory, sadly demolished. Although I have nothing against the Olympic park I do look back with fondness for the more industrial and run down feel of the place, the shear lack of people, where I once fished undisturbed.
Today my ride to work took a slight deviation so I could experience a two to three mile section of the Tour de France, that will take place later on this afternoon. Starting from Cambridge and eventually coming down the Lea Bridge Road, the machine that is the Tour de France will cross the Old River Lea, enter the Queen Elizabeth Park and end up on The Mall.
A breakaway group of three large carp were spotted under the A102 road bridge at around 9.20am but so far no riders…
Each year around this time, the 16th June to be precise I get the urge to buy a machete and cross the Hackney plains and down onto the River Lea to clear a few swims from the giant hogweed and stingers. After much deliberation I fear that this plan could result in my body being riddled with holes from the rozzer, the machete plan is put aside for yet another year.
Thankfully this plan is never put into action as another fisher of the Lea cuts out three or four swims in a very discrete manner along a run I like to fish. From the path no one would know you are there, a passer-by would not notice these clearings or the small space created for someone to stand and cast a line. I am also impressed that I have never seen anyone fishing these swims which makes me think I have either a guardian angel watching over me (Izaak?) or more likely this fisher is a night stalker. One of my first ever posts on The Tuesday Swim was called Night Stalker on the Lea Navigation, about a young carp fisher I came across one night on the Lea Navigation, perhaps it is he? Thinking it could be the later, its good to know that someone out there shares the same desires to fish the harder places.
Saturday morning started with torrential rain that lasted for a few hours, when it subsided I walked out into the garden to find that it was very warm, almost humid, it felt very carpy. Using my transcendental water crafting skills I surmised that the Lea Navigation was finally going to offer up a carp for me. It was midday when I decided to embark on a reconnaissance trip on the bicycle with Polaroids, a catapult and some bait. Within fifteen minutes I was cycling back home with some haste, I had spotted for the second time this week a group of carp feeding, all congregating next to a natural looking stretch of the canal with reeds, lilies and over-grown bank-side vegetation. Once home I gathered my rucksack, Mark IV and net, downed some lunch, spooled up some new 12lb line and then returned to the canal, making sure I kept calm, too much excitement can cause mistakes.
I prefer to fish the canal early morning or late in the evening to avoid the flotsam and jetsam on the towpath so being early afternoon I was visited by the usual mix of cyclists, joggers, walkers, continuous cruisers and loners escaping the city. To be honest this part of the canal is relatively quiet so I quickly got settled with my fishing and started to trickle in the bait and try to get the carp to feed with confidence.
Within and hour I had a carp take a floating bait in the clear water which resulted in a terrific powerful run straight down the middle of the canal, I could see its flanks quite clearly, a linear mirror of around 15 to 20 lbs, my clutch was set right, the rod was well sprung but after the first initial run the hook pulled! Inspecting the damage I discovered that the knot has failed, it was a classic school boy error! Even now I am unsure why I was so slack on tying this knot, it was a blood knot of four turns (I usually use a palomar) and now looking back I’m thinking I didn’t even tuck the knot, mistakes like this were done in the 1980’s, my mind was not focused and I had lost a great fish.
A re-tied hook using a palomar knot was cast out but there were still two knots in my rig that had not been looked over, despite being annoyed with myself I carried on fishing, carp fever had taken over and once again I had another run. This time the carp ran in the other direction, the fish was on for a good minute until again it came off under a lot of pressure. During the fight a man rocked up in his tracksuit and witnessed the battle and the parting carp. With a Polish accent he said “you downt haver the right equipment, my friend?” Right now I didn’t need this interloper but I looked at him and said “I had 12lb line and the gear was fine” I had nothing else to add. As I reeled in the line to inspect the catastrophic failure for the second time I found that another knot has failed on the rig, another blood knot! The man came close and looked at the curly end of my line, “you down’t know how to tie ze knots!” “F**k off ” was my only thought but in truth he was right, I had ballsed up big time and now this cock-sure tosser was swaggering off down the towpath pointing at the water and calling out “hey, my friend, I can zee your big fishy swimming away”.
I had to re-group, start again with new knots, take off the last fifteen feet of line just to be extra safe and as it states on the side of my mug that sits on my desk ‘Keep Calm and Go Fishing’. While I re-tackled I put out more bait and after a good wait the carp came in to feed. With only a few minutes before I had to get home I had my third run. Again the carp ran down the middle of the canal, the clear water showing its flanks, everything seem to be holding tight. The carp came in close and ran along side the towpath, as this happened another carp of a similar weight chased after it thinking it was in a amorous mood, but it wasn’t it was angry and fighting with real power. These canal carp really do fight so hard, at first they don’t know they are hooked but once they sense a problem they go berserk. After a few more minutes of playing the carp I very carefully netted it and bought it up and onto the towpath.
Although I have not put too many hours into catching a canal carp, it has taken a good five years doing the short stints to finally get one on the bank. In the past all my carp have come from the River Lea, so this was a special fish.
As an experiment this season I don’t take scales with me, I would rather spend time getting fish back in the water than fiddling around with weigh slings and sticking a number on it. For me it has added a new element to my fishing, to appreciate rather than record it. But for those who insist on a number it was probably around 17-19lbs, the carp was long and wide, the photos below don’t really do any justice to the shear size and length but it does show the wonderful dark colouration on the top and the scale pattern. After her return she sat on the canal bottom and sulked for about two minutes, something that I was quite akin to doing after my costly mistakes, thankfully this carp put me in a considerably better mood.
Confession over, expletives made, and now the canal carp curse of ‘BB’ has been lifted. If you want to read any of my previous close encounters with London canal carp please click here.
This friday from lunchtime onwards you can visit Chiswick Town Hall and spend the afternoon looking through collections of vintage fishing tackle all broken down into lots. Using simple but well built tackle from a bygone era is an experience many of us now cherish when escaping to the waters-edge. On saturday you will get the chance to bid on such items from midday onwards.
As ever the Tuesdayswim and Arcadia will be donning suitable attire and showing you the selection of fishing rods on offer.