One of the genuine charms of fishing on any of Britain’s canals is the fact that the next bite could be almost anything. We might have dealt with the most commonly-occurring and most popular species in depth, but a complete list of fish found in canals would be a much longer and more bizarre one.
How do creatures as diverse as flounders and koi carp get into our waterways? Fish are introduced in many ways. As well as official, legal stocking programmes, there are numerous accidental and incidental transferrals of fish; such as when rivers connect to man-made waters, or winter floods scatter stock between waters. Of course, there are also many wholly illegal ways fish become established, from shifty anglers sneaking carp or catfish into waters, to discarded pets.
Hood Canal Salmon Fishing Photo Gallery
Just a handful of examples illustrate how canals can throw up some truly eye-opening catches. Barbel have found their way into relief channels and been landed on several occasions, along with the odd salmon; a winter match on the Bude Canal was once won with a large flounder. My personal most remarkable ‘accidental capture took place on the Huddersfield Broad Canal, where I caught a stunning, 1 lb wild brown trout from one of the most urban, gritty sections of water I’ve ever fished.
So where might we begin with a lowdown of additional canal species and unwanted guests? Some species are certainly more common than others, so we’ll start with these. For those keen to target the unusual, a scan through the reference section on British canals will also make interesting reading, where unusual species and individual captures are noted.