How To Fish A Canal


In old English, the word ‘gudgeon was slang for a person who is easily fooled, owing to their greediness to bite at anything edible.

The gudgeon: a fish to delight all ages.

Members of GUGGS while away a sunny afternoon in fine style.

Gobio Mania

So where exactly would we place the gudgeon in today’s fishing landscape? Perhaps these fish are enjoying a quiet resurgence as anglers grow jaded with stocked fisheries which do little to remind them of childhood.

How To Fish A Canal Photo Gallery

One of the most delightful of detours in the making of this blog was a fishing trip with members of GUGGS, or ‘The Grand Union Gobio Gobio Society to give them their rather splendid full title. Having grown tired of ultra-serious fishing and size obsession, Neil Williams and some pals set up their own specialist club to cater for the gudgeon enthusiast. An astounding total of over four hundred members include Keith Arthur and Bill Rushmer. The grand sum of 50p will gain you entrance into one of the club’s sweepstake matches, where a row of red float tips bob and each wriggling fish swung to hand is met with hoots of excitement.

The ultimate target for this band of enthusiasts is a ‘thirty’. Where the humble gudgeon is concerned, a fish of thirty grams represents a true canal specimen.

Such creatures are talked of with fervour by GUGGS members over pints of real ale, and the captor of such a beast is given the honour of naming the fish to be immortalized in the club’s hall of fame.

Each calendar year has a specific letter, so for example the giant gudgeon list of 2013 includes Kylie, Kipper and Klingon.

Fittingly enough, club founder Neil Williams is the current UK canal record holder with a giant fish of 45.9 grams named ‘Hugh Mungous’. You really couldn’t make it up, or indeed spend a happier afternoon than stealing a few hours to go gudgeon fishing.

Beauty is in the eye – or should that be the hand? – of the beholder. In this case: Phil Madley.

Silver bream – a species found in many UK canals. It can be distinguished from the common bream by dark, almost blackish-edged fins and a comparatively big eye.

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