Hennepin Canal Fishing


Now we’re really starting to lose the plot! But is the idea of barbel on canals really so outrageous? These powerful fish certainly do find their way through lock gates and connecting channels. Winter floods are a particular time when things get mixed up and barbel seek to escape main flows, finding their way into canals and relief channels more often than you think.

The fishing world did an almighty double take in 2009, when the Angling Times reported the capture of a 16lb barbel from the Oxford Canal near Banbury. Remarkably, pleasure angler Alan Holmes played the fish for some fifteen minutes on the pole. Although an accidental catch, this is by no means the only canal barbel landed. It would take a brave, or mad, angler to specifically target them from a towpath however.

Hennepin Canal Fishing Photo Gallery

Salmon and Sea Trout

Perhaps even more bonkers than canal barbel, migratory game fish do also turn up once in a blue moon. Again, canals and relief channels which form detours on river courses are the locations where the impossible does occasionally happen. Less surprising is their presence in the Highlands, where the Caledonian Canal connects sea-bound lochs. Local legend has it that a small boy caught a big sea trout at the top of ‘Neptune’s Staircase’ by idly flicking a spinner above the top lock gate.

Let’s be honest though, as fascinating as such captures are, salmon fishing is temperamental enough without throwing a canal into the mix!


One of Britain’s forgotten, sadly declining species, the ruffe nevertheless still finds sanctuary on several of our canals. Such is its rare status these days that any capture should be regarded as something rather special. Where present, pole or whip fished maggots or worm sections are as likely method as any to make contact with this small, speckled, perch-like fish, which those of the older generations still get rather nostalgic about.

Another forgotten species, ruffe are a catch to be celebrated.

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