tenkara in the edgelands

Edgelands.  Those in-between spaces of no-man's land, on the fringe of the city, where post industrialism exists cheek by jowl with raw nature. Neither wholly urban or truly countryside. Overlooked, neglected, undervalued and to be avoided. These are the places your mother told you not to go. This is the hinterland of polite society.
A far cry from the spiritual home of traditional tenkara, but the edgelands can be a rich hunting ground with  canals, flooded quarries, reservoirs, pounds and urban rivers all offering wild fishing to the open minded tenkara angler. Yes there are trout to be found if you know where to look, but there are also other worthy species -  roach, bream, chub, perch and many others too that will take a fly. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love nothing better than fishing classic tenkara for wild trout in some upland freestone stream. But that particular nirvana is a good days drive from where I live. So to scratch the tenkara itch I'm taking my rod and a fist full of flies into the edgelands in search of adventure.

I start my urban safari at the waterway that runs by my door - the Grand Union Canal.

Although narrow, the canal is around one hundred miles long which adds up to a large expanse of water. To the newbie, much of the canal can appear a daunting prospect - in parts engineered, (seemingly) featureless and industrial. But, like any water, once you learn to read it then some of its secrets will be revealed. There will be days when you could be excused for thinking that there are no fish swimming in the canal at all, but there will be other days when you are blessed with some frantic sport. Today.. well.. it's somewhere in between hero and zero.

In the summer evenings I love casting a small sakasa kebari to the roach that rise here. This factory - a grain milling plant, positively leaks heat twenty four hours a day. The water is warm and sheltered even in the worst of weather, and this evenings fly hatch is on. Roach are feeding throughout the water column, splashing in the top water and flashing too over the canal bed. A soft hackle bead head kebari proves the perfect approach. 

I'm using a 13 foot rod, a level mono line and a light tippet, for the sheer pleasure of landing thistledown fly-only presentations amongst the rise forms. A size 16 fly, a 7x tippet and a shoal of little roach can be a fun escape at the end of a testing day!

I'm hankering for those fish with the psychedelic spots though. So, armed with Theo Pike's Trout in Dirty Places, my next urban tenkara mission will be a search for wild urban trout..