After offending most of the angling world with his last couple of rants, our irreverent scribe Dan Webb turns his savage tongue on his own breed – canal anglers!
It's been said that I've been a little rude in this column over the past few months. Some have even suggested that I'm a judgemental hypercritical keyboard s£&t slinger! It seems that I've slated and picked holes in every niche of fishing except the forms that I'm best known for. So then, there's nothing for it; you’re gunna get it now canal anglers!
Canal anglers are a strange breed, it's all about poles and moaning about boats and carp are seen as vermin. They look down their nose at anyone who fishes anything else other than the cut and on the rare occasion that they are seen fishing anywhere else, they make tedious jokes about No2 elastic and 28 hooks. Some would think nothing of sitting on a commercial snake lake and shouting 'down the middle' at an imaginary narrow boat! Although I do enjoy a good canal match, it's nice to catch a fish that pulls back a bit or use a rod and reel! But for some of these guys, that's just a step too far.
I'm sure through plenty of time mixing with cut nuts, that there are two distinct breeds. Those who ‘squat’ and those who ‘squat not’.
Those who ‘squat’ will always be seen plumbing right up into the rat holes in the shallowest of water ready to spend a day wearing out carbon fibre whilst targeting the greatest number of the smallest stamp of fish they can. They will think nothing of shipping 150 fish for 4lb and think they've had a great day.
At times, that 4lb will be nearing last in section but in their defence they'll tell you that they had the best small fish weight in section and were the only one not to catch a big fish. Little wonder that, as you don't tend to catch many bream, chub or big perch on squats fished off the deck in 14 inches of water. Never the less, they are happy with this and stick their head up high with pride after having pulled out a superb half way in section from a very average peg.
What gives these snooty nosed gits even more pleasure is their pitying of the squat nots and their ugly fish caught on noddy methods.
Of course the ‘squat nots’ don't see it that way. They laugh at these silly super fast fools shipping blips at 100 miles an hour when one drop in with a big worm could mean wiping out two hours of the squats hard work! The ‘squat nots’ don’t spend all week at work (or more typically pottering round the allotment enjoying their retirement) just to have an exhausting Sunday catching eggs with eyes.
They go fishing to win and to catch proper fish and if that means spending all day sat like a garden gnome for one bite then so be it! And even then when they watch the squats weigh in they will make snide comments and laugh at their wasted day.
Of course, not everyone found on the canal bank fits these two stereotypes.
Canals also attract their fair share of all-rounders or canal specialists that are a little more rounded. These guys can be spotted at the weigh in by nets of smaller fish along with the odd lump or two. The often slightly more modest character is usually far more successful than the one trick pony squats and squat nots and attracts jibes from both of them! Squats like to sneer at the mixed catch and claim that it's pure luck that the tench didn't break them (although luck doesn't really come into it when 0.15 Reflo Power and 10 Dura Hollo come into the equation!).
‘Squat nots’ also love to mistakenly point out that the match winner might have caught even more if he hadn't wasted so much time catching those weight building small fish. Don't try to argue with them, they just don't get it!
There is one thing though that both the ‘squats’ and ‘squat nots’ do have in common: Their hatred of bikers, walkers, boats and anyone else using the canal. They see anyone else setting foot near the cut as mortal enemies to be glared, tutted and shouted at! A misguided boater who goes up the far bank of the canal to keep away from the anglers is not seen as a fool with no common sense who needs to be politely asked to keep to the middle, but is instead viewed as an inhuman monster placed on this earth to ruin an angler's day!
With all this absurdity taking place on a path peppered in dog mess and lined with weird eccentrics, is it any wonder that most sane anglers can only take canals in moderation and enjoy the odd commercial or river session too?