Grand Union Canal

One of the major arteries of the canal system, the Grand Union extends northwards from London, splitting in Northamptonshire to link with Birmingham and the West Midlands to the west and Leicester and the East Midlands to the north. The canal begins in Limehouse docks in east London. From there it cuts through the city to St Pancras then borders Regents Park to Little Venice at Paddington. From here it continues through Perivale and Greenford and, beyond West Drayton, swings north up through Watford, Leighton Buzzard, Bletchley and Wolverton to Norton Junction.

It is here that the canal splits. The Main Line – the section linking London with Birmingham -goes north-west here through Leamington Spa and Warwick to Birmingham, linking with other canals, notably the Oxford and the Stratford upon Avon, en route. Back at Norton Junction, the Leicester branch of the canal strikes north through Crick and Foxton where it links with the navigable section of the River Soar and, finally, the Trent. It offers coarse fishing which varies in quality from reasonable (especially in the reaches below Norton Junction) to patchy. In the London sections, there are roach and bream, some tench and occasional pike and perch. At Marsworth, roach to the pound have been reported. There are bream, some carp (rarely caught) and hordes of gudgeon in a reach which has been stocked from nearby Tring reservoirs.

Leighton Buzzard is a popular angling centre though here, too, there are many gudgeon. Occasional carp are taken, including one in 1965 weighing 17 lb, believed the biggest taken from the canal. The Bletchley section is rated for tench with some fish going to 3 lb. At Wolverton, roach and dace are the predominant species with some chub to 4 lb reported. Beyond Norton Junction on the Main Line around Braunston, roach remain the predominant fish though bream to 4 lb have been caught. At Napton, another popular centre, the fish tend to be small, a pattern which continues from here on to

Birmingham. On the Leicester branch, there are said to be good bream, some crucian carp and other species like roach and perch from Crick to Husbands Bosworth with fish present to the Soar.

Many sections of the canal are leased to associations and while ticket facilities are reasonable, association membership can, in many instances, open much more water to the angler. The following major associations – which offer membership to all – have fishing on the Main Line: Birmingham AA; Central Association of London and Provincial AC; Coventry AA; London AA; Luton AC; Royal Leamington Spa AA. On the Leicester branch: Leicester AS, Leicester and Dist. Amalgamated Society of Anglers; Rugby Federation of Anglers.

In addition to its main course, there are a number of branches on the Grand Union system – known as arms – and fishing is available o 1 some of these, too. All those lown to us are association con-t oiled with two certainly offering membership to all. These are: Slough Arm (London AA); Welford Arm (Coventry AA).

The rod licence situation on this canal is complicated by the fact that the canal flows through the areas of several different Water Authorities. The newcomer to the canal is therefore advised to check.