One of southern England’s most historic fishing venues is set to benefit from a £1.6million facelift after Hampshire County Council approved the funding for a four-year project on the Basingstoke Canal.
The decision was made after an in-depth survey by environmental consultants concluded that major investment is essential to secure the popular angling venue’s future.
Over the years the 32-mile-long canal has hosted a number of prestigious matchfishing events ¬ including the National Championships, Embassy Pairs qualifiers and Fish O’Mania qualifiers ¬ as well as providing bumper sport for thousands of pleasure and specimen anglers.
The director of the Basingstoke Canal Authority, Ian Brown, told Angling Times: “The funding will allow for essential repairs and maintenance to be carried out on embankments, cuttings and other related structures. Obviously these improvements will result in better conditions for anglers.” The news marks a welcome change in fortunes for the Basingstoke Canal Angling Association, which came close to collapsing at the end of last year after failing to find volunteers to fill vital positions on its committee.
Vice-chairman Jeff Bunch said: “The improvements will certainly help to attract new anglers. We were also in talks with Natural England with regard to future stockings of the waterway but these have been put on hold.
Hopefully, the proposed improvements will serve to strengthen our case and we will be able to identify suitable stretches for the new fish introductions.
“Season ticket sales are up. Big perch are thriving, and last season several carp over 30lb and numerous twenties were caught,” he added.
The project was given the green light by council leader Ken Thornber.
“The Basingstoke Canal, built in the 1700s, is a very important part of the county’s natural heritage which should be secured for the future.
“This is why we commissioned a study to determine exactly what works are required,” he said.
HOT STRETCHES TO TRY...
Lodge Bridge to Colt Hill Bridge (Odiham) ¬ This stretch holds a massive head of fish, including bream and tench to 6lb, carp to 20lb and loads of roach and perch. The pegs opposite the Waterwich pub are very popular with carp and tench anglers.
Stacey’s Bridge to Barley Mow Bridge (Winchfield) ¬ This 35-peg section can be quite weedy but it holds a good head of fish, with lots of small roach and perch throughout. The pegs above and below the pylons are good for bream and tench.
Ash Vale Railway Bridge to Mytchett Lake Bridge (Mytchett) ¬ Directly below Ash Vale Railway Bridge is a turning bay which is home to a number of large carp and plenty of tench. School Flash is also a hot spot for tench and bream.