Shadwell Basin, Tobacco Docks
Looking for the ultimate taste of urban fishing?
The Shadwell Basin might be the perfect place for you. Right in the heart of the capital, the 6 acre basin is home to lots of stunning carp.
There’s very few places in London that are this prolific.
The stock is completely unknown but it’s safe to say in-excess of 300 carp reside there.
The historical Dock is pretty uniform, although it does have a few features like a road bridge and a shallow bay. There is also a series of sunken platforms, which make nice areas to fish to, particualrly in the warmer months.
With the depth ranging from 4ft in the shallow bay to 30ft in the middle the average depth would come to around 22ft.
I personally started fishing this place in 2017.
I’d only recently started angling in London and I stumbled across this place while venturing through the city. I was shocked to see numerous fish feeding on the top right in the edge. There was a big group of fish and I was taken back. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in such an urbanised area.
It’s a real taste of urban angling as far as aesthetics and surroundings go. But with a great stock of carp, if you get it right you almost guaranteed a few bites.
Although London comes with its uncertainties, this place is relatively safe and if you keep yourself to yourself, trouble will leave you be.
What swims produce?
I prefer to fish the shallow side of the dock (Southside) as you’ve got lovely little marginal slopes and the shallow bars at forty yards in-front.
In summer, these swims can be really productive. Having said that, the fish move around a lot and there can be some great surface fishing opportunities on the north side of the lake.
Even though you’ve got depths of 30ft the fish spend a lot of the warmer months in the upper layers and they love a mixer.
In winter, the Red bridge (east) can be a great holding area for the carp and a small bay which is situated in the out of bounds area is a hotspot.
With this area being sheltered by the Canoe club and therefore un-fishable, it makes fishing the bridge a great deep-water swim in the colder months.
What methods work?
With little nuance species present, I like to fish with a variety of bait.
More often than not I’ll feed particle and fish a small snowman presentation over the top.
Bright pop-ups also work well and can pick out the bigger fish. The fish love to patrol the margins on the South side so set some traps close in.
Be as inconspicuous as possible; slack lines, bank noise to a minimum and you’ll be sure to tempt some close in.
Tackle you will need
You’ll almost certainly be travelling on public transport to fish the Shadwell Basin so you need to keep your gear to a minimum and travel as light as possible.
A cheap compact pod will come in super handy if you decide to fish on the concrete banks, something like the pocket pod would be my choice.
Same situation with your bivvy, you need something small, light and a bivvy that holds its shape if you’re fishing the concrete banks.
An adjustable zig kit is also a necessity so you can quickly change up the depths fast.
Top tips for the Shadwell Basin
Be confident in your approach as these fish are not shy.
Don’t fish all three rods over a spot, mix it up and spread your bets as the Shadwell basin fish move around a lot.
My suggestion would be start with one in the edge, one on a zig and one in deep water. This way you’ll maximise your chances of a bite.
Be ready to move and try new things if this does not work, don’t sit in one area and wait as opportunities are there, it’s just about finding them.
Who would love it?
The good thing about Shadwell Basin is it has a bit of something for everyone.
Although the average size is only around 14lb, there are some bigger fish to go at.
It is a public water but it’s also not a busy water that sees loads of pressure. It’s the perfect starting venue for someone who’s looking for a taste of urban fishing.
When is it busy?
Like most places you’ll find it’s busiest at the weekend. Although there will always be somewhere to fish, in mid week you’ll often be the only one there. It’s a well known place but there just isn’t the volume of anglers in London so bank space is always vast.
Any stand out rules?
Although the Basin isn’t a pay lake its locals keep it under control and make sure people follow general fish care rules. Make sure you bring a net, mat, and treat the fish with care as you would anywhere else.
Shadwell is always a venue I go back to. It’s a brilliant place for a social with friends and you can expect a few runs. The fish are in good nick too. It really is the perfect venue to start on in London, from fishing here you’ll know if the concrete jungle is for you.
Shadwell Basin, London
Jacob Worth is a great angler from Cheshire and over the last few years has been documenting his incredible angling adventures on Youtube.