How to Explain Magnet Fishing to Your Boss

Digging for treasure
dog digging a hole on shore during day- searching for treasure.
Photo by Laura Stanley on

Here’s What Really Matters in Magnet Fishing…

How to explain magnet fishing to your boss, when you bump into her taking a routine lunch-break, a disciplined sprint along the sunny banks of your local canal- might be your only way out of an awkward and tricky situation. “Ah Will, I thought the family had the Covid! How’s the isolation going?”, she inquires.

Gold diggers, history seekers, inquisitive fishers of junk; magnet fishing allures hobbyists of a kind verging on eccentricity, to Britain’s canal network of barges, old horse highways, hand-carved bridges, and weary worked pits.

Here the fisherman can be found casting his line, a heavy magnet plunking and plunging into the murky six-foot under, to search for the most unusual of treasures.

Outlaws no less, for magnet fishing is now banned in England, along with everything else! Pulling up a live hand-grenade could end badly, or a hand print on a discarded gun- perhaps link you to murder? But a self-confessed canal bank robber now, undeterred; the quest for the unknown lurking below the waterline is far greater!

For amongst the haul of a thrown away purse, emptied of cash in a rush, or a nicked bike wheel chucked off a bridge by a couple of adolescents- laughing boys, or a bunch of old mud-filled beer cans, shaken and shared by idiot alkies playing tom foolery, sheltering in a tunnel, but long ago buried- (that is cans and drunks); is the chance encounter with an exciting artefact.

What secrets do you hide?

Peeling back the oil black gunk, a rare two-hundred-year-old treasure, like the Mary Rose, is brought up and into the daylight.

Each haul tells a story of people living their complicated life. A signpost to the era. Hard times! A wedding ring, cast off in a rage of sunken disappointment.

Slow deprivation eating at the corners of old black and white newsprint- a perpetual fall, floating, swirling unconscious, towards the bottom- darkness.


A successful catch

Until one day a long closed door is pushed hard, and breaks open.

Clunk. Your line snags tight. You pull hard, the weight drags, disturbs the mud, a cloud of decomposed life forms. The object yanks free, floats lighter, rises, and punctures the shimmering sunlit surface. Startled, rudely awoken from its darkness, the hidden catch is revealed.

You hoick it out onto the gravel bank. Dripping, sodden, algae stinking. The sun warms and dries the foul gunk encrusted object. Crumbled silt drops off with a knock on the cobbled stone path- and a glimmer of light reflects from a fever of rubbing at one corner.

Exploring the unknown

Hard, cold, metal breaks through its slimy membrane. Blinking eyes pull it towards the raw daylight, searching; you want to know the object’s story!

Dunked in clean water, turned in your hands, tapped out, twisted, blown, unwrapped; as a new born child feeling his way in his new world with tiny sensitive finger tips and a wet tongue in a dribbling mouth, licking- exploring the unknown.

A piece of a puzzle long-lost, slots in to place, completes the picture.

Who are you?

Are you a greedy gold miner or a historian on an archaeological dig? Will you find a two-hundred-year-old treasure, a crime scene weapon, a discarded shopping trolley, an entangled rubber Johnny from one night of pleasure?

A trench of modern-day plastic rubbish- a dump, a fly tipper’s laziness, a muddle of people’s things preserved, mutated and ravelled beyond recognition, matured- held in its moment of ripe decay. First come swirling dirt clouds- then layers- and now- all slumbers deep beneath the compact mud.

Time stands still

Quiet bar the distant rumble of a passing engine, the slightest agitation, void, without breath, and long forgotten; a ripe junkyard. At the very deepest depths, like a stopped watch- three seconds… two minutes… one hour… a day… suddenly motionless- frozen- held frigid for a season.

My narrow boat moves along, and day-trippers pass by- over this hidden hoard… Summer turns to Winter above the waters, for a time, a year, and another.

An ever-flowing river of commotion- laughter, music, arguments, church bells prophesy on Sundays, and the hourly chime of the monumental ticking town hall clock. 

How do we change? Who are we? From where did we come?

Back to the future

Where are we going? What’s to come?

Our treasures uncover mysteries, lost ages, great accomplishments taken to the grave, but we don’t take heed of their stories- doomed and cursed to repeat the same Deja vu. The canal is dredged, the fish are saved and the stinking junk, discarded.

Then, the waters now cleaned and the boats once again freed, it begins again.

‘Sustainable’, is just your buzzword. Equality, and morality, are nowhere to be seen. History and all your past mistakes, you push violently into the Thames, so that you shouldn’t have to glance upon your shame, to admit weakness, salty corrosion rusting chinks in your pride.

But where’s the truth gone? Who are you? From where have you come?

From order to chaos

E-cars, e- cigs, and e-rockets- ground breaking inventions to cross sound breaking barriers, horizon boundary gates to a preferable future? Protesting and mashing each other. Division of all united- father struggling against daughter, husband forgets his absent wife-

a wasteland all so bitter winter lonely!

How to magnet fish- gaze closer at your treasure

Beware, for ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’- the root of a dead tree, a treasure-less haul, a tree barren of fruit. Cast your line and see what your magnet draws; it’s the story of life! 

Contemplate your treasure with wide open eyes. What can it tell you? Who have lived and died for you? What have you lost?

Some look back, some dig down, and some gaze up to faraway stars. What are you looking for? What do you seek in the depths of a murky canal?

“I’ll expect you back at work Monday then?”, your boss cross-examines you with questioning brows. “Oh, Yeh sure, bye…”

Your boss jogs on. You sigh… and cast another line.

Ahoy there pirates👋
It’s nice to meet you.

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Useful links about magnet fishing:

‘The hidden dangers of magnet fishing’, By Samantha Fisher, BBC News.

GoMagnetFishing – Both informative and interesting.

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