Here's George Monbiot navigating the backwaters of Oxford:
"I pushed through rush-choked channels scarcely wider than my boat. I found backwaters no one had navigated for years. I stumbled across cannabis gardens and camouflaged shelters where fugitives lived. ... Abandoned behind railway fences, on the edge of playing fields, anonymously skirting business units, I found places I had never imagined possible, a parallel world."
I have made very similar discoveries in the last 3 years, it's quite amazing how a city can turn its back to its rivers. Apart from the main punting highway, it really is a parallel Oxford that one gets to see from the waterways.
Unlike GM, however, I don't trouble the fish (the rest of the article in Saturday's Guardian is about fishing). I only watch the wildlife (and have seen a kingfisher too!)
Here's a recent photo of our family canoe, taken upstream at the sunnymeade recreation ground.