Another session after canal perch (Entry 14)

A return to the canal was in order for me this week in the hope of finding a few new spots where I could hopefully continue my recent success after big canal perch. I didn’t expect the fishing to be easy though, not that fishing for any large fish is, but this was more to do with the recent plunge in night time temperatures. It was definitely going to have an effect on the fishing.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph I wanted to find some new swims so instead of approaching the canal from the usual access point I drove the the other end of the stretch and found a way onto the towpath. It really is good fun to try to find likely looking swims or areas that would offer a good habitat for fish. For such a small stretch of canal, probably less than a mile and half in total, there is an abundance of different swims and features. From reed lined, uniform sections at the foot of large, open fields to small turning circles or wides that might offer the angler a chance of a few bream or quality roach. For me though it was a case of looking for meshes of tree roots, a built up bank of overhanging brambles or any old posts or similar structures. I eventually stumbled upon the swim pictured above which ticked two of the three boxes I’ve just outlined. It looked perfect for a perch or two. On plumbing up the far shelf offered a depth of around two foot. Due to heavy boat traffic I decided to make this my only line, although as you can see from the diagram, I fished various points along the far bank.

Bait today was either Half a Dendrobaena tipped with a fake red maggot or two and a half Dendrobaena, again tipped with a fake red maggot. I planned on fishing the smaller bait directly over the area I was to feed with chopped worm and groundbait. Due to the heavy tow from left to right, or right to left depending on which lock was being used, later in the session I would fish the bigger bait on the extremities of the feeding circle, towards any perch holding feature where I hoped a big stripey would be lay in wait for an easy meal.

The first two put ins resulted in two 8-10oz roach before the ruffe located the chopped worm and moved in giving me endless un-hittable bites as they nipped at the worm tail. On the odd occasion I did connect with a ruffe I couldn’t help but admire them. I think they’re actually lovely looking little fish. In the right light their eyes are almost purple. But this wouldnt catch me a big perch. I needed to concentrate and get my head into perch mode. So an earlier than expected move to the bigger bait was needed.

This certainly subdued the bites from the smaller fish. I had found the extremities of the main shoal and was therefore presenting my bait in an area more likely to contain a big perch. I tired all the likely looking spots. The tree to my right. If no bite came after five minutes then I fished a metre to the right. No bite? Then I tried another point in the swim, always on the edge of the main feeding circle and always to a feature attractive to a perch. Shallowing up a little I would try behind the swim hoping there was some big fish hiding under the brambles, keeping an eye on the free worms and small fish feeding on them. But no bites came. I tried the deeper water in the boat channel thinking the cold night temperatures had pushed the fish into the slightly deeper water. But today there was either no fish in the vicinity or they were not interested in feeding.

Finishing the session just after dusk in some particularly unpleasant cold rain I had to settle for just the two roach caught at the start of the session and the odd ruffe. I did find some mouth watering swims though. And I avoided the dreaded blank!

Until Next Time



More big canal perch (Entry 13)

The title refers to my last post in which I asked the question ‘when will autumn start?’ Well it has certainly got a lot chillier since my last session, from daytime temperatures in the low twenties and night time temperatures comfortably in double figures, the nights have been dropping to low singles and a crisp north wind has made sure the day time temperatures are far more seasonal. This hasn’t stopped me fishing though. I am certainly not a fair weather angler. There’s nothing wrong with that by the way. I just have to make sure I am on the bank all year round. So this week it was back to the canal for an afternoon and evening session after big perch.

The swim above is the one I settled into. It simply screamed perch. I was pretty confident there would be some fish holding up in amongst the branches. I continued with my pole approach, fishing identical to the way I fished last week, the only difference being a size stronger elastic. This was simply to give me a little power to stop an angry perch finding the branches of the tree. Although the boat traffic wasn’t heavy there was still some using the locks and this made the flow pull one way and then the other. I fed chopped worm and red maggot straight in front of me and simply fished either to the lef tor the right as the flow dictated.

Fishing a whole dendrobaena on the hook I had bites from the off although only from small fish. I know this as I wasn’t hooking any fish! This does happen when fishing a whole worm on the hook, smaller fish will nip the tail and run off with the bait, and when you strike you simply pull it from their mouths. I wasn’t unduly worried though and maintained a regular feeding of red maggots and worked the bait through the swim. after fifteen minutes I had a slow, methodical bite which on the strike felt a decent fish, almost certainly a perch. Thankfully the fish swam towards me and played itself out in the boat channel. When it eventually surfaced from the murky coloured water I knew it was a perch of over two pound.

At 2lb 6oz it was a great start. I slipped it into the keepnet and quickly re-baited my hook. Perch often swim in shoals of two or three when they get to this size and often if you get your rig back out as quickly as possible you stand a chance of getting its shoal mates. On this occasion it again paid off, as five minutes later a similar slow bite resulted in another two pound perch, in fact two pound on the nose.

After this fish the swim went very quiet, the rain came in and the wind began to blow. I sat huddled under my umbrella hoping for some respite from the very autumnal weather. I continued feeding regularly with five or six red maggots catapulted over towards the tree and I worked the bait through the swim tirelessly, lifting and dropping the rig hoping to provoke a take. But no more bites came my way.

With the rain subsiding a little I decided to pack up a little earlier than I had planned to, but I was very pleased with another decent catch of perch from the canal. I’m getting a better understanding for the place. It seems to me that the perch are quite localised so I think it will probably be more productive to fish a swim for maybe an hour at a time, similar to chub fishing on a small river. I think on my next session this is most definitely something to keep in mind.

Until next time,


When will autumn start? (Entry 12)

This week I started my perch fishing campaign on a canal noted for having a good head of specimen sized fish. Well, that is the word on the grapevine, but I like to catch the fish for myself before I believe that what people say is true. I really should have more faith in things I guess but hey that’s the way I am. I think it makes it more exciting too.

I arrived at the canal for an early morning session. Strange choice you might think usually late afternoon and into dusk being the normal time associated with catching monster perch. But it was the unusually warm and bright weather conditions forecast that prompted me to have a short early session. Hopefully I could muster a few bites before the sun got too hot and maybe more importantly, the boat traffic became too heavy to present baits effectively. As you can see the swim above offered some far bank cover in amongst the reeds and I would present my whole worm hook at as right as I could using a pole. Some people scoff at the idea of fishing for specimen fish with a pole but if I gives me greater presentation and therefore a greater chance of a bite, the why not use one?

After feeding some chopped worm and red maggots I started the session with a double red maggot hookbait simply to gauge what fish were in the swim. The first few fish were all small roach so I quickly changed to a whole worm. It was obvious that I had quite a few small silver fish in my swim. Perfect. You see the feeding fish will cause a disturbance that any marauding perch would pick up on and investigate. Present a bigger, lively bait in amongst this disturbance and you’ve got a good chance of a big perch being the fish to take the bait. Kind of like carp on commercials.

After some disturbances from barges I eventually made contact with some perch. Pictured above is a perch of about a pound that took a full dendrobaena fished a few inches on the deck. Another one a few ounces bigger followed shortly after. And although the conditions for perch fishing were far from ideal, I was still hopeful for a two pound plus fish. I plodded away feeding regularly with red maggots and edging a worm bait through the swim. I never go perch fishing without some red maggots and I like to feed them little and often so theres a regular falling of them through the water. Perch are very visual, having great eyesight, so it seems the logical thing to do. I also like to push the rig as tight as I can into any holes in the reeds. I am convinced these are the places that canal perch sit and wait for any prey, any small fish or crayfish passing wouldn’t even know they were being watched.

Eventually just before 11am I had a positive bite from one of these dip backs in the reeds and the strike was met with solid resistance. After a dogged fight typical of the perch, I netted a fish that looked like my target fish. On the scales the fish was two ounces short of two pound but I was more than happy with it. Pictured below is the best three perch of the day.

Given the very un-perch like conditions, the very busy boat traffic and the fact it was my first session on this particular stretch of canal I was more than happy with a near two pound perch plus a few pound plus fish. I have much hope for this canal come the cooler weather. There are swims which look absolutely perfect for perch. Overhanging trees, outlets, all sorts. I just hope that when the weather does eventually start to turn more autumnal there will be even bigger perch gracing my landing net.

Until next time,


Still tracking down the barbel (Entry 11)

Another venture onto a local small river this week in search of some barbel. Although with all the heavy rain we have had over the past few days, tactics had to change to accomodate the river conditions. Let me explain.

I had planned on fishing the weirpool on tonights session, and in the end this is what I did do, but I would have prefered a little less flow on the water. I said what would prefer but I am not a barbel and in hindsight I think I had some favourable conditions to get the barbel in a feeding mood. As I have only just started fishing the river I dont really know how many barbel are in the river, I am guessing not very many so I have decided to systematically fish different swims on each visit to get any idea on the stock density.

I concentrated tonights session on that far bank eddy. It took a lead of 1.5oz to hold bottom comfortably and the bottom was clean gravel. The river was about a foot up from my last visit and had a fair amount of colour in it. To my eyes it looked like perfect conditions for a barbel, if there were any present. There was also a nice looking crease swim at the bottom of the run off and I was able to trickle in some pellets during the few hours I spent fishing the eddy so that, on walking back to the car after dusk, I could have that famous ‘one last cast’.

The rig for tonight was very simple, it doesn’t need to be complicated when fishing for barbel in these conditions. The tackle however does need to be strong, especially fishing in a weirpool where snags abound and the current can be very strong. For this reason I dispensed my usual braid hooklength in favour of a more durable and reliable monofilament. I also like to make the length no longer than 18 inches, but ideally 12 inches, again just for extra security and less chance of it finding and snags or debris. Above the hooklength its just a simple safety lead clip that is fixed on a size 8 swivel bolt rig style. Lastly, I use a rubber waggler stop a few feet above the lead to stop any weed being washed down the river dislodging the lead. It just gives you more time in the water fishing, and less time cleaning rubbish off the end tackle.

So I hooked on a small PVA bag of pellets and crushed boilies and cast out into the eddy. It felt right. It looked right. But as dusk arrived I still hadn’t had any indications. The swim at the end of the weirpool, which I had been priming all evening, was now my last hope. I decided to move into it and hope that with it now being dark that any resident barbel will have moved from the sanctuary of the branches in search of the free offerings.

No its not a black rectangle, above is an attempt to photograph the run off swim. You can just about make out my rod on the left. It truly amazes me how fish feed in the dark. Swirling water, debris, coloured water, yet they can still smell and pick out the foot items. Except for tonight maybe as I didn’t have a bite.

On the drive home I pondered the session. I felt as though I had fished well and read the river good enough. Bait choice seemed spot on too, large and strong smelling baits, with bags of strong smelling, oily pellets. And I thought the conditions were perfect for a barbel. So in conclusion either I missed the barbels feeding spell, it may have happened as the river rose during the previous night, or there was not any barbel present where I was presenting my bait. Either way I enjoyed the session and learnt a lot about the river. I shall be returning to the stretch throughout september for quick sessions after the barbel.

Until next time,