Fishing for silvers and bonus fish on canals pt. 2 (Entry 18)

I’ve been ill this week so I have been unable to get out on the bank. Instead of not posting I thought I would make a short entry finishing up how I fish for silvers and bonus fish on canals that I started a few weeks ago. With only bait and feeding left to cover I dont imagine the post will be especially long but it has some nice pictures to accompany the writing. So without further a do…


I have great faith in casters at any time of year but in autumn and winter, when I do a lot of canal fishing, I dont feel ‘right’ if I dont have some with me. You can guarantee if there are any half decent roach present that they will fall to a delicately presented caster. Simply feed them little and often with a little chopped worm or hemp when the time is right and you can expect good catches. But the real beauty of casters is that they will also tempt those bigger fish, such as perch and chub, especially if fished to the far bank shelf. The catch of roach an rudd above came to such an approach at the end of spring. The same session also saw me connect with the carp pictured below. Somehow after a 15 minute battle the 0.9mm bottom and 18’s hook held and 14lb of carp lay in the net. It goes to show how good casters are on the cut.

I mentioned feeding a little of another bait. Usually this will be worm or corn. In my opinion both go well with caster and depending on what bonus species I think will be present, will dictate which I choose. On my local canal I have had good results with corn for tench, bream and carp whereas I prefer worm for perch and chub. I simply then use the other feed option as a change bait which, more often than not, brings about a better stamp or a bonus fish. It doesn’t always work, but it cannot harm the fishing on the right day.

Of course the other great canal bait would be bread. Punched and liquidised bread is a deadly combination in winter for putting together a net of small roach whilst priming your far bank caster line in the hope of some bigger fish later in the session. However using a bigger punch and feeding the liquidised bread slightly more aggressively in summer months has seen me make good catches of bream and tench. One particularly good session is pictured below. In just a few hours fishing one summer morning I banked two 4lb tench and six between 1lb-2lb using a 7mm punch feeding balls of liquidised bread with a few casters over the top. Surprisingly I caught no roach that day which was a little strange. When fishing this way I like to present the bread a few inches over depth which lets me hold the bait quite still, a presentation I think bigger canal fish like. When fishing the punch for small fish in the winter I like to have the bait about an inch off the bottom and fish over a walnut sized ball of bread, waiting for bites to dry up before re-feeding.

Im sorry this entry has been so short but I thought that it was better than not updating. I hope to be on the bank this coming week so will hopefully have the blog running as normal again by then!

Until next time,



More cold water carp fishing (Entry 17)

As I scraped the frost off the windscreen of the car, I wondered whether or not I was mad. The overnight temperatures had plummeted and the heavy frost, although making everyday object looks a little more special, would have most certainly made catching carp hard. And yes, I was heading for a days session after carp. To make matters worse, I was heading to a venue I had never fished before. All of a sudden trotting a stick float down a river for some grayling seemed the better option, but I do like a challenge, so I loaded up the car and set off just as dawn began its cycle.

I arrived at the water to find it empty except for one hardy overnight angler. He was having a warming cup of tea so I asked him how he had faired. Just two fish caught during the night and he said the chances of a daytime fish would be slim. It wasn’t the most comforting news I had ever heard. But I was here now and I was going to give it my all. I had a walk around the lake, which was dug as a commercial snake type lake, but has since become taken over by my fishing club who have made it into a specimen carp water with fish to over twenty pound present. My lap of the lake turned out to be very rewarding as I spotted a few carp rolling on the far side in the south east corner. I made my way back to the car and headed for that area. My plan was to present a visual but small bait tight to the far bank. I would use PVA bags about the size of a walnut filled with 4mm pellets as my only feed. I didn’t think the fish would be really feeding but I could get curiosity takes as any moving fish swam by. I planned to fish one rod to the far bank and with my other rod fish at the bottom of the near side slope using a similar method.

I cast my first rod out and went about setting up my margin rod. I took my time, enjoying the sun break through the mist and its rays starting to thaw out the frost, making water drip off tree branches and tall grass. I violent take just 45 minutes after casting out brought me back to focus and I went about playing a lively carp. After a near miss as I nearly knocked the fish off with the landing net, I netted the above mirror carp. The fish clearly starting to get their winter colours. It was a stunningly marked fish and it made me one very happy angler. My confidence was now boosted. My tactics although very simple were obviously working. I got the rod back out, casted my margin rod for the first time, and sat back and surveyed the water looking for signs of moving carp.

The rig I used is pictured above, a simple bolt rig with a 10mm bright pop up fished KD style. I used a fluorocarbon leader back from the lead and used some olivettes to pin it down. Although not in the picture I did put some tiny ‘mouse dropping’ bits of putty along the hooklength just to make sure everything was pinned down and inconspicuous.

Since the first fish I noticed a drop in the amount of fish I could see moving so I decided to cast around a single hookbait every 20 minutes to see if I could get any liners or signs of fish. After a few casts I had a pronounced line bite. Nothing developed so it was a case of reeling in, on with a small PVA bag and back to the same area. A wait of five minutes and the alarm was sounding and I played and netted a small common carp of an estimated 8lb. I like to be as active as I can when fishing, but especially so when the conditions are against me. During the early afternoon, there was a definite lull in any fish activity. In this situation I simply recast to my main area and waited for a take. At least I knew there was some feed there, although I wasn’t fully convinced the fish wanted much bait at all, it seemed the better of two evils.

Just before dusk I noticed an area to my left that the carp had started to roll in again. A cast to this area ended up producing my third fish of the day and the biggest of the session too. The delicate drop back bite gave way to a solid, lumbering weight and I knew I had hooked a slightly better fish. Almost a leather carp (the fish had three scales on the other flank), I settled for it being the last bit of action and packed up just as darkness fell. I probably should have stayed another hour but in all honesty I was satisfied with how the session had panned out. I shall certainly be back to this water during the next few months but maybe next time I will wait for milder days and frost free nights.

Until next time,


Quick thinking carp fishing (Entry 16)

Things didn’t pan out as I planned for this weeks session. I had originally headed to a venue to target some carp but on arriving there had found it to be completely choked with duckweed. Although not a problem in itself I didn’t have the solid pva bags I use to protect my end tackle from picking up the duckweed so I decided to head for another venue not too far away. I’d still in search of carp, but I decided to have a more relaxed session which would give me a chance to use the float and natural baits.

The small lake I settled on is not a deep one, the deepest part being only 18-24 inches and with a sharp drop in temperature overnight I expected the fishing to be hard. I wasn’t wrong but I dont mind a challenge and was confident that if I kept an eye on the water with the depth being so shallow the carp would give themselves away. As with most fishing location is paramount but eve more so when the fish become lethargic. Having the lake to myself I decided to set up in a swim and fish it by feeding casters and fishing a bunch of lobworm sections over the top. However if I did spot any moving carp I would quickly go and present the big smelly bait in that area. Its a tactic I have used a lot this year and I have a lot of faith in it. Fishing this way is like having the best of both worlds.

The picture to the left shows how I present a lobworm for carp, especially when the weather cools, the amino acids attracting sluggish carp, convincing them that the effort to feed will be worth it. Its visual, it has movement, and its about as natural a bait as you can get. Its also very good for catfish, but thats for the summer months! The bait was presented underneath a standard crystal waggler about six inches on the bottom. Hooklength was 10lb fluorocarbon and mainline was 10lb Hydroflo. I used my Wychwood Rogue 1.75lb avon rod on the day, offering me a bit of sensitivity but enough grunt should I hook a double.

Quite how small fish, like this roach, manage to take a huge hookbait is one of anglings mysteries but they at least proved the fish were moving and up for feeding. No doubt attracted by the casters I was regularly feeding. I wasn’t bothered though, it kept me busy and also as we know, feeding fish attract other fish. And as if to prove a point after an hour or two of 6oz roach and perch, a few crucian-goldfish hybrids of around a pound started to make an appearance. At this point admittedly I was presenting a smaller ball of worms to gauge what was in the swim. The fish were getting bigger in my main swim, but more importantly I was aware that in an area of dying lilies to my right there was a few carp moving between the stems, parting the pads as they moved through. I decided to keep fishing the swim I had been for an hour longer, whilst starting to trickle in a few casters in a gap in the lilies which I would fish later on.

After a few more crucians the small roach returned signalling to me that at the moment there was no bigger carp present. There was however still a fair bit of activity in the lily bed so I decided to go and see if I could stalk a carp out. I gathered the essentials, namely unhooking mat, net and of course, some bait and made my way quietly, keeping off the skyline, towards the far end of the lake. On closer inspection there appeared to be a good number of carp present but with the water being so shallow I felt I only had one chance. The carp would surely spook once I hooked a fish so I had to make sure I got it out. Playing a carp hard like this doesn’t mean trying to pull its head off, it simply means that you have to not allow the carp to build any momentum. You can usually steer the fish away from any snags or weed an into clearer water when you can afford to give the fish a little more slack.

I simply free lined the lobworm ball into a gap in the pads not far off the yellowish tree in the picture. Gently tightened up to it and watched the line for any movement. It took all of ten seconds for an unmistakable bite as a carp roared off after taking the bait. The steady pressure and anticipating any change of direction allowed me to get the carp into open water quickly where I played the fish out fairly quickly and netted it without much circumstance. Not a huge fish, probably one of the smallest ones there, but it proves that the bait and approach works.

Unfortunately I was right in the fact the fight had spooked the carp from the area. They would no doubt return, but I had to leave soon afterwards, and I was quite happy with how the days session has gone. Considering I was originally heading for another venue sometimes thinking outside the box can produce an enjoyable days fishing.

Until next time,


Fishing for silvers and bonus fish on canals pt. 1 (Entry 15)

The past few weeks I’ve been after perch on a canal. I have always loved canals. My first fishing experiences taking place on the Bridgewater canal behind Old Trafford where catches of big bream and roach were common at the time. Well they were if you knew how to fish for them and this is what this post will be about. I thought that this week I would share how I would approach a canal when fishing for nets of quality roach with the chance of some bigger bonus fish.

Before I go into it I am aware that this is not the only way to go about tackling canals for bigger fish. Of course tactics will vary from season to season, or from venue to venue, but what I have outlined is something that in my experience will never fail to catch a few fish and will turn up the odd bigger fish, even from venues I have never fished before. From then you can tailor your approach to suit.


Lets take a typical canal swim and see what it has to offer. Usually the canals I fish offer widths of around 11-14 metres and depth in the range of 2-5 foot. These depths vary along the canals cross section. Taking the picture above as the diagram, the deepest part of any canal swim will usually be the boat channel indicated by the yellow circle. This can be a deadly area to fish in winter, the deeper water offering sanctuary for fish and because of the decreased boat traffic, swims can be slowly built up. I generally find that the boat channel offers an average stamp of fish. Of course this may be different on canals I have never fished and sometimes the odd better fish does turn up here, but for me the key areas regularly giving up bigger fish more constantly are the blue and red circles.

The blue swim I find is a good one for bream and skimmers as well as roach. It is fished normally about two thirds of the way down the shelf. I usually feed the line a few inches past the distance I’m fishing at as the bait will naturally fall down the slope towards, and past, where your hookbait is being presented. This will draw fish from both directions and if you can get a swim going here and keep the fish interested then a lot of bites can be expected.

The red circle is at the top of the far shelf and will be the shallowest water, in amongst any tree roots, overhanging brambles, iron pilings or stone walls is usually home to the larger fish. Fish such as big perch, chub, tench and even big carp are usually drawn to these areas. Its advisable to build up this swim as you are fishing another so as to gain the confidence of any specimen fish. I try to leave it as long as I can before having a look on this line. Usually bites happen pretty quickly.

Floats and Rigs

For the three areas of a typical canal swim I have already mentioned I have three patterns of float that I use almost exclusively. I will take you through them and give an outline of why I use them and also a typical shotting pattern for each. Lets start with the boat channel which if you remember is the yellow circle. For this I use the body up float, the black one to the left of the picture. I has a long glass stem and a slightly thicker glass tip. the long stem gives the float stability as does the body up design, allowing me to hold back when the canal is towing or the wind is blowing, and stops the float riding to high out of the water. I usually fish this float an inch on the bottom to allow the spotting of shy bites. Because of the depth of water, I usually space out the shots into a ‘shirt button’ style. This not only allows a more naturally descent through the water but also gives you the opportunity to spot bites on the drop, when roach intercept the bait as they often do. Mainline woud typically be 0.11mm with hooklengths to suit conditions.

The next pattern, the short pencil float in the middle of the picture I use to fish on the shelf and as I am usually after fish feeding on the bottom, or up the shelf, I shot with a simple bulk and two droppers. I want to get the bait quickly to the bottom where I have the greatest chance of a big bream or roach taking the hookbait. I also like to hold this bait as still as I can, and I would usually use a no9 backshot, or two if needed, to allow great presentation. Mainline would be 0.11mm again with hooklengths again to suit conditions or species.

For the far bank swim a small dibber float is used. You are usually fishing bigger baits and as such finesse isn’t usually required, you will know when a big chub or carp has taken the bait, so the more buoyant tip is there to simply support the weight of a bigger bait and the hook and mainline should be stepped up accordingly. If very snaggy I would thinking nothing of using 0.17mm with a 0.15mm hooklength a strong forged hook pattern. I usually have all the shot bulked about 12 inches from the hook. Once you have a bite you need to play them hard and away from any danger areas as quickly as possible.

Next time I will go through the baits I use and what to feed with them to get the most from these swims. I will also take a recent session I had on a local canal to demonstrate that these methods work.

Until next time,