Back on the Cut

May 27, 2015by Dave ArmstrongFishingTechniques

Bank holiday and back on the bank. I have to admit it was a little ballsy and some may think damn daft picking the canal on a bank holiday but I love my canal fishing and its been a while.

So Saturday morning my alarm sent chills through my better half and I at 5am. By 6am I was set up on the Shropshire Union canal near Daresbury with one plan. I wanted some specimen ‘cut’ fish, ideally Bream or nice Roach and I was willing to gamble.

With it being a bank holiday I was expecting lots of boats but thought the early push will give me a head start to develop the swim and get some early action in before the traffic.

I chose a swim at the end of a reed bed. The reeds came out over the far self so at 10 meters I had the cover of the reeds with a good depth to boot. The thinking was if the boat traffic gets really bad then I could push right across past the reeds to where I imagine the fish would end up out of the way in the shallows.

I primed 3 swims all on the same line down the edge of the reeds. One at 10 meters straight across on the corner of the reeds, another to the left at 13 meters and a final one left again at around 15 and a half meters. So if you imagine it, i’m fishing in a straight line to my left over 3 primed areas on the same rig at the same depth. My last swim was in about a foot and a bit of water to the side of the reeds and under a little bush straight out in-front of me. This swim got kicked of first with a handful of casters and hemp and left alone. The one on the corner of the reeds had a ball of ground bait, hemp, casters and 3 grains of corn. The next one over had a harder ball of ground bait, more hemp and a few casters, the final far left had two balls of ground bait laced with hemp and corn.

Thing I’ve found with canals is fish rarely get their heads down and feed for long periods. That may be because of predators, boat traffic or just the lifestyle of constantly changing flow. With this in mind I give the fish a place to back off to. The idea was to fish the close line first, pick of a few and re-feed while i move down to the next dinner table and so on, alternating between the 3 lines.

Well theres the plan and the reality was this… 2 hours and not a bite. Lots of cursing at the bikes trying there hardest to break the land speed record but fundamentally bite less. The first barge came through around 8am, nice and respectfully close to my feet followed by another bombing it through over the edge of the reeds. Fishing single caster on the 10 meter line I gave the water minutes to settle down then topped up the swims. I thought my day was about to end in a bombed out blank and the float slid away and my first fish, a small 4oz or so skimmer.

From then on my plan worked, a few fish followed from each of the three swims. Best bait on the day was Marukyu 6mm JPz Blacks. I have lots of faith in these combined with hemp. I’ve had some stunning results on the River Weaver so I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned trying them on the canal. I finished that line of swims with the small skimmer, 9 good skimmers (almost bream) all over a pound and a half. The boat traffic picked up but it didn’t really put the fish off. I do believe they put the angler off more then the fish, its just a case of keep track of them and how to feed. This is the bonus of the 3 swims, if I busted on one I may have a chance to rescue the others. Best way I found on the day was give the water chance to calm down after the boat then a table tennis sized ball of ground bait with a couple of pinches of hemp then lay the JPz over the top.

a little ballsy and some may think damn daft picking the canal on a bank holiday

The bites did dry up on my reed line(s) so thought I would have the last 20 mins right over on my caster swim. Double caster locked and loaded and lay in, I wasn’t expecting such a fast bite and missed it. Back in and I connected. This was a different creature all together and I managed to guide it past the reeds and into the main track of the canal. Luckily no boats where visible so I took my time and played the green beauty into the net. A tench of about a pound and my first of the year. I ‘pulted half a dozen caster over while I de-slimed my line and went right back over. Definite signs of fish but not bites then after about 10 mins my float berried and I struck hardish and to the right and boy was I glad I did. Hydro streaming out and the swirls of a good fish by the edge of the reeds I managed to turn its head. Another Tench, this time around 2 and a half pounds.

I gave it a further 30 minutes but by now the boats where in convoy and even if the fish where still there I couldn’t get in to them for long enough before I had to get out of the way.

Great day in the end after a supper slow start on the cut. Lessons reinforced are… don’t be put of by things the fish live with. Have confidence in the baits and methods you have faith in. Don’t ignore the tow path, some great sport to be had.