In the Swim We go underwater to show you how to catch on big canals
WIDE shipping canals are common in Yorkshire, but others are dotted around the country and they’re an entirely different beast to the shallow, narrow venues most commonly fished by anglers.
Deep, and now with minimal boat traffic, these big canals offer fantastic fishing. You can catch 20lb of roach, very big perch or a fine net of bream and skimmers.
You’ll need different rigs and feeding to get the best out of them but one principle remains the same in terms of where to fish – you’ll still find distinct ledges and a deep central channel.
Swims with rushes in the margins and as much as 6ft of water are super spots to target small fish early in the session or bide your time in search of a few big perch. Plumb up and you’ll find a flat shelf tapering down towards the main depth of the canal. If you use 4m or 5m of pole you should be just on the edge of the ledge before it deepens. This is a prime area for perch, drawn in by the small roach and skimmers.
For the perch, feed chopped worm and caster and fish a big bait such as a lobworm tail on strong tackle. For roach, pop in a ball of dark, fine groundbait holding a few squatts and pinkies and go in over the top with a light rig taking a size 22 hook to an 0.08mm hooklink baited with a pinkie.
Bites should be instant from roach, but action fades after a good early spell. It’s possible to catch perch throughout the day here if you regularly top up with worm and caster.
Along the middle of the canal is the deepest water and, unlike on shallow canals, boat traffic will not affect the fishing.
As on the near shelf, you can target big fish or a net of smaller ones here, depending on your approach, but bites will last all day long on this line, as the fish settle quickly and are much happier.
By ‘deep’ we could be talking in excess of 15ft of water, so you’ll need a long rig and a big pole float, certainly upwards of a gram.
For the roach, feed an initial big hit of groundbait (around six or seven balls via a pole cup) holding squatts and hemp, and then fish pinkies or a maggot on the hook using similar hooks and lines to the rig for the nearside.
Loosefeeding hemp every few minutes will also give you the option to fish it on the hook later on in the day.
If you’re after big fish, though, a few changes need to be made. You could be catching bream here or perhaps big perch and the odd eel so worms are key. You can still use groundbait, but replace the hemp and squatts for finely chopped worm and casters and cut out the loosefeed. Introduce several balls of feed and then leave this area to rest for an hour.
Step up hook size to an 18 coupled with an 0.10mm hooklink and a stronger No6 elastic.
BOTTOM OF FAR SHELF
Provided the canal isn’t ridiculously wide, you should be able to reach this spot with the long pole, but this may need 16m of carbon. Just as you’d find on a narrower canal, this area is where the main depth of the cut begins to shallow up towards the farbank ledge and is a great area to
find roach and skimmers plus the odd bonus fish.
It needs a not too dissimilar approach to the central track in terms of feeding, although you’re less likely to catch a lot of big fish here so you should go with the groundbait, squatt and pinkie attack, again loosefeeding hemp regularly. Plumb up to find the spot where the maximum depth begins to shallow and fish here with light lines and hooks, but still a reasonably-sized float.
This spot will be out of reach of the pole so you’re looking at running-line tactics, fishing into shallower water and looking to pick off the odd bonus fish.
This could be a chub on some canals or a few decent perch and roach on others. Try to land the waggler or feeder on to the flat ledge but keep it a few metres away from the bank to get out of the really shallow water.
If you go down the waggler route, loosefeed maggots here every five minutes or so, fishing double maggot on a size 18 hook fished so that it sinks slowly through the water. An insert waggler will be fine, as the canal won’t be moving that much unless a few boats are about, so set the depth to present the bait a few inches overdepth.
Should you decide to fish the feeder, a small groundbait feeder in coloured water or a maggot version in clear conditions will be perfect. A small feeder won’t introduce masses of bait, which could overfeed the fish.
Use only enough weight to reach where you need to cast to.
The central track will take a fair amount of groundbait. 3 4
Choppie and caster is a classic canal feed.