In the Swim We go un­der­wa­ter to show you how to catch on big canals

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

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.


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.

1 2

The cen­tral track will take a fair amount of ground­bait. 3 4

Chop­pie and caster is a clas­sic canal feed.

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