Canal carp­ing – Andy Loble

Spot­ted-Fin’s Andy Loble ex­plains how boost­ing the flavour of your baits can swing the odds in your favour when bites are few and far be­tween

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Contents - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Tony Grig­or­jevs

FISH stocks in canals are as healthy as they have ever been and what they can pro­vide for match, plea­sure and preda­tor an­glers is well doc­u­mented. Those that love a spot of float­fish­ing have been amazed at the qual­ity of roach, bream and perch sport, but ev­ery now and then they hook some­thing that takes con­trol of the bat­tle from the very first sec­ond be­fore smash­ing their rig to pieces. Such tales of woe are be­com­ing more com­mon and point to­wards one fac­tor – big carp are lurk­ing be­neath the sur­face. These fish are of­ten large, soli­tary spec­i­mens and only a hand­ful of true gi­ants may call your favourite canal home. With rel­a­tively small stocks of spec­i­men carp in each stretch, are you in with a re­al­is­tic chance of slip­ping the net un­der one? Well, ac­cord­ing to big-fish fa­natic, Andy Loble, yes, you are. And now the Sonik and Spot­ted Fin­backed an­gler has come clean about how he has caught dozens of 20lb-plus carp from ‘the cut’. “Canal carp don’t sit in one peg all day and roam up and down the stretch, so you could be lit­er­ally miles away from the fish be­fore you start with if you pick the wrong peg,” ex­plained Andy. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t draw the fish to­ward­sto ards you and I haveha e found that heav­i­ly­heavil glug­ging and flavour­ing your bait cre­ates an ir­re­sistible scent trail that leads to amaz­ing re­sults on canals.”

Set­ting the trap

Andy be­lieves that due to the na­ture of a canal you shouldn’t fish with­out glugs and liq­uid flavours. “Un­like a still­wa­ter, a canal is con­stantly mov­ing one way or an­other. Boats go up and down and cause a lot of tur­bu­lence while lock gates are reg­u­larly open­ing and shut­ting. cre­at­ing a cur­rent in the process. “This means that any flavour in the wa­ter can drift well away from where you are fish­ing and I be­lieve that the fish get a whiff of it and then fol­low it to its source where they find food and your hook­bait.” There are dozens of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts on tackle shop shelves but Andy chooses ones that are par­tic­u­larly pun­gent, their smell lin­ger­ing in the wa­ter for long pe­ri­ods. “You need some­thing that will still give off lots of scent even when it has drifted out of your swim, leav­ing the trail they need to find where all the bait is sit­ting. “Spot­ted Fin Be­taFin Liq­uid Food has worked re­ally well for me on lots of oc­ca­sions. I coat my boilies in it at the be­gin­ning of the ses­sion and, by the time I am ready to feed it, some has soaked in and the rest is still cling­ing to the out­side so I get the best of both worlds.”

Tar­get zones

After treat­ing your bait, you need to work out where in your swim you are go­ing to feed it. The far-bank mar­gins are likely to be lit­tered with lots of snags and will al­most cer­tainly

catch your eye in an in­stant. But it’s best to ig­nore your in­stincts in this case. “Canal carp­ing isn’t about get­ting lots of bites and you may only get one run in a whole ses­sion. “When that fi­nally hap­pens, you need to have full con­fi­dence you are go­ing to win that bat­tle and by fish­ing close to dense snags you give the fish the up­per hand. “I have had al­most all of my canal carp down the cen­tral chan­nel as lots of bait roles down the near and far slopes and into the mid­dle. “The fish are used to pa­trolling this area for food and it is there­fore a no-brainer to have a rod po­si­tioned down the track.” The near­side mar­gin is also worth feed­ing, es­pe­cially if you are fish­ing through the night or when bank­side dis­tur­bance is at a min­i­mum. Bread and other food items meant for water­fowl of­ten wash up close to the bank and the carp will hap­pily come and clean up any left­overs when­ever they sense the coast is clear.

Rig choice

Sit­ting and wait­ing plays a large part in this type of fish­ing and your rigs will sit in the wa­ter for hours on end with­out see­ing any ac­tiv­ity. On still­wa­ters where an­glers are the only users you can be con­fi­dent that your rigs will re­main ex­actly where you dropped them un­til you get a bite. But this isn’t the case on canals. “If a boat chugs through your swim you can guar­an­tee it will up­root most rigs and leave them sat away from the main baited area. “But you can pin your rig to the bot­tom by us­ing a back lead. They are an es­sen­tial part of my fish­ing and give me full con­fi­dence that every­thing has re­mained in place, re­gard­less of how many boats go through the peg.” Andy re­lies on a sim­ple blow-back rig with a large wide gape hook to max­imise his chances of get­ting a solid hookhold.

One big chance

Large boilies of 15mm and up­wards are re­quired to ex­clu­sively tar­get the carp, with Andy feed­ing gen­er­ous help­ings via a bait shovel at the be­gin­ning of the ses­sion. A bot­tom bait and a pop-up are hair-rigged snow­man style to pro­vide an un­miss­able of­fer­ing that sits a few inches off the deck. “I cut a small seg­ment off the top of the bot­tom bait and base of the pop-up so that they sit neatly to­gether on the hair as op­posed to look­ing a clumsy and prone to mov­ing around.” PVA foam is wrapped around the hook be­fore each cast, slow­ing the fall of the rig and pre­vent­ing it from bury­ing into weed or silt. Dur­ing a two-day stint on the Grand Union Canal in West Hyde Andy sat pa­tiently wait­ing for his chance. A whole day passed with­out so much as a liner but, after 36 hours just as first light ar­rived, the rod that was po­si­tioned down the track screamed into life. This was it – one false move and he would be go­ing home on a blank but hold his nerve and one of the gi­ants that reg­u­larly smash coarse an­glers’ rigs for fun would be his re­ward. Pil­ing on the pres­sure as it mo­tored to­wards far bank snags, Andy gained con­trol and after a nervy duel it was in the bag. “Just look at that – a beau­ti­ful up­per dou­ble mir­ror. It cer­tainly makes all that wait­ing around worth­while. Canals of­fer a se­ri­ous chal­lenge but the re­wards are there if you add max­i­mum at­trac­tion to baits,” con­cluded Andy.

Bites can be few and far be­tween but, when they come, they are worth the wait

The use of flavours can draw no­madic canal carp to­wards your baited ar­eas

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