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
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.”
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.
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