Canal fishing

Words: Kelvin Tallett Pictures: Lloyd Rogers

Having not fished it for decades, Kelvin Tallett takes a visit to the canal he used to fish in his youth, to see if is still as good as it used to be…

I started fishing by going with my dad occasionally but my passion really took off when I started to go to my local canal in Warwick with my school friends. We had a great time with gudgeon matches and most species races but wasn’t long before we ventured further afield in search of some bigger fish. This is where I found Hatton Locks and would bike up there just before it got dark and put in some sweetcorn by the concrete on the lock before returning first light to fish it. I had some incredible days doing this catching carp and bream with some carp going over 10lb. So with the rivers not fishable due to high water I thought I’d go back to Hatton and see if I could relive those wonderful days.

With it being still winter and -2 overnight with a hard frost, I knew when I set off, it would be a day for trying everything to catch a fish and not blank. I arrived in bright sunshine and enjoyed the cold walk to the lock I fished all those years ago and with my head full of those great memories I was still keen to get fishing. 

I set up on a peg half way down the path, where I had some good far bank cover, which is important as the fish like cover and stick close to it for safety and any food that may fall in. I was going to keep things as simple as possible so only set up two rigs for the day. They would both be a couple of home made canal special floats I made last year but unfortunately not had chance to use. 

The first a 0.4g with a small bulk of 10s and 1 number 11 dropper to a 16 hook on 0.10 hook line to fish tight to the cover in 3ft of water and a 0.6g with a bulk of 8s and 1 number 10 dropper to the same hook and line to fish in the deepest part of the canal on the far part of the track. All my local canals are the same there is a deeper channel where the boats drive up and down and shallower water either side where they throw up the silt and it settles. So to give myself the best chance of a fish I’d split my swim in to 4 areas and feed each one differently to see what would work best on the day. 

Area 1 straight out in front of me I put in 1 small ball of Groundbait made of Dynamite Silver X Skimmer and Frenzied Hemp Match dark with some red squats and pinkies in Area 2 which was at 11 o’clock to that I fed with just a few casters and Area 3 at 1 o’clock would have 6 chopped worms and a few casters. 

For the deeper water I’d be a bit more positive and fed it with 10 chopped worms and pinkies. This area would also give the fish somewhere to feed if I was to spook them off the far shelf. I felt feeding like this for a bite would give me plenty of options to try and get a bite and different areas to try through out the session to catch me more fish too. 

I started the session off on the pinkie straight out and after 15 mins with no bites happening here I moved on to the caster at 11 o’clock this too did not produce a bite and now I was fearing the worse. Next area to try was the deeper rig to see if the fish were in the deeper water after that cold night but alas this too didn’t produce a bite. Things were clearly going to be harder than I had thought but I don’t mind that it makes you think and work harder to catch that fish. 

So, on to my last area I tried a small piece of worm and to my amazement 10 mins later I had a bite that resulted in a pound skimmer hurray I though now we can start to catch a few so I re-fed all the swims with the same amount of bait as at the beginning but despite my best efforts changing shotting and hook sizes I couldn’t buy a bite! 

After 2 hours I thought that is it no more fish so I decided to change tactics and be positive by putting a big pot of worms and casters with some Dynamite Predator Liquid into my 1 o’clock swim and leave it while I ate a sandwich and a coffee while I pondered my decision to try Hatton Locks. Out I went on this line after 20 mins or so with a bigger piece of worm and the float sank I lifted the rig again and float disappeared away and a fish was on wow I thought and played it carefully to the net. It was a lovely fin perfect perch of just over a pound. It looked stunning in the sun and with the worm hanging out of its mouth it was hooked in the top lip. 

After that success I decided to try again with another big piece of worm and  hooked his mate a little smaller this time but just a nice. I called it a day after that fish and packed up but despite not having the success I had hoped for I was happy with the results of my hard work. Today was a nice change from my usual river fishing and a nice if difficult trip down memory lane. Canals are always difficult places to catch fish in winter but worth the effort as they contain some great fish and you never know you may even have a real red letter day too.