Growing up in and around the Colne Valley, fishing on the local canals and rivers had a huge influence on my angling. I’d be lying if I said that the fishing is just as productive to this day as it was 20 years ago, but if you know where to look and can track them down through the various locks and different stretches, there’s always a chance of a bite or two, as well as a few surprises along the way!

As with any venue, location is key, but on a canal or river I think it is even more important. You could be a veritable mile away from the nearest carp, so it is paramount you put maximum effort into finding the perfect spot. What is the perfect spot I hear you ask? Well, if only it were so easy! Just like fishing a stillwater, I lead up spots to find hard areas, but if you fish on the rivers and canals I have had the privilege of fishing, most of the bottom is clean gravel and therefore all hard. As such, I tend to target features of importance, this can be a bridge, or a lock gate to a moored boat or freshwater inlet. I fished all of the above in my film, but the fish I landed came from an area of dense cabbages, which the fish clearly loved. The key point to take on here is nothing happens quickly in this game; you just have to be patient and eventually you will piece together the puzzle.

Once you have established an area of interest, more often than not, I pre-bait it. Back in the days of much more lucrative canal and river carping, we could drop in blind to some stretches and catch, but those days are unfortunately in the past. In the modern world you have to try and localise a few carp to your spot and the best way to do that is to pre-bait them.

I prefer to use a mixture of both Bloodworm Pellets and boilies, which will attract all species into the area. The carp will soon come to investigate, as the wild, highly mobile fish simply cannot resist a free meal. I normally bait a lot of spots, rather than pile it all in on one spot. Not only does it hedge your bets, but it also makes a lot of sense. Canal and river spots are incredibly compact and cannot sustain multiple big carp for very long, therefore, by baiting several spots along the stretch you should up your chances of catching multiple fish.

Once you have established an area of interest, more often than not, I pre-bait it. Back in the days of much more lucrative canal and river carping, we could drop in blind to some stretches and catch, but those days are unfortunately in the past. In the modern world you have to try and localise a few carp to your spot and the best way to do that is to pre-bait them.

I prefer to use a mixture of both Bloodworm Pellets and boilies, which will attract all species into the area. The carp will soon come to investigate, as the wild, highly mobile fish simply cannot resist a free meal. I normally bait a lot of spots, rather than pile it all in on one spot. Not only does it hedge your bets, but it also makes a lot of sense. Canal and river spots are incredibly compact and cannot sustain multiple big carp for very long, therefore, by baiting several spots along the stretch you should up your chances of catching multiple fish.

Whether you are fishing a canal, or indeed a river, the most important thing to bear in mind in terms of your tackle is simplicity and of course the strength. A lot of canals, and some rivers, are located close to urban populations and as such can be littered with snags. These could be anything from a rusty shopping trolley to an old bike could be lying in or around your swim, as well as more natural obstacles such as weed beds and tree roots. It is therefore vital that you use strong and reliable terminal gear.

Whether you are fishing a canal, or indeed a river, the most important thing to bear in mind in terms of your tackle is simplicity and of course the strength. A lot of canals, and some rivers, are located close to urban populations and as such can be littered with snags. These could be anything from a rusty shopping trolley to an old bike could be lying in or around your swim, as well as more natural obstacles such as weed beds and tree roots. It is therefore vital that you use strong and reliable terminal gear.

I choose to use a simple bottom bait rig constructed of 25lb Camsoft down to a size-7 Curve Point. When you’re fishing the river or canal, you can often encounter other species too, such as barbel, chub and bream. As a result, using a rig which has many components and various ‘bells and whistles’ just isn’t necessary as the nuisance fish can easily ruin your rig presentation in a matter of seconds. With this in mind you want something easy to tie, like the one shown in my Insights chapter. The only ‘trinket’ I use is a Tungsten Dropper, halfway down the hooklink, just to make sure the hooklink isn’t lifted up by the flow.

Working away from the rig section, I use a standard, ready-tied Helicopter Leadcore leader. Not only does this provide excellent protection against the aforementioned snags that could be present, but it also helps with my presentation. For me, Helicopter rigs offer the fewest tangles in flight, and exaggerate the ‘donk’ you get when you hit a nice hard spot with your rig. This just helps put the odds in your favour so you can focus your efforts on finding the fish!

Speaking of which, you will notice during my film, I move swims a hell of a lot, as I baited several in preparation of the crew turning up. Being much more wild and less accustomed to angling pressure, bites tend to be quicker to materialise on canals and rivers. If you haven’t had a bite in a few hours, then the likelihood is the fish simply aren’t there. It pays to travel light and keep on your toes, flitting between your spots throughout the day which should hopefully result in a fish or two in your landing net!

Speaking of which, you will notice during my film, I move swims a hell of a lot, as I baited several in preparation of the crew turning up. Being much more wild and less accustomed to angling pressure, bites tend to be quicker to materialise on canals and rivers. If you haven’t had a bite in a few hours, then the likelihood is the fish simply aren’t there. It pays to travel light and keep on your toes, flitting between your spots throughout the day which should hopefully result in a fish or two in your landing net!

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