Monday, 28 September 2009

Canal Predators

Friday, I was introduced to a stretch of the Grand Union Canal that I had looked at a couple of years ago but never fished. Fishing was to be very simple, freelined deadbaits for predators. Pike and Zander were the quarry and this stretch apparently held plenty of both. Fishing was easy, cast to a feature, fish for around 20 minutes then move on to the next spot. Features were reed beds, bull rushes and overhanging trees and most of them looked good. After a couple of hours I noticed some fry leaping from the water obviously being chased by something trying to eat them and I put a bait into the area, after around ten minutes I had a very slow, steady pull on the line which stopped, I lifted the rod and struck with no resistance and no bait!
The light was fading fast and we had no fish on the bank, I decided then that I would have to spend some more time here exploring this stretch of water.

Saturday afternoon, I returned to the same piece of canal but approached it from a different direction so that I could explore the stretch before fishing, I didn't want to just fish the same spots that I fished on Friday. Further up the stretch the canal looked totally different with moored up boats and lots of people walking the tow path. There were still some features that looked good and I had to get a bait onto them so the exploring was to be slow going. One feature was a large clump of reeds on the far bank and I had to put a dead bait each side and give it a go, I'd changed my tackle slightly and opted for a lighter 2lb test Carp rod, I also used a sliding floats above the bait to give better, more visual indication. Being the weekend, the boat traffic was fairly heavy so baits were only on the spots for around ten to twenty minutes at a time which was fine, if there's a fish there, it'll take the bait, if it's not taken, I'll keep it moving it around till it is.
The constant flow of traffic meant that the lock gates just up stream were emptying frequently causing the canal to flow like a river for a few minutes before stopping, it was during one of these flows that I noticed one of my floats bob a couple of times before drifting with the current, I thought the bait had just become dislodged until the float started to move in the opposite direction. I picked the rod up and hit something that thumped back, fish on!

After netting, I unhooked my first ever Zander. Having spikes in similar places to Bass I've caught before, I was used to handling them you just have to avoid the spiky dorsal and gill plates and hold on tight, however a tool kit is essential for safe removal of the hook.

A few onlookers had gathered to have a look and I put one of them to use by getting them to photograph the catch. One comment passed by another onlookers was 'Don't you have to kill it now, your not supposed to put them back are you?' my reply was 'I'll leave that to the British Waterways Board to sort out, I put my fish back, alive' and promptly dropped the zed back into the canal to fight another day.

I fished several more spots further up the canal and eventually reached the stretched fished on Friday but I didn't get any more takes.

Sunday afternoon, arriving later in the afternoon meant that the boat traffic was slowing down for the day and fishing was to be a bit more peaceful, it was to be the same routine as the past couple of sessions and I must admit that I did concentrate my fishing around the area I caught the Zed from on Saturday. A small overhanging bush on the far bank looked promising and I put a bait in each side just on the edge of the drop off, after a few minutes I started to get some interest in one of the baits, I promptly removed the second rod in case a boat came along (apparently, they don't stop) and waited for the float to move, it shook a few more times before slowly sliding across the surface, I struck and missed. I promptly put another sprat onto the spot and didn't have to wait long before the float bobbed a couple of times and moved off, this time the fish was mine and I struck into an angry Jack which thrashed around the swim, it was soon netted and out came the tool kit to unhook the only fish of the day.


  1. How big was the Zed Roger?

    Also I'm not too proud to admit to always using a glove for Zander now after recently receiving a slice to my right thumb!