16 February, 2021 |1 Comments
Top Tips for Canal Carp Fishing
If you’ve never caught a canal carp or simply want to up your waterways game, we’ve put together some handy tips from our team of carp fishing experts…
In this article…
The best baits to use for canal carp
How to locate canal carp
Top canal carp rigs
How to feed for canal carp
In recent years carp fishing on canals has grown significantly with more anglers than ever, shunning the increasingly busy day ticket stillwaters and swapping them for the quiet more challenging towpaths of the canal network.
With more than 2000 miles of canals in the UK locating then catching the carp can be a daunting prospect for anyone starting out. However, by following a few simple steps, achieving some good results on your local ‘cut’ is easier than you think.
One thing to consider before you load your car for your first canal fishing session is that if monster fish over 40lb are your quarry you may as well stick to your local syndicate. Canal fish are never going to break your scales but what you do get is some truly stunning fish and a terrific sense of achievement when you catch one.
As they are relatively unpressured they can also often be easier to catch than their stillwater cousins and contrary to the belief, you don’t need to fish long sessions or even through the night to catch canal carp. Early morning and evening can often be the key times for catching these shy creatures and so short sessions before and after work is often all you need to register your first results.
Access isn’t always a strong point of canal stretches and you may have to walk a fair distance to get to the fish holding features so travelling light is often key. With the towpaths narrow it often pays to keep the load down anyway as you’ll often find you wont have much room for mountains of kit spread out on the bank.
The first and most important thing to consider when setting out your stall is tracking down the carp. With literally miles of waterway to go at this can often be the most difficult part of the process. However, more and more canal stretches hold carp these days and doing a simple bit of research and watercraft can soon put you onto a few fish.
Its worth reading the match fishing results in publications such as the Angling Times or talking to local clubs and pleasure anglers on the bank as some of them will have undoubtedly have been snapped up at some point if carp are present.
Its also worth walking your chosen stretches, particularly on sunny days. Canals are relatively shallow and present carp will soon give the game away particularly in summer.
If all else fails, pre-baiting a spot for a few weeks is also worth a try if you’re struggling to find the fish. The constant trickle of bait will soon draw in any fish from the nearby vicinity and as the fish get used to finding bait in the spot they will soon be confident to take a hookbait.
Features are always canal carp magnets particularly on long narrow stretches. Marinas, boats, locks, turning bays and canal junctions are all good places to start.
Using Google Earth’s satellite imagery online is a great way of finding out fish holding features and this is what me and my Dynamite Baits colleagues, Mark Parker and David Spence used to track down an ideal spot for our short evening session.
We picked an area where two canals met and incorporated a marina, two locks and a side pond which is used to refill the lock – plenty of space and features for the three of us to go at.
With the location chosen. It was time to think about how we were going to fish. With only small numbers of fish expected, things like spodding particles go out the window and small PVA bags or loose feeding come into play. Heavy feeding can be the kiss of death on many canals and with so many bream around its best to avoid this anyway.
As with any carp fishing, strong tackle is required but the type of rig you choose isn’t that important on canals where the fish are less pressured, but as many canal stretches are very silty how you present the bait is far more important and this will determine which type you go with. Critically balanced or popped-up hookbaits are key.
For our session I used two Frenzied Tiger Nuts drilled out and balanced with cork on a D-Rig while Mark and Dave selected snowman rigs to also keep their baits from sinking into the mud. Helicopter rigs or chod setups work really well to help keep your bait from disappearing into the silt also and these completed the setups.
The beauty of canal fishing is the lack of rules and so baits that are often banned on commercials such as nuts are a great option particularly as bream don’t like them. Tiger Nuts can easily be fed by hand, throwing stick or catapult into likely looking spots especially on canals where you can often get to the far bank or over bridges to drop your bait into your chosen spot and this is the approach I had opted for.
Where feeding by hand isn’t impossible or if you require more of a quick impact on shorter sessions, PVA bags of larger pellets such as 8mm Monster Tiger Nut or CompleX-T are useful too and this is what Mark and Dave opted for with their approaches, picking big 20mm CompleX-T boilies as hookbaits balanced with matching pop-ups to avoid the bream.
It had been a warm spring day and with evening rapidly approaching, expectation was high with all the rods in place. I opted to target an overhanging tree and the deeper central channel between two locks while Mark positioned his in the margins on the side pond next door. A hundred yards or so down the towpath, Dave had positioned his rods with a bait boat tight to some barges on the marina in order to avoid casting into them and keeping the subtle approach intact.
As darkness started to fall, only the odd liner had stirred the bobbins but just as I started to question our swim selection, my alarm screamed as a fish tore off with the bait positioned under the tree. Unfortunately, the hook pulled out early on in the fight and much to my disappointment the fish was gone.
By the time I rebaited and cast out, darkness had fallen but as the end of the session neared, Mark’s alarm sprung into life as his rod positioned in the margins of the side pond registered a success. This one found its way into the net – a stunning low twenty that looked as if it had never been caught… Success! We had found the fish and managed to catch one proving you don’t need long sessions or lots of bait to catch canal carp!
Rods: 2.75 Carp Spirit Blax
Reels: Daiwa BR Crosscast 5500
Mainline: Carp Spirit Velocity 20lb
Rigline: 10lb Carp Spirit Opti-mex
Hook: VMC Mystic Curve Size 4
Bait: 8mm CompleX-T pellets, Frenzied Tiger Nuts, 20mm CompleX-T shelf-life