Winter Urban Angling

As commercial fisheries continue to dominate a great deal of the North West fishing scene, it is easy to forget most of us in the team started off on small farmers ponds, natural lakes, rivers and canals. Our first fish being a 3oz Roach or Perch falling to single maggot, probably to do with luck more than skill back when we all started fishing. These being the days before being able to park by your peg, eat in cafes, sit in club houses, use clean warm toilets, fishing perfectly sculpted waters with landscaped surroundings, and the funny thing being when we fished these waters all those years ago, we were just happy to be out on the bank and even happier if you caught a few.

Despite our sport moving on at such a impressive rate, with new innovative ways to catch fish, great care given to fish stocks and the diversity of species in our waters in every discipline, are we forgetting the simple origins of where our sport began for us as individuals when we first wet a line, and that feeling of learning something new every time was sat by the water, even if we blanked.

Thinking about the above statements I followed Mark Clutton from the team, to hopefully teach me a few things about fishing the canal and have a good old chin wag at the same time. As the weather had given rain and wind he decided on a basin near Chester, somewhere a little more sheltered. The concept of fishing somewhere new and learning new things was very inviting, especially fishing tactics that we really never use on commercials. Mark told me how he grew up fishing matches on the canals, using bloodworm and joker, using size 28 hooks and 0.06 line to catch 1lb of fish if you were lucky in the Winter, proper hard fishing has he put it. However is the fact that that this 1lb of silvers was so hard to catch, more satisfying than fishing a commercial or stocked water.

The area of this basin is surrounded on three sides by apartments and sheltered, it is all hard standing so your gear does not get covered in mud and dirt, there is good access and parking is available near and around the area, Mark talked about how busy the tow paths can get, but with this basin is tucked away, there was plenty of room and a lot less hassle than on some banks of the canal. One the interesting things Mark mentioned was the demise of canal fishing to do with the active tow paths and commercial fisheries, saying that the 40-60 strong matches are a thing of the past in the North West, the numbers of anglers attending dropping off and in his opinion a generation not being able to experience canal fishing due to this.

Watching Mark fish the canal was interesting, the delicate balances tackle fished with finesse, 2-3mm punched bread fished over liquidised bread was something new for me and something I will be doing in the future. The fish were all Roach with one single Perch, the Roach ranged for less than oz to about 7oz, with the 7oz Roach being a delight, and watching the size 2 elastic being ripped across the water was something interesting, the fish that would normally be swung to hand, that needed to be netted. Even though it was a very cold wet and windy day, with a few people giving us very strange looks, Mark took about 50 fish in total, even thought the stamp was small, there was plenty of bites and it turned out to be an informative and enjoyable day, as usual plenty of banter and chat, fair few coffees consumed with some good friends.

If you want to learn something new and fish slightly out of your comfort zone, you should seriously give this type of fishing a go, with our next visit to the canal already in the pipe line I am looking forward to putting into practice what I have learnt. Even though Mark caught well, he tells me there is some great fishing to be had on the canals stretched over the North West. Take a look at the tactics section and the photos to get a better idea of how Mark fished the day.

Tactics:12.5m & 6m started by potting in half a pot of liquidised bread with a few grains of hemp at 12.5m, and about 30squatts, 20 grains of hemp. Startling to with 4mm bread punch on the hook. After 40 mins topped the swims up with the same again. The rigs were silstar .08 with a .06 hook length with a kamasan b511 size 22, float pattern drennan wire roach 4 x 10. After a couple of hours I potted in 25/30casters on the 12.5m line.