While success on some carp waters can be all about smart rigs and clever tactics, canal fishing is refreshingly simple by comparison. The fish seldom see a fraction of the pressure you find on day ticket lakes. Nine times out of ten, the biggest obstacle to success is finding your quarry in the first place.
Each year, carp congregate in certain areas to breed and this can see spectacular numbers of fish. Different strains breed at different times too, and these sites can be good places to fish, as rival carp often move in to mop up eggs. Just ask the current canal match record holder Paul Turner, who drew the perfect peg to cash in with over 100lbs of mostly double-figure carp!
Pocklington Canal Fishing Photo Gallery
Spawning carp are vulnerable, however. Fluctuating weather can see spawn-bound carp die. When spawning sites can be little more than a foot deep, they are also at risk from boats speeding through. Certainly, carp seem to survive longer on deeper canals or waters that are quieter and offer plenty of sanctuary.
The first step is ofen a walk with polarising glasses. You’re looking for any signs of life, whether that means basking fish or areas the fish are likely to settle. I cannot stress how important it is to pick the right area to fish. Nobody gets it right all the time, but you could wait a week without a bite in the wrong swim.
Canal carp have very definite patrol routes. There will be areas they move through and others where they feed, so don’t assume that by spotting a couple of fish you’ve found the best area to set up. Just observe: where are they moving towards? Do the fish pause to feed or investigate, or are they merely travellers? With practice and careful observation you can often tell within a few seconds if any individual carp is catchable or not.
While canal carp can be nomadic, it’s also fair to say that they tend to frequent the same areas time and again. Wide areas such as turning bays and boat yards are ofen a key area. Indeed, boats seem to possess a magnetic attraction for carp. On some canals they are prolific around moored craft and can be seen in plain view, where they become so at home that boat owners feed them like pets. The regular headache for many canal anglers is that these are also ‘no fishing’ zones.
More ‘natural’ spots can also be great areas. Carp like the shade and sanctuary offered by tree cover, bushes, reeds and lilies. Bends are another classic spot, as are inflows, outflows and passing points where the canal widens or narrows. In the absence of finding an area where carp settle, you can guarantee that moving fish will pass through these areas.
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