Thursday, 20 August 2015

Canal Roach on the Pole — Join up the Dots

This pole of mine has proven itself capable of radically altering the way I go about canal fishing. I've been out five or six times on two hour sessions since the last successful roach session just to play with it and discover what it can give me. Lots of skimmers is what I've caught but roach are hard to find. Nevertheless, skimmers are plentiful and not nearly so choosy so they provide valuable practise.

Two very short sessions on the North Oxford at Grassy Bend were abandoned early. I was trying to prove that fishing there early afternoon on the weekend in high holiday season could work. Foolish of me. I mean, you probably could catch in swirling thick brown soup if determined enough, but I find myself getting angry with an endless two way flotilla of carbon-emission-aware-middle-class-tourists burning non-renewable fossil fuels in my swim for no reason other than for travel's sake.

Can't they power these things with wood and steam?

It must be jolly delightful fun, I'm sure. But I'd tire of it first afternoon of hire and then require some point in progressing any further next morning. Reaching a stretch with not only a towpath pub but chub and perch form too, I think. The Anchor Inn at Hartshill, for instance. That's the kind of reason I'd need to move along!

Sloped back defeated to the relatively sedate pace of the nearby Coventry Canal beating time at only four boats per hour. The marina entrance has been solid booked, all day long, all week long, and is coming under angling pressure I have never witnessed before. Didn't bother trying there. Some damn fool has been publicising captures, I reckon...

So it was back to my home stretches and desperately seeking solitude. They were having none of it. Never seen so many people fishing around the locality. Lots of kids having a go too. Which is all to the good if they're actually keen and not using fishing equipment as missiles. Half were fishing seriously, half were not. Later three-quarters were chucking things about. The lad remaining at his station gained my respect.

But, for two miraculous hours Monday evening — tourists gorged immobile on chicken and chardonnay suppers, hyperactive disorderly children locked under the stairs where they belong and is best for all the family with 'Enders' on telly— I achieved lasting and unbroken tranquility.

I also discovered all the more reason to love my pole...

Boat track dark grey, radius of pole swing at ten metres yellow grey

My fishing position is the red dot, my lines in yellow. As you can see, I'm fishing the uniform feature where most of my captures of large roach have arisen from all along this canal — down the slope where the shelf enters the track though not quite at the full depth of it.

My first line was far side as usual. Now, I found that shipping in was easiest if I pulled the whole thing around to my left and shipped it back down the bank to the right which is at an angle to the fishing position. In doing so I realised that if the bait was still on I could drop it in again at the near side and at the exact same depth. I then saw if I fed that place I had two lines and if I then fed a further line to the right I had three lines on the go that could be fished in rotation with the same piece of bread.

All I needed to do was sit like a rock, swing out at correct length to my first sight line in the reflections, drop in, pull up, swing around to my second sight line, and if the bread survived then swing around to the third. If nothing occurred then I could go backwards and forwards through the series quickly and accurately until either I hooked a fish or lost the sopping bait.

It was elegant, and it was beautiful!

It was also efficient. Industrially so. The work rate was phenomenal. Time never wasted. Each line was exactly the same depth, which is exactly how it must be when fishing for lift bites from roach because that tell-tale shot needs to be just touching the deck with the float dotted down precisely. The lines were also some considerable distance apart. So no overlapping attractions pulling fish across from one to the other.

A plump winter roach from the very swim in question
Didn't catch any roach, unfortunately. Just the ubiquitous skimmer bream. But, in the right swim in dead of winter when the pesky little sods are inactive but big roach are on the feed, at that time each line might take up to one hour to draw fish in and some won't in two. Then I'm sure this is going to be revelatory. And a damn sight warmer than sitting by a rod awaiting one line coming alive.

But now I have summer species challenge points to amass and that means not fishing for roach again till November when they really pile on weight. But the pole will still see use. There's silver bream to catch, you see, and I've never caught them in the cold. My tactic for them will be to try next for chub and perch knowing there's a more realistic chance of finding such elusive fish by not trying for them at all...


  1. Interesting following your progress with your 'new' pole Jeff. You could well find it a massive boon for perch fishing. Do you have a cup of any kind? Make a small pot from a kinder egg if not!

  2. Yeah, I made one today from the end cap of a Shakespeare wand tube. Dumps a fistful in one go. I don't do bread fishing by halves! Thinking now of a permanent fixture of a small cup that is loaded every put in. That might be interesting. Kinder egg pot would be good for that, I reckon.

    It's a learning curve. But most fascinating. Putting in two to three hours daily and have done for the last week. Where the hell the roach have gone beats me. All I catch is skimmer bream after skimmer bream at the moment. But they are very useful fish when learning the skills, I find.

    Also using a new float. It makes for a shocking hefty looking pole rig with 6BB bulk, But, just one No4 shot on the deck is all that stands between dotted down and a five inch lift!

    Not possible to fish such a rig on a rod. The slightest tow or skim would have it in the track in seconds. The pole keeps it just where it should be.