[ORIGINALLY THOUGHT THE CANAL WAS THE SHROPSHIRE UNION – ACTUALLY THE STAFFS WORCS]
Tuesday 22nd July 2014 at 0615 and I had made my first cast into my newly discovered section of the Shropshire Union Canal.
A lovely morning again and I had chosen a swim in the middle of a 30 degree bend where the canal also widened slightly… and I was sat on the inside of this bend. The bank on the outside was made of overhanging vegetation including a single bramble that I later earmarked as my marker for baiting up and casting to.
I had thrown out my depth/fish sounder on arrival to get an ideas of the contours of the bottom before setting up to locate the boat channel, etc… but there was not too noticeable a difference over the whole width with the depth at a constant 4.5’ for 60% of the way over from the far bank, dropping to 5.2’ for the next 20% and rising again to 4.5’ up to the near bank. That being the case I elected to fish close to the far bank around the bramble… as I think you can see from the following photo…
So, the area was baited with catapulted maggot and topped up the same every few minutes or so… and also I prepared two ‘switch’ swims by baiting in the boat channel on the same line and also a near bank area about 3 rod lengths away to my left. However, I did not get to try those swims.
So, my tackle and bait for the day consisted of a simple running leger with an 1/2oz lead on 6lb main line with a short 6lb braid hooklength terminated with a size 12 hook. Bait was worm occasionally tipped with a maggot two.
So for the first hour all was very quiet with not a touch… but then a boat approached and so I wound in… and as they approached I thought ‘Oh that looks like Chris – and that looks like Jim!’ – neighbours of ours who live about 10 doors away. And in fact it was them – leading to a bit of banter about sailing their boat into my swim and vice versa :D. I’ve known Jim since I was 8 when the parents and I and siblings moved into what is now my house following the passing of the parents, and Jim moved into the house two doors away with his parents when he’d be around 14 or so. He got married to Chris and they bought the house where they are now just down the road… and when his mother passed away one of Jim’s daughter’s and her husband moved into that house. I’d actually forgotten that Jim and Chris had a canal boat, so it seemed funny that so early in the morning, on an exceptionally quiet time on a somewhat rural area of canal that they are the first people I see.. :)
And not only that but they also seemed to wake the fish up as regular bites started to happen and actually within one minute of their passing I had a Daddy Ruffe. Not a major catch granted (ca 1oz-2oz) but I quite like ruffe… rarer these days than they used to be especially on the rivers, I think, but still a few going strong on the local canals. Actually, the Scots and the Americans view them as an ‘invasive species’ as it appears they’re making inroads into waters in those areas.… Not the prettiest of fish but, as I say, I find them quite endearing…
And so, started a series of bites, and another ruffe was hooked but shed the hook en-route to the bank… the occasional quiet spell being broken by the passing of a boat or my inducing a take by twitching the bait back a foot or so from time to time.
This time of the year – and increasingly so as it becomes the start of the ‘school summer holiday’ time for most schools next week I believe – the canals can turn into something approaching a watery motorway and make fishing during ‘normal’ daytime hours difficult-to-impossible as one is constantly casting and then winding in to allow boats to pass. So this time of the year it becomes necessary to fish early before the boats start out on their runs or later in the evening as they start to moor up for the night. However, a certain passage of boats does tend to improve the fishing as their motors stir up the bottom mud liberating foodstuffs such as nymphs and other insect larvae, add colour to the water and put fry into disarray and who become prime targets for bigger fish, esp perch. Fish are used to the passing anyway and quickly learn that boats open up the larder and so are not disturbed to a great degree by the passing – and probably the ‘motorway’ conditions don’t have great effect either – that’s more telling on the angler who is unable to relax and enjoy his/her day, I suppose. Anyway, personally, I like a boat or two to pass occasionally and to me one boat passing every 30-40 mins is around the acceptable spacing before it infringes on my ‘quality of life’ so to speak.
And so I fished on until 0930 having a fair few missed bites and a few connections.. finishing the day with a tally of 1 ruffe (plus the drop off), 2 bream of around 6-8oz and on the final cast of the morning a tench of around 8oz. I took a few pics but it seems the ‘canal camera’ doesn’t like close ups as all were blurred and very poor and I deleted them. I’d probably do better with my phone’s camera to be honest. I need to read the manual to see if there’s a ‘macro’ mode I suppose.
So nothing of major size but an enjoyable morning all the same although not quite perfect… I have bad ears and don’t hear boats coming… and in this morning’s location, due to the curving of the bank, I could see only around 50 yards one way and around 30 yards the other which means that even if I spot a boat exactly as it appeared around the bend I had little time to wind my tackle in… and so a lot of time was spent looking left and right… and a lot of bites missed when the buzzer sounded whilst doing this. I suppose there’s two options to remedy this – and which would also make me less tense with not doing the watchout stuff … (1) wear my hearing aids, but I hate them, I really do, and after an hour my ears get so sweaty inside (TMI I know!) that its like listening to someone talking underwater with a gurgling sound…and I think my ears also adjust themselves to lower their reception sensitivity so that I end up as if I had never put them in in the first place… (2) fish a straight(er) section of canal so that I can see the boats approaching when further away and so lessen the urgency to detect and respond…
There are some nice bits of canal on the stretch that do meet the specifications of (2) that also have nice looking fish holding type spots such as overhanging bushes, small bays, etc.. so that may be the line I’ll take on the next visit… but put the aids in my pocket too just in case :)
Plans for later this week…
25 degrees forecast for Friday so Liz will be out with me but we’ve not yet decided where … a shaded fishery would be ideal … but we’ve also the brollies to provide shelter :)