Thursday, September 6th, I set off at 0530 for a short session on the local canal (Staffs-Worcs Canal). It may be local but it’s a stretch I’ve not bait fished since the 1980s at least and, in fact, more likely will have been the 1970s although I have lure fished a few times in the interim period and bait fished other areas of the same canal but even then it will be at least 2 years since I did any fishing on this canal at all.
The stretch I fished was located at Swindon in Staffordshire, near to Dudley, and is controlled by the Birmingham Angling Association (BAA) and they control most of this canal from Wombourne all the way through to its confluence with the River Severn at Stourport with the exception of a couple of small stretches which are under control of another club (of which I am a member too!)… and going the other way through Wombourne a long stretch stretch is under the control of the Wolverhampton Angling Association (WAA) and then the WAA also have further sections interspersed with holdings by other local clubs (Sankeys AC, Goodyears AC, etc).
Back in the 1970’s the canal was renowned for its head of gudgeon – in fact, back in those days catching anything other than gudgeon or the occasional stone loach would have likely to make front page headlines in the local newspaper – and possibly in the national’s too! The surface was always a mass of bubbles – as if a lorry load of Alka Seltzer had been tipped in – all due to the gudgeon foraging … and ‘first-to-100’ competitions were finished within 30 minutes –and that on a bad day! I remember the groundbait I used to use too – a 2lb bag of plain flour, wetted and mixed into one big stodgy dough ball which was slung into the middle of the centre channel!
These days, the gudgeon have dropped in number and the stone loach have totally disappeared it seems – but now the canal is home to bream, roach, rudd, chub, dace, barbel, perch, pike, tench, carp …. and others! At the moment it seems that only zander, catfish and sturgeon are lacking but for how long? Some of the fish are a good size too …. the chub in the area go to 7lb or more, barbel of 7lb I know have come out, carp into the 20s…. and perch of 3lb+ are not uncommon captures along its length…
So, as for today…
I arrived at my swim at about 0550 … the canal being literally 10 minutes from home … Air temps at just under 10’C felt a little chilly again – and the water was much warmer as can be evidenced by the vapours seen in the photos above.
Tackle was a 10’ float rod with a light antenna float (or ‘bodied waggler’ in new-speak! LOL) taking about 3BB of shot on a 4lb main line with a size 16 maggot baited hook attached directly.
The centre boat channel was fished … yes, I know that the ‘overhanging vegetation on the far bank’ is the accepted norm but I prefer to fish the centre channel especially when the boats are active as the churning stirs up all sort of micro-organisms, etc and bait offered in that I find quite effective – also the margins of both banks are often very shallow, sometimes only 12” deep especially on the far side which, often having overhanging vegetation, keeps the boats further out and thus the silt lies deeper there… not written in concrete obviously, horses for courses and all that but always best to check before blindly sitting there all day without a chance of catching? Depends on the species too … chub, and bigger perch are more likely to seek the shelter of overhanging vegetation than possibly roach and bream but then the further it protrudes out over the water the better … another canal I fish has a line of bushes that extend out over the water a good 6-8 feet or more and is the perch/chub hotspot. Also, I always fish in the wake/churn of passing boats to the point of casting in a yard or so behind the boats as I find the bait wavering in those currents becomes quite attractive to the fish… not that any boats passed today, the two boats that did set sail were ones that had been moored either side of me – and both set off away from me so no churns but did get the flow due to the locks being operated…
Catch? Nine fish in all by the time I packed up at 0900, and the first 5 fish were of 5 different species! Bream, gudgeon, perch, ruffe and roach in that order. And then I added another 3 perch and another gudgeon. The bream was the biggest at about 12oz-1lb.
So, the canal fishing was a pleasant change – and something I intend to do more of over the coming months especially with the warmer winters (although the way the temps are tending to be dropping this autumn…) that don’t suit my pike fishing which I used to start in October. The past 4 years or so I’ve dabbled for a couple of dead/live bait sessions at the start of October, then gone back to ‘general species’ fishing with occasional outings with lures for pike and I’ve not really started proper piking until January when the water temperatures get to drop below 7’C….
I would have stayed longer today but for the fact that I needed to make changes/adjustments to my setup that would have involved stripping down the whole tackle and re-tackling … and, as I needed to pick up a prescription from the chemist too, I thought I’d satisfied my fishing desires for the day and so head back popping in chemist for medications and re-do tackle in the comfort of home….
AND – I did take my thermometer … so the first September-March readings have been done…