Session 40 – A Short Canal Session…

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…

Air: 9.8’C

Water: 15.8’C

ScreenHunter 02

11 responses to “Session 40 – A Short Canal Session…”

  1. As kids we used to prefer gudgeon over the stunted roach at Crystal Palace Boating lake because at least the gudgeon gave a slight bit of resistance! Oh the joys of a South London childhood.


    1. For me it was stone loach in the canal that were the favoured ones…. at that time the canal was packed like a sardine tin with gudgeon but occasionally a loach would be banked… possibly 1 loach to every 20 or more gudgeon. And only gudgeon or loach appeared. Imagine gudgeon the size of barbel! You’d have your work cut out landing them 😊


  2. The humble gudgeon was the first fish I ever caught, on the Great Ouse as a boy, and I always remember the dreaded Ruffe as the fish no-one wanted, due to its propensity for swallowing the hook. Both beautiful fish though.


  3. They seem to be getting more prolific in our canal these days…. another local angler/blogger (Stewart Bloor) who fishes the same parts of the canal as me commented on this in one of his latest blogs….


  4. To confuse things still further “… a light antenna float (or ‘bodied waggler’ in new-speak …” is probably what I call a dart or, if I lived nearer to a canal, what I might call a canal dart!


    1. Yep, was actually going to refer to ‘canal dart’ but to me it wasn’t… The float used was a small ‘onion’ type ie short bulbous, almost spherical, body whereas, to me anyway, a dart has a long slim body?


      1. Yep, the Drennan Stillwater Blue (and I’ve lost a few of those up trees and in reeds over the decades) are the classic example, well in my view anyway!. Onions – a great favourite of Billy Lane!.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Always lovely to see ruffe. We don’t have any here at all, not even in tge canals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep… ugly little things but loveable…. one of my favourites :)
      Good to see them back on the scene… used to catch quite often in the local Severn but then they became scarce so good that they have reappeared.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve looked through catch record here and it appears there have never been any on local waters. I know a few guys that fish up your way and they seem to be a lot more prevalent.


        1. Neither seen nor heard of any locally since moving to the Hants/Dorset border in 1998.


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