Start fishing on canals

If you look at a cross section of a canal you will find that most are the same, being dug out by man and not having a constant flow of water they have always been this way.


They all will have:

  1. The near margin shelve
  2. The near deep shelve
  3. The central track (refereed to by many anglers as “down the track”)
  4. The far deep shelve
  5. The far margin shelve

Most canals are between 4ft and 6ft deep down the middle.


If your going to fish them correctly, then careful plumbing up is needed to locate the depth of the central track and where the bases of the shelves are and where the flat sections of the shelves are as these are the places that you’ll find the most fish.

  1. The near shelve is a good place to start as this can produce a wide verity of fish, it’s definitely worth feeding this area a little and often. Then once the fish show up you will have a good day. A excellent place to use a whip.
  2. The base of the near shelve is also place you can use a whip as it will only be 2-4m from the tow path. You will need to be quiet if you intend on catching from this area, this area can produce a roach, perch and plenty of gudgeon.
  3. Down the track can provide bites from roach, Perch bream and skimmers. This is also the place to start a session using punched bread. Other baits to try here are hemp, castors, Squatt and tares.
  4. The bottom of the shelve is where you will find the better sized bream, tench and perch. Here chopped worm, Maggots, casters and sweetcorn work better and with a bit of luck you can keep this swim going all day long.
  5. The shallow far shelve will hold tench, perch and roach. This is the quietest section of the canal and is therefore the place where the fish feel the safest. Set up a shallow rig and feed Chopped worm and castors, then loose feeding casters or maggots over there, then trying this swim later in the session – you may well be surprised by the size and quality of the fish that you catch.

Please Note: Any Person over 12 years of age must have an Enviroment Agency Rod Licence.


Fishing for bream & skimmers

I think you need to be confident when feeding by putting in plenty of feed, including Squatts, castors\and even sweetcorn in to your groundbait and try and vary your hook bait from maggot, Pinkie, sweetcorn, worm or castor, I always start fishing with my hookbait a few inches on the bottom and holding out till the fish arrive.

Feeding (Loose or cupping) is also important, and once the Bream or Skimmers arrive you must be prepared to feed them with more balls of groundbait with plenty of particle bits to keep them in your swim. Just remember you could end up drawing all sorts of species of fish into your swim when feeding like this, so be pre-paired.

I like to feed with my pole cup as I know the canal is not deep and I feel if you ball it in you could end up scaring what fish are there, then you would have to wait it out again until they hopefully return. Plus it’s a lot more accurate that my throwing.

Once you have the fish I front of you be very careful, i.e. don’t rush the landing of the fish in case you lose it, you might get away with losing the odd fish but if you lose two in a row, there’s a good chance they will disappear. When you catch bream they always leave a slimy snot down your hook length/line, make sure you clean this off before you rebait for your next put in, as I feel this could even put the fish off having all that stuff on the line.

You might also want to try feeding just squatt, castor or chopped worms as a loose feed with your pole cup, or even try loose feeding with your catapult, just make sure you keep the fish in front of you.

Please always check that any Bream you have caught have righted themselves when you have put them in your keepnet, as they sometimes seem to get themselves disorientated and just lay on there side, so just get them righted and they will go to the bottom of your keepnet safely.


Fishing for perch.

The Perch is a known predator and they are also a shoal fish, plus they are well camouflaged to its surroundings. The Perch can be caught just about every where in the canal.

The perch is a fascinating fish. There are a number of ways to catch perch, and your best chance is often through knowing the waters you are fishing. If you don’t know the waters look for places where there are features, where you can imagine the predator perch would hang out.

Perch like to hang out in the shadowy area near over-hanging trees, this makes it easier for them to attack small passing fish and also gives them a comfort zone in the low light.

Catching Perch can be done by a number of methods, i.e. spinning, small dead baits, float fishing and ledger fishing. I like to find an area that has a feature/cover where I think the Perch will hang out around, then I feed this area with a pole cup full of Chopped worm and castors. I then leave the area alone for at least up to half an Hour, then I run my rig through the area with a lump of chopped worm on it and if there are any Perch there you will soon know. After catching 2 or 3 fish I then re feed the area and repeat the process again later.

When My pole float registers a bite I always count to five before striking as I feel this gives the Perch chance to get the bait fully in his mouth, and I feel more confident about hooking the fish. Be prepared though as Perch can sometimes swallow the hook a little way down there throat, so make sure you have your disgorger ready just in case.


Fishing for roach.

The Roach can be a canal fisherman’s dream as they are also a shoal fish and are usually plentiful thought out the year, as they tend to feed what ever temperature the weather is, although they like most fish don’t like sudden changes in the weather.

Feed lightly and often with a small amount of groundbait or liquidized bread and also make sure you fish lightly, by keeping your hooklength light and you hook small.

Catching Roach can be done by float fishing with a waggler and stick float, pole float fishing and with an open ended feeder. And a number of different float set up can work, I usually use either a shirt button pattern or a bulk pattern with 2 or 3 dropper shot. I then try and work out at what depth the fish are feeding and sometimes this is down to how you feed them especially when pole fishing i.e. if you cup in your feed you are likely to keep them feeding near to the bottom of the canal and if you loose feed with a catapult this tends to bring them up in the water to meet your feed as it floats down.

Roach eat a number of baits from Squatts, pinkie, maggots, castors, hemp, tares and if you can’t get tares you can always try elder berries and of course there old favourite Bread, punched bread on a real cold day has saved many an angler from going home without catching.


Fishing for pike.

These are the number one predator fish in the Kennet and Avon canal. They are also by far the fastest fish in the canal and like the Perch they have excellent camouflage and use this to ambush there prey.

I have to say that this is not a fish I go out to catch, but I will give you what I can on catching these fish.

Pike are a very powerful fish with a deadly set of teeth, so if your going out to fish for these make sure you always use a wire trace for your hook length.

All anglers have experienced a pike taking a small fish they have hooked or even a worm drawn through the water, and I know some have even had pike take there plummet when they are plumbing up there swim prior to a match.

You can catch Pike by either spinning a bait through the water or by dead baiting with a float, if by float fishing don’t be in a hurry to strike when you get a bite, as Pike usually grab hold of the bait and then turn it around before trying to eat it. Make sure your well prepared with forceps to remove the hooks from the pikes mouth. (mind your fingers)


Please note: You are NOT allowed to fish for pike or any other fish by using live baits, this is against the law!