Friday, 14 June 2013

"Breaming" Smiles on the Sankey Canal

A warm welcome to this week’s blog update and I am proud to announce that myself and my uncle are now the proud new members of St Helens Angling Club.  This licence acquisition will see us gain access to some still waters but more importantly for us the association waters they have on the River Wyre, River Ribble and the River Severn.  We hope to at least visit all these waters during the next six months to get an idea of what potential these waters have and I cannot wait to make a start.  The purchase of this card will hopefully put me on waters where I can confidently target bigger species like barbel and chub with a realistic chance of picking up a decent fish either way, good or bad, I hope you continue to enjoy following us on this new part of our angling adventure.

In-keeping with the subject of rivers just where have those three months gone? It only seems like yesterday me and my uncle pulled out of the car park on the river Dee after catching a bumper net of dace, people say time flies bye but I have never known a closed season go by so fast, not that I am complaining of course.

The past week I have spent my time sorting my gear out ready for the river season ahead and there are going to be some distinct changes to my river setup this year.  Almere ferry was a popular haunt for me in the past few years it was good fishing and it didn’t involve much of a walk to the bank so in essence it was quite comfortable fishing on my seat box but this will change this year so I am planning to travel light and trot the river stood up so this week I have been separating my gear ready for our first session out to the river on Monday. Another big change is in the strength of line I am using, upgrading in strength from 3lb to 4lb 4oz and this is solely down to use venturing onto the River Ribble where we expect to make contact with chub as well as dace.

This week my mind has been occupied with the thought of that first trip out to the river and I must say in this age where the closed season validity is question I have to say I love the feeling that comes with that first trip to the river it truly is a magical feeling as you stand on the top of the bank and look down to the river it really is like bumping into an old friend.  I do hope this year is a lot kinder to the river man than last year when the constant rain saw the majority of our rivers in flood for most of the year and they never really settled to allow the colour to drop out of the river and allow us to put a decent net together with any regularity.  Ironically I say this as the patter of rain taps against my living room window, fingers and toes crossed the forecast heavy downpours don’t materialise.

Writing this blog not only allows me to share my fishing adventures with many people but allows me to have a detailed record of all my trips over the past 3 years and I have spent a bit of time this past week looking over a trips from the start of the river season, the venues we fished and the results from those trips to try and give me an idea where to start out.  When the season gets in full flow you easily forget some of the sessions you have had and looking back over the trips has gave me some great joy reminiscing about some of the special trips form the past few years, all happy times and I have picked out a few special trips to share on this update I hope you enjoy reading them.

One other thing I have been looking at this week that has really got my river juices flowing is this following Youtube video which shows Dave Harrell fishing for dace n the River Wye and I have to admit to watching this video more than once this week and no doubt I will probably be watching it again come Sunday evening.

On to this week’s trip to the bank,

Saturday 08th June – “Bream”ing Smiles on the Sankey Canal

Getting the carp quest out of the way has given me the freedom to fall back into my favourite type of fishing and that is fishing ponds and canals for silver fish and one venue in particular has grabbed both mine and my uncles attention and that is the Sankey Canal in Widnes. 

I was brought up fishing my local Bridgewater Canal with my dad and was lucky enough to fish the Bridgewater canal in its hey-day when it held large shoals silver fish and a number of large shoals of bronze bream.  Back then it wasn’t unusual for matches to be held on the canal that were fished by a large number of anglers, a sight you just don’t seem to see anymore.  My uncle also living local to the canal fished it a lot and although I never fished with him back then just listening to the stories he tells of his experiences back then you know the canal was a special place on his heart.

As a kid I always remember fishing the “snatcher”, a small pole with no elastic that was fished really close in, for roach, perch and if you were lucky a big bronze bream.  The smell of Van Der Eynde Ground bait, mixed sloppy of course, stuck in your nostrils and it was always bronze maggot for bait and while my mum was busy shopping of a Saturday me and my dad would be on the canal fishing and I think the similarity of the Sankey Canal to the Bridgewater canal back then when we fished it is what has got me and my uncle hooked on this venue.

We have done three trips now to this venue in the past three weeks and each time we have tried a different area with varying depths, widths of canal and features to try and build a picture of what the different areas of this canal fishes like and this week we kept to that plan and headed to an area we had looked at the previous week but we knew it was a fair walk so again our trusty trolleys were put into action.

The walk along the canal was a joy as we crossed paths with a very protective but lovely family of swans and also shared the tow path with a few of this year’s young rabbits grabbing a last minute meal before the busy crowds arrive and it was already clear from the temperature and clear skies we were in for a scorching hot day. 

The pegs on the canal are numbered but many of the pegs are completely overgrown now so unless you cut in a new peg you are limited to the gaps in the near side marginal reeds, we found two gaps close together and began to set up of course it was the keep net that went in first, always optimistic.

The canal itself is at a guess around 16 metres wide so with a 13 metre pole fishing the far bank is never an option but I had a plan and it was to fish under my feet for the rudd and fish a line around 10 metres out straight down the middle of the canal hoping to pick up roach and skimmers with a secret hope of one of those big bronze bream that call this place home.

Bait for the session was bronze maggot fished over Dynamite Baits Silver x ground bait laced with pinkie with the odd bit of jolly green giant mixed in for good measure.   The rig was quite simple and like my river fishing I tend to stick to one float preferring to learn how one float fishes so you can read bites rather than having a separate float for each situation.  This is probably the wrong way to go about it but it is what works for me.

I started off on my 10 metre line and full of expectation I fed and shipped out and to be honest not a lot happened at all, the place was alive with fish topping all over but the float remained static in the swim, its tip dry as the grass along the banks of the canal.  My uncle also started off on the pole but was having the same luck as me and was first to make a change and set up a waggler on his splice tip rod.

He was instantly into a steady stream of rudd and roach from small ounce fish to the odd bonus fish around 8-10oz.   I was unsure what to do but decided to fish just off the reeds to my left for the shoals of rudd I could see passing bye in front of peg taking small flies off the surface.   The fish were not of any size but I did connect with one really nice rudd that made the effort of ploughing through the smaller rudd worthwhile.

My uncle was finding the bites drying up the further he came off the reeds but instead of recasting and catching the predictable small rudd he left the line to fish and in bared fruit in the first bronze bream of the session and what am impressive fish these bream are, a joy to witness on the bank.

It hit the scales at just under 5lb, not bad for a canal.

The session plodded along nicely with both myself and my uncle picking up fish regular and building up a nice net of fish.  Moving into the last hour or so of the session my uncle moved over onto his pole line and began picking up some really nice roach so I decided to go back in on my pole line and picked up the odd roach but the swim was really quiet and it turned out with good reason as the float lifted slightly and I struck into a decent bream.  The bream in this canal are not like your normal wet lettuce fish you catch elsewhere they do put up a fair scrap and it felt great playing the bream on my blue hydro elastic.

I was over the moon with this capture as it topped off what had been a hard session to that point it is amazing how a bonus fish like that can change your perspective on a session so you can imagine my reaction when next put in the float again sailed away and I was into another bream that felt in the same league as the previous one. 

After this bream the roach and rudd moved back in a claimed the area as their own and I picked up a few smaller fish to round of the session for myself and I was just on the phone to home when my uncle placed a bit far cherry on top of the cake for this session as he landed the biggest bream of the session and what a beauty of a bream it was as well.

This bream marked the end of the session for us and we began to take the pictures of the nets and give them a good half hour to thoroughly dry out, as we all know the smell of a canal keep net is hard to remove! Covered in bream slime we had a slow pack away and made the long walk back to the car.

My net

 Uncle net

The canal has been really nice to us and I am sure on the right day it could produce a really big net of fish.  On the day the skimmer bream did not show up at all in our nets which was a surprise but given the temperature they might have been taking this opportunity to spawn.

The loss of Almere Ferry on the Warrington card will leave a big void in our fishing as it was a good place to go when the river was flooded so I can see us looking to this canal this year for those sessions when we find the rivers unfishable and I am sure it will be getting a few visits in the winter for the pike that must inhabit this fish filled canal.  It is great to see a “natural” waterway so close to a river that is home to many cormorants doing well as we hear so many stories of the damage being done by the avian predators but it looks like there are pockets of water in the North West still thriving and it great to see.

Till next time I leave you with this picture of me and my daughter spending some father and daughter time watching catching the impossible, her apprenticeship continues J

Tight lines


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