Friday, 15 May 2015

Baits For Canal Fishing and Tench On The Bridgewater

A warm welcome to this weeks blog update i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  It has been great to see this week how well last weeks blog update around how quiet canals are has been received it has drew debate on all forms of social media and hopefully the debate has stoked a few anglers to give the canals a try.

It has been a busy week for myself with the blog putting together videos and getting pictures for this update and others to come.  This way of writing a blog is not really why i wrote the blog as fishing and the voyage of discovery that goes with learning the art of fishing should be down to the individual.   There is no better feeling than blanking and getting it wrong, sticking at it and then starting to get results as you learn.  I am fully aware though that some anglers don't know where to start with canals and are quite daunted by them so it can do no harm me sharing all i have learnt fishing canals and how approach them if it at least helps someone out wanting to fish the canal but not knowing where to start.

I hope the previous blog and this one don't come across as preaching or me saying this is the way to do it.  The blogs are just my way of fishing canals and how i approach them  so always bear that in mind when reading them.  It may also be the case that the canal you fish is completely different to the Bridgewater and you may need bigger baits or stronger line.

In this weeks update we look at what baits i use on the canal and we look at each one in detail and the benefits they bring.  The next section is a video on how i prepare my ground bait for fishing the canal so it is working and prepared to do the job i want it to do.  We finish the introduction with a surprise i received this week when out of the blue last weeks blog was featured in an online magazine!!   The fishing sees me again fising the canal and i begin to change things up based on what i have learnt from previous sessions on this new section of canal.

So onto the update..

What Baits For Fishing Canals??

So in last weeks blog we covered location and picking where on a canal you want to target.  You have gone out and you now have a fair idea where on the canal holds a few fish and the locations along them stretches to look out for when planning to fish.  The next step is to look at baits for fishing the canal and there is a whole host to choose from. 

We will start with the smallest baits and work form there..


These tiny maggots are the larvae of the small little house fly that pester you in summer and these tiny baits are deadly on canals.  On a canal when you are trying to build a picture of an area you really want a bait that will catch everything that swims.  This includes some fish that may only be 1oz in size but fishing normal baits your float will be going under but you will miss the fish if you are not using a bait small enough for these fish.  You could literally be getting a bite every put in but not hook a single fish if you where using a bigger bait like maggot and its only when using this bait you see what the fish are.

This bait is best fished down the middle and mixed in with your ground bait, fed accurately via a pole cad pot will ensure these maggots get to the bottom and you are fishing right over the baited area.  A single our double pinkie or squatt on the hook and your away, an excellent bait and one i always take the canal.

Bread Punch

Normally regarded as a winter bait for canals liquidised bread and bread punch is great bait for silver species like roach and bream.  A bait that i normally feed down the middle track instead of pinkie and ground bait.  It is a bait you have to feed carefully as it is very easy to over feed the fish on it.  A chap days fishing can be had on a few slices of bread liquidised and two slices for on the hook.  A top tip is to place the bread in the microwave for 10 seconds and roll it thin this way its easier to punch.


The larvae of the bluebottle these baits come in all manner of colours but over the years i have found white, red and bronze to be the best.  These baits are great fed on their own on a far bank line for better fish on your first sessions out learning a water as they will pick up the better fish that hug the far bank.  The white and red are great also when you know your pinkie or squatt line has better fish to be had but you are getting hammered by tiny fish.  This bigger bair is the same colour as the smaller pinkie or squatt but to a fish this bigger bait is too much to resist and can ofter see you picking up the better fish on your pinkie and squatt line.

Once you have fished an area for a while you will build a picture of the size of fish in the section and later on in the blog you will see after past trips hitting better fish i go completely over to maggot instead of pinkie and squatt to single out these better fish i know are there.  read on to see the results.


Casters are the cryssalis form of a maggot before it turns into a blue bottle. There is no getting away from it castors are "THE" bait on canals for the better fish.  There is a saying "You catch more fish on maggot but you catch better quality fish on Caster".  As a bait if you can get fish feeding on castor you are in for a special session indeed as it normally means you are getting the better fish in the canal.

The beauty of casters are the fact they will stay where you feed them.  I normally feed this bait with hemp, a bait we will talk about later and these two baits together make a deadly combination for big canal roach and bream.

I normally feed casters on my far bank line once i kn ow thee are better fish in the area.  Firing over 5-6 castors every 10-15 minutes while fishing my pinkie line down the middle it allows the better fish to move in and get comfortable on the bait.  The longer its left the more confident the fish feel and once you move over to the far bank caster line after a few hours you need to be prepared for the better fish to be there.  Remember though you are fishing for better fish, the small fish are more feeding on the movement of a maggot where as this static bait seems to only pick out by the better fish.  Also remember you are fishing for better fish so you wont normally get as quick bites on castor as say maggot but the fish will be better quality.

 I will be including a top tip for getting your castors just right in a upcoming blog.


No explanation needed here good old sweetcorn out of the tin add the juice from the tin to your ground bait, of course, we all know it works haha.  A lot say freezer bought stuff but its got to be jollly green giant for me it just smells so much more....well sweetcorny (not even a word).   I use this bait when i am going all out on the canal for tench, bream, carp or really big roach a few grains fed on the far bank line and then it gives you the option to try it on the hook.  A fantastic bait but careful not to over feed it.


The seeds of the cannabis plant these seeds are treated before they are brought into the UK so plants cannot be germinated from the seeds.  When cooked they turn jet black and a white kernal appears from inside the seed.  This bait fish love and there is one species in particular, the roach, roach absolutely love hemp and if you can get them feeding on it you would be amazed at the size of fish.

There are many theories to why hemp works but i believe the thought process that these when on the bottom of the canal resemble a bed of water snails and the crunch of the shell with the soft white centre i imagine they are similar to the feeling of eating water snails when the fish eat them.  Mixed with castor or corn its a deadly bait for feeding into the swim.


Being quite and old school angler that generally fishes using tactics used 30-40 years ago i still see pellets as new when in reality they have been around for a number of years now and to some fish are now probably regarded as their natural diet.  There is no doubting the attraction of pellets to fish and although i never actually fish with pellets on the canal i know a number of lads who do quite well. 

The pellets i use are the 1mil micro pellets and they are simplicity itself to prepare simply empty into a bait box when you arrive, cover in water and then straight away drain all the water out, it 10 minutes they will be ready to go.  Excellent for attracting and keeping bream and skimmers in your swim and for this reason i mix them into my ground bait mix.

So that's it for baits i use on the canal next weeks update will cover what terminal tackle i use for fishing the canal

How to Mix Ground Bait For a Canal Session..

There is one bait missing off the list above and in my opinion it is the most important bait for canal fishing and a must for any session going the canal.  I would go as far to say that if i did not have ground bait in my tackle box for a session on the canal i would pick another venue to fish.

Although canals look quite small in width we have to remember that canals when considered by how much water and miles they cover are huge.  When you see shoals on the canal in summer you will see they travel along the canal in shoals in search of food and even a small shoal of roach can cover a large length of canal in a day.  What we want is for the fish to be attracted down to the bottom to feed as they pass over our swim and ground bait is what we use for this.

Canals also are major highways for boats and some canals can literally be a boat every 10 minutes.  This activity stirs up the bottom and leaves the canal quite coloured.  When this is the case the fish we are fishing for stop don't just stop feeding, this is their home remember and they are used to boats and the water colouring up, they still have to feed to survive.  The fish then move over to smell to locate their food and all baits even maggot and worms give of smells into the water that attract fish but ground bait is by far the best for attracting fish into the swim when its coloured.

With canals our approach has to be a lot more refined and as such we need to give extra attention to our ground bait.  When first mixed it will contain a lot of lumps of ground bait and these fed into the swim will over feed the fish so we riddle the ground bait.  I have put together a short video below on how i prepare mine.

Blog Featured In Online Magazine..

Sat in work on my dinner break this week i got a notification through the blogs Twitter account, @satonmyperch, that the blog had bee selected to be featured in an online magazine.  The magazine article can be found on the following link.

link to article:

It is always great when i am contacted to say my blog is being featured in top ten lists, magazines and other bloggers pages but it is special when it comes as a surprise to you.  I was having a pretty poor day in work on this day and this cheered me right up!!  Thank you for selecting my blog to be featured it means a lot.

On to this weeks Fishing...

Pole Fishing The Bridgewater Canal - A Plan comes togehter..

Although the information I am sharing about how i fish a canal might seem like i know a thing or two about canal fishing the reality is I am still very much learning.  In this weeks blog i talk about how i approach a new stretch of canal by using Pinkie and maggot to catch any fish that swims to give me a picture of what is in the stretch and then build a game plan from there with the final outcome of this to be me fishing the section of canal and getting the most i can out of it.  This may range from me finding out the stretch is full of tiny fish and skimmer so my approach to get the most might be to fish close in and get the fish feeding shallow so i can catch as many as possible quickly but it has been the other way with this section i am fishing.

In past trips i have caught a lot of small fish on pinkie down the middle and quite a few better sized skimmers and roach and i have also hit the odd really big fish that on my light elastic i have had no chance of stopping.  I was at a quandary to what these fish where but the answer came on the previous session as sat on the bank setting up in the early morning, well it was only just light enough to set up, i saw a tench roll right in the middle of the swim and there my answer was.  I didnt not have the tackle to land the fish on that session as i did again hit a better fish.

When asked for advice on fishing i always say there is no substitute for getting out on the bank, you can read and watch content online till the cows come home but there is nothing that will teach you more than getting out on the bank at the crack of dawn and fishing the water.  With all this in mind the process of formulating a plan began.

So on past trips i had fished pinkie down the middle and fed maggot over my far bank line.  The middle line had brought small to medium sized fish and the odd better skimmer and when i went over to the far line the maggot swim consistently was producing a sustained line of quality fish with the odd special roach capture.  I drew from this this that the pinkie was doing what i wanted it to do i was catching all fish that swim including the odd better fish that was keeping the net ticking over while my far bank line built up.  This part of my set up i was not going to change as it was doing what i wanted it to do, it was strangely enough my far bank line i was to make all the changes on.

Changes to far bank line attack

The first change on my far bank line attack was the pole top kit, i replaced my match kit loaded with blue hydro elastic for white hydro to give me that extra back bone i needed to get the tench under control.  The second change i made was with bait i moved over to feeding caster on the far bank line instead of maggot and teamed this up with hemp seed.  I was slightly worried about bumping fish with the heavier elastic but then again i knew fishing caster that if the fish was of the quality i was expecting then i would have no problems with hook pulls.  The next change was u upped my line from 1.7lb line to 2.1lb breaking strain and fished this all the way through.  It was only a half a pound difference but on a canal it can make the difference and feared 3lb plus line would see me not fishing fine enough for the roach.  The final change i was making was in my policy of leaving the far bank line hours before fishing it, normally around 9-9.30 when the boats come, on this session i would be going over earlier around 7.30am just a hour and half into my fishing.

Starting off just over the marginal shelf where the canal begins to flatten out i fed two balls of ground bait and pinkie, even before i had attached any lines to plum up my rigs.  I knew from past trips where i was going to fish so feeding the swim now and leaving it while i sorted out my top kits for the far bank line and for this swim would give the fish time to settle on the bait ready for my first put in.  The lines prepped i fed the far bank line with caster and hemp, initially with the cad pot for accuracy and get a set area to fish when i go over there but i knew later feedings of Castor would be by the catapult.  The lines plumed up i put my far bank rig down for a bit and fed a small nugget of ground bait and pinkie down the middle line and lay the float right over the baited area, as predicted it was not too long before the float slid away and a small skimmer was heading into my palms.

As i have said previously, with canal fishing you have to be realistic with your fishing as very rarely do you go in first time and pick up a really high quality fish, unless you are just targeting them of course.  Most of the time your first fish will be a small skimmer or roach and some times these can be tiny.  This is where i feel canals offer new anglers something that i feel some of the angling world is really beginning to miss and that is the appreciation of better fish.  When you have caught small 1-2oz fish and then say a 6-10 oz skimmer or roach comes along you really see this fish in a different light and appreciate it, better fish looked at like this then become something special and as they should be the jewels of a session rather than the expectation as they can be with commercials.

Any how i digress, as the swim built so the bites became more confident and the quality of the fish improved slightly.  The fish really got their heads down at one point and it was a fish a chuck with quite a few fish coming in quick succession.  On this bit of canal i have noticed the swim can die really quickly down the middle and i think the main reason is pike.   I did have my pike rod on me with this session but if i am honest my whole mindset is on pole fishing at the moment and having a go for a pike in the swim is really being looked at as a last resort to relocate them further down the canal away from the swim.

The fish will always back off on the canal so adding just a few feet onto the line your fishing can see you picking up bites and I mooched and etched my way to 7.30am picking up a bites here and there whilst pinging castor over the far bank line.  The time had come to have a look if anything had settled in over there.

It can be quite hard work on castor at times as you know in your head bites will take longer to come than maggot and i knew had i fed maggot over there or even put maggot on the hook i would be catching a few fish and maybe the off better stamp of fish as well but i was a man with a plan and i waited it out on castor.  The float knocked and slowly moved along the top before slipping away, fishing over depth to lay as much line on the bottom as possible to not spook the fish this was how i wanted it to work except i expected the elastic to move but to prove all the best laid plans don't work a small roach was the culprit.

Feeding the far bank line again, only with 4-5 castors, i went back over and re started my vigil.  lifting and dropping the bait adds a little attraction and it was just after letting it settle again the pole float zoomed under and upon lifting the white hydro came oozing out of the end of the pole.  I knew the fish where about and i was expecting them all the time so as soon as i knew i was into a better fish i began shipping back straight away to coax it away from the snags.  It worked a treat and the fish being played down the middle of the canal was a different animal as it plodded up and down and in knew it was just a case of letting the elastic tire it out.

As with all better fish it knew where home was so there where a few nervous moments but eventually and more a puff of the cheeks in relief than excitement the tench slid into the landing net.   Weighed it went 3lb 9oz, i knew there was a chance of  more and i also knew i was  not going to be around till much after 11.30am so i placed it in the keep net and to be extra careful i staked the net along the bank.

The tench returned i fed the swim with a good pot of hemp and caster and over i went again.  The plan had worked a treat but i must admit to being a bit lost at this point as i really did not know what to expect.  The better fish i target using this tactic are normally bronze bream that are normally in shoals so you expect maybe some more but with tench i was happily in unknown territory and learning a new lesson.

The next few bites where from roach and the odd better skimmer but then the swim died a little and i thought to myself, wait this out it could be better fish.  A good 10-15 minutes latter the float slid away again and this time the water erupted with a big swirl as i struck and i knew i was into a better fish.  The fish was strong and powerful and in the early exchanges i never had it under control as it snagged me up and come off on a number of occasions, luck pays a huge part some times.  The pole tip under the water i hoped and prayed the fish stopped and turned and came round back towards me as it headed off down the canal.  In my head i was carp all the way for sure.

Thankfully the fish turned and a battle of me letting the elastic wear out the fish in the middle of the canal endured as held the pole above the fish adding a removing sections.  It eventually felt like i was beginning to win as my float came up through the water and broke the surface.  A glimpse of olive dark green as she turned and i knew i was into a nice tench  which added a whole host of pressure!  She finally saw my side and in the landing net i could not believe how lightly hooked she was as the size 20 hook was just nipped through her top lip!  At 5lb she was a fish i was ecstatic over and am still buzzing about now as i write.  A run of the mill fish in some places but for a canal on the pole on light medium elastic a battle i will remember forever.

I guess i had not returned this tench long when i was again into a better fish, this fish from the outset was not in the league of the past two fish and the elastic had it well under control from beginning to the end of the fight.  Another tench and i was made up to have had three tench in the morning. 

Going back over i got bites from roach and skimmers straight away and i knew there and then the tench game was up really.  Time moved on and the clock ticked round to 11am and with the warmth came a regular stream of boats and people on the towpath.  The last fish of the session was this nice bream below.

I decided to call it a day after this fish as i had a mountain of decorating to do at home and in my head i thought i had caught the best of the fish and was happy with what i had sitting in my keep net.  I was also conscious that the fish had been in there for around 3 hours at this point and although settled with plenty of room the increased temperatures i knew it was time to pack in.

The final net went 15.8lb and of course a quick cheeky shot of the three tench was a must.

A quick Reflection

So packed in i looked back on the session and began to analyse it.  Firstly it was very apparent the castor was picking out the better fish and although i was waiting for bites when they come they where worth waiting for.  The odd better skimmer also showed there must be a good head of these to try and directly target on future sessions.  The tactic of going over the far line earlier really had paid off well and i was made up with that.  I feel the whole collection of sessions has shown how you can build up a picture and tailor your techniques to get the best out of a situation and i hope this blog in particular has shown that.

Till next time

i wish you all tight lines



  1. Hi,

    I'm starting on the canal this year so this blog was a huge help!
    Looking forward to catching my first canal carp fingers crossed

    Keep the blogs coming!


  2. I know how difficult it is to keep a blog live and interesting. To do it whilst fishing for normal sized fish, rather than monsters, is especially hard, and I admire your success in this. Mostly good sense too.. But you join a large band of anglers who have to wonder why fish like hemp. The conclusion isfrequently that it has the look and feel of water snails. Why oh why, can anglers not simply accept that fish like hemp for itself? Most fish also like bread, another bait that they would never meet in the wild, but no-one ever says that bread must resemble some article of their natural food. And God on;ly knows what luncheon meat resembles. Hemp (and bread) must simply taste rather nice to the fish...surely? Do we need to go any deeper than that? hemp does attract a larger stamp of fish for sure, and always used to when I fished the Macclesfield canal for roach 50 years ago. Sometimes I even used it as hookbait, although rapid bites tended to be the order of the day.
    Keep up the good work Danny.

  3. Hemp has lots of omega3 oils plenty of vitamins and one of the highest protein levels of all seed baits. That is why fish like it.

  4. Brilliant piece, had me captivated the whole read

  5. Brilliant piece, had me captivated the whole read

  6. Nice Tincas fella :) Thanks for sharing

  7. You can't beat maggots ;) Great article and much love from all of us at Carp Fishing Critic

  8. Whoa! That took me near half an hour to read through this post. The ground bait mixing seemed quiet easy, I mean not that difficult at least. Lol.

    Danny, I'm a bit frustrated that you don't write on a regular basis. Yes, I know running a blog is difficult specially when you're writing mega posts like this one. Keep it up. Don't loose the keyboard. ;)

  9. Buzzing write up danny.Very good info.

  10. I am really impressed with your efforts and really pleased to visit this post.
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