Chopping and Changing

A lovely Linear Fisheries mirror

When Coarse Angling Today magazine announced it would no longer be running as a publication I made a mental note not to allow the fact I no longer had magazine deadlines to meet stop me from writing regularly. Prior to this I had been writing articles and blogs almost monthly for the best part of 4 years, maybe longer.  Well 9 months has passed since that mental note was made and unfortunately my desire to put my angling into words has waned somewhat. It’s not been a conscious thing but when you have a busy life away from fishing the last thing I really wanted to be doing was sitting in front of a computer when I could be on the banks. With limited time available these days it made sense to fish rather than write when the opportunity arose.

All of my friends and those who know me form magazine articles and online blogs know me as a river angler, predominantly barbel and pike. Unfortunately for 3 months of the year we river anglers are still bound by an archaic rule which states we mustn’t fish running water, this means those of us that wish to carry on fishing must pursue a different avenue of our pastime. For me this means for a few months a year I choose to carp fish. Most years I have a venue or 2 in mind for a spring campaign and this will satisfy my angling appetite until I can cast a line in running water. Well it’s safe to say my carping through 2016 has been nothing short of pants! I had no venue in mind, nothing planned and the extortionate cost of fishing carp day ticket waters meant that they were to be a one off as fishing them weekly would have seen me in serious trouble with her who must be obeyed 😉

All set up at Linear My biggets from Hardwick

I did have a very enjoyable few days at Linear Fisheries near Oxford in April with a friend. Fishing the Hardwick side of Hardwick/Smiths I caught a few nice carp to low 20lbs but it seemed I missed the carp feeding frenzy by a few days as not long before my trip people were reporting catches of 20+ fish in a 2 day session, by the time I arrived the fish had spread out a bit so sport and bites were hard to come by. That said it was a new venue for me, I caught and enjoyed myself so can’t really ask much more than that.

My choice of rig and bait when carp fishing The obligatory 'carpers kettle shot'

Another venue I had a few sessions on was a local park lake. A good friend had some stunning carp from this venue a few years ago and while it was far from easy the fish were worth the effort, or so I thought. This particular venue is the opposite of everything I look for in my angling. There are strict on and off times which miss both dawn and dusk, it’s busy and being a public park there are always people about. For someone who is quite anti-social when it comes to fishing and like his own company this venue would test my patience. My very first session saw me hook into 2 carp, I lost one and landed a stunning low 20lb mirror carp. I was over the moon with this fish and hoped it would be the start of a good spring. Well as the weather got warmer the park got busier with both visitors and anglers. Coupled with the fact you couldn’t get on there before 8am and had to be off at 530pm I decided it wasn’t going to be for me as it was the exact opposite of a venue I would usually choose and while I suspected this might be the case on my first visit at least I gave it a go.

Park Lake mirror

So where did that leave me? Day ticket lakes were off the agenda, local club lakes had far too many rules, regulations and were too busy there was one option left and why I hadn’t bothered with it before escapes me, the canals! Living in the West Midlands I have fished the cabals on and off for 10 years, they are free fishing for the most part, you can come and go as you please and they are stuffed full of carp if you look in the right place. A good friend has eel fished the Midland canal networks for the best part of 20 years and caught some very good carp on baits intended for eels so after a chat we arranged to meet on a stretch of canal that was new to me but Nick assured me that plenty of carp resided in this area. Over the next few weeks I visited several times a week. Not always fishing but looking for fish and baiting up. Quite frankly the amount of carp present was obscene, when it was warm there were fish everywhere! You couldn’t walk 30 yards along the tow path without seeing a carp cruising around or bubbling up whilst it fed. I was keen to get started so for over a month I fished an overnighter every Saturday plus a 7-11 evening session once a week. My first few sessions went well and I caught a decent amount of carp, no monsters but I did have a lovely brace of commons for over 30lbs, both rods going off almost simultaneously. The fishing was consistent but the big fish didn’t put in an appearance and gradually over time and as the weather continued to improve the fish started to disperse to the point I was no longer seeing a single carp on my visits. With several miles between locks the fish could’ve been anywhere and I strongly suspect they had moved off to a new area in readiness to spawn.

Set up ont he canal for an overnighter Canal double trouble A brace of canal commns for 30lb or so

I’d had a thoroughly enjoyable few weeks fishing the canal and come next spring I know exactly where to head to for my fishing fix. We are now almost 3 weeks into the river season and I am yet to get off the mark on running water. In all honesty the rivers in my area have started slowly and the catch reports are very patchy with lots blanking. With my fishing currently far from setting the world alight I’m hoping things will soon come together and next time I write I’ll have some tales of barbel and maybe a river carp or 2.

Waiting on the canal


Until then tight lines and thanks for reading J

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