We all like to catch bonus fish, but on canals it’s small fish that are your weight-building summer bankers. Here are five tips to help you fill a net with silvers…
AVOID DEEP WATER
You can rule out catching well from the central boat channel of a canal in summer. There will be too much disturbance from narrowboats, even though the water is deep. On the whole, roach prefer shallower water anyway, and a classic spot to find them is on top of the far-bank shelf where the deep water merges into the shallows. Typically this area can be found around 11m or 12m out, a comfortable range for feeding and shipping the rig out. Depth is unimportant – it’s more about finding the point where the peg just begins to deepen into the channel.
CREATE A SLOW-FALLING RIG
Because you’re loosefeeding, the rig needs to allow you to catch fish through the water, anywhere from a few inches under the surface down to the bottom. Firing in pinkies and squatts will naturally bring roach off bottom, so gear up with rigs taking light floats and shotting patterns that have small No11 shot strung as a bulk around an inch apart, stopping 12ins from the hook, finishing off with a couple of dropper shot between bulk and hook.
GET ON HEMP
Don’t think you’re only going to catch small roach on the canal – they also hold plenty of big fish that can make a difference in a match! Casters are a well-known bait for quality roach, but hemp is just as good and almost always means a bigger fish each time the float goes under. Pick a spot close to any far-bank cover with a couple of feet of water, well away from where you’re fishing squatts, and fire in a dozen grains every 10 minutes, aiming to try hemp on the hook in the second half of the match.
GO EASY ON THE GROUNDBAIT
As much as roach love groundbait, it comes into play on shallow canals as a way of kicking the swim off before loosefeeding takes over, or for feeding when a boat has gone through the peg and you need to settle the fish back down. One large ball fed at the start is ample, feeding again with the same size of ball when a boat has done its damage.
PICK UP YOUR CATTY AND START FEEDING!
As soon as you’ve fed that groundbait at the start, pick up the catapult and start firing in squatts or pinkies. Twenty to 25 squatts at a time is not too much, and the feeding needs to be very regular, every 40 seconds or so, to leave a constant stream of bait falling through the water and keep the fish hunting around. On the hook, a single squatt matches the hatch, but you can change to a fluoro pinkie to try for a slightly bigger fish.