Bridgewater Canal: Pike Fishing For Memories

A warm welcome to this blog update, i hope i find you all well and your nets wet.  In this blog i hope to showcase what fantastic memories can be made along the banks of the very underrated Bridgewater Canal. grab a brew and let’s get into this blog.

The bridgewater canal Runcorn, four and half miles long and a place that holds a special place in my heart as living a stones throw from its urban bank  as a 4-year-old boy I learnt to fish with my Dad.  Back then fishing was owned by Halton Joint anglers who’s fishing signs still adorn some of the old building walls.  This was however Pre commercial fishing days its banks where the places you would find the stars of angling and the canal was home to some huge national matches Back then the canal was a very different beast it had been home to huge shoals of bream, big roach and  of course the un-catchable carp but one species was starting to begin to show in growing numbers and this species was the pike i can remember seeing pike so small they appeared to look like glass on the bottom of the canal, that was a good 15 years ago and we pick this story back up in 2018 where we go in search of that pikes descendants.

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2015, two carp kills, a huge reduction in boat traffic and an even bigger reduction in anglers fishing the canal is a very different animal to the one i fished as a kid.  The biomass lost during the carp kills was taken up with bream. skimmers, roach and tench and as such the pike are now numerous and in amazing condition.  During 2015 the average size of pike was 9lb and multiple catches in one session where not uncommon including good fish to over 20lb

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An avid pike angler i enjoyed a good season that year on the banks of the canal and made many happy fishing memories but that year was tinged as it was during this year i began to see signs of poaching on the canal.    It was during this season i was contacted by a bailiff called Mark and joined a team of passionate anglers who all cared deeply about the canal and its inhabitants and over the past 18 months we addressed the issues head on, found the traps and worked with the Environment Agency.  From a piking point of view there was an impact felt but that impact has been minimised by the hard work of the team and in 2018 its potential can be seen in the short blogs below.

Repaying the carping debt…

In the previous blog about carp on the canal you can see how influential mark was in teaching me how to fish for carp and come the Autumn it was time to repay that debt.  Mark had never fished for pike on dead baits before and was really keen to try to land a double figure pike.

With canal piking i always find simplicity is best and its the mechanics and safety of the rig that are important.  Canals are snaggy and the Bridgy is up there with the best so 60lb braid is a must to leave no baited traces in the water.  Set up wise a simple float stop down, two beads, dead bait pencil float down to a 18 gram ledger weight and a swivel i simply attach a home-made wire trace and your away.

It did not take long for mark to get of the mark with this beautifully marked jack pike, a fish that got the ball rolling and began the hunger for bigger specimens.

October is a fabulous month for piking on the canals as the leaves are yet to fall into the canal and alter its PH level and the canal also still holds a good colour.  The other good factor is sessions after work and mark well and truly had the pike bug as a phone call in the last hour of my work shift conformed

“We going piking for a few hours tonight Danny”

The beauty of piling is how quickly you can have your backside bank side and fishing an in no time the rods where in position and we had the best time of day to come.  Into dusk is bite time for predators and it came as no surprise we both picked up fish and mark upped his PB to just under 7lb

A week later and an early morning start on the canal arriving at first light we cast out our baits, there was only one bite that morning and it fell to mark, sometimes in fishing pictures speak a thousand words and the picture of mark with his new pb of 14lb2oz.

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For this piece i could have chosen any of the pike memories i have made along the towpath of this lovely water way, maybe for future blogs? But i chose this on this as i feel shows how special the canal is and if you put the time in she does release her rewards. A video of this session is available on the link below

Watch marks pike capture here: https://youtu.be/2bWjddzRO4E

I hope you have enjoyed this blog and why not get down the canal and give it a go for yourself and if you like these blogs and would like to see more content let us know in the comments section.

Danny and Mark

Bridgewater Canal-In Search Of The Elusive

With the daily running of my business Cheshire Particle, my fishing was taking a serious knock and as an angler, we all know the effects of not being behind our rods, where i had not been out for around 5 months, this was really starting to take it’s toll on me now and need to scratch the itch somehow.48358252_327495484741182_3050247492575690752_n
With the Bridgewater canal on my doorstep and being a bailiff for the canal, i started to patrol and spot carp while also taking a bag of particle along and feeding spots where i had located fish movement. While only doing the odd few hours here and there before and after work, i started to pick up fish. Obviously, the Bream were always in abundance, fighting through them turned up the odd carp or so along with a couple of tench.
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I did have two or three spots primed where I would move if need be if there was no activity I would simply move to the next knowing I had a pre-baited area giving me a chance if there was anything in the area. These were a smaller stamp of carp than in previous times when I used to fish the stretch. The biggest I had back then was a 25lb 2oz mirror, but this was before the sad loss of many big fish due to a burst lock plug in Manchester, but with the smaller fish being caught, it was either fish that had survived or new fish coming through telling me they have re-produced which is a great sign for the future and left me with food for thought as the year was coming to an end but left me thinking, if I can adopt the same tactics on a more regular basis, then hopefully I can get more.
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With that, I decided to campaign the Bridgewater in 2018 and invited my good friend Danny Bellfield along for company and to create a plan of action moving forward, Danny hadn’t done a lot of canal carping and it was something that was missing in his angling, where he duly obliged the invitation. In the spring of 2018, we set a plan of how when and what to combat the task ahead.
Pre-baiting was the first port of call and the plan we hatched as this tactic had been to good effect for me the previous year, although with the canal being a 4 mile stretch, we knew this wasn’t going to be easy as fish do and will move around, but with the hope that regular pre-bait going in, we could hold them somewhat.
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Particle is always brilliant for pre-baiting as it’s much cheaper, and of course, having particle to hand from leftover orders, we knew that the grubbing properties of it would create feeding areas while creating our spots in the process. Trickling in bait 2 to 3 times a week was our plan which we did religiously for weeks on end, and while patrolling the banks on bailiff checks as Danny was also a bailiff, we could spot and pre-bait almost killing 2 birds with 1 stone so to speak. The fishing was underway and the relentless activity from the Bream was somewhat a pain, although Danny was happy in the beginning with them, myself, well it wasn’t what I wanted so a new plan was hatched. The pre-bait of particle continued, but a scaled up version with just maize and tigers and taking away hemp and tares and any smaller component to avoid the silvers and with the knowledge I had from previous years, I had carp on tigers and not so many bream, so with that, the idea was that if the fish move in and clear us out of maize, there would always be tigers in and around our hook bait leaving something for the carp if and when they moved through . Particle and tigers on the hair over beds of particle, as always been a favoured tactic of mine which as served me well for years.
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We did also use tiger nut boilie too as to not limit ourselves with a one bait approach.48356796_412582572646587_5985149618327912448_n

This tactic proved a significant one in the end, as we didn’t catch so many bream now and we were picking up carp more regularly with some tench too which are always nice to see, and to be honest we both love tench, who doesn’t.
The carp we were getting was a much better stamp of size from last year, with commons and mirrors both gracing our nets. Theses canal carp are not like your average stocked carp and are very elusive, these are real wild ones and may we say, when they go they go, giving a good account for themselves where the battle under the rod tip is a proper full on test of your wit for sure.

Now this may sound all too easy, but this is far from the truth, but to cut a long story short, we were both working all week and weekends at some points, we were limited to bank time, probably only 1 night a week or if and when we were available to do so. Limited time, quick sessions, arriving at 7pm, leaving for work at 6am but pre-baiting never ceased, we kept trickling it in throughout the whole campaign, knowing that if and when we could get there, the spots we created were primed ready for any instinctive session where we would also bait upon arrival and then just before dark knowing there was a good bit of bait going into the dark hours and avoiding the bird life that would spot the bait going in daylight hours.48362346_596560807481598_4805653647822159872_n
The weed was heavy this year like so many other waters and venues with the prolonged heat and sun we all encountered, this created more problems too, but with the introduction of regular particle drops, the spots were polished for us every time we went, also knowing our baits were presented well on a nice clean patch created by the constant baiting approach we adopted throughout the campaign.

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The Bridgwater is a well underrated canal where there is brilliant fishing to be had whatever your target species is, but with time, effort and a good plan, you can have a great year’s fishing just like we did.

 

You can also find our vlog on the canal carping series on Danny’s vlog on Danny’s Angling Blog on his YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCogqlnE3gK_Re7vdU5bv8sw/playlists

Look out for the next blog, Canal Piking.

Good luck
Mark and Danny

Jason Webb, Eel catching extraordinaire

This year saw long standing Lymm member and Eel fishing specialist Jason Webb (Anguilla) catch a previously unknown and uncaught Lymm Angling Club fish, a rare North West six pound.

His story unfolds….

“I’ve been fishing for Eel’s on and off for more than 20 years, catching plenty of 2lbers, 3lbpers and a few 4lbers… The six this year came after 16 straight blanks on this water… It was a strange night as everything just seemed to switch on… The carp were ravenous and becoming a nuisance as I caught 3 Carp on live baits until about 1 in the morning…. then at around 4am the roll over flicked over and the bite alarm gave just a couple of bleeps.

Picking up the rod and tightening down slowly, I felt for a line bite… and could feel the Eel making short work of my live bait trap…. Striking into the fish all hell suddenly broke loose, the rod hooped right over and an almighty tussle ensued, with line tearing off the clutch.

When it surfaced, I could see the huge size of it and I was a relieved man to get it in the net as it thrashed, twisted and rolled every which way at the net to try and evade capture.

The girth on the Eel was huge and at just under 4 feet long it was the eel I has spent the past 20 years trying to catch…. At 6lb 1oz it was just a couple of ounces short of the all time Lymm Angling club record for that species that has stood for nearly 25 years…

An awesome fish estimated at 50+ years old… which subsequently won me a 2018 UK National Angling award presented by the President of the National Anguilla Club in Birmingham.

People ask me why fish for eel’s? Simple, it’s the buzz of catching a completely unknown, uncaught fish that hasn’t been given a pet name… Priceless.”

Thanks to Jason for the Story and a big congratulations to him from all at the club.

 

River Severn Roundup, 2018 End of Year.

The Season

Flowing an appalling wet winter where water temperatures dropped below 1.4° for extended periods, what seemed like constant rain, a couple of heavy snowfalls, the river was almost in perpetual flood, everyone looked forward to better weather for the start of the new season. So, with this as a backdrop to the advent of the new season the unpredictable British Weather had a few more surprises for us, my fishing diary has the following entry from 1st August.

“Looking at my catch returns I have not been fishing since 31 October 2017 some nine months. We had one of the wettest winters for years coupled with heavy snowfalls. The river was up and down like a yo-yo with the water temperature dropping as low as 1.4° fishing was impossible. The season ended, and so for the next three months I looked forward to opening day. Planning all sorts of scenarios, one objective is to fish at least two new venues, stocked up on bait, keen to try Robin Red as recommended by Lawrence Breakspear at last year’s Atcham Barbel Fish in. However, as opening day approached spring very quickly turned into a very hot summer which has continued into August without any sign of a break in the weather.”

In the event My season did not start until the middle of August, my notes state the water temperature was 21° C, what a contrast from the depths of the winter. The 16th June dawned hot and sunny without rain, causing river levels to drop, bright days together with low clear levels are far from ideal for Barbel fishing so I decided to postpone fishing trips until more conducive weather prevailed, also the river was so low below the banks some swims were impossible to land fish even with a ten foot landing net handle there was also a concern about fish welfare in these conditions.

As days turned to weeks, concern for fish welfare came to the fore, several well respected experienced anglers from  Lymm and other Clubs I belong to, posted on Forums their intention to refrain from fishing whilst these conditions persisted.  The Barbel Society imposed a temporary ban on waters they controlled, stating, low dissolved oxygen levels may impact on the welfare of fish stocks. Phil O Callaghan,  Bailiff  for the Clubs Severn & Vyrnwy waters worked tirelessly visiting the waters daily also liaising with the Environment Agency, the Angling Trust etc., to understand low dissolved oxygen levels and how it impacts on fish stocks and the environment, based on Phil’s finding along with additional scientific information available to the Club, the Committee imposed a temporary ban on fishing all club rivers and other precautionary measures on all Club Waters until conditions improved.

Mid to late August saw the ban lifted, whilst this was welcome news for all River anglers it bought its own issues in the form of weed growth which had prolificated in bright sunshine and low water levels also some pegs had become overgrown and needed work parties to re-establish them.

Paul Edwards has also had a busy shortened season, with some notable catches at Forton (Montford bridge) and Rossall,  two sessions produced multiple catches of Barbel both included double figure fish, sharing his experience on the Forum Paul also reported of a further night session at Forton which resulted in two Chub weighing in at  6lb & 6lb 2oz.

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Paul Edwards with the first of his brace of Chub, 6lb 2oz .

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Paul with his second 6lb Chub.

Despite the adverse weather conditions which prevailed from last winter until mid-August Sabrina is in remarkable condition bourn out by the catch returns, both in terms of volume and quality, it appears more double figure Barbel have been reported this season than in a long while, Chub over 5lb have also featured at all venues.

Initially there was some doubt about holding the Club’s Annual Barbel Day scheduled for the first of September, but with temperatures returning to seasonal normal the event went ahead and what a cracker it turned out to be.

Annual Barbel Day

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Dia Gribble and Phil Planning the day.

Conceived many years ago the Annual “Fish In” or “Barbel Day” is an initiative to introduce members to River fishing with an emphasis on Barbel particularly to encourage youngsters, the main objective being to help newcomers catch a Barbel on the day. A bonus this year, we were joined by that Consummate all round big fish angler and Drennan Cup Winner Dai Gribble. Obviously, the days Topic was Barbel, kicking off with Dai’s choice of tackle, set up, bait, venues, swims, rigs much along the lines of his recent articles in Anglers Mail on Barbel fishing also touching on bite alarms when night fishing for Barbel. Korum, Dai’s sponsor had very kindly donated a large amount of tackle as prizes in a free to enter raffle, items included a Rod, several Reels, line, Bank Sticks, everyone present won a prize!

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Dai Explaining the finer points of Rigs.

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Robert, Phil and Dai, Deep in conversation.

Dai was encouraged to relate his catches which led to his winning the Drennan Cup, very interesting stories soon to be published in Dai’s new Book ”

Chasing Dreams”. Following the presentation anglers settled into the swims where Dai offered individual advice & tips.

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Mark, ready for the off.

 

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Big Dave with Evan’s  first Barbel

I love this photograph, Dave was coaching young Evan, his first Barbel headed for cover and was Snagged, Dave was able explain how to free snagged fish. Evan’s face shows it all.

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Evan with his second fish of the Day.

Phil 2018 fish in

After organising the Day, collecting the Fish & Chip Supper Phil finaly managed a little fishing.

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Yours Truly with the first of four on the Day.

A resounding success was the verdict from participants, almost all reporting multiple catches and as far as I am aware only one blank. Particularly pleasing, both the youngsters present featured in the day’s captures.

New River Severn Club Record Announced.

A new Club Record for a River Seven Barbel has just been announced. Russ Ousby fishing Lymm’s stretch at Llandrinio landed the new record weighting 13lb 14oz, Russ a regular visitor to the venue tells me having walked the banks regularly during the closed season was able to observe shoals of Barbel throughout the length and planned a campaign to capture the larger individuals.

Fishing just after the temporary ban on River fishing was lifted and fishing in one of the areas where he had previously observed fish, following a little pre-baiting Russ cast a hair rigged single 8mm pellet on 10lb hook length attached to 12lb main line using a 1.75 rod. The Expectations are if a large Barbel is hooked then the “3 Foot Twitch or a “Wrap Around” will result, however, in this case it was slow steady bobbing pull.  It was a dogged battle, with the fish attempting to dive into deeper water, take refuge behind rocks or to find a snag, the fight gave no indication of just how big this Barbel was until Russ saw it in the net whilst attempting to lift it out of the water.

After careful weighing and photographing, given the low water and weather conditions at the time, Russ rested the fish for over half an hour under constant observation and monitoring, prior to returning it to the water where it swam off strongly none the worse for its encounter. Russ is of the opinion the fish was a female probably about 20 years old so requires careful handling, whilst confident the fish was returned unharmed Russ nevertheless returned to the water the following day just to check.

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Russ with the New Club Record Barbel 13lb 14 oz

The Chub Day

Following the success of the annual Barbel day Phil O’Callaghan The Clubs head Bailiff suggested a similar event for Chub. Details were posted on the Forum and received a good response the venue was to be Llandrinio, the purpose of these days are to foster the interaction between members, so they may benefit by sharing information on venues, bait, methods and tactics it also encourages Club spirit together the opportunity to explore new venues.

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The Grade 1 Listed Bridge at Llandrinio, Lymm waters extend either side of the Bridge for about a mile in total.

After many posts giving and offering advice on tackle, baits etc, the day finally dawned a little chilly with a dozen anglers gathering below the barely visible Rodney’s Pillar shrouded in mist. Its always good to catch up with fellow members with the opportunity to put a Face to a Forum Name. Russ Ousby, holder of the new Club Record for a River Severn Barbel from this venue, shared his knowledge of the this stretch of River suggesting baits and tactics, Russ had also arranged secure parking at the Boat House courtesy of Freda & Peter, More about the facilities on offer there may be found on the clubs forum.

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Ready for the Off

The Group spread out along about a mile of River, the sun came up to warm us, low in the sky this time of year and with high banks the impact on the water was minimal, the water temperature was 9.7° a slight increase on the previous day, with conditions set fair, hopes and enthusiasm were very high for a good days fishing.

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Phil in his second swim of the day, I had banked on him to catch a large Chub to photograph, even your Pals let you down sometimes!

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Don In a secluded swim.

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Woody laid back as always, however he did have two Grayling on the day.

Small feeders or a stick float were the two most used tactics, the most popular baits Maggots or Bread. As the day wore on it became obvious anglers were in for a hard slog in the event catches were very poor, the tally was two Grayling for Woody, a Chub and a Trout for Andy, Ed managed a hungry 3” Salmon Parr and I think that was about!

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Ed talking to Russ and missed the best Bite of the day, so had to settle for a Salmon parr to Christen his new Drennan Acolyte Rod!

A post mortem on the day concluded it was an off day for River Fishing, the thinking being with a dozen experienced anglers along a mile of river, someone should have had a few fish, also for the last couple of weeks all the Facebook groups were reporting the fishing was patchy in the extreme.

Cockney Bob had a bad start to his river fishing career not only blanking but falling over twice on the slippery banks, a warning to us all, riverbanks can be dangerous.

Despite the poor results everyone enjoyed the day and is up for another, there was even talk about a PIKE day in January!!!

Lymm Waters.

 

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Another Fine Specimen From Llandrinino.

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Look there are Chub In Llandrnino.

Phils Pike Bickton Forton

Phil with a nice Pike from Forton

Looking at my own records year on year, the indications are the average size of Barbel is on the increase. whilst in the absence of detailed records the premise is somewhat subjective, nevertheless the Maxim that states the only “Constant is Change” is true for rivers, which constantly change sometimes showing great improvements other times in decline. The winters of 2006 / 7 and 2010 with high level flooding had a profound effect on fish stocks.

Just a final note on Llandrinio, Rossall and Forton, not quite as popular as Atcham, however most of the larger specimens this year came from them, including the new Record Barbel which Beat Phil’s Record 12lb + which came out of Rossell. The fish are there, it just needs a little more thought, diligence and tenacity to catch them.

As we go to press Dai Gribble has just announced the launch of his new book “Beyond Dreams” it looks to be a cracker. Here is the link:-http://www.beyond-dreams.co.uk

Tight Lines

© Christie, December 2018