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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We did also use tiger nut boilie too as to not limit ourselves with a one bait approach.
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.
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.
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:
Look out for the next blog, Canal Piking.
Mark and Danny