Canal Fishing: A Beginner’s Guide

Canal Fishing

The canal offers great fishing opportunities for the novice, who doesn’t want to spend hours, days, or weeks waiting in one spot. Canal fishing can be done at any time of day and is less likely than river fishing to result in an empty hook. Most of the time you won’t even need a rod license as there are no limits on taking fish from canals.

The canal system for the most part is man-made, apart from a few natural waterways which have been altered to allow easier passage of boats and ships. The towpaths are there for you to walk along with your rod, no need to pay extra for access. It’s recommended that you wear suitable clothing as the towpaths can be hot in the summer and very cold during winter.

Canal Fishing requires a boat

Canal fishing can be carried out from a boat, this is normally done so by anglers who have their own boats. Bait or lures are suitable for canal fishing with bait being used more often than not, due to its simplicity of use. Night Fishing is another popular activity on canals, lures are used to catch fish which tend to feed more actively after dark.


An important issue to consider is the safety of yourself and others when fishing from a boat. Always travel at slow speeds, especially if it’s your first time boating. If you do capsize, leave your rod in the boat, this will save you dragging the boat along with you as it may weigh several hundred pounds. You should also wear a suitable lifejacket or buoyancy aid, just in case.

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How to do canal fishing:

1) If you are fishing with the use of a boat, try to stay under bridges or overhanging trees. This will allow some relief from the sun on very hot days and protection from rain on grey days.

2) Use strong rods if you are using lures as they normally require more force to be imparted onto the line, causing them to be ripped off the hooks more easily.

3) Give your line some slack, the water is clean but it’s not always free of obstacles which can cause your line to become tangled around them.

4) If you are fishing with bait, try to use feeder or float-feeder methods where appropriate. This will allow you to place your bait very close to the fish without spooking them.

5) If you are fishing with a boat, it can be more productive to use lures on long poles rather than short rods which require some skill to control. Longer rods will allow you to cast your lure further and more accurately, this may make all the difference between catching and not catching.

6) If you are fishing from a boat, make sure to take your litter home with you. Clean up after yourself and others so that we can enjoy canals for years to come.

7) Don’t forget to check the by-laws of canal fishing in your area. For example, some areas don’t allow fishing from a boat. Remember to check the fishing license requirements in your area and purchase one if required.

Some safety tips for canal fishing:

1) Ensure you are aware of the depth of your chosen fishing spot. This will help prevent loss of equipment or injury.

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2) If you are using a boat, take spare equipment for emergencies, especially if it is your first time boating.

3) Make sure that the area is free from obstructions such as tree branches or other boats.

4) Always use fishing-specific clothing and footwear as to not cause injury or discomfort when walking along canal paths. Ensure you have the appropriate licenses and permits where necessary.

5) It may be a good idea to take a mobile phone with you in case of emergencies.

6) Canal fishing is a relaxing activity which can be enjoyed by all, don’t forget that it’s important to share the canal with other pleasure boaters and joggers, etc. If you do catch an unexpected snag on your line, try not to panic or make sudden jerky movements with your rod. Stay calm, unhook the snag from your line and slowly wind in your catch.

7) Don’t forget that you have a duty to help other canal users, especially if they require rescuing or medical assistance. Remember that fishing is a group activity so always leave the canal cleaner than when you found it for others to enjoy.

Did you know?

Canal fishing is one of the few hobbies which can be enjoyed by all members of the family, including children.

– Many species of fish can be caught in canals including perch, roach, chub, gudgeon, and pike.

– Smaller fish like roach may often nibble at your bait even before it has reached the bottom of the canal.

– Larger centers have been found to have a higher concentration of larger fish such as Pike and Chub, while the smaller canals may be better for catching smaller species.

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Who can enjoy canal fishing?

– Anyone can enjoy the relaxing hobby of canal fishing. Just make sure you are aware of any local by-laws or license requirements beforehand.

– It is advisable to try fishing at different times of the year, you may find that certain species are only available during the summer months or winter.

Keep in mind that the type of bait is as important as how you present it to your target species. If you are fishing with corn, for example, try placing several small pieces on your hook at contrasting angles rather than one large piece which may just spook the fish.

How do I choose the best fishing equipment?

Choosing the right equipment is crucial when it comes to catching bigger or more elusive species of fish. The most common options for beginners are either spinning rods, which use a reel and line, or pole-fishing with a braided line. Poles are often used by professional fishermen as they are more versatile, as well as being more common on the continent of Europe.

Final Thoughts:

There are many benefits to canal fishing, it’s relatively cheap, fun, and can be enjoyed by the whole family. It’s also a great way to pass time on family trips or at weekends. You don’t need any prior experience but it is important to research the local area you intend to fish in for safety reasons.

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