I don't think I have ever seen the Midlands canals so full of small predators as they are right now. Yes it is possible that my view is a little skewed as predators have been my target of choice for the past god knows how long, but even taking that into consideration there's still loads of them. The bottom of most canals is paved with small perch all of the time, but right now the small zander are catching up and never before have I caught so many jack pike in the canals. Up until this year I was beginning to think the common canal pike of my youth might be an endangered species, but this lure lark has set me right on that matter.
My first prolonged session since becoming a parent seemed the perfect opportunity to check out a section of canal which I used to fish as a child which has recently popped onto my radar again. It's weird because I have been fishing sections either side of the section in question quite a lot this year. A few weeks ago some wonderful tow path info was dribbled into my ears like honey and that tit bit contained my most favourite of phrases 'Big perch'.
Apparently the area in question is very heavily populated with both prey fish and crayfish and after a few enquiries it turned out the area did seem to be producing some nice fish over 2lbs. At another time of the year when the boats were a bit less of a hindrance I would have just gone down toting nothing more than my lure rod, but recent experiences reminded me that if I wanted to be fishing later than nine in the morning a bit of bait might be a good idea.
So with a few worms and a float rod as well as a lure rod, I hit the tow path early hoping to confirm a few rumors were true. I arrived to see the centre canal alive with silver fish and given the dense cover hanging far out over the water all along the far margins, it was hard to pick any particular feature. Luckily I had a spot I fancied might make a good starting point.
Before digging in I had a quick search around with a tiny lure just in case, but that produced nothing but a wind knot in my braid. With so many fish topping I felt sure I would get some serious interest in the worm and quickly plumbed up and baited a spot just off the nearside shelf. Interest I did get, but not from any big perch. Hordes of tiny perch quickly found my broken worms and even a few micro zander turned up as well.
When the water erupted with scattering silver fish, which is unusual on the canals, I was instantly reaching for my lure little Sonik lure rod. Whilst watching the float I'd stripped out the wind knot and tied on a larger 3gram jig and in no time at all I cast my favourite cannibal shad tight into the cover. Two bounces of the lure later something hit it and shot out into the canal. After a spirited fight predator number one, a little pike went in the net.
Straight away after taking a photo and releasing the small pike I cast again tight into the cover about three feet further down the bushes. This time the lure made it into the trench before I felt a sharp tug and struck into predator number two which turned out to be a small zander of a couple of pounds.
I already had a mind to try for the triple and when the third cast into the bushes produced a subtle but definite fishy vibration, I was elated to swing a small but very greedy third predator to hand.
It kind of made sense that after landing three different predators and making a right old fuss that the swim went dead. So I moved down to another nice looking spot to try the worm. Things didn't go that well as the boats soon began ploughing past, but saying that over the next hour or so I did root out four more tiny little zander fishing half a worm just on the edge of the trench.
Honestly I have never seen as much activity on a section of canal and it does seem to help confirm that this could be a good area for big perch. But I have noticed as I have fished on the canal so much that large populations of both predators and prey fish can actually move from one section to another with the changes in the seasons. Both sections either side of the one I fished on this occasion aren't fishing particularly well at the moment, whereas in the winter both were very reliable. So I reckon if I want to track down these big perch in this area I will have to get back quite soon before all the prey fish that have probably attracted them filter off into other areas.