Fisheries & angling manager Carl Nicholls talks about fishing his favourite stretch of canal, the Daw End Branch in the Birmingham Canal Navigations.
"Out of the many canals across the country I’ve fished, I’ve always found this canal and more specifically this part of the Daw End Canal unique." Carl Nicholls
It is very to difficult pinpoint one particular spot better as being than any other. I guess variety (location, surroundings and fishing challenges) is what keeps canal fishing a fresh passion of mine. Living in Walsall in the West Midlands, I’m blessed with miles and miles of canals that are available to me.
My reason for choosing this particular location are the fond memories I recall growing up, learning my water craft and generally cutting my teeth on the art of canal fishing.
I was introduced to fishing by my dad and grandad and as I got older, would fish with my friends after school. Even back then I would convince my parents to let me have the start of the fishing season off school and ride down to the canal with my bike loaded with as much fishing tackle as I could carry.
Out of the many canals across the country I’ve fished, I’ve always found this canal and more specifically this part of the Daw End Canal unique. It’s an out and out small fish fishery, there are very few bonus fish to be caught and this hones in your skills for location, feeding, presentation and the number and choice of lines you fish.
The canal is classed as a remainder waterway and as such sees very little boat traffic. For this reason the water is generally clear with good reed growth and some channel vegetation.
Presentation is so important, so I use small floats, fine lines (under 1lb) and small hooks from a size 20-24. The canal runs through, industrial, residential and rural landscapes and short bursts of rain create run off in areas which colour the canal and produce great fishing days with the fish being overly confident thanks to the cover provided by the coloured water.
"Short bursts of rain create run off in areas which colour the canal and produce great fishing days with the fish being overly confident thanks to the cover provided by the coloured water." Carl Nicholls
I’ve caught and seen caught the odd tench, perch over 1lb and bream over 2lb over the years. But in the main, these are the exception. Most of the fish vary from tiny blades to 4oz and can be caught in their hundreds. Some baits and tactics will produce fish of 8-10oz if they are around. The main species to be caught are roach and perch, although in areas shoals of rudd and skimmers can be found.
First and foremost, liquidised bread and bread punch are the starter bait to go with, fed down the track and at the bottom of the far shelf. This produces instant results and, if the fish are happy to feed all day, you can catch a net of fish weighing 5-6lb.
In addition or on certain days, a dryish fine dark ground bait feeding squatts and fishing squatt and pinkie are the main stay and will produce bites when the bread fails, catching all the species of fish.
This is fed in small light balls down the inside and on the far shelf as well as targeting any likely features, such as overhanging bushes and clumps of reeds. Finally you should take some worms, primarily red worms, chopped up and fed in small pots down the inside shelf and down the middle of the canal. This will find those greedy perch and will usually produce the biggest fish of the day. If its tough, gin clear and bright sunshine, the worm is the only thing that usually produces a few fish.
I fished on the Daw End Canal at Winterley Lane Bridge. It's on a quiet road with plenty of roadside parking and an easy sloped dirt access on to the towpath. I fished the first peg beyond the bridge which holds two small offside bushes, but you can walk as far as you want and catch plenty of fish.
The pegs behind the dog kennels, garages and the willow tree are all noted areas that produce plenty of fish along this length. The length is feature filled but it’s easy to spot the likely fish holding areas.
Last date edited: 12 July 2018