Fisheries & angling manager Carl Nicholls talks about fishing his favourite stretch of canal, the Daw End Branch in the Birmingham Canal Navigations.
It is very to difficult to pinpoint one particular spot as being better 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 is the fond memories I recall of 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 I 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-and-out small fish fishery
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 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. These colour the canal and produce great fishing days, with the fish being overly confident thanks to the cover provided by the coloured water.
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.
Winterley Lane Bridge
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.