The Beginners guide to cold water canal fishing

Fri 21 November 14


10 Hot tips for cold water canals:

Get your tactics right and the nation’s canals offer consistent action right through the colder months. Dom Garnett, author of “Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide” gives you 10 great autumn and winter canal fishing tips to boost your catches.

1. Locate them:

Most importantly of all, success later in the season is about finding the fish. Shallower areas could be deserted, but investigate wider, sheltered and deeper spots to locate the shoals. Fish like roach and bream can really bunch up, so if you can reach the shoals fine catches are still possible.

2. Try bread:

With less boat traffic and cooler temperatures, canal waters often become clearer. There are few better baits than bread in such conditions. Try a small ball of liquidized feed with a piece of punch on the hook at first, just to see if there are fish in the peg.

3. Depth is crucial:

Measuring the depth precisely is absolutely vital with winter fishing. There is a world of difference between “about right” and spot on. Do take your time and mark depths on your pole or rod with a spot of Tippex or similar.

4. Try the track:

Fish will often be right down the central “track” of the canal as things get colder. This is never truer than on cuts with excellent water clarity.

5. Head for town:

They might not be the prettiest places, but sections of canal running right through towns and cities tend to be warmer and more sheltered than rural parts, hence fish group there. You’ll also find key features such as marinas and locks, great for silver fish or indeed predators.

6. Finesse is key

Fish tend to give less eager bites in the winter and crude tackle is a definite turn off. Scale down to keep getting bites: try pole gear or a delicate insert waggler, with fine hooklengths and hooks down to sizes 18-20.

7. Try some Chop:

It’s always worth taking a few worms fishing, even on the coldest day. Start with small helpings of chopped dendrobaenas and try a broken section on the hook. Perch and chub are real suckers for this method.

8. Predatory gains:

Canals are some of the most underrated predator fisheries of the lot. I would recommend tackling a new stretch with a mobile approach and lures or flies. If you can find concentrations of silver fish, it might be worth a return visit with some bait.

9. Don’t just sit there:

Unless you’re match fishing, you needn’t sit there freezing while it’s not happening. It could easily take the fish an hour to respond on a cold day, but if you don’t fancy your swim the answer is simple: move!

10. Timing is crucial:

Keep an eye on both the clock and the weather to plan your trips. Steady, mild spells of overcast weather are often good for fishing. On the actual day, late afternoons and early evenings can be the best period after a cold previous night. Shallow canals are far more changeable than deeper waters, and can quickly switch on or off.

Tight Lines

Dominic Garnett

Foot Note

To get the book: Dominic Garnett’s “Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide” (Merlin Unwin Books) has a wealth of brilliant, user-friendly info on all methods and fish species, along with handy tips and eye opening facts. Featuring stunning photography, it also has the lowdown on virtually every canal in the country, including local hotspots and specimen fish records.

Find it now at or for the perfect gift, order a signed copy from the author’s website by clicking on the link below.


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UK Specialist Angler.




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