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UKCARP MAGAZINE 20 SEPTEMBER 6TH 2011FISHING THE CUTWith thousands of miles of canals criss-crossing the UK, Matt Ridley reveals the untapped potential of a stretch near his Hinckley homeCANAL CAPERS

UKCARP MAGAZINE 21 SEPTEMBER 6TH 2011I've always been fascinated by canals, and living in the Midlands I'm never far from one of these waterways that kept the industry in the area fed with raw materials and then took the finished product to market. The history of canals is almost tangible and I love the atmosphere - it really is amazing what I come across as I prowl the towpaths in search of carp. They might not be every carp angler's idea of a decent venue but you'll be amazed at what's lurking in their murky depths. So, having recently moved to within yards of the 22 mile-long Ashby Canal, I thought it was about time I revisited my youth and had a dabble down the cut. This stretch is fairly unusual as it has no locks, and is very popular with first-time boaters who don't want the hassle of dealing with the gates. This means that the canal is very busy, and the carp can cover great distances with ease. So my first job for my new campaign was to pound the towpath and search out some likely spots. This is vital, because just round the next corner you could come across a group of carp and enjoy a great session. I covered several miles and found loads of likely looking features, including several marinas, a couple of dead arms, a large basin and loads of snaggy areas that just screamed carp.Closer observation and a bit of pre-baiting was the order of the day, and I settled on three spots. I decided to keep things simple, so I fed my spots with a good helping of pigeon conditioner. The fact that this bait is easy to prepare and cheap means that I can pile it in, which is just as well considering how many bream there are in this particular stretch. After several nights of baiting I watched the areas at dusk to see if I could pinpoint any carp, and sure enough, two spots stood out from the rest. One was a line of permanently moored boats, the other a marina I'd fished several years ago. I settled for the boats and baited for two more nights, this time with some big air-dried boilies. I was using these in the hope that their hardness and size would slow the bream up a little. As my first canal session for several years was fast approaching I was buzzing, and quickly got my stuff ready early the same evening. I wasn't going to put the rods out until the boat and towpath traffic had quitened down a bit. Tackle for any canal has to be simple and strong, because these venues are always snaggy. I'm being serious, those innocent waters hide just about everything imaginable - shopping trollies, bikes, all sorts. If you think about it, because a canal is a man-made structure it has lots "These innocent waters hide just about everything imaginable - shopping trollies, bikes, all sorts"Bream-proof mega boilies!Leave plenty of room for other canal users.Backleads protect against episodes with boats.