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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.

UKCARP MAGAZINE 22 SEPTEMBER 6TH 2011FISHING THE CUTof sharp edges everywhere, from the pilings to the stonework. For me it's 15lb-18lb line all the way, and believe me, it is essential. I top it off with a metre of 45lb leadcore. On this I have a lead clip, because I want the lead to come free should it encounter anything. Hooklinks are coated braid, with a sharp hook - nothing fancy, just efficient. When the tenth bream of the night has just done you and wrecked your rig, simple is best and you won't be too bothered about changing it. Big baits do help, but if the unwanted fish are on the munch you are in trouble. Once I even caught an 8oz zander, which must have taken a liking to the flash of plastic corn. I try to keep tackle to a bare minimum because the walks to the best spots can sometimes be like hiking to Scotland, so my barrow is always set up for the long haul. Barrows are essential and easy to use on towpaths. After a rather sweaty arrival I elected to fish one rod to the boats and another in the nearside margin. Both spots had been baited with about 50 boilies to get the carp used to finding food. I set my rods up in a bizarre way, parallel to the bank. I've always done this, otherwise I'd obstruct the towpath. You have to remember that these routes are very busy 24 hours a day and you must keep them clear for an easy life, and to keep your tackle safe. Another tip is always to backlead. It doesn't matter what time it is, it's amazing how often a boat that shouldn't be there can pass through your swim in the middle of the night. If you are prepared it isn't a problem, and to be honest I've found 99 per cent of boat owners are very friendly, helpful and a great source of info. So be prepared, and then there's no need to stress. With everything sorted I settled down for the night, occasionally chatting to the odd happy soul making their way home from the pub just down the road. The bream kept me awake with plenty of indicator action and lots of frustrating bleeps, but thankfully nothing was hooking itself. Then, as I sat nodding in the chair, a proper violent take was like a bucket of cold water in the face and I found myself attached to a powerful fish that had decided that trying to get behind the barrage was its best chance of escape. After a scrap that seemed to last forever, I finally netted a socking great 21lb mirror. I carefully sacked the fish, as it was literally minutes until proper daylight, and I was so chuffed I really wanted a decent picture. With that done I watched the surrounding world come to life - joggers, dog walkers and boat owners, all of them oblivious to my joy. With that catch under my belt I carried on with my campaign, enjoying great sport and meeting some interesting characters. In the next couple of trips I managed a nice little common and another decent mirror ounces short of 20lb. Canal carping has been great fun, and I have spotted a big fish that is well worth catching. You'll be surprised what's in a waterway near you, so don't neglect their untapped potential. In other words, don't miss the cut! Rod-tips parallel to the bank stops boats hitting them.Dawn brings a 21lb mirror and I'm one happy bunny!On canals lots of walking tends to be involved, so you'll need a barrow.