And when I say small, I mean small! (carp article, entry 95)

When planning a fishing trip there are many things that we take into account. Most of them, of course, are fishing related such as the weather, size of fish in the venue etc. But for me, there is always another factor that is high on the list – where do I park my car. Certainly these days, with increased car theft and crime, you have to be very vigilant, and particularly if like me you fish through the night.

And that’s why I have been struggling with my canal carping campaign. Not simply because the fish are elusive, but rather because of safe parking. With just a very small space offering good overnight parking, I have been on a couple of trips whereby I have had to return home due to the places being occupied. Not that they were anglers fishing through the night, but simply pleasure anglers fishing up till dark, or even walkers.

But the problem has been that by the time they have returned to their vehicles, it’s been too dark for me to set up. Hence, my dilemma. Do I continue with the canal carp fishing and hope I get a spot every time I set out, or do I call it a day. No matter how much you are enjoying your fishing, getting back to the car in the morning and finding it broken into or even worse, disappeared, is no fun at all.

Anyway, on my one session this week, I managed to get a place to park and was able to cast out with darkness almost descended. I was fishing by a bed of reeds, which is now starting to grow, with lots of green shoots replacing the winter brown stubble which was there when I first started to fish in March. Fishing two rods, I placed both towards the reeds, which were concentrated on the far bank.

My canal rig is a simple one, as can be seen from the accompanying photo. I am currently using a 1.5-ounce in-line lead, which is pulled over the swivel giving a bolt rig set-up. My main line is 10lb, and for hook length I am using 10lb braid. The home made boilie is fished hair rig style to a size 4 hook and I have shrink tubing over the shank. I’ve usually been fishing with PVA bags, but this time I put out a few handfuls of seeds and fished the boilie over the top of these.

I usually put a bigger boilie on than is necessary and make it smaller by pinching sections off the edges. Not only does it create an irregular shape (which I prefer) but it also ‘opens up’ the boilie. So instead of the contents being encased, they are now exposed. Of course, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways of doing things, it’s all down to personal preference. But that’s my usual choice when fishing boilies.

It wasn’t long into the session before the chub started to take an interest in the baits. Short, sharp bleeps on the buzzers indicated that there was plenty of activity beneath the surface of the canal. And with the odd fish showing, there was also movement on top too. Eventually I caught a chub, a lovely looking specimen of about 1.5 lb. It would certainly have been a great fight on the correct tackle, but with a 2.5 test curve rod and 10lb line, it was nothing more than a case of reeling it in.

It had been a very warm day, but typical of this time of the year, the night was cold. Not only was I in my all-in-one suit but I had also brought my sleeping bag! Due to having to be on the rods in an instant, I couldn’t really settle, so while still keeping my boots on I wrapped the bag around me, like a quilt. Dozing off, I was woken at midnight and found myself striking into what I thought was another feisty chub.

This time though, the culprit was a small common carp. And when I say small, I mean small! But forever the optimist, at least it was a carp, I told myself. Whether it be twenty pounds or two pounds, it is always good to catch your chosen species. However, to be honest, I would sooner catch the former rather than the latter!

The rest of the session went very quiet and I again dozed off, this time to be woken by a very early morning cyclist going past. With space on the towpath at an absolute minimum, there is no such thing as privacy for the canal angler. I often wonder what these people think though, finding someone stretched out by the side of the canal on a bedchair! No wonder we have a reputation as being a bit mad. Maybe we are, and we don’t realise it. Still, as they say – ignorance is bliss!

(Originally published May 2005)

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