The old canal in Belgium is a venue that I have been fishing on and off for more than a decade, and I still love angling this little piece of heaven! The canal is around 25km long, with many different sections/stretches. During the last couple of years I have been concentrating on a few areas and I have been catching consistently. The stock is quite good with many thirty´s and some forty pound plus carp. However, the fishing is not all about targeting big fish, but the pure beauty of the place/area and the lovely characters of some of the carp that reside in the canal.

Last year I got some info from a few great local guys on the different stretches I had yet to fish that held some nice carp, so I decided to have a few recce sessions last year. The plan worked and I landed a good fish during a two night session, so I decided that I would spread my wings and concentrate on these new areas during the autumn of 2015.

I started the campaign at the end of October and managed to land one on my first trip. For the last three years I have organised a seven night trip in November, which has been a good time of year on the canal. The first year I managed eleven fish and last year I landed seven fish, so a seven night trip was soon orgainsed.

On the 6th of November I made the journey back to the old canal with my good friend Peter from Holland, who was going to fish a two night session until Sunday. I was planning to stay until Friday the 13th of November. As I don’t have my own transport, I rely on the goodwill of a friend to join me on each session or to drop me off.

On Friday the 6th at around 8pm we had the traps set and just an hour later one of my rods was away, which resulted in a small common. During the early hours of the morning my friend Peter slipped the net under a fish known as the Grey One (a fish I had last year from the stretch) and he was over the moon with such a lovely fish. It was quiet for the rest of his stay and no other fish were caught. At around 10am on Sunday Peter left me to it and made his way back home to Holland.

I got my rods back out on the spots and that afternoon I landed another common, this time weighing over 30lbs. By the following morning I had landed a futher three fish, which consisted of a double and two twenties. Even though I’d had a good result, I moved further up the canal to the middle of the stretch. By noon on Monday, I had settled in the new area and the traps were set.

For the last 5 or 6 years I had been catching consistently using a simple blow-back rig presentation. In recent years I have been using 25lb Ultra Skin as a hook link material and a size 6 Covert Continental Mugga. I’m a big fan of Mirage fluorocarbon when it comes to main lines and I combine this with a Camflex Leadfree leader of around a metre in length to ensure everything is pinned tight to the deck. I like to fish the fluorocarbon nice and slack and prefer an inline lead setup drop off style. Ninety per cent of the time I use a snowman presentation, which is critically balanced so the hookbait sits the length of the hair above the bottom.

At 3pm the right hand rod was away and again an hour later. This resulted in mirrors on 30lb+ and 29lb 8oz. It was a super start in the new swim and that evening I had a double take and I slipped the net under a 30lb+ common and a smaller fish too. An hour later I recaptured a fish that I had landed already on the Sunday, they love the bait and the rigs were working perfectly too.

On the Tuesday I landed another thirty, again a recapture of a fish that I landed on my first session on the stretch. That evening another small common came to the net and during Wednesday morning I landed a small mirror too.

Things went a bit quieter and on Wednesday I put the left hand rod on another spot and during the night I landed the Grey One at over 30lb, a fish that I had landed last year and Peter had caught on the Friday night. These fish love bait and are not heavily pressured, so by Thursday morning I had managed forteen takes with a few re-captures.

Another move was made on Thursday morning to a stretch nearby. I loaded the barrow with my kit and walked around a mile, but unfortunately the last 24 hours proved fishless. I’m looking forward to getting back to the stretch and to others too. It looks quite good for the next few sessions and I will keep angling through the winter and maybe I’ll have some more luck. On Friday the 13th I went home a happy angler.

Tight lines Tommy De Cleen